The most important civics lesson they never taught us

I was this many years old before I learned this extremely important civics rule (forgive me, I’m a little slow):

The laws don’t apply to the people on top.

Or, rather, the laws were written by the people on top to provide them with loopholes, but also the minions who enforce the law do so at the bidding of the people on top.

I know, it’s obvious, and has been obvious all of my life, but as a white man I have been given enough benefits that I could overlook that aspect of reality. Events of recent years have made it so conspicuously overt that it is an unavoidable conclusion. Why do you think so many white men are rushing to join white supremacy movements, or voting Republican, or writing desperate op-eds defending the latest horrific act? It’s because they’re panicking about losing their privileged status in the inevitable upheaval. They’re shoring up the dikes, but the waters are rising fast, and they’re afraid they’ll drown in the flood.

There are only two possible outcomes here: either we get a total fascist crackdown to armor up the inequities of the ex-Republic, or we are going to see the Ancien Régime demolished for its excesses. I’d rather be on the side of the latter process.

What finally hammered the lesson home to me? There have been so many things. The Supreme Court has become transparently political, and I can no longer regarded it as an impartial arbiter of the law. It’s stacked. It’s rigged. It’s laws can no longer be regarded as fair and just.

The police…I remember when they were portrayed as Officer Friendly in PR campaigns. Nope. They are militarized enforcers for the status quo, committing murder at will. Have you noticed that the blue of the boys in blue has become progressively darker over the decades, until now it’s just black? If this were a fantasy novel, we’d call it blatant, over-the-top foreshadowing. Any day now they’re going to redesign the badges to be just silver skulls. Oh, too late — the police themselves think that would be awesomely cool.

We’re only just now becoming widely aware that the US Senate is an undemocratic institution that privileges wealthy landowners. I know, that’s what it was explicitly set up to be, but all we were taught is that the power was distributed among three branches so no one could dominate. Well, the judicial branch is dead, and the Senate is a place where minority views by octogenerians get total power to block legislation.

We still have the house, right? Nice populist institution? Forget it. The House Speaker thinks it is a branch of the “free market economy”. The real reason Jimmy Stewart as Mr Smith goes to Washington is to sell out and get rich. He’s going to filibuster to make sure coal and oil companies can continue to destroy the environment.

We can still respect the distinguished office of the presidency, though. Ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Presidents make clowns look dignified.

Now we know that

The Trump administration engaged in “deliberate efforts” to undermine the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic for political purposes, a congressional report released Friday concludes.

The report, prepared by the House select subcommittee investigating the nation’s Covid response, says the White House repeatedly overruled public health and testing guidance by the nation’s top infectious disease experts and silenced officials in order to promote then-President Donald Trump’s political agenda.

He is responsible for the deaths of thousands, and further, he helped sow the seeds of conspiracy theories and bogus quack medicine that will kill thousands more. He pressured the head of the NIH to endorse hydroxychloroquine and other quackery — fortunately, Collins refused (shockingly, there are some tiny specks of integrity in the political landscape, although Trump followers will probably be chanting about killing him now).

Trump still walks free, and is planning his next run for office. The media is eagerly awaiting the exciting, spectacular news and the frenzied PR circus that will follow along in the trail of wreckage it leaves behind. Everyone is dithering, because…because…because, well gosh, he’s the ex-president! We can’t arrest him for conspiring to overthrow the government and being so incompetent that he let citizens die for political gain! Why, if he fell, then congress would have to after their colleagues, like the rapist-enabler and the coke-snorting party boy and the incompetent conservative loony (I know, that one describes a lot of Republicans), and they won’t do that. That could disrupt the party money machine. And then, who knows, the UK might wake up to how wretchedly stupid Boris Johnson is, and the whole edifice that props up idiot privileged assholes all around the world might crumble.

That could lead to principled politicians taking office, and next thing you know, reform. The well-established money making game might get shaken up, the tables flipped, and suddenly everyone in office would have to work for a living.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that isn’t going to happen.

Hey, remember the good old days of George W. Bush, when idealists would fantasize about how his crimes and corruption and wholesale murders would culminate in him being put in handcuffs and perp-walked out of the White House? It never happened. The war criminal is in a prosperous retirement in which the media occasionally publishes a puff piece about his cheesy amateur paintings. Henry Kissinger is still alive, has a net worth of tens of millions of dollars, and still has journalists begging for interviews. Donald Trump might just be the next president of the United States.

Burn it all down. The American republic is a failed experiment.

