1. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Don’t forget “bothsides-ism,” demonization of Dem candidates and insistence on absolute purity (ideological and otherwise).
    Democracy is not a means to a perfect world. It is a way to survive in this one.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Don’t forget brainwashing. By the likes of Rupert the Dungbeetle Murdoch.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    The media landscape, controlled by big business who don’t want anything ‘controversial’

  4. benedic says

    Perhaps the very strong undertow of relativism which puts my “truth” as the linchpin as opposed to your “truth”. and the resultant denial that there is truth plus the idiocy of ersatz realities has a role to play?

  5. Jado says

    Don’t forget the inherent nihilism that comes from an existence that has been systematically hammered down over the last 40 years into an untenable caricature of long-gone small town living.

    When the people hitting you continually blame Emmanuel Goldstein for your beating even as they beat you, a lot of times you end up hating Emmanuel Goldstein and supporting the poor helpless people “forced” to beat you by such an awful person. And then you start wanting EVERYONE to suffer along with you. So you vote for beatings for everyone, and blame Goldstein, just like they planned. And now they can beat everyone. Just like they planned.

  6. chrislawson says

    I do wonder about the 11% who don’t think fair elections are important to democracy.

  7. kome says

    Wow, and to think the entire 7% of people who aren’t trying to maintain social distance go to the same grocery store I do. What’re the odds? Oh right, I live in a fairly conservative part of my state. I guess that tracks.

    Anyway, a part of the answer to your question is that when we don’t hold candidates to any standard other than “you’re not on the team I don’t like” we end up here. When enough of the electorate is perfectly willing to overlook any breach of morality, or law, just so that our team wins, we get the clowns that we have.

  8. daverytier says

    Apathy and in the opposite direction, puritanism and the resulting inability to cooperate. Plus an outdated election system that gives some voters far more weight than the others and is vulnerable to all sorts of manipulation. All this put together allows a small fanatical minority to dominate the rest. The US won’t be the first one to succumb this mode of failure. For example only around 1/4 of Germans actually supported hitler. Yet the nazi took over completely and everyone had to suffer the consequences.

  9. brightmoon says

    The stupid,callous and incompetent way Trump and the Republicans are handling this pandemic has left me near speechless in shock. I can’t even…I feel that I should do something to fix this and don’t know what to do or where to start (aside from getting rid of Trump and that brown nosing Pence)

  10. Dunc says

    Because the political system is arranged to force you to choose between a clown who supports unpopular policies, and an evil, homicidal clown who supports unpopular policies.

  11. unclefrogy says

    and jared says we might have to delay or postpone the election
    uncle frogy

  12. daverytier says

    @11 Dunc. Well, it is arranged to force you to choose between two choices. It does not be the lesser and greater villain. It may equally force the villains to choose between a good guy and even better guy. It’s just that the baddies are united and motivated while the rest is apathetic and divided.

  13. robro says

    unclefrogy @#12 — He can say what he likes, but easier said than done. US Code stipulates the election has to be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The US Constitution stipulates the presidential term ends on January 20th. Changing the first requires Congress passing a change, which would be very difficult. Changing the Constitution requires even more effort. He could try to invoke some kind of emergency action, but that would be difficult to justify even under these circumstances. We’ve had elections during other crises: the Civil War and WW II come immediately to mind. So, perhaps he should cutdown on smoking crack.

  14. daverytier says

    @14 robro. Or they will just do it and nobody will be able to stop them.

  15. wzrd1 says

    @daverytier, our electoral system always did cater to the small population groups, rather than continue to fight over representation. It’s why we also have a house of reprehensibles, which used to be a house of representatives, rather than simply relying on the SpendIt, formerly known of as the senate.
    And I’ve actually used those very terms before denizens of both parties. What were they going to do, shoot me? Or maybe, comply with my and my peers wishes or be voted out. The results, mixed, some voted out, a few ignored us and managed to bullshit their way into another term and one eventually retired to die of brain cancer.

  16. unclefrogy says

    the trumps have a history of doing stupid things why should they stop now?
    uncle frogy

  17. shazaadibrahim says

    “We know the answer: voter suppression, gerrymandering, lying, and big money support.”
    Also, that this is the choice Americans are usually given:
    1: Clowns that support unpopular policies
    2: Corrupt clowns that actively war against popular policies

  18. captainblack says

    chrislawson @7. All surveys are subject to noise due to respondents misunderstanding the question. Many/most such surveys employ ~1000 respondents, if 10% misunderstand a question that enjoys 100% support, you would expect a positive response between 80 and 100% most of the time.

