Voting Matters

Yves here. One can add some points to Olenick’s post.

The first, and this should be the subject of a much longer post, is that gerrymandering is more of a two-party affair than the Democrats would have you believe. One of my colleagues, in graduate school in the late 1980s, had as one of his classmates a former staff member of La Raza, which in 2017 was rebranded as UnidosUS. His main job was gerrymandering to create majority-minority districts to get more Hispanics elected. His main allies in this effort were Republicans, who were delighted to create more white/wealthy districts that would be lockups for them.

Political scientist Tom Ferguson confirmed that this thesis was correct. So the political fragmentation of American on ethnic lines has been eagerly promoted by both parties for decades.

Second is as Lambert says regularly, if the Democrats cared about Republican vote-suppression tactics, they’d treat voter registration as an ongoing activity, as opposed to something they do in a slapdash manner close to elections. But their real interest is in the top 10%, and if they were to become unduly dependent on their regularly abused base, they’d have to do more for them.

The third is don’t think that the Democrats don’t play dirty, but they seem to play dirtiest in primaries, as the many forms of shenanigans versus Sanders in the California primary suggests. See this documentary with extensive accounts from poll workers if you harbor any doubts.

By Michael Olenick, a research fellow at INSEAD who writes regularly at Olen on Economics

I live in Europe and every now and again have the misfortune of explaining to Europeans the US electoral system. Especially befuddling is how the US majority votes for centrists or leftists and ends up instead with right-wing fanatics.

This brings up one especially awful memory, the appointment of King George W. Bush. People remember where they were at specific life events: I was in a gym locker room, in California, with a bunch of pissed off men watching the TV announce the Supreme Court coup d’état.

Since that time things have only gotten worse.

In 2012, 58.2 million Americans voted Republican for the US House of Representatives and 59.6 million voted for Democrats. Despite the obvious preference, Republicans won, capturing 234 seats to Democrats 201.

They generated more excuses for extremism than votes – “the US is a Republic!” (never mind that it’s a democratic republic) – and governed from the hard-right. Appeasing their donors and brain-dead constituents they pretended, like George W. Bush did, that their minority win carried a mandate.

Democrats clobbered Republicans in the Senate that year, winning 50 million votes to Republicans 39.1 million, and held onto the Senate with 55 seats (including two independents that vote Democratic) to Republicans 45. Of course, filibuster abuse – you remember the filibuster from before the last election, right? – negated the effect neutering the Senate Democrats once Scott Brown won Massachusetts. Well, or maybe self-neuter, since the Republicans have never worried about the filibuster with a mere 52 seats after the last election.

Republicans went on to genuinely win the 2014 election 24.6 million to 20.9 million, awarding them control of the Senate 54-46.

Then came Dear Leader Donald, with his -2.9 million vote “victory.”

I won’t pretend that Democrats didn’t enable much of this. Bill Clinton presided over the erosion and eventual repeal of Glass-Steagall and, more importantly, the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. His bank-friendly policies plus NAFTA plus fondness for deregulation served as a middle-class eroding policies, masked by the dot-com bubble, that intensified under Bush.

And although Hillary won more votes than Trump she still managed to legitimately lose in the electoral college to Donald Trump. And her popular vote win is due entirely to her margin of victory in California. Unlike Gore, who had victory stolen by a cabal of crooks, Trump really did win the electoral college even if shouldn’t exist.

All this leads me to Arion Golmakani. I met Arion in, of all places, the normal cesspool of a Facebook comment area. Writing about the latest defeat of US democracy, the disgusting Virginia House race where Republicans recently “won” control, he wrote “For the first time I am able to prove to my millennial son that his vote would have mattered. If he had only listened to me and voted with us that day.”

For those who have been paying attention to something else, let’s briefly revisit. Virginia held an election on November 7, 2017. Republicans were shellacked, garnering 1 million votes to Democrats 1.3 million, just under ten percent. Being cheaters whose disdain for democracy almost matches their thirst for power this somehow translated into a tie.

First, the Republican won the deciding district by a few votes. During a recount, the Democrat won by one vote. A judge ruled a ballot was vague and awarded it to the Republican. That resulted in a fishbowl drawing that the Republican also won, paving the way for Republicans to retain power with their -10 point “win.” No doubt the Trumpeteers will revel in their victory and proclaim a mandate.

It is in this morass that Arion’s millennial son, who presumably would have voted Democrat, fell.

