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Our ‘emotional hyperdemocracy’ produced Donald Trump

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Donald Trump speaking to supporters at a campaign victory party at Trump Tower in Manhattan, N.Y., on Tuesday.

Regular readers of this space may be excused for wondering whether your humble and obedient ink-stained wretch is obsessed, to the point of excess, with contemplating the meaning of the Trump phenomenon. In his defense, said wretch refers you to a long, nay epic, but brilliant exegesis of Trumpism by Andrew Sullivan in the current issue of New York Magazine.

Sullivan, one of the pioneers of blogging, is a mostly conservative but sometimes seemingly liberal British deep thinker with a scholarly, Catholic bent who retired from blogging last year and has been generally absent from the commentariat during the rise of Donald Trump. But in this piece, headlined “Democracies end when they are too democratic,” Sullivan starts with Plato and ends with this paragraph:

Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.

If that doesn’t make you want to click through, don’t say Sullivan didn’t try to warn you.

Plato, apparently, wrote about how democracies tend to end in tyranny (and how tyrannies generally come into existence out of the collapse of what Sullivan — and, I guess, Plato — called “late-stage democracy,” which is the stage of democracy through which Sullivan fears America is now passing).

Starting with ancient Greece, as you might guess, Sullivan’s piece runs very long. Be prepared for that. But don’t deny yourself Sullivan’s view of the kind of circumstances that has produced a white working class so angry that it is ripe for the picking by a Trump-like figure. As in:

This is an age in which a woman might succeed a black man as president, but also one in which a member of the white working class has declining options to make a decent living. This is a time when gay people can be married in 50 states, even as working-class families are hanging by a thread. It’s a period in which we have become far more aware of the historic injustices that still haunt African-Americans and yet we treat the desperate plight of today’s white working class as an afterthought. And so late-stage capitalism is creating a righteous, revolutionary anger that late-stage democracy has precious little ability to moderate or constrain — and has actually helped exacerbate.

For the white working class, having had their morals roundly mocked, their religion deemed primitive, and their economic prospects decimated, now find their very gender and race, indeed the very way they talk about reality, described as a kind of problem for the nation to overcome. This is just one aspect of what Trump has masterfully signaled as “political correctness” run amok, or what might be better described as the newly rigid progressive passion for racial and sexual equality of outcome, rather than the liberal aspiration to mere equality of opportunity.

Much of the newly energized left has come to see the white working class not as allies but primarily as bigots, misogynists, racists, and homophobes, thereby condemning those often at the near-bottom rung of the economy to the bottom rung of the culture as well. A struggling white man in the heartland is now told to “check his privilege” by students at Ivy League colleges.

Even if you agree that the privilege exists, it’s hard not to empathize with the object of this disdain. These working-class communities, already alienated, hear — how can they not? — the glib and easy dismissals of “white straight men” as the ultimate source of all our woes. They smell the condescension and the broad generalizations about them — all of which would be repellent if directed at racial minorities — and see themselves, in [20th century working-class philosopher Eric] Hoffer’s words, “disinherited and injured by an unjust order of things.”

Trump, according to Sullivan, has been planning this candidacy for many years, has made himself into a perfect vessel to harness the resentments bred by the situation described above. And he has chosen the perfect moment to capture the craving of this large working-class for a strong leader to save them, as similar groups have wanted in the past:

What’s notable about Trump’s supporters is precisely what one would expect from members of a mass movement: their intense loyalty. Trump is their man, however inarticulate they are when explaining why. He’s tough, he’s real, and they’ve got his back, especially when he is attacked by all the people they have come to despise: liberal Democrats and traditional Republicans. At rallies, whenever a protester is hauled out, you can almost sense the rising rage of the collective identity venting itself against a lone dissenter and finding a catharsis of sorts in the brute force a mob can inflict on an individual. Trump tells the crowd he’d like to punch a protester in the face or have him carried out on a stretcher. No modern politician who has come this close to the presidency has championed violence in this way. It would be disqualifying if our hyperdemocracy hadn’t already abolished disqualifications.

Sullivan mocks Trump’s actual policy ideas, at least as to their merit, but not for their power to capture the pain and hopes of his target audience. Thus:

Mass movements, Hoffer argues, are distinguished by a “facility for make-believe … credulity, a readiness to attempt the impossible.”

What, one wonders, could be more impossible than suddenly vetting every single visitor to the U.S. for traces of Islamic belief? What could be more make-believe than a big, beautiful wall stretching across the entire Mexican border, paid for by the Mexican government? What could be more credulous than arguing that we could pay off our national debt through a global trade war? In a conventional political party, and in a rational political discourse, such ideas would be laughed out of contention, their self-evident impossibility disqualifying them from serious consideration. In the emotional fervor of a democratic mass movement, however, these impossibilities become icons of hope, symbols of a new way of conducting politics. Their very impossibility is their appeal.

Sullivan doesn’t shy away from the F-word (that’s “fascism”), but says Trumpism doesn’t fit it perfectly:

To call this fascism doesn’t do justice to fascism. Fascism had, in some measure, an ideology and occasional coherence that Trump utterly lacks. But his movement is clearly fascistic in its demonization of foreigners, its hyping of a threat by a domestic minority (Muslims and Mexicans are the new Jews), its focus on a single supreme leader of what can only be called a cult, and its deep belief in violence and coercion in a democracy that has heretofore relied on debate and persuasion. This is the Weimar aspect of our current moment. Just as the English Civil War ended with a dictatorship under Oliver Cromwell, and the French Revolution gave us Napoleon Bonaparte, and the unstable chaos of Russian democracy yielded to Vladimir Putin, and the most recent burst of Egyptian democracy set the conditions for General el-Sisi’s coup, so our paralyzed, emotional hyperdemocracy leads the stumbling, frustrated, angry voter toward the chimerical panacea of Trump.

Of course, it’s not as if the old elites, who have run the country over recent decades, are in such a great position to defend themselves based on their record, Sullivan says. He refers (I’m telling you this essay makes many a surprising reach) to a 1935 Sinclair Lewis (of Minnesota) novel called “It Can’t Happen Here,” about the rise of an American fascist to the presidency. In that novel, a member of the old journalistic elite (shortly before he ends up in a concentration camp) notes that “we respectables” had this coming because of the way they mismanaged things.

That sets up Sullivan’s review of the recent performance of the current respectable U.S. elite:

An American elite that has presided over massive and increasing public debt, that failed to prevent 9/11, that chose a disastrous war in the Middle East, that allowed financial markets to nearly destroy the global economy, and that is now so bitterly divided the Congress is effectively moot in a constitutional democracy: “We Respectables” deserve a comeuppance. The vital and valid lesson of the Trump phenomenon is that if the elites cannot govern by compromise, someone outside will eventually try to govern by popular passion and brute force.