  19. captainblack says

    That should be 88 to 92%, and I bet my arithmetic is still wrong, grrr…

  20. Ishikiri says

    Might I suggest a bit of false consciousness as well?

    There are people out there facing ruin who are rightfully angry about the way the situation is being handled. Many of them just got hoodwinked into blaming powerless groups for it.

  21. says

    Look, right at comment #1, we have somebody demonstrating exactly how it happens!

    It boils down to: we are too stupid to throw out politicians who demonstrate that they are evil morons. It’s how we got Biden this time, it’s how we got Hillary Clinton last time. And a_ray_in_dilbert_space is here to show us exactly what such a person sounds like.

  22. says

    I think we might also want to have a look at why our societies so consistently produce broken people. I feel like there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem here.

  23. indianajones says

    Anyone else here think The Vicar might be a spoiler? But, like, really bad at it?

  24. John Morales says

    indianajones, let’s just say that none of the evidence at hand contradicts that hypothesis.

    This time, for example, the assertion is that Hillary Clinton and Biden “are evil morons”.


    Presumably, PZ is already aware. I kinda like having such a voice around, anyway. So many juicy points that one can so easily refute, upon which, no response ensues.


  25. Dunc says

    @13: In theory, sure – as long as you ignore all the systemic and institutional filters which ensure that only villains get nominated.

  26. Saad says

    It boils down to: we are too stupid to throw out politicians who demonstrate that they are evil morons. It’s how we got Biden this time, it’s how we got Hillary Clinton last time.

    Yes, Clinton and Biden were/are definitely THE problem candidates in 2016/2020.

  27. Saad says

    The answer is that a lot of the politicians who are supporting these popular covid-related policies also will support policies that tend toward racial justice (PC), healthcare (soshalism), minimum wage increase (soshalism), pro-choice (anti-baby). And we can’t be having any of (those) things, can we?

  28. says


    You’d not be dealing with Trump if Hillary wasn’t an idiot that was obsessed with the popular turnout high score rather then paying attention to the EC.

  29. John Morales says

    Captain Jeep-Eep, perhaps. But, with utter certitude, you’d not be dealing with Trump if the people who voted for Trump hadn’t done so. No epithets needed.

    (Also, that you imagine anyone — including yourself — buys that Hillary and her campaign paid no attention to the EC is adorable)

  30. says

    I’m basing this off folks who were actually in the party at the time’s accounts. It’s why I laugh at the ‘popular vote’ shit, beyond that not being how your trash garbo system works – she focused on that, rather then the states she needed.

    Ground GOTV was left to wither, and now you all are paying the price.

  31. daverytier says

    @26 Then Bernie is either a villain too or the Dem primaries have were rigged. Right ?

  32. daverytier says

    Hillary wasn’t an idiot that was obsessed with the popular turnout high score rather then paying attention to the EC.

    Evidence ?

    I’m basing this off folks who were actually in the party at the time’s accounts.

    Quotes ? Links ?

  33. Dunc says

    @32: Depends what you mean by “rigged”. I don’t think Bernie has (or ever had) a snowball’s chance of winning, if that’s what you’re asking. The primary process is one of those “systemic and institutional filters” I’m talking about.

  34. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Thevicar: “It boils down to: we are too stupid to throw out politicians who demonstrate that they are evil morons.”

    And how might that work–throwing them out, I mean. Are we to have purges like the Communist party on the basis of ideological purity. Were that to be the case, I’m afraid Bernie, who isn’t even a member of the Democratic part, might be a casualty. You work on that and polish your ideological purity, dude, while the adults work on saving the bacon of the country. I suspect that it really doesn’t matter how you vote, as you must live in such an ideological bubble that your state is going to vote blue anyway. Enjoy your irrelevance.

  35. daverytier says

    @34 Dunc
    Biden won the majority of Dem votes. If you cal that “systemic and institutional filter”…

  36. says


    A party exists to serve your interests. Tribalist loyalty only serves to enable for incompetence.


    Shattered, I knew a few Goons who were in the campaign, and several articles. She ran her campaign into the ground with bad computer modelling, which lead to, among other things, ordering folks out of Michigan.

  37. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Captain Jeep Eep: “A party exists to serve your interests. Tribalist loyalty only serves to enable for incompetence.”

    Oh, that’s so cute? Do you really believe that, or have you really never cracked a book on history or politics. Political parties exist to perpetuate themselves and exert political power. If your interests coincide at some level, then lucky you. You have to matter to the party (that is be instrumental to achieving their goals) before they even know you exist.