Honestly, it’s hard to blame the kid. In an email interview, Arion points out that his son was more focused on issues than individual politicians because, let’s face it, most politicians are snakes. Voting for a politician who supports higher education would be synonymous to “voting for Martians to have the right to call their children’s humanoid if they happened to be born while flying over the US,” he joked.
And so, gerrymandering remains alive and well.

In the modern world where it’s polite to pretend that everything is equal, that both sides are no different. In reality, Republicans are a lot better at chicanery (I mean seriously: they elected Donald Trump president).

Republicans are a lot better at cheating but Democrats refuse to play the same games. Which is a shame because that’s what a large number of their own voters would prefer. California and New York could probably eliminate virtually all Republicans at the federal level with some Republican-style gerrymandering but, for whatever reason, they refuse to do it. I’d suggest the reason is worries about political blowback but, like we saw with the Virginia race, gerrymandering can also take care of that problem.

If California and New York acted like red states they could theoretically flip 22 seats, enough to leave Republicans in the minority. Sure, they received more votes in 2016 but, at this point, that under Republican orthodoxy that’s a meaningless detail. Nancy Pelosi should not be winning her seat by 80.9 percent, which she did. She should win by 52 percent to ensure that California Republican Jeff Denham, who won by 51.7 percent, loses. Since the districts are nowhere near each other is that unethical? Ethics in gerrymandering? Yawn.

Republicans have chosen to embrace their self-described “very stable genius” in the White House. They eliminated the filibuster to appoint hard-right ideological bag of wind Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Filibuster? Not for their tax cuts. They lie, cheat, and steal without giving it a second thought. Adopting their techniques might not sound entirely moral but it’s a whole lot better than the alternative, where they pollute the earth, sell out the middle class, reign in civil rights, and enable value extractors to run amok.

Millennials – get off your asses and vote. The youngest of you are 20 and the oldest turning 37. I think you normally get an undeserved bad reputation, coming of age into the Bush Jr. mini-depression and saddled with mind numbing amounts of student debt. But that doesn’t stop you from peeling yourselves off the couch and, come next election, down to the nearest polling station to vote your interests.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    Just on the point of Democratic shenanigans, I can’t link to it right now, but if you look for yesterdays Jimmy Dore show on Youtube he has a very interesting (2 part) interview with Tim Canova who ‘lost’ the Florida Congressional primary to that paragon of fair play, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. If even half of what Canova says is true, then it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the system is thoroughly, irredeemably corrupt, from party activists and through the judicial system.

  2. kimyo

    wouldn’t millenials be better, more patriotic americans if they boycotted elections until all e-voting systems are removed from the process?

    without a paper trail, there can be no audit, no recount. proven hacks have been available for years.

    participation in a fraudulent election process only serves to provide a facade of legitimacy.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      it gets even worse.
      here, in rural Texas, things of local and regional concern(like the sheriff) are decided in the GOP Primary…even Democratic sheriff candidates run in the GOP Primary.
      last year was the first time I can remember when a Dem ran in the race for state Rep(with the usual peaons to “family values” and “liberty” regarding guns and foetii).
      what this state of affairs means is that if I want a say in who becomes sheriff…a very important consideration for a long hair in backwoods Texas…I must vote in teh GOP primary…which means that I am forbidden from participating in the Dem Primary…which means I have no say in which Dem runs for senate, us rep, etc etc.
      I also get on a list(somehow) as a Republican, and my email and snail mail are filled with glossy cardstock from Heritage Foundation and other lunatic outfits.(I still get xmas cards from Lil George and Laura(one can have only so many dart boards)).
      None of this glossy cardstock is very useful for kindling fires in wood stoves, so it goes into the compost pile and lasagne beds.
      prior to the recent psychotic break among my teabilly neighbors(apokalypse= “rending the veil”), they saw nothing wrong with all of this, Dems being regarded as illegitimate interlopers, intent on marching them into camps and feasting on their young in great pagan orgies.
      Regardless, I am always the first to arrive when the polls open on the second story in the courthouse(the county judge even worried when I was 5 minutes late one time,lol)
      use it or lose it, and all…even if the utility of such exercises is suspect.

    2. redleg

      But not participating gives the parties a free pass.
      Participation in the primaries and local elections is where changes start, whether for better or worse.

  3. Larry Hamelin

    But that doesn’t stop you from peeling yourselves off the couch and, come next election, down to the nearest polling station to vote your interests.

    It would be nice if one of the political parties actually represented our interests. As much as I despise the Republicans, the Democratic party’s position of being not quite as cruel as the Republicans does not qualify as representing my interests.