The world will sigh with relief when we’re simultaneously hollowed out by the pandemic (facilitated by our own idiot policies) and torched by climate change, which we will do nothing about.


  1. says

    The misogynistic, antisemitic, obsessed transphobic spammer is back. Clean up in progress.

    Actually, clean up done. When will he realize I can undo his efforts with a few clicks?

  2. nomaduk says

    Spammer, yes, but also coming to the realisation that burning the whole thing to the ground is pretty much the only solution left.

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    Burn it all down. The American republic is a failed experiment.

    The “American Republic” was a con-game to begin with. Our nation didn’t start as some great experiment in democracy and freedom. We are a nation built with the toil of black slaves and other exploited labor over the mass graves of aboriginal peoples. Our much-celebrated “revolution” was really just coup by a bunch of rich men who wanted the call the shots over North America rather than some inbred monarch across the ocean. Our beatified “Founding Founders” who claimed “all men are created equal” didn’t include anyone who wasn’t a white, male, landowner. All the “progress” that occurred sporadically throughout our history came via judicial fiat, not the democratic approval of our racist, sexist, homophobic, Christian population, which only created even more resentment toward the marginalized.

    It was a system that was bound to fail.

  4. cartomancer says

    Too much of a focus here on the institutional structures of your nation’s politics. Those never were the drivers of change.

    Popular movements. Big, powerful, organized ones. That’s what got you the progress you have had, that’s what will get any more. Black people in the 50s and 60s, Women in the 60s and 70s, LGBT+ people in the 80s and 90s – none of them waited for elected politicians to enact their equality. And you only got the New Deal because of Trade Unionists, Socialists and Communists pressuring the Roosevelt administration with real and credible threats.

    One can never sit back and expect the political establishment to do anything but feather its own nest. This has never been the case.

  5. Walter Solomon says

    Maybe AOC can save us. Once Bernie mentors the young Padawan like the proverbial Yoda, she’ll be a one woman, wrecking crew.

    Oh, and Pelosi and the rest of the corporatist Dems, including those in the Executive Branch, must go. Now.

  6. raven says

    There have been so many things. The Supreme Court has become transparently political, and I can no longer regarded it as an impartial arbiter of the law. It’s stacked. It’s rigged.


    Yeah, it is all but certain Roe versus Wade will be gone in a few weeks.
    The next thing the US Supreme Court will destroy, an hour after that, is itself.

    The US Supreme Court depends on what political scientists call “legitimacy” for its power. This is just a fancy way of saying that their power comes from people accepting that they really have power. When people believe they are political and a pawn of the GOP/fundie xians, that goes bye bye.

    Are we really going to let 5 or 6 unelected Catholic extremists wreck a nation of 330 million people? Well, yes, in the short term we are. In the long term, Roe versus Wade can become a football. It’s on, reversed, off again over and over again.
    We do outnumber the right wingnut block by 55 million to 1.

  7. Howard Brazee says

    I strongly believe that public servants should have higher standards than the general population. Our standards of what corruption should be the lowest level.

  8. Akira MacKenzie says

    Raven @ 9

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m absolutely certain that the Dems will heave a massive sigh of relief when Roe is overturned. It will be one less culture war wedge issue lost them the rural and Bible Belt votes starting back in the 80s.

    Expect the Democrats to abandon LGBTQ rights and church/state separation next. Expect to be told that we have to “take a step back” so we can take two step forward later, and that we wanted cultural change that America just wasn’t ready for. Maybe a couple of (…or three or four..) generations down the line we can try againAlso expect to hear the “Always Vote Blue” Crowd demand our support even after these inevitable betrayals.

  9. lotharloo says

    @Walter Solomon
    I have been kind of disappointed by AOC. Honestly, I would love to see Ilhan Omar to be the president one day, but really, it’s just impossible.

  10. Akira MacKenzie says

    How many times do we have to remind everyone: WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR “INCREMENTAL CHANGE!!!” The environment is collapsing NOW! People are suffering NOW! Fascists are gaining power NOW!

  11. Dennis K says

    @13 – Denmark has always been, in my mind, a shining example of how government should work. When I mentioned this to my (American) wingnut father, he informed me Copenhagen is actually the center of all European communism and that I’m being duped by “democrat” media forces backed by George Soros.

    This year, I’m spending christmas day alone and I’m looking forward to it.