  38. daverytier says

    @37 “Your party exists to serve your interests.” FTFY. The one you founded and own. Otherwise you have to compromise with other members and their interests.

  39. daulnay says

    We got into this bad situation for a few reasons in addition to the stuff posted before:

    1 —
    The FCC under Ronald Reagan eliminated the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. The Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to present views on controversial topics in a way that was honest, equitable, and balanced. Removing it allows broadcasters to present unbalanced and dishonest ‘news’, and allows the corporations running them to suppress dissenting views. It also allows ‘infotainment news’ shows that go way beyond anything remotely true, like the Rush Limbaughs.

    2 —
    Party polarization has shifted since the 1960s; our political parties used to be polarized along economic lines – Labor vs. Business. There used to be socially liberal Republicans and socially conservative Democrats. The parties have re-polarized along the culture wars axis. The culture wars have been exacerbated by demagogues on both sides (who were previously kept in check in part by the Fairness Doctrine – now their lies are not immediately exposed.) The culture wars also promotes the idea that people on the other side are evil or stupid. Obvs., there are evil and stupid people on both sides.

    3 — The party polarization shift accounts for people like Clinton and Biden. The socially liberal Republicans (Rockefeller Republicans, for those that remember) didn’t just fade away, they became Democrats in the 80’s and and pushed a pro-business agends ever since. For the last 30 years, we’ve had pro-business Democrats jumping to the Republican side for important pro-business votes: Nafta, financial deregulation, Biden’s bankruptcy bill, tax cuts for the wealthy. Yes, Clinton and Biden are corrupt — if you define being pro-business and anti-labor as corrupt. I think it’s better to realize that the elites in the Democratic party and the pre-Trump Republican party were united. As Nancy Pelosi said, “We are all capitalists now.” (

    4 — Elites have abandoned the notion that they should govern for the good of everyone. For the last 40 years, ALL the economic gains have gone to the economic top 20 percent of people in the U.S., mostly to the top 0.1 percent. A lot of people despair of our democracy delivering on the promise of the American Dream, and Trump fed on that. Remember, he won the Republican nomination by attacking the Republican elites. This is an old, old problem – when the aristocracy only rules for its own good, the ordinary people turn to a tyrant. (see Cicero and classical commentaries on politics).

    So for some Trump followers, it’s a case of “he’s an evil tyrant, but he’s our evil tyrant!”

    And, um, sorry for the walls of text.

  40. Dunc says

    @36: Do you believe those votes are not influenced by advertising, media reporting, and endorsements, or that there are there no structural factors which differentially affect the ability of various sections of the electorate to participate?

  41. daulnay says

    Ugh, Pelosi misquote. The actual quote was “We’re capitalists.”, in answer to a question about why the Democratic party won’t adopt more leftish economic policites.

  42. daverytier says

    @42 Dunc

    Do you believe those votes are not influenced by advertising, media reporting, and endorsements

    this is basically the right wing view of people as basically just sheep herded by the all powerful media conspiracy, devoid of any autonomous agency.

    or that there are there no structural factors which differentially affect the ability of various sections of the electorate to participate

    WAT ???? You now accuse the Dem party of voter suppression ? You sure got evidence of it, right ?

  43. daverytier says

    @45 various media have various biases, even ulterior motives. Nobody denies that. It’s the part that considers the voters helpless prey I got a problem with.

  44. wzrd1 says

    @daulnay, much of that was true some centuries ago in France. How did the populace rectify that again?

    Excuse me, gotta stop off at the lumber yard…

  45. says

    Oh, now, don’t forget the big reason.

    Most voters- of any political part, are perfectly happy to vote for any terrible godawful policy, even one they hate, if they think it’ll make the other side fee; bad. American politics is not about achieving a positive outcome, it’s about rubbing your nuts in someone else’s face and pretending you’re superior to them.

    which is how we have a situation where two incompetent men who are also sexual abusers are competing against each other while both their parties’ electorates spurned multiple competitors with better ideas and policies. Becuase neither democratic voters nor republican voters giving a flying hooptie about achieving anything. They just want to troll the republicans and democrats, respectively. Uniformly, both sides of electorate think the only problem is that the ‘other side” is in charge; every Democrat would vote for Trump if he were a Democrat, and every republican would vote for Biden if he were a Republican.

  46. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Rusty Mann,
    There is certainly a bit of the voting for an idiot “to own the libs” in the elections of both Darth Cheeto and Dubya. However, if that sentiment prevailed on the other side, wouldn’t the candidate be a far-left, lesbian of color?
    I think what you are engaging is is the usual “they all do it” bullshit. Do you write for the NY Times, perchance?