Sullivan warns against Democrats who rely too heavily on early matchup polls that show Hillary Clinton beating Trump:

That it will fall to Clinton to temper her party’s ambitions will be uncomfortable to watch, since her willingness to compromise and equivocate is precisely what many Americans find so distrustful. And yet she may soon be all we have left to counter the threat. She needs to grasp the lethality of her foe, moderate the kind of identity politics that unwittingly empowers him, make an unapologetic case that experience and moderation are not vices, address much more directly the anxieties of the white working class — and Democrats must listen.

And he ends with a plea, which I would have saved for the ending here if I hadn’t used it already at the top, for a massive anyone-but-Trump coalition. Even the no-hopers whom Trump has crushed in the primaries must keep fighting, he says, because the future of Democracy in America is at stake. Of course, he wrote this before the Indiana primary.

In case you are ready and willing to read the whole Sullivan tour de force, and don’t want to go all the way back to the top of this to get the link, here it is again.

Comments (77)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/04/2016 - 10:11 am.

    Media obsession isn’t irrelevant

    5 of the last 10 Black Ink’s have been about Trump. When was the last time 5 out of 10 Black Ink’s were about any other candidate?

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 05/04/2016 - 10:58 am.

      Five of five of the most commented articles right now are Black Ink Trump posts. Coincidence? I think not.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/04/2016 - 12:26 pm.


        But the comment load is pretty low. The article about demographic shifts went over 70 comments, the one about Bernies campaign being like Wellstone’s was around 34 comments, and the murky post New York primary was even higher, at 31 comments. I predict the gender article about Clinton will top all of these Trump entries.

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/04/2016 - 10:44 am.

    Not enough credit has been given for the effect of the conservative media which has spent the last 8 years obsessively portraying Obama as “the worst president ever” as a necessary rebuttal to actually having surviving 8 years the true “worst president ever”.

    The irrationality of that act has contorted the entire media and political structure of the US, possibly permanently. All movement has stopped in an stasis of “who is the awfullest”. The politics of government is the enemy, big business is our friend, and the idea the reality of the modern world itself can be denied has led us exactly to Trump.

    The savior of the working class ? Count how many times has said that wages are to damn high and the answer to a lack of jobs is to lower wages.

    There are times when I do wish that these true believers could be given their own alternative universe to live their dreams out to the bitter end.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/04/2016 - 11:01 am.

    And another thing

    The national (it isn’t just Eric) fixation with Trump could, and perhaps should, also be coupled with the reality that the image many Americans have of “normal” America is, to be truthful, inaccurate at best, and we have the makings of something pretty unsettling:

    Hillary might have to come out of her Wall-Street-Sheltered shell, adopt a few of Bernie’s ideas, and make an unequivocal case for the blue collar and white collar office workers of every ethnicity if she’s going to derail the Trump Express.

  4. Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 05/04/2016 - 11:14 am.


    Yes, Eric, you are obsessed, and Andrew’s article is just another pointless article about how bad Trump is and how he should be stopped. The article is not leading. The article does not bring the reader to a better place. That is why Trump continues to succeed. Tons of people want to stop him yet have inadequate alternatives. They only feed his flames.

    I suggest that you are not trying to understand him. Instead, you are trying to understand why this ‘terrible’ thing called Trump is happening. But nothing terrible is happening.

    In each presidential election, the future of our democracy is at stake, the calamitous cliff is near, and the end of the world is at hand. It isn’t. We are having a national conversation, not launching an endgame.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/04/2016 - 12:21 pm.


      Is there no daylight between Romney and Trump? McCain and Trump?

      • Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 05/04/2016 - 03:09 pm.


        Not sure what you mean, Frank. Please elaborate.

        • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 05/04/2016 - 04:00 pm.

          Presuming to speak on Frank’s behalf . . . . . .

          You see no significant differences between Romney and Trump? Between McCain and Trump?

          • Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 05/05/2016 - 04:08 pm.

            It’s a different world

            I guess I am saying that it isn’t a republican or democrat thing. To Trump supporters, the people that want Hillary elected are on the same side of the fence as those that want Romney/McCain/Cruz.

            Instead of drawing the line between parties, it is being drawn between a brand new way to look at the problem. To answer Frank, yes, there is a boatload of daylight between Trump and the rest of the republicans.

  5. Submitted by joe smith on 05/04/2016 - 12:22 pm.

    Sullivan is saying what most Americans have been saying for past 10-15 years, elites have set up a system to empower the few to the exclusion of many. Trump and Bernie have really tapped into that knowledge of a rigged system and use it to fire up their supporters. Unfortunately for us regular folks, there seems to be only 2 solutions to the same problem. Bernie and far left, grant more power to the Federal Govt by increasing taxes and use their benevolent inate goodness to right all wrongs through wealth redistribution. Trump and far right, pull back from the world and take care of Americans. All the energy in America is centered around these 2 candidates, Hillary is going to win Dem nomination but is considered part of the establishment and a vote for more of the same (poor 3rd option).

    The only thing that surprises me is that the media, TV news, bloggers like Black and Sullivan are caught off guard by this groundswell against the status quo. We no longer have to listen and believe what the media wants us to hear. With one google search you can find an opposing point of view and decide for yourself which is more credible. One example is the right/wrong track economy polls. The polls show steady that 60-70% of the regular folks feel either left out of “the recovery” or America is on the wrong track economically. What you hear from most media outlets is economy is growing and unemployment is low. Something is off from the message to how the folks feel. You also get a healthy dose of talking points here at Minnpost.

    There should be no surprise as to the discontent with our Government after Bush and Obama pushed our national debt to 20Trillion and folks can’t get a good job. The only surprise is lack of creative solutions by either party. No surprise that most folks feel getting solutions from the very folks who rigged the system (politicians, lobbyists, special interest groups) is not a good option.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/04/2016 - 03:04 pm.

      You Speak As If

      Bernie would redistribute income, and imply that it has not been going on for decades. Wealth has been redistributed, right up to the top of the ladder. Massive tax cuts for the wealthy, stagnant wages for the rest.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 05/04/2016 - 04:11 pm.


        The top 20% of wage earners paid 84% of the Federal income tax. Any loop hole the rich use to not pay taxes was passed into law by legislation of elected officials. I don’t blame folks for using the laws to their advantage I blame the elected officials for passing the laws. How much would you like the top 20% to pay in taxes 94%???

        • Submitted by Bill Willy on 05/04/2016 - 07:13 pm.

          That would be a start

          Republican pres “Dwight Eisenhower argued for and was successful in convincing Congress to set the top income tax rate over 90 percent during the 1950s, in order to help promote a balancing of the budget.”

          And, while he was at it, he advocated for and got legislation passed that built the 47,856 miles of that part of our infrastructure known as the Interstate Highway System that, in today’s dollars, cost taxpayers $511 billion.

          If a person actually LOOKS at the income tax rates over the past 100 years a person will notice two important things:

          1) The average (and graduated) rate the highest income earners paid before 1980 was right around 70% to 80% and, for a pretty good stretch of that time, 90% and above (94% was the highest);

          2) Tax rates for high earners have been 30% to 40% too low for 35 years.