  12. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 17

    It’s telling that this country (yes, I’m including “liberals” and Democrats among them because even the most radical of them believe capitalism is something that can be “fixed”) thinks that a economic theory that seeks to eliminate poverty and class is “evil,” while a system that loudly and proudly proclaims that the poor deserve to starve to death is dubbed the epitome of virtue.

    I suppose your father thinks that Denmark is like Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis: Burned out, post-apocalyptic hellscapes run by “Antifa thugs” and Muslim immigrants? Yeah, Most of my fucking family is like that too.

  13. davidc1 says

    I always known how stupid that twat faced twat johnson is,just as I have always known what a bunch of bastards the
    tory party are.
    As for America,I think the only path for it is to split into a number of smaller countries.
    @17George Soros,I knewed it were him all the time along.

  14. says

    @ 18 Akira “including “liberals” and Democrats among them because even the most radical of them believe capitalism is something that can be “fixed”.”
    I need to state that I and my organization, while registered as ‘democrats’, are more progressive than that and we KNOW that Capitalism CANNOT BE ‘FIXED’. It is conceptually dishonest, murderous and destructive. It is the rot at the core of american founding.

  15. beholder says

    @20 shermanj

    And yet you, and presumably your organization, support the oldest capitalist party in the world. A party which will burn democracy to the ground and deliver the rest of us over to fascists before it ever allows itself to fall into the hands of leftists.

    How’s that working out for you?

  16. says

    Responding to @ 21 beholder, your statement is either ignorant, dishonest or abusive, for it is putting false words in my mouth. I said “while registered as ‘democrats’, are more progressive than that” We must register as something or we don’t get any ballots at all. We DO NOT not support the >>’corrupt corporate democrats’ <<. We support honest, progressive candidates and measures that prove they care about the wellbeing of the populace.

  17. says

    oops, Correction to comment 23 – unintentional double negative: should read: We DO NOT support the >>’corrupt corporate democrats’ <<.

  18. Alan G. Humphrey says

    @6 A. MacKenzie
    I agree, with an observation that what you call a coup was in my opinion Civil War I, in that it was a successful secession to keep slavery legal. BTW, slaves were considered property for the right to vote, and there were many city dwelling voters that only owned slaves as their access to The Franchise. That’s why I use property owner instead of landowner for this context.

    @7 cartomancer
    You make it sound as though all those powerful movements were uncategorical successes, that getting Constitutional Amendments and SCOTUS decisions have really changed things. As we watch and see that the reality is a tad murkier, the bread (GMOs) and circuses (streaming services, social media and fantasy leagues on smart devices) have evolved but are even more powerful at keeping the populace in a contented agitation of docility.

  19. birgerjohansson says

    In William Gibson’s SF he writes about how the ecological collapse will be twinned with extreme disaster capitalism in an event called “the Jackpot” to bring the last shreds of wealth into the hands of the cleprocracy, or “klept”, as not even the illusion of democracy remains.

  20. Walter Solomon says

    lotharloo @15

    Any of “The Squad” would be an improvement over what we have and will very like be getting in the foreseeable future.

  21. says

    Waiting for my apologies from the people who have been mocking me on here for saying approximately this for the last several years. Because I know that people who supported Biden — the guy who is in charge of the party and has refused to actually take any action (except to urge on further fossil fuel production, police funding, and military spending) — have sterling moral qualities, ha ha ha.

    @#23, shermanj:

    It is the knowledge that people like you will automatically support, say, Manchin or Pelosi or Biden if more progressive candidates are shivved which permits the Democratic Party to continue to slide rightward. If you ever, under any circumstances, said “Blue No Matter Who” unironically, then you are part of the problem.

  22. Allison says

    Burn it all down.

    There speaks a person so privileged, they don’t even realize what sort of Hell the current system, however corrupt holds back.

    For a look at what the USA might look like if the current power structure is “burned down,” one need look no further than Somalia or Syria (or the 30 years war in Germany.) Basically, what you get is multiple warlords duking it out, with the rest of us as the battleground, until, if you’re lucky, one of them manages to destroy the rest and you have only one set of thugs robbing, raping, and killing you, rather than a half dozen.

    If you’re wondering why Afghanistan has on the whole accepted Taliban rule, it’s because, however bad the Taliban, the alternative was far, far worse.

    Is this what you want for the USA?