    And, “peeling yourselves off the couch”: bite me. This is exactly why I don’t vote for condescending jackasses Democrats.

    1. oh

      It’s hard to see where you vote makes a difference when the candidates are selected by the corrupt cabal in each wretched party.

      1. rd

        The Republican “base” is causing heart attacks with the main-stream Republicans as they are pissed off. The difference is they come out and vote in primaries (Tea Party 2010, Trump 2016, Roy Moore, 2017) and upend the political establishment. They may be voting for lunatics in some cases, but it certainly is redefining what it means to be a Republican.

        So where is the Democratic Tea Party base tossing out Debbie W-S, etc.? In the national primaries, the Democratic power brokers rigged it with the super-delegates, but that is not the case for most local and state races.

        France just did it with Macron and his previously non-existent party. But the Democrats seem stuck in some trance.

        1. UserFriendly

          I vote when it matters or to send a message.
          Caucused for Bernie.
          Stayed home in november cause Stein wasn’t gonna get 5% and if Trump won my state there was zero chance he lost the election and none of the other races were close.
          Voted for local races in 2017.

        2. johnnygl

          Dems are hard to primary because the same gerrymandering that creates 55-45 wins for repubs also puts them at risk of losing control in primaries because their lead is tenuous WITHIN the party.

          The other side of that is districts that dems win by 70 points means the incumbents are super safe at the primary level, resulting in reps with iron-clad safe districts.

          Pelosi does not want to win, she wants to stay in charge and fundraise.

    2. Don Qui Kong

      So maybe peel yourself off the couch and go participate in your local precinct elections, local rep primaries, etc.

      It’s actually pretty clear what needs to be done to address your correct concern – that neither party really represents the typical American voter: one of those parties, probably the one closer in policy position to the the typical American, needs to be recaptured by the public. This is, I hate to break it to you, by far the most plausible and most realistic path. Revolution? Did you see the kinds of guns these guys have? Apathy-until-things-change? Magical thinking.

      The “problem” is this approach requires time, commitment, and effort. It is not a silver bullet, it is a slog. It is not a solution that lends itself to the spend-five-minutes-on-your-smartphone-and-your-groceries-arrive world we now live in. It requires a lot of sustained effort.

      Maybe I am wrong, but my depressing guess is that the majority of folks saying “don’t vote until X is done” or “don’t vote because it legitimizes the status quo” really think they are entitled to a fair democratic country.

      Guess what? You’re not. Never have, never will be. It’s where the quote about watering the tree of liberty comes from. Every generation has to get off its collective couch and do it, and when a series of generations fails to do it, we get what we have now. And yes, it will take a lifetime commitment, it will probably come nowhere near where you want it to, but it will at least be something. Because sitting on your couch and doing nothing will, I assure you, not achieve what you want to see.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Please read the above post “How Money Won Trump the Whitehouse.”

        End. Of. Story.

        I will work to eliminate money from politics, but until its out of politics, the position goes to the highest bidder. It seems to me you believe that we are not sliding down the hole of plutocrats and your vote still matters. Cute.

      2. DJG

        Don Qui Kong

        + + +

        When I’m being polite, I respond to the argument that you just upended by reminding people: Let’s not pre-defeat ourselves.

        1. witters

          “Let’s not pre-defeat ourselves…” No, let’s collude in legitimating our predetermined defeat.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      Even if the Democrats are bone-deep progressives running as Democrats for no other reason than that’s the best way for them to have at least a shot at winning?

      This isn’t a team sport, where if you don’t like the guys who are playing you can go watch some other team. Right now, there is no other team that has an ice-cube’s chance in Hades of making a difference at the upper levels of government. People who really care about what’s been done to us, and who really care about fixing it, aren’t pronouncing their refusal to use the tools at hand to accomplish it. They’re fighting the good fight in the face of massive levels of opposition and chicanery.

      “Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right.” — Isaac Asimov, American writer (1919-1992)

  4. Wade Riddick

    I agree with your assessment that Democratic minority groups have been collaborating with Republicans to gerrymander districts for their own patronage concerns. In a graduate school post-mortem on the 1994 Republican takeover, I pointed out exactly this and, if memory serves, Walter Dean Burnham – another father of realignment theory who used to teach with Ferguson at M.I.T. – agreed and stated that the redistricting itself was enough to account for the Republican takeover margin.