          I don’t know what they’ve morphed into, but Republicans haven’t been Republicans for 40 years or so. They’ve been body-snatched and Don is just the latest “evolution” of whatever they actually are.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/04/2016 - 09:12 pm.


            There was a good reason for temporary high tax rates, the USA had just survived the Great Depression and WW II. 2 HUGE unplanned expenses that drove us deep into debt.

            Just over spending on day to day expenses doesn’t seem to justify those extreme actions.

            • Submitted by Bill Willy on 05/04/2016 - 10:51 pm.

              They weren’t temporary

              You may have missed the part where I said “the past 100 years” and “the average rate until the 1980s” (which would mean the average of 70 years of taxation — hardly a “temporary” span of time) and the part about how, “if a person actually looks at those rates.”

              And, if you happen to do that some time, be sure to look at the where the tax rates were for high income earners in the years between World War I and the Great Depression.

              And, if economic collapse and spending huge amounts of money on war qualifies as a good reason for raising those rates why hasn’t the “Great Recession” and spending Six Trillion Dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan been sufficient reason to increase (or restore) high earner rates to those levels?

          • Submitted by joe smith on 05/04/2016 - 10:00 pm.


            Just out of curiosity if you taxed a guy who made a million 90% so his take home was $100,000 but only taxed a guy who made $135,000 30% so his take home was $100,000 would you bust your butt to make 1M or be content to make $135,000 knowing your take home was $100,000 either way?

            FYI, when countries have tried this crazy high tax thing folks just made less and the government take went down too.

            • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/05/2016 - 06:36 am.

              Marginal tax rates

              Google is your friend. The entirety of one’s income is not taxed at the 90% rate, only the amount over a set limit. Fear not, your idolized wealthy would do just fine.

            • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 05/05/2016 - 09:50 pm.

              So take this to a micro economic level

              Let’s assume your $1M earner is a CEO of a large public company. Will he/she quit the CEO job and instead decide to be the accounting manager making $135k? Don’t think so.

              Or, to put it another way, will the accounting manager making $135k refuse a promotion to CFO because his/her marginal rate goes up? Again, don’t think so.

              Will inventors stop inventing? Will performers stop performing?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/04/2016 - 05:08 pm.

      Did We Read the Same Article?

      “Sullivan is saying what most Americans have been saying for past 10-15 years, elites have set up a system to empower the few to the exclusion of many.” No, not really. He is saying that the undemocratic checks on the popular will have created a situation ripe for a tyrant to seize power.

      It’s interesting how he describes Plato’s tyrant:

      He is usually of the elite but has a nature in tune with the time — given over to random pleasures and whims, feasting on plenty of food and sex, and reveling in the nonjudgment that is democracy’s civil religion. He makes his move by “taking over a particularly obedient mob” and attacking his wealthy peers as corrupt. If not stopped quickly, his appetite for attacking the rich on behalf of the people swells further. He is a traitor to his class — and soon, his elite enemies, shorn of popular legitimacy, find a way to appease him or are forced to flee. Eventually, he stands alone, promising to cut through the paralysis of democratic incoherence. It’s as if he were offering the addled, distracted, and self-indulgent citizens a kind of relief from democracy’s endless choices and insecurities.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 05/04/2016 - 06:18 pm.


        His premise was folks are left out and looking for a strong person who promises change. Folks are frustrated by a system they know is not working for them and want something different. Not so sure about your undemocratic checks but folks want change.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/05/2016 - 11:02 am.

          Folks Want Change

          The “time for a change” theme has been a constant of American political life since Washington decided not to run for a third term, so nothing new there.

          “Folks are frustrated by a system they know is not working for them and want something different.” It’s funny how this kind of anger would lead anyone to support Trump. The man could be the poster child for a system rigged against the interests of the masses. At the same time, he promises to tilt things even more in the direction of the wealthy (Bigger tax cuts! Wages are too high!).

          “Anger is a temporary madness.” The ill-defined wrath that Trump is riding could end up backfiring on the angry.

  6. Submitted by Clete Erickson on 05/04/2016 - 01:35 pm.

    Only reason Trump is so popular is, in my opinion, due to the fact both the GOP and DFL have done such a poor job managing the country. Here is a quote from the Atlantic monthly without someone from the outside coming in to shake things up things will only get worse. Had the established parties done even a halfway decent job Trump would have a hard time being a factor in any election.

    “The U.S. national debt comes out to about $16 trillion today. That’s something. But it’s nothing compared to the extra $87 trillion in unfunded liabilities to Social Security, Medicare, and federal pensions. Here’s how that works. If you add up all of the U.S. government’s promises to pay retirement and health care benefits for the next 75 years and subtract the projected tax revenue dedicated to those programs over the next 75 years, there is a gap. A $87 trillion gap — in addition to a $16 billion hole.”


  7. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/04/2016 - 02:16 pm.

    Sullivan has some interesting points

    but I think that he is pushing the Platonic Greece/United States metaphor a bit far.
    The Greeks hadn’t done much with either economics or psychology at that point, so their analysis ignored much of what we are concerned with now.

  8. Submitted by Eric Black on 05/04/2016 - 03:16 pm.

    I appreciate commenters

    Guys, I definitely appreciate those who comment on my scribbling. But if you think my obsession with Trump is an effort to attract big comment threads, you’re wrong. I self-mockingly refer to myself as obsessed with Trump. But, in truth, I believe the rise of the Donald represents a major challenge to our understanding of what democracy is and how ours functions. Cheers.

  9. Submitted by John Clouse on 05/04/2016 - 03:53 pm.


    If Trump loses the anger of the dispossessed that Sullivan references will still be here. I believe that is the great and overwhelming threat to democracy. What will become of them?
    I am guessing that a preponderance of them, as opposed to “Liberals,” own guns, and plenty of ammo. What next?

  10. Submitted by John Appelen on 05/04/2016 - 04:27 pm.


    I remember almost 8 years ago a bunch of Conservatives saying that Obama becoming President would lead to disaster… I remember quite a few years ago when many thought Jesse would ruin MN… Don’t these doomsayers ever get tired of being wrong?

    I also remember Obama saying that he had to learn a whole lot from the time he was Candidate Obama to the time he sat behind the big desk. I have no doubt that Trump will have to do this also. And as always, I am thankful for gridlock… Those founding Fathers were brilliant. What are the odds that the GOP, the Democrats and Trump can agree on much of anything?

    So though Obama, Hilary, Romney, Bush, Trump, etc are different, they are still just one person in a huge system, I don’t see Armageddon occurring anytime soon.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/04/2016 - 06:28 pm.

      Neither Jesse nor the President

      Are fascists. Neither threatened physical violence against their opposition. Neither threatened to suspend the constitution and pursue legal action against unfavorable media outlets and employees. I know it’s fashionable to dismiss these “Trumpisms” as mere exaggerations, meaningless boasting. Perhaps however when someone, with the potential access to unlimited power, tells us to just what despicable ends he plans to use such power it might behoove us to take him at his word. I know the ingrained sense of American exceptionalism blinds some to the reality that we are no less likely to fall to despotism than any other nation that has, through the course of history, but things are changing quickly. Good luck to you if you get your wish, we’ll all need it.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/05/2016 - 10:17 am.