  23. canadiansteve says

    We do indeed live in interesting times….
    So many things wrong with western so-called democracies. The thing is that the technical solutions are ready to go, it’s just a question if we are going to use them in time to save our societies. Can we stop using plastics that take thousands of years to break down and poison the environment- yes. Will we, not a chance, Can we rapidly switch to renewables/nuclear in time to avoid 4C of warming – yes. Will we? again, not a chance.
    Holding us back is an economic system designed for the 19th century, a political system designed for the 19th century, and information laws and education systems designed for the 20th century.
    The media happily plays a narrative of side A vs side B,a grand narrative of a war of ideas and values, duping people to think that the battles have meaning (surprise, they don’t) when behind the scenes the true puppeteers manipulate to gain whatever advantages they can while the vast majority of the population believes the show is real. People read their newsfeeds to get confirmation of how terrible the other side is, not to find out about reality. Social media and distinct networks comfortably wrap people in protective bubbles lest their ideas be challenged.
    But to make a change everyone is going to need to hurt, not a little, but a lot. This is the only way that people will wake up. This isn’t a gentle nudge awake, it’s going to be a full on icebucket of chilled salt water at -10C, followed by a solid slap to the face. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better folks. I am saddened for the youth of today and relieved that I personally won’t have to be there for it.

  24. says

    Hate to disappoint you but the fascist crackdown is more likely. Trump’s stooges have been quietly undermining democracy in Republican held states by winding back voting rights and gerrymandering electoral boundaries. They’ve been doing it for decades. You can invoke Godwin’s Law but this is straight out of the Nazi playbook. Gradually whittle away at rights and freedoms so you you have more control and nobody notices or cares because it doesn’t effect them. Then you make your big push. Jan 6 was Trump’s Reichstag fire. It didn’t work but it polarised politics enough that his accomplices in Congress and the Senate can openly undermine the foundations while he licks his wounds and prepares for his next putsch. The next time his stormtroopers will bring the petrol and matches.

  25. chrislawson says

    PZ, I agree with your first statement (“laws don’t apply to the people on top”) as much as your toned-down clarification (“or, rather, the laws were written by the people on top to provide them with loopholes”). Both are true, not one or the other. If laws applied to the people on top, Trump and all of his administration would be convicted felons, 99% of senior partners of the large finance firms would be in prison for the rest of their lives, and half of the current Supreme Court would be facing perjury charges. It’s not just loopholes, it’s absolute political protection from the application of existing laws and statutes.

  26. chrislawson says

    Akira M–

    To quote Samuel Johnson from 1775: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”

  27. chrislawson says

    (Note: Johnson’s views were extremely regressive. His core objection to American separatism was that it opposed the Crown’s powers. But he was still on point regarding the hypocrisy of slaveowners demanding freedom, as well as secessionist British subjects calling themselves “patriots”.)

  28. John Morales says

    Vicarish @28:

    Waiting for my apologies from the people who have been mocking me on here for saying approximately this for the last several years.


    Nah, your counsel of despair and unrelenting demonisation of the Democratic party and its constituents and your inveigling against any votes for them would have resulted in a second Trump administration.

    (Basically, you were claiming that bad and worse and worst are the same thing, so don’t prefer the bad over the worse or the worst)

  29. chrislawson says


    The Capitol riot wasn’t really the Reichstag fire. A better analogy is the beer hall putsch: a dismal failed coup that left 16 Nazis dead and put even more in prison, including Hitler himself on a 5-year term (he only served 8 months). But instead of ending Nazism, it turned into a learning experience for the party, which changed tactics and seized control of the nation a mere ten years later.

  30. lpetrich says

    The Beer Hall Putsch is interesting. At Adolf Hitler’s trial, his judges were remarkably lenient toward him, letting him rant at length about how he was a simple German patriot who only wanted to make Germany great again. Hitler claimed that the real traitors were Germany’s current rulers, the ones who stabbed Germany in the back by surrendering to the Western Allies.

    He got sent to Landsberg Castle, where he got a nice room with a view, and he got to have lots of guests. When there, he wrote “Four and a Half Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice”. His publisher shortened the title to “My Struggle” (Mein Kampf).

  31. chrislawson says

    Vicar, I know you don’t get it and probably never will, but here goes anyway…

    Nobody on this forum (apart from the trolls) likes the Democratic Party and its habit of hoovering up progressive votes knowing it won’t lose those votes to inaction/active antagonism because the Republicans would be even worse. Nobody here likes voting for a crappy centre-right party just because the other party is far-right. And especially nobody likes the stupid US electoral system that makes voting for anyone not Dem or Rep a wasted vote.