    I don’t think the idea had gotten much traction when I brought up my concerns before the election. I was deeply suspicious of why a Lee Atwater-supported Bush administration would go to such great lengths to create friendly districts for black candidates. It’s taken even longer for the rest of political science to embrace this idea. It’s such a deep irony that the Southern Strategy never really achieved institutional success in Congress until it embraced the very civil rights laws it hated.

    In my thinking at the time, I also concluded that this would make it easier to quarantine black/Hispanic issues and ignore them. Ultimately minority leadership has been pursuing a self-defeating patronage which enriches the leadership and consultants while leaving the actual needs of their voters unaddressed because their influence is severely diluted in the institution. It’s made winning coalitions harder to form and it realigned cleavages for a generation.

    But, of course, the question in American politics is always, “So what? Who pays for it?” As Ferguson himself would tell you, none of this really matters until you figure out who paid for it and why.

  5. The Rev Kev

    If I got the system right, when you register to vote, you have to register as Democrat, Republican or Independant. Is that right? If so, kinda defeats the idea of a secret ballot, doesn’t it? Reminds me of the Uniformed Division of the U.S. Secret Service – you think the uniforms give it away. I have been listening to the two clips on the Jimmy Door somehow on electoral rorting and it amazes me sometimes. It’s like the law is optional and you can cause 200,000 votes to disappear and nobody goes to prison. Those voting machines are real third world stuff too and actually have a record of flipping elections under murky circumstances. Anybody remember when hackers ( foiled an attempt to steal the 2012 election? And all this is before you start talking about gerrymandering.
    It’s almost like…almost like.. that both parties are trying to discourage as many people as possible from actually voting. Your votes will disappear, you will find yourself unregistered when you go to vote, there will be only a tiny handful of stations for hundreds of thousands of people. Just stay home and watch TV or something. After all, voting is not compulsory in the US. Thing is, if you ever get a decent candidate, all those hundreds of millions of voters can be up for grabs. Yes, you read that right. I looked it up and found that there are over 235 million people of voting age in the United States. It is one of the few weapons that poorer Americans still have left in their armoury but they have not yet realized it quite yet. Sanders was just an early preview of what is possible and all that gerrymandering may not still work.

    1. RickM

      “If I got the system right, when you register to vote, you have to register as Democrat, Republican or Independent. Is that right? If so, kinda defeats the idea of a secret ballot, doesn’t it?”

      In some states you have to make a Party decision only in a primary election that determines who will run in a general election. These are “open primary” states. You can then vote only in that primary. In the general election, you can vote for whomever you prefer; no one checks at the door, but who knows what happens behind the touch screen?

    2. lyle

      It depends on which state you are in. In Texas you only choose a party at primary time when you ask for a ballot, and that holds until the next primary. If I recall correctly (its 40 years ago) in Ca you did have to declare.
      Of course if I were incharge of voting I would adopt the Oregon system of all Mail in Ballots nationwide. No more standing in line etc. You just have to mail the ballot a couple of days early, or deposit it at a designated locations up to election night. Would save a lot of money, and of course if the ballots are not forwardable would handle the issue of folks not changing their address with the county.

  6. perpetualWAR

    Please tell me why voting matters.

    In 2009, Washington State was governed by Democrat Governor, Democrat Senate and Democrat House. This democratic-led state went on to ignore all foreclosure fraud, failed to prosecute any WaMu executives when the field was rampant with accounting control fraud, all these CONSCIOUS decisions necessitated the theft of 680,000 homes.

    I will never vote again.

    Because not only does it not matter, but I would have to participate as a juror in a system that I believe has corrupt judges, corrupt bailiffs, corrupt court clerks and massively corrupt lawyers. So, nope, not gonna do it again. Ever.

    Call me when you guys sharpen the tines on your pitchforks. Then, I promise to be out in front bravely taking the brunt of TPTBs retaliatory attack.

    1. lyle

      True in reverse in Tx and in particular in rural areas where no democrats bother to run for local offices.
      Note that in Tx they now used drivers license records instead of voter registration because of the issue above. With the questionaire they send you you can check not a citizen and be excused.

      1. perpetualWAR

        How about when judicial positions are vacated before their term is up. They then get appointed by the Governor. And when election time comes around, they run unopposed.
        No corruption in that process. /sarc

    2. oh

      Completely agree. All you get for registering to vote is a letter asking you to come for juror selection (in a threatening manner, telling you the penalties if you don’t). I’m convinced that the legal system is corrupt and I feel no obligation to participate.

    3. Don Qui Kong

      Jesus the cynical apathy in this thread is just pathetic.

      Go read your history. Look at how many decades of organizing it took for the New Deal coalition to emerge. It requires a combination of commitment, idealism, but also pragmatism.