        Unlimited Power

        So do you think that Obama has had “potential access to unlimited power” for the last 7.5 years?

        The reality is that we do have some exceptional checks and balances in place.

  11. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/04/2016 - 04:28 pm.

    Trump’s uniqueness in the recent history of Presidential candidates is unrivaled.

    A media star in his own right.

    A highly publicized past with an continuous trail of controversial actions and statements.

    A man adept at knowing how to attract media attention.

    A media desperate to attract eyeballs 24 hours a day.

    And that doesn’t even get to the analysis of the multiplicity of ideas that he has thrown into the ring.

    So yes, he deserves a lot of attention.

    And not all attention is good.

  12. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 05/04/2016 - 04:41 pm.

    Read the Sullivan article, folks. But read for ideology, for slant in thought. In just what Eric cites here, you can see a very worrisome and ideological slippage when Sullivan talks of Trump supporters as a white class, rather than a predominantly white MALE class (women who don’t pay attention sometimes support Trump, for reasons that Sullivan’s discussion of emotional unreality addresses). It’s hard for women to be misogynist; less hard for them to be bigots, for instance. Generally, women see right through Donald Trump’s ugly relegation of women to the sidelines.

    Then, there’s Sullivan’s conflation of both major political parties into the government that doesn’t function. That’s a standard Republican and right-wing talk radio line, but we know that in actuality it’s the GOP Congressional leadership that, for more than seven years, has refused to compromise on anything with Obama or the Democrats. Look at who stops the government in its tracks. It’s not all of us, it’s Republicans. Republicans who vote to spend money for programs they like, but then complain about having to raise money to pay for them. Please.

    Sullivan’s lament here is very upper-class, and quite disdainful of working-class Americans in its own right. there’s some truth to his analysis, but he misses a lot that he’d just as soon avoid. He abhors mobs and basically democracy itself, like Jose Ortega y Gasset (in the Rebellion of the Masses). His article is an interesting GOP establishment attempt to understand how the mob got away from them.

    But most of America sees Trump for what he is. Let’s not do an Andrew Sullivan and pretend that the minority of America that identifies as Republican represents the country. The media obsession with Trump is sinfully misleading in that regard.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/04/2016 - 06:10 pm.


      This response is exactly why there is such a big void available to fill. Our government spending is at pretty much an all time high and yet folks still are commenting how unreasonable “the other party” is…

      And I just read a good WP article discussing how women employees thought he had treated them incredibly well and given them management opportunities when others would not. They were also honest in saying that he was somewhat obnoxious at times and some of them disagreed with his policies.

      I sure am not enamored with him but as my even more moderate co-worker told me… He will happily take Trump before Hillary. This should be an exciting election season !!!

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/04/2016 - 09:08 pm.

        The site that you cite

        is not (despite its name) an official source, although much of the data cited is from official sources.
        If you look at his graphs, they show that Federal spending (and total spending with it) peaked in 2008.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/04/2016 - 10:05 pm.

          Pretty much

          That is why I said “pretty much”. And if you can find a better site, I would be interested in a web address. This site is referenced by many news sources on both sides of center.

  13. Submitted by John Appelen on 05/04/2016 - 04:42 pm.

    Root Cause

    I think the article is pretty excellent regarding root causes.

    I am sure these were important:
    – illegal immigrants taking jobs and driving down wages
    – SCOTUS bypassing State control and mandating LGBT marriage
    – the obsession of many people for high foreign content products
    – the desire to buy cheaper, cheaper, cheaper
    – the public school system failing to good deliver results
    – the folks complaining about Christian values
    – the ever growing national debt
    – the fear that SS and Medicare will fail

    I personally am starting to like the idea of Trump winning. It seems we need a change agent badly. Maybe he could fill that role quite nicely. (well as long as he can avoid starting WW III) 🙂

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 05/07/2016 - 12:05 am.

      Root cause

      “SCOTUS bypassing State control and mandating LGBT marriage”

      Just so we’re all clear here, what you’re saying is you’re sure that when the Supreme Court of the United States decided that a state banning LGBT marriage is unconstitutional (and therefore mandated LGBT marriage) they were wrong because whatever laws states enact trump the United States Constitution.

      So if Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia and Wisconsin passed laws that made segregation and slavery legal again, and all those states, plus Arizona, passed another law that said any “undocumented alien” apprehended by law enforcement in their state would be executed immediately upon conviction of violation of immigration laws (because they had no right to appeal any ruling of a state court because they had been unable to prove they were American citizens) that would, in your book, be equally right and proper regardless of what the Supreme Court thought, said, or attempted to, as you put it, mandate, via its rulings.


  14. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/04/2016 - 08:48 pm.

    A few points

    First, it is worth noting that Sander’s and Trump’s appeal are about the same: promise the moon and people will believe it.

    Second, Sullivan correctly noticed that “political correctness” did indeed create Trump because it breeds more resentment, more racism, and more alienation in people who are injured by the economy and insulted all the time in addition to it. It is impossible to blame Republican establishment for creating Trump by being anti-Obama; it is easy to blame Obama because he is an embodiment of political correctness.

    And finally, the sky is not falling. Comparing modern day America to Weimar Republic is ridiculous. First, Germany was failing economically and America is not (yet, provided we don’t start building socialism per Bernie). Muslims and Mexicans are not new Jews because there is no historical basis for hatred towards them like there was towards Jews (2000 years of anti-Semitism). And Trump is not that much anti-immigrant (I personally do not remember his anti-immigrant statements, just anti-illegal immigrant ones, which is very different). And of course all examples of countries sliding into dictatorships are irrelevant since not a single one of them had had any significant experience with democracy prior to those events. In fact, a transition from republic to empire in Ancient Rome would be a much better example…

    • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 05/05/2016 - 09:00 am.

      “Political correctness”

      The notion that “political correctness” created this situation is a canard. What people who are complaining about “political correctness” are complaining about is that people are noticing, disliking, and taking action against their bigotry.

      You can debate illegal immigration without calling Mexicans murderers and rapists. You can debate LGBT rights without comparing it to bestiality or suggesting that LGBT folks are sexual predators. You can be opposed to President Obama without making a monkey doll out of him or suggesting he’s a secret Kenyan Muslim.

      For all the nonsense about whether or not Obama (the “embodiment of political correctness”) calls it “radical Islamic terrorism”, he sure sure doesn’t have a problem raining bombs down on them (in at least six countries so far).

      (And there’s no historical basis for hatred against Muslims? Really? We’re 1,000 years downstream from the start of the Crusades, you know.)

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/05/2016 - 02:29 pm.