    The problem is that you keep insisting on ideological purity in an electoral system that punishes ideological purity, at least for progressives (cartoonishly villainous fascists/corruptioneers/child molesters seem to get along fine). Trump increased his share of the vote from 2016 to 2020 (46.1% to 46.9%). The reason the Dems won is that their vote went from Clinton’s 48.2% to Biden’s 51.3%. Some of this is due to increased voter turnout (an extra 1% overall, most of which went to the Dems) but most is due to the collapse of the independent vote, with those votes shifting to the Dems — with some surprises: the Libertarian vote also collapsed (3.3% to 1.2%) and you’d expect that to go to Trump, but it clearly didn’t or he would have gained about 2%, not 0.8%.

    So you can crow all you like about how nobody should have voted Democrat because it didn’t stopped the current escalation of regressive political disasters — but the fact remains that if all those independent voters who shifted to the Dems in 2020 had done this in 2016, then Trump would never have been President, McConnell would not have had a stranglehold on the American body politic, and we wouldn’t have a majority of partisan Supreme Court judges looking for opportunities to overturn Roe v. Wade despite lying about it in their nomination hearings.

    So you might end up getting what you want — an uprising that demolishes the current bullshit US system. And if it comes to that, I will be firmly on the side of rebellion. But I have serious concerns for three reasons. First, an awful lot of innocent people are going to get hurt along the way, not just ideological enemies — anyone wanting an abortion in a red state, for instance. Second, uprisings are dangerous beasts and progressives often win the revolution but lose the rebuild — the Iranian Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Servile Wars, were all successful progressive revolutions that opened the door for regressive political consolidation. If there were more Haitian and Velvet revolutions and fewer Long Marches and Year Zeroes I would be a great deal more optimistic. Third, there have been many opportunities to change US politics for the better within the system and without violence, if only people had damn well voted for them instead of throwing away their votes on purist choices that had zero chance of political influence — looking at you, Ralph Nader.

  32. says

    @28 vicar, “it is the knowledge that people like you will automatically support, say, Manchin or Pelosi or Biden if more progressive candidates are shivved which permits the Democratic Party to continue to slide rightward. If you ever, under any circumstances, said “Blue No Matter Who” unironically, then you are part of the problem.”

    Your “knowledge” is horribly ignorant and false and insulting. You do not know me. But, if you had the ability to understand my direct statements you would not have said what you did. I said “I and my organization “DO NOT support the >>’corrupt corporate democrats’ <<. We support honest, progressive candidates and measures that prove they care about the wellbeing of the populace.” We are dedicated to not caving-in to the corruption that is the DNC, DCCC, RNC or any of those corrupt entities.

    @38 chrislawson is absolutely right: “Nobody on this forum (apart from the trolls) likes the Democratic Party . . . hoovering up progressive votes . . . Nobody here likes voting for a crappy centre-right party just because the other party is far-right.”

  33. logicalcat says

    It is painfully obvious to me as someone who grew up poor and working class that this board has been taken over by overly privileged idiots who do not understand politics and fantasize about this stupid revolution where capitalism is done away with and replaced with, what exactly? Because communism at the height of its power didn’t massively pollute, genocide, create systems of corruption, and funneled most of the money to only 1% of the population? I got news for you, they did all that in higher quantity and with bread lines too.

    During 2016 I asked a commie college student who was spreading anti-Hillary conspiracy theories why should I, a working class minority who is also on the LGBTQ spectrum should I support your revolution when people like me tend to be victims of these revolutions time and time again in history and his answer was “well better get yourself some guns.” That guys politics are now part of this thread. Privileged bullshit. Just missing the guns part…give it time.

    Check your motherfucking privilege assholes. And that goes for you too PZ.

    You all talk shit about America being a failed republic while simultaneously ensuring its downfall.

    @21 Beholder

    Like I said in another thread, China’s communist party was changed from within from reformers despite actual wholesale oppression from a one party system.

    you say “A party which will burn democracy to the ground and deliver the rest of us over to fascists before it ever allows itself to fall into the hands of leftists.”

    Guess what? LEFTISTS ARE NOT BEING OPPRESSED YOU OVERLY PRIVILEGED DIPSHIT. People like you is why Ive decided to revive the old SJW catchphrases and attitude because its very much needed now. Check your fucking privileged. Leftists are not some oppressed minority. They can amass power just like any other entity.