      “Not New Jews”

      “Muslims and Mexicans are not new Jews because there is no historical basis for hatred towards them like there was towards Jews (2000 years of anti-Semitism).” Was there ever a historical “basis” for hatred towards the Jews?

      Are you saying it’s not really hatred unless it goes on for a certain number of years?

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/05/2016 - 08:56 am.

    Sullivan’s analysis is garbage.

    The idea that Trump is a burgeoning Mussolini completely ignores the real nature of the American electorate as well as the reality of a liberal constitutional democracy.

    I don’t know why Trumps success is surprising people, the guys been in the lead almost since the day he announced his candidacy and the entire republican field was populated with abject duds to begin with. This wasn’t the product of a disengaged electorate asleep at the wheel, this was the product of a decades long republican descent into anti-intellectual magical thinking. The republicans haven’t had a really good idea since Nixon, and their platform was never popular among any majority of American voters. The only reason republicans won elections was that democrats in the 80s embraced neo-liberalism and refused to put liberal agendas on the table. The result was two party system that hammered the working class Sullivan is talking about and provided no real options for American voters. American voters switched parties out of desperation, not shifting party loyalties. This is why both of the most popular candidates in this election cycle are essentially “outsiders” or third party challengers.

    The difference between the democrats and the republicans is that the republican capacity for governance of any kind has completely disingegrated under the weight of toxic personalities and magical thinking. Meanwhile the democratic party may still have the discipline to push their predetermined candidate down the voters throat. We’ll see.

    The suggestion that the United States in 2016 bears any resemblance to Germany in the 1930s or Italy in the earl 1920’s is simply daft. This is fear mongering pretending to be history. I would recommend that anyone entertaining this alarmism read Erik Larson’s: “In the Garden of Beasts”. Converting a modern liberal democracy into a fascist state isn’t simply matter of electing a bad president, and that’s all Trump would be, a really bad president. We’ve already had really bad presidents. If Bush didn’t turn us into a fascist nation no one can, and Reagan actually drew up plans to suspend the Constitution if demonstrations against his illegal Central American polices got out of control.

    As for the media, the biggest role the media has played in the rise of Trump has been to ignore Bernie Sanders and promote the “Clinton as inevitable” narrative ad nauseam. If Trump becomes president it will be because the media chose to ignore the most viable, popular, trusted, and qualified candidate running for office in 2016. This according to almost every major poll. If Trump wins it will be because once again democrats pulled defeat out of the jaws of victory by running the most unpopular, distrusted, uninspiring, and divisive candidate they could find. Not because Americans crave authoritarian leadership.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/05/2016 - 09:46 am.

      Respectfully disagree

      You claim fascism cannot take hold here, my question to you is what’s to stop someone like Trump from accumulating the power necessary to do so. Republicans? Democrats? What do we do if Trump is elected and decides he doesn’t feel like he wants to bother with the provisions of the Constitution. You don’t believe he could find enough like minded folks in the realm of military and law enforcement to make it stick? You aren’t thinking enough outside the box, yes Republicans have ALWAYS been the people who would support the filth that Trump represents. Why would you believe they will continue to follow the laws of reason that you believe will forestall the fall into despotism given why we’ve seen so far?

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/05/2016 - 10:55 am.


        You realize that Trump wouldn’t be the first president to decide the Constitution doesn’t apply to him right? What’s to stop him? Every other branch of government and the people of the United States. The military is obligated to disobey illegal orders for instance, and every government employee takes an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States, not the president.

        The reason some people are freaking out is simply because they don’t actually believe in Constitutional Democracy and they mistakenly think that a president can just tear up our Constitution. Look at how much trouble Obama has had just getting ACA enacted, and you think an American President can just declare himself a dictator?

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/05/2016 - 10:42 am.


      Are Liberal voters who support Sanders suffering the same “anti-intellectual magical thinking” affliction?

      To me Trump and Sanders are preaching similar “rebellions”.

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 05/05/2016 - 01:13 pm.


        The two “rebellions” are only similar on a very, very high level. They’re not equivalent at all. Quite frankly, I’m baffled by all the “experts” comparing the two and finding so many “similarities”. It requires a pretty broad brush to do so. I guess if you simply lumped them into “rebellions” you could do that, but the natural supporters of Trump and Sanders are quite different:

        Trump supporters are reactive to a reality in which they can’t cope with inevitable change. In other words, they want to change back to a time before change happened so much that they no longer felt powerful. This group is heavily weighted with white males with educations that span the lower end of the spectrum and are used to having the fact that they are white and male to allow them to “make it.” In a changing and expanding world, it is no longer sufficient to just be white and male and they’re angry that the world expects them to improve themselves in any way to continue to “make it.” Trump promises “greatness” by somehow waving a magic wand that changes things by taking change away. It’s ironic, though, that this group believes Trump is on their side because Trump’s business practices are the same practices that put these people out of work and out of power.

        Sanders supporters are proactive to a reality in which they understand change should be guided in moral and ethical directions. This group wants change, but not backward. This group tends to be younger (with lots of exceptions) and optimistic that the course of the future can be more fair and provide broader opportunity. This group recognizes that, to make America “great again” we need to recognize that a country full of lots of have-nots and a handful of haves is dragging us down, and that a system rigged to keep it that way needs to be overhauled. These people don’t want “free stuff,” they want a meritocracy where everyone has access to the tools to build their own way up. This group can be naive, but not so naive that they believe that Mexico is going to buy us a wall.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/05/2016 - 11:36 pm.


          I have a pretty simple rule that makes me a happier person. “Assume good intent”

          I assume that most of the Sanders supporters believe that implementing their Democratic Socialist beliefs, maintaining weak borders and giving pardons to ILLEGAL workers will make America better for most Americans including themselves.

          I assume that Trump supporters believe that changing the tax code and removing ILLEGAL workers and keeping people with weak or no background checkouts out of the country will be better for most Americans including themselves..

          And that most of the supporters of both them seem to think that rocking the political status quo, starting a trade war and punishing American companies for making good business choices will be better for most Americans including themselves.

          It is too bad that both sides seem very intent on seeing the worst in their opponents. I like to see almost all of them as Americans who have different views as to how to make America Great !!! And our system is based on getting all those ideas on the table and working it out.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/10/2016 - 08:36 am.


            Gee, I sure have a hard time seeing where your sympathies lie here. Let me fix your assumptions from my point of view:

            I assume that Trump supporters believe that gutting the tax code to give further benefits to the wealthiest and demonizing migrants of a particular ethnicity and enacting a blatantly unconstitutional ban against entry based on religion out of the country will be better for America, but especially and mostly importantly, better for themselves.

  16. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 05/05/2016 - 09:12 am.

    When the media abrogates its responsibilities

    You end up with a Trump, Cruz, Rubio, et al. These people are empty vessels upon which the frustrated project their fears and hopes.

    To think that Trump is for the poor is beyond hilarious. His whole history shows he is an elitist brat. Raised in privilege and expecting it.

    As to Obama and Clinton, the press does not show any critical thinking. What has Obama done specifically that makes him a failure- saving the economy, getting us out of Iraq on a timeline promised by W? Trying to inject some equality for all in our system? Or is his real failure being non- White.

    As to Hillary, it seems her crime is not copping to non-true claims made about her to discredit her. It is no coincidence that now they are bring up Bill’s infidelities because her real failing is working on her marriage and staying committed. Something Trump is a paragon of.

    The press has completely checked out on this election, behaving like TMZ or Buzzfeed instead of responsible public organizations. They are deserving of the scorn of the people.

  17. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 05/05/2016 - 07:09 pm.

    Sullivan’s focus

    Sullivan makes some valid points. I think he’s right in pointing out that Hillary Clinton may not be the best candidate against Trump not so much for what she is but for how she’s perceived. And her campaign ads against Trump which could be construed as “negative” use the very clips he himself has used to rally his support. I gather that Trump’s greatest strength is that he is seen by his supporters as “his own man”. While certainly a member of the plutocracy, he is not seen as being in league with the rest of the plutocratic oligarchy against the common citizenry- the other 99%. Her apparent sympathies for and ties to the plutocracy is HRC’s biggest weakness in my opinion.

    On the other hand, Sullivan puts far too much responsibility for Trump’s success on the failure of the “elites” (whom he means sometimes as the ultra-rich and sometimes the intelligensia apparently, but most of all himself and his friends). If the “elites” have made any difference in electoral politics, it has been in sustaining the kind of What difference have the “elites” made in electoral as if they really made much of a difference in electoral politics for the last 40 years). And his satisfaction at seeing the success of campaigns by Bernie Sanders ignores the influence of large contributors upon Obama’s campaign. Sullivan says nothing about the corrupting, baneful influence of money in Congressional, Senatorial and State races, including judicial races.

    At least Sullivan spares us the inevitable pseudo-Freudian “Mommy” versus”Daddy” political commentary which we are undoubtedly going to be subjected to from now on.

  18. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/05/2016 - 08:18 pm.

    Facts and emotions

    Mr. Haas, can you please explain to me why it is the left who protest (sometimes violently) against Trump while the right do not try to prevent Bernie’s events? And saying that “Republicans have ALWAYS been the people who would support the filth that Trump represents” is much worse than saying that 47% will always vote Democratic.

    Mr. Olsen, your assumption about bigotry of entire chunk of population is unfair and an oversimplification. I can of course say that you can complain about all those people without calling them bigots and racists or I can say that their feelings are the result of things pushed down their throats. So yes, we can debate illegal immigration without calling Mexicans names but we can also debate it without offending those who are against it; we can debate LGBT without calling them names but let’s not call opponents of same sex marriage names either; and while there is no reason to call Obama names, there is equally no reason to call all Republicans names… And I will encourage you to look what is happening more often on college campuses…

    Sure, we are a 1000 years past Crusades and about the same time past Arab’s expansion and conquering huge territories including parts of Europe; I just don’t see any relevance of these facts to our discussion. Have you heard of Muslim pogroms? Blood libel against them? How many Muslims were forced to convert under the threat of being burned alive? How many were expelled from European countries? How many Muslims were killed in genocide?

    Mr. Holbrook, while there was no historical basis for hatred towards the Jews, there was history of hatred towards them. Yes, I am saying that hatred to the entire people cannot take roots in one generation – it takes centuries if not millennia. Sure there are always individual haters but it is different from what happened to Jews in Germany under Nazis. Actually, even now there are more anti-Semitic episodes than anti-Muslim ones in the world…

    Mr. Udstrand, can you explain why Carter lost so badly – he was not shy about his liberal agenda… And why did Reagan win his re-election by a land slide? But to support your point that Trump is not a threat to our democracy, I can point out that FDR tried to reign over the Supreme Court and it didn’t work.

    Ms. Kahler, please explain why it is always Sander’s supporters who shut down Republican rallies and shut down people on college campuses? And how come they are the ones believing in Socialism after they see what happened in Venezuela even if they have no idea what happened in the Soviet Union? Are they realistic? I also wonder who in America doesn’t have access to the tools to build their own way up… And if you tell me that it’s the people in Baltimore, I will tell you that Republican has not take part in governing that city for half a century if not more…

    Mr. Gauthier, don’t you think that worse racial relations and a mess in the Middle East are Obama’s failure, just to name a couple?

    • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 05/06/2016 - 08:43 am.


      The notion being offered by conservatives is that “political correctness” prevents us from addressing critical issues. What I haven’t seen is a compelling explanation of how that is the case. You yourself indicated that we can discuss controversial issues without name-calling. Can you give me more of an explanation of how this is so? (I’ll stipulate that both sides engage in name-calling AND both sides at times engage in behaviors designed to stifle the speech of those opposed to them.)

      Have Republicans have some changes forced upon them that they didn’t like? Sure. But, that’s the nature of the way things go. You think Democrats haven’t suffered the same thing at various points in American history?

      What it feels like to me is that this whining about “political correctness” goes back in some way to what I talked about in my original response — the desire to express bigoted feelings without fear of criticism. Things like the “bathroom bills” are just primal lashing out, not reasoned policy responses to actual problems.

      I’m not debating who has it worse between Jews or Muslims. Merely pointing out that there’s a long history of anti-Muslim behavior out there.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/06/2016 - 02:14 pm.

      You Have to be Taught to Hate

      “Yes, I am saying that hatred to the entire people cannot take roots in one generation – it takes centuries if not millennia.” I don’t know about that. Hatred is hatred, and white Americans seemed to develop hatred towards the Indians pretty quickly. Slavery also seems like a pretty good example of hatred–that was popular with the white folks pretty quickly.

      There is an old joke about the recent immigrant from Ireland who was asked what he thought of America. “I’ve gotten such an education in one week. When I came here, I knew I hated the British. Now, I learned I hate the [Italians], [Jews], and [African Americans], too!”

      “[D]on’t you think that worse racial relations and a mess in the Middle East are Obama’s failure, just to name a couple?” I’m sure there’s a good explanation for how he instigated the Shiite-Sunni conflict, but hat did the President do to worsen race relations, apart from being elected President while black?

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 05/06/2016 - 04:02 pm.

      Mr. Gutman

      I see you have addressed me, but I am not clear on what you are asking. While it seems to be a common thread for you to ask me questions about the failures of communism while focusing on the ills of the Soviet Union, it seems to be enough of a stretch at this point that I can’t glean the point you are trying to make. Maybe if you try not to stick the good ol’ USSR in every comment you make and quit trying to shove the meaning of “democratic socialist” into tiny, ill-fitting holes, I could answer your questions better.

  19. Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/06/2016 - 07:09 am.

    Well for my portion of the screed

    1. Who knows, they’re better at organization? And 2. Voting a certain way isn’t a problem, supporting discrimination and the after effects it leads to is.
    P.S A LOT of these folks whose fragile emotions you feel the need to defend from the terrible name calling of we liberals are anti-semites too, just saying…

  20. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/06/2016 - 07:00 pm.