    You just don’t want to. Because y’all don’t vote. You don’t organize in any meaningful way except as a proxy church. There is nothing stopping you from wresting power from the democrats hands. I tire of saying it but right wingers do this every decade because they actually vote. The democrats are not trying everything in their power to stop you. The voters are because leftists as a movement have failed to convince anyone except poser college kids who don’t vote that they matter and to top it off you guys seriously think the working class is on your side? The working class voted against you. Not to mention the fact that a lot of you sided with the fascists. Speaking of…


    …Vicar is a fascist sympathizing commie. Like the Soviet Union before Nazi Germany betrayed them. So you get no apology. Especially since we weren’t wrong. Only your strawman of us was.

    @8 Walter Soloman

    The minute AOC tried to get anything done which involved taking a more strategic moderate level, she was branded a traitor and corrupted by the capitalist dems by her fanbase. Which i funny because those same berniebros worship the man despite the fact that Bernie does this all the time. Leftists don’t want things to get better. They want to complain comfortable in their privilege drowning out the voices of those they claim to fight for.


    Some here are actual authoritarian commies who want all that violence and oppression because its their team so they benefit from it. Some are privileged children playing up the fantasy of armed revolution. Some are too dumb to know any better.

    Seriously after news broke out that we withdrew from Afghanistan there were people here who thought that the Taliban was better than the USA.


    “Our much-celebrated “revolution” was really just coup by a bunch of rich men who wanted the call the shots over North America rather than some inbred monarch across the ocean.”

    Why is revolution in quotes when what you described is literally what revolutions are? Oh that’s right. You don’t actually know what you are talking about.

    Oh and fyi Akira how is it that you intend to abandon incrementalism and institute wide scale massive change without the political power and voter base that is needed to rile up for? because in case you weren’t aware the masses think you people are full of shit and vote for the two party leaving only college idiots and the terminally online for your revolution. And instead of trying to figure out ways to remedy this problem, you ignore it and blame it on the dems.

    @20 Sherman

    America wasn’t founded on capitalism you idiot. It was founded on chattel slavery. Unless you are too privileged to think they are the same thing. Jebus the first time I saw the whole “America was founded on capitalism” bullshit was from right wingers but now the left are doing it too?

    This blog is like 5 steps away from endorsing Jimmy Dore because that’s how far dumb the left have gotten.

  34. beholder says

    @22 shermanj

    Responding to @ 21 beholder, your statement is either ignorant, dishonest or abusive

    Ignorant, perhaps (you forgot the fourth option: unflatteringly accurate). For the record, you don’t sound like the typical Democratic party apologist in PZ’s orbit. You sound more like me from a couple of years ago, and I think we mainly differ on strategy. You want better Democratic candidates, and I view the Democratic party as the first obstacle that leftists must overcome (read as: defeat and replace, the Republican party is next) if we are to have any chance at mitigating or entirely stopping the worst of what’s to come from anthropogenic global warming and 21st century warfare.

    It was meant as an honest “How’s that working out for you?”. We’re running out of time, and the Democrats are happy to let us do just that.

  35. velociraptor says

    @40 – Well said – VERY well said.

    I posted this blurb here about 20 months ago, and it still rings true today, especially among the privileged and rather pampered on this forum:

    “Listen up and let me clue some of you in on why the Fascists win – for the last few decades, while you pouted, they VOTED. And they voted because they understood that getting part of what they wanted was better than getting NONE of it. They organized and took over the GOP at the grass-roots level, and now we are seeing the results. They gained control, purged the moderates, and now the lunatics are running the asylum. So guess what, you need to do the same damn thing. And if you can’t sell your ideas, you might have to face another thing more unpalatable – maybe your ideas aren’t that good to begin with – or perhaps you just suck at selling them. I don’t agree that the Left has bad ideas, but I am a pragmatic adult, and it is obvious many of you are not.”

    To update, the ‘purity’ of some of you has gotten you a 6-3 conservative SCOTUS. We. Fucking. WARNED. You. The Right played the long game, and you didn’t, and you are going to reap the consequences of your collective inaction.

    The strangest thing about the hardcore left is that so many of you have locked yourselves away in echo-chambers for so long you think that you are far more numerous (and popular) than you are. Which is odd, because that is exactly what you accuse the Right of doing, which, to be fair, is also true.

    The difference is, as I noted in April of 2020, is when the time comes – the Right ACTS, and the Left does not.