    Nice discussion

    Mr. Olsen, you are correct, both parties are resorting to name calling and stifling the opponents; however, for those on the left it is contrary to their proclaimed beliefs in tolerance and acceptance. Anyway, an example may be a discussion about racism, which is always encouraged from the left, but then everyone who disagrees that racism exists is called a racist.

    In a democracy, we all have some things imposed on us at some time and there is nothing wrong with that (at least to a degree). But in addition to thing being imposed on one side, now that side is also insulted all the time and their point of view is dismissed out of hand. Even after the Civil War, this didn’t happen, which made America unique in the world to the best of my knowledge because the usual course of events after civil wars and revolutions is decimation of losers by winners. Unfortunately, whatever didn’t happen then is beginning to happen now.

    Now, no one has a desire to avoid criticism for expressing any feeling in a sense you are talking about it (or everyone does, one can say) but it should be logical criticism based on facts, not name calling; and that is what we started with – no name calling and I gave you an example of how it ruins any chance of a discussion.

    And finally, Crusades that happened 1000 years ago do not prove “that there’s a long history of anti-Muslim behavior” because not much was happening in that direction after Crusades.

    Mr. Holbrook, white Americans were at war with the Indians for their territories making it a completely different case. When the war ended, all the atrocities practically stopped. And there was never hatred towards blacks in the South – slavery was an economic tool.

    Obama did not instigate Shiite-Sunni conflict but he allowed it to get out of control. As for racial relations, he made it worse because he didn’t make it better. Instead of using himself as an example that all roads are open to everyone willing to work hard, he played the race cards.

    Mr. Haas, I like your explanation for Bernie’s supporters shutting down Trump’s rallies. I only want to point out that communists were always great organizing those things too… their discipline has always been superb. And for your second response, please give me examples of Republicans supporting discrimination… As for anti-Semitism, do you think that the fact that there is anti-Semitism on the right makes it OK to have it on the left? The left are the party of tolerance, aren’t they? But the truth is that the anti-Semitism on the right is limited to the fringe, like the neo-Nazis, while on the left it is almost mainstream – just think of the British Labour party.

    Ms. Kahler, I am using my Soviet experience – the one most people lack – to evaluate the current events; what is wrong with that. And my main point in my question was Venezuela, not the Soviet Union. Plus, I also asked you to explain the behavior of Bernie’s supporters…

  21. Submitted by DENNIS SCHMINKE on 05/08/2016 - 12:24 pm.


    If it produced Trump, then it produced Sanders, as well.

    I don’t see it so much as ’emotional hyperdemocracy’ as infantile hyperdemocracy.

    (PS-We will rue the day we let our republic become a democracy.)

  22. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/09/2016 - 10:34 am.

    Republics vs. Democracies

    I keep telling anyone who will listen that they support contemporary conservatives at their peril because contemporary conservatives simply don’t believe in democracy, and can’t be trusted to protect or promote democratic institutions.

    One of the many indications of this conservative mentality is the frequent reference to the United States as a: “Republic” rather than a democracy, as if the founding fathers didn’t intend to create a democracy when they signed the US Constitution. i.e.

    “(PS-We will rue the day we let our republic become a democracy.)”

    The idea that a “republic” is NOT a “democracy” is simply historical ignorance pretending to be political acumen. The truth is that the word: “republic” was simply a more popular term for democracies at the time and in no way implies that our nation wasn’t supposed to be a democracy. Republics of the era were simply forms of governments based on representation derived from elections, as apposed to say some form of direct democracy wherein every “citizen” would vote on every policy issue. Republics of the era were by definition also democracies, not something other than a democracy.

    The idea that the modern republican ideaology is somehow derived from some “original” concept of the US as a republic instead of a democracy is simply mush, but it does reveal a core distrust of the whole notion of democracy. This core disbelief is expressed everywhere in attempts to suppress voter turnout, circumvent democratic process, and bypass or ignore the rule of laws derived from the democratic process. This is why it’s simply little more than mumbo-jumbo when republicans claim to “believe” in the US Constitution, what they really “believe” in is an historical fantasy that they’ve manufactured out of basic distrust of their fellow citizens. This is why conservative mentalities for all their bloviating about “liberty” tend towards more authoritarian i.e. non-democratic forms of government. Authoritarians always organize around manufactured historical myths, whether it be the Nazi’s Teutonic Knights or the Japanese Samurai.

    Historical myths provide a rational for magical thinking by promoting the notion that some kind of “purity” is the essential ingredient of society rather than progress or functional government. If only we could arrest our transformation from the “pure” republic into a muddled democracy liberty would flourish. When we pretend this kind of gibberish could possibly result in functional government or policy we simply descend into a kind of fantasy that never ends well for any nation.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/09/2016 - 01:20 pm.


      One of the strengths of the US system of government is that States with large populations can not easily push around the states with smaller populations. And the city folks can not easily push around the folks in the country.

      Now as for Republics and Democracies, many folks like Paul would love a centralized majority rule system. (ie national democracy) This way the slight majority could rule the country against the will of the slight minority. Of course the downside to this would be a great deal of civil strife as the slight minorities felt oppressed. (ie Iraq)

      The good news for us is that the founding Father’s created a government where each State had a lot of the power, and the 3 branches of government serve as checks and balances. The combination of this slows change, but it also ensures that a better consensus before that change occurs.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/09/2016 - 03:27 pm.

        Wrong again

        First, folks like me have no interest in tearing up the US Constitution and creating some kind of new Nation devoid of individual states or representative democracy. We just want to elect liberal politicians the old fashioned way. As for majority rule, I assume you’re referring to referendums that attempt to restrict voting rights and limit marriage to men and women? Yeah, only “liberals” like me resort to mob rule when the spirit moves us.

        Second, the idea that democracy isn’t democracy simply because a nation is composed of states, provinces, Cantons, Districts etc. is simply daft. The Federalists won the argument argument during the Constitutional Convention and that victory has been repeatedly reaffirmed for over 200 years. The fact that we have individual states with local governments isn’t a unique feature of “republics”. Such positions are simply weak attempts to resurrect the rational that the South used to start the Civil War… let that fact sink in for a few seconds and then tell me we live in a republic instead of a democracy.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/09/2016 - 04:45 pm.

          Happy to Hear

          I am happy to hear that I had misunderstood your comment, and that you are okay with States, Congressional Districts, etc who continue to resist the more Liberal agendas that many of the more populous Cities and States seek to force upon them and the country as a whole.

          As I often say. Thank heavens for gridlock and checks / balances. These reassure me that folks like Trump or Sanders could only make modest changes instead of causing large civil strife.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/10/2016 - 08:25 am.

            Another myth emerges…

            You’ll notice another republican myth is the one that establishes them as the champions of the silent majority, moral majority, etc. This mumbo jumbo about being the party of family values vs. liberal New York values etc has been a republican fantasy for half a century now. Republicans used to admit that they were racists, sexist, and oligarchs; when that stopped working they created the myth of the moral majority. Fact is if they were a majority, they would’t have to slow the drift towards liberalism in the first place and they wouldn’t have to attempt to force conservative agendas through with lies and misinformation about everything from voter ID to abortion.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/10/2016 - 10:05 am.

              Slight Correction

              “Republicans used to admit that they were racists, sexist, and oligarchs; when that stopped working they created the myth of the moral majority.” Actually, Republicans used to be opposed to racism and sexism. Those ideals were dropped first by President Nixon, and then by President Reagan, who drove a stake through the heart of any residual opposition to racism or sexism in the Republican Party. The moral majority myth was a way to disguise the racism and sexism. It was just a con to get people to think they believed in social issues that they didn’t really care about.

              The oligarchs were always part of the Republican fan base, except now we call them “job creators.” The ghosts of Frick, Carnegie, Vanderbilt et al. are wondering why they didn’t think of that one.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/10/2016 - 01:32 pm.

              What a leap, however I am flexible. Of course our society is slowly shifting to the Left, as noted below people like to vote in their best interests. In this case it can mean:
              – voting for more government benefits / programs to help me if I failed to take advantage of the free education that was given to me.
              – voting to make someone else responsible for my retirement and healthcare savings.
              – voting for more government benefits / programs to help me if I have kids that I can not afford to raise because I have a hard getting / keeping a spouse.
              – voting for lower taxes and higher spending, because then my generation gets more and passes the burden on to someone else.
              – enjoying gambling, drinking, smoking, drugs, etc

              I mean being a Conservative Moral person is hard. I mean one has to ensure:
              – one excels in school and at work
              – one gets married, has only the number of children they can afford, and stays married
              – one lives below their income, saves and invests
              – limiting the intakes of enjoying gambling, drinking, smoking, drugs, etc

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/10/2016 - 05:26 pm.

                Wrong… again


                You keep associating selfishness with liberalism and liberals, i.e. free stuff for me etc. Individual selfishness is NOT the hallmark of liberal thinking or mentalities. Individual selfishness is the hallmark of libertarian, Randian, and conservative thinking, i.e. selfishness produces the greatest good.

                Your attempts to characterize conservatives as morally superior and responsible are amusing.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/10/2016 - 09:17 pm.


                  As I mentioned to one of my readers, it is hard to be a good Moral Conservative, therefore there are few of them. I also forgot that a good Moral Conservative would also give generously to charity.

                  By the way this comment was in response to yours regarding the nation’s shift towards the Left over the last century. My point is that people find it an easier path where they can reduce their personal responsibility and shift the burden to society’s shoulders, and reduce their tax burden and push it on to the next generation.

                  Therefore Liberals and supposed Conservatives keep spending and taxing more and more…

                  • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/11/2016 - 08:48 am.

                    Moral bankruptcy does not produce superior morality

                    The problem is that your moral assumption that conservative mentalities alone can be moral and that liberalism is immoral, is fundamentally incoherent. That assumption in and of itself reflects a basic moral blindness. It is fact no more difficult to be a moral conservative than it is to be a moral liberal. And any morality that relies in selfishness cannot claim to be a superior morality almost by definition.

                    This is little more than self aggrandizement pretending to be moral authority. Many of us I suspect, are not impressed.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/11/2016 - 04:57 pm.

                      Personal Choice vs Govt Mandate

                      By the way there are many good morale conservative people who vote for Liberal politicians. Good moral conservative people was not talking about how one votes but how one lives. (ie set of positive Universal Principles )

                      Maybe the key difference between political Liberals and political Conservatives is that political Liberals want to use the government to force successful people to live by a set of positive Universal Principles , while giving unsuccessful people a free pass and making others carry the burden of their choices.

                      Whereas political Conservatives keep believing that carrots and natural consequences can encourage the unsuccessful to adopt a set of positive Universal Principles . Unfortunately not enough of the successful people got the “must be charitable” message.

                      For better or worse, here are the principles I try to live by. Sometimes I fail, but they are there to help me refocus.

              • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/10/2016 - 09:40 pm.

                A wonder then

                Given such a laundry list of “commandments” so many folks consider themselves conservative, given so few meet your ideals. Best be careful, lest you find yourself a cohort of one. (though more likely zero, something about glass houses and such )

              • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/10/2016 - 09:48 pm.

                Though I suppose

                It would seem Liberals ARE a lot more fun, if that dour list of conservative ideals is your standard. What a dull life. I suppose if one bases their decision making on the promise of some blissful promised eternity, wasting one’s solitary spin at life on tedious, meaningless (in the greater scheme of things), bean counting productivity does become less onerous. But then that has always been the role of religion, after all.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/11/2016 - 08:08 am.


                  My point exactly !!!

                  Getting good grades, working hard, staying married, saving/ investing, being a responsible parent, enjoying vices only in moderation, giving to charity, accepting/dealing with personal consequences, etc takes a great deal of self discipline, self sacrifice and work. It is a hard path.

                  Therefore many people in modern America across the political spectrum choose the “fun path”. Therefore our society’s drift to the Left.

                  What are some of those “fun” stats: 50% of marriages end in divorce, 40% of kids raised in single parent households, many HS graduates do not meet basic academic expectations, many people with too little retirement savings, etc…

                  • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/11/2016 - 10:17 am.

                    Your asceticism

                    Is only difficult, because you refuse to accept that each individual is NOT an island. Your bullet points would be a cake walk were we all to live alone in a cave, growing and gathering our own food, and shunning all contact with other human beings. No need to worry about marriage, children, education, or money. In fact, it’s the only way “true” libertarian conservatism could ever work in the real world. No exploitation, no power struggles, no cheating, all the things that come into play when humans interact with one another. We’d go extinct of course, but what’s that mere trifle when “purity” is at stake.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/11/2016 - 04:47 pm.


                      Thankfully the folks in my world are different than those in yours.

                      “No exploitation, no power struggles, no cheating, all the things that come into play when humans interact with one another.”

                      My human interactions are usually filled with caring, honesty, charity, learning, patience, tolerance, respect, etc. I mean there times when misunderstandings, anger, fibbing, etc enter in but they are usually short in duration.

  23. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/09/2016 - 09:36 pm.


    Ever notice how big cities are much more diverse than rural areas? Ring any bells on why city folk tend to be more tolerant and diverse in their thinking? Also why they don’t want to move to the rural areas? There is a clear ringing message there. The rural folk see the Constitution through a whats in it for me attitude, not what’s in it for us.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/10/2016 - 08:30 am.

      Human Nature

      I think that is typical of most voters.
      – LGBT folk are looking for more rights.
      – Urban voters are looking for more transit.
      – People paying higher taxes want lower taxes.
      – People who qualify for welfare / services want more .
      – Religious people want a less sinful society.

      And I think it is excellent that our system supports balancing all of these personal wants.

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