  36. unclefrogy says

    we have a system in theory, one base on law made by the people through their representatives
    One of the problems is all the representatives are fallible flawed human beings. the founding fathers were as well full of high words and grand ideals some could follow through on them some could in the end could not. The words though and the documents are a worthy accomplishment they left us with the task of making them function in the real world here and now.
    I know of no other system that could be devised that would be better All we have to do is use the f’n things we have for a change. If we are going to have rules then we have to play by them as it is now the rule is you can cheat if you can get away with it.
    There will be mass movements what kind and what will trigger them I do not know even if the powerful use more force they can not keep things from happening. all they do is increase the resistance of the majority and increase their number. What they are advocate leads in that direction

  37. davidc1 says

    If the German govt had simply deported adolf back to Austria a an undesirable,what a different world it would be .

  38. lpetrich says

    There is a solution to voting for the lesser of the two major evils: trying to make the lesser one much lesser. Vote in the primaries. You’ll often have much more meaningful choice. Even if your choice doesn’t win, you may end up with a candidate worth voting for.

    Winning in the primaries is how these ones got started: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Marie Newman, Jamaal Bowman, and Cori Bush. I think that everybody here will likely agree that all five of them are big improvements over the long-time incumbents that they primaried: Joe Crowley, Michael Capuano, Dan Lipinski, Eliot Engel, and Lacy Clay.

    Progressive candidates don’t always win, though some of them win on their second or third try, like Marie Newman and Cori Bush.

  39. lpetrich says

    All four members of the original “Squad” were successfully re-elected last year, by sizable margins. So if their positions were electoral poison, that was not very apparent.

    Ilhan Omar defeated her primary challengers 58.2% to 38.5%, 1.5%, 1.1%, and 0.7%.

    Rashida Tlaib defeated her primary challenger 66.3% to 33.7%. She was challenged by previous opponent Brenda Jones.

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated her primary challengers 74.4% to 18.1%, 5.0%, 2.2%, and others/write-in 0.2%. Her biggest one was CNBC journalist Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, like AOC a Hispanic woman with a hyphenated name. But unlike AOC, she was heavily supported by Wall Streeters.

    Ayanna Pressley had only write-in challengers, who got 1.4% of the vote.

  40. lucifersbike says

    @davidrc. If the German government had deported Hitler back to Austria … I doubt if it would have made very much difference, given the strength of Fascist and authoritarian movements in Europe in the twenties and thirties. Stalin’s regime murdered and ruined even more lives than Hitler, while the Spanish are still discovering mass graves of Franco’s victims. Remember Fascism was still in power until the seventies in Spain and Portugal, and briefly in Greece. Mussolini’s thugs terrorised and murdered opponents for twenty years, quite apart from brutally attacking Ethiopia (an embarrassing part of my family history is that my wife’s great-uncle was a general in the invading army). Further afield we have the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the continuing persecution of the original inhabitants of the Americas (named after an Italian, how about that for colonial appropriation?)
    Meanwhile the alleged Western democracies were … dropping gas bombs on Iraq in defence of “British Interests” (i.e. BP), sterilising the “mentally incompetent” in Sweden, forcibly adopting the children of Sinti and Roma families (Switzerland), and enriching themselves by bringing the benefits of Western civilisation (stealing everything that wasn’t nailed to the ground) to Indonezia and Indo-China.
    tl;dnr. Hitler was not a unique historical monster; but having lost, he is a convenient distraction from the innumerable crimes of other, slightly less .loathsome “great leaders”.

  41. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Vicar is still strawmanning the other position. The other position is not “only vote in final elections”. Vicar is right that such a simplistic strategy won’t get anything done. (He’s wrong that his protest voting strategy will get things done.) Rather, the way forward is what other commenters identified above – voting in primaries. I would go further. To get things done, we need to do way more than just voting. We need to take other sorts of actions, the same sorts of actions that the Teapartiers did to take over the Republican party (to the extent that they did). Voting in primaries is a big part of that, but it’s not the whole answer either.

    <3 velociraptor in 42, and lpetrich in 45

    Party list voting in the US when?

  42. davidc1 says

    @48All what you say is true,but I doubt the murder of murder of 6 million Jews,and thousands of other people by the Germans
    would have taken place

  43. Kagehi says

    @40 and others – Yeah, vote in the Primaries (I did), with the options being a few Dems I couldn’t find shit all about vs. a lot more Republicans, who where either lying about their positions, and getting caught at it, or had even less available information on what the F their positions where. You might as well have, in terms of local government especially, just picked a name randomly from a hat, since the “only” difference was that one was pretending to be a Democrat (or maybe was, but given idiots like Manchen – I keep wanting to call him Munchkin – how the F are voters supposed to tell when even the websites and organization that are “supposed to be” helping figure this out don’t like anything more about them than, “There where once X and once said Y, but we have no record of any of the shit they actually DID.”)

    And, the reason quite a lot of us are thinking we need a change in what the F the government is, on at least some level, so that its at least “less” broken, if not reformed heavily is precisely due to the points that lucifersbike brings up. But, he doesn’t even go far enough. We always hear, from “fans” of our grand Republic, how many people died to communists, and there is even a “black book” listing this. There is no such book listing everything, and everyone, killed by Democracies. And, of course, everyone has this, “The economic system of capitalism can’t produce fascists, unlike the, also economic system, of communism, because naturally they later are automatically dictators, fascists, authoritarians, etc. (never mind that many of those things are disdained by, and where being fought against, by its inventors (and often killed for not supporting the new regime that decided to steal their ideas). Thing is, even if you want to ignore all the death that colonialism, both modern and in the past, caused, gloss over all the terrible things done in the name of capitalism, and by extension thus attributed to Democracies (since they didn’t happen in some magic vacuum, with no voters, or representatives “deciding” to let them happen, or even do them), there is a rather glaring fact that the “black book” contains a few… insane things, like how the death people by Nazis is attributed to socialism, but so is the death of the Nazis during the war. Ok.. That, sort of makes sense, I suppose, but.. then shouldn’t be count soldier that died in “our” wars, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, etc. as “deaths do to capitalism/republic”? Why not?

    The second one though is just a major WTF. The list of, “people killed by the Chinese government”, in their own lands, and attributed to that, includes, “People the are estimated would have been born, if their parents hadn’t been killed before they where even conceived.” This is some 11 million extra people. Wow.. Should we add to the list of “dead by America”, every hypothetical Native American that was, “not born because we killed their would be parents”, during the last 250 years? Why stop there? How many more “Africans” would there now be, or have been, if their ancestors hadn’t been displaced (i.e., enslaved), or killed, including by the British Raij?

    Every time someone brings up this BS, as a way to literally derail the conversation from, “Maybe we need a different system, and maybe some sort of hybred would be better, or maybe we can just try, like we already failed to do with the US, to put safeguards in place to make it harder to screw up another attempt at something else…”, into, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT ONLY DEMOCRACIES AND CAPITALISM ARE GOOD!!!!!!!!”, I am reminded of this intentional, one sided, white washing of everything that capitalism and democracies have fucked up, fucked over, or murdered, but successfully buried the numbers from, and how it was these same people who decided to double count deaths from “commies”, and add imaginary people to the list of “those that are dead because, well.. if real people hadn’t been killed, they would have been alive and real!”

    I don’t give a F@#$@. We need solutions, not a bunch of clowns telling us what solutions we are not allowed to even imagine, because someone once told them that those things are “always bad, and can only ever have one outcome!” But, guess what! The same shit happens anyway, the “West” has just been far more successful about lying about it. Now.. Lets try to imagine actual solutions, not piece meal bullshit, which will result in this same bloody conversation happening another 250 years from now, on what ever the equivalent of blog is then, but probably with yet another role reversal between parties, and the “left” being the idiots whining about “freedoms” (like they did before the 60s), and the “right” crying fowl and trying to protect civil liberties. Almost happy I won’t be around to see that shit, not if, but when, it happens, because people who know jack shit about the voting behavior of those they are screaming at think the “problem” is that the people who disagree with them “don’t
    vote”. :eyeroll:

    While I don’t “disagree” entirely with this in general, it is a problem, you claiming, in some broad brush statement, that you basically “know” that the people you think are too “commie” here don’t is… wow! the shear arrogance of that…

  44. lpetrich says

    I think that cartomancer in #7 is right. The history of activist movements extends even farther back than what he described.

    Anglo-American anti-slavery movements go back to the late 18th century, and US antislavery activism grew big over the early to mid 19th cy., to the point of supporters and opponents of slavery physically fighting over whether the then-territory of Kansas should be admitted as a free state or a slave state. The first wave of feminism got started in the early 19th cy., as a result of female antislavery activists discovering that male activist leaders were often rather grossly sexist, like not letting them speak at activist conferences.

    Labor unions date back to the late 19th cy. at least.

    There was a bit of past activism that had bad consequences. Temperance activism: anti-CH3CH2OH activism. It led to Prohibition, a miserable flop, and at best a Pyrrhic victory.