      Yes, voting is a teeny tiny piece of the puzzle, but you would be far better served if you actually participated in Democratic party politics because you could actually nudge it in the direction you want it to go. This attitude that abandoning the whole system is the appropriate approach is, I don’t doubt, a huge part of why find ourselves in the present conundrum.

      You know what organization looks like? Look at Virginia. Democrats there are 2 seats away from taking the State House. They will have a very good shot in 2019, and will probably also retake the State Senate. And while Northam’s definitely not nearly as progressive as I would like, the surge of fresh blood in the House of Delegates is quite clearly pushing a far more progressive agenda than the previous caucus. Probably because people who think like you but who are actually motivated and act got off their couches and, rather than complain to their friends all day, did something.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Virginia Democrats will take the House? So what…..the Democrats allowed the bankers to take approximately 18 million houses. I blame the Democrats.

        And as far as apathy goes. I spent the last decade in the legislature, in the judiciary and pleading with the executive branch. My decision to not vote comes at the gathered knowledge that “he who has the most money can influence.” It makes no difference to me if you think my decade of activism is apathetic. But, what, may I ask, have you done? If you reply that you simply voted, I will laugh.

  7. DJG

    Sorry, kimyo, but voting is like anything else in life. You use it or you lose it. Boycotting elections is a tactic that various pure of heart people have advocated, and we see it regularly in various developing democracies, which then end up with the Pure of Heart Party locked out and the levers of government controlled by retired generals, theocrats, and corrupt businesspersons, all of whom are happy to vote.

    I have lived my whole life in Illinois, mainly in Chicago. Our task here is to vote in all of the primaries and general elections, and turnout in Illinois generally is high. I have voted for many candidates with much potential who lost to the indifference of my fellow citizens, the lack of any urgency of going to the polls, and, most importantly, the entrenched power of incumbents, party machinery, resentment, and the rich.

    So, yes, voting matters. Purity of heart doesn’t matter so much.

    1. Don Qui Kong


      I would add that for the apathetic crowd, we live in a rare political moment. The number of people participating in Democratic GOTV groups, local precinct politics, etc., is exploding. There is so much energy, and it is incredibly reassuring. Its also very self-perpetuating, so if you are one of these apathetic types, go and check out your next Democratic precinct meeting. And go with a group. You will either be pleasantly surprised, or, if enough of you show up, you may be able to do something about what you don’t like.

      The only draw back is you may end up enjoying it and spending much more time doing it than you otherwise would.

  8. blkwhiskey

    millennial here, it’s not just gerrymandering–it’s the generational control (Baby Boomer) over the local and state party apparatus, too.

    i really hate framing things in generational warfare terms, it never ends well, but in more than a few cases, it’s true.

    the idea and political excuse that all of our near-past and current problems are intractable and unsolvable (and therefore ready to be kicked down the road) is bull. my generation will have and does have its own problems, of our own creation, and will have to deal with the exigencies of our own cultural milieu and power stratification scheme to over come them.

    I, like many of my fellows, am willing to take on the mantle of the past, but the folks (and yes, I do mean folks with its backhanded, nasty connotation) in charge really need to hang up the spurs.

    we are fighting for power from the local dem establishments who, for the most part, especially in my neck of the woods in NJ, are Trumpicrats (i.e., registered dems that voted locally and state for dems but nationally for Trump in 2018). the self-interest of many of these people, who will unabashedly tell you over a few beers that they don’t give a rat’s tuchus about the future because they’ll be dead is astounding. they are totally willing to exercise a strategy of political nihilism and, in my experience, don’t care who gets crushed as long as they can retire with their 2x pension from the state and die in w. palm beach

    what makes this fight even more difficult, is that many county and local dem committees have now taken a page from both the DNC and Koch playbooks, making drastic changes to bylaws and rules that force challengers to essentially break the party in order to run, even in a primary.

    they would rather watch the world burn while holding onto a title than pass the ball to someone willing to give a damn.

    P.S. don’t worry, though, we’re all ready going to vote in record numbers

    1. Romancing The Loan

      Great post fellow millenial. Our own local Dem establishment is more of the DINO wealthy whose belief of what constitutes “very liberal” is far to the right of Nixon, but I also hear a surprising number (even those who are not that old, 50s) proudly expressing the opinion that it doesn’t matter one bit to them what happens once they’re gone.

      It’s enough to make one pine for religion, if that’s what it takes to instill a sense of responsibility to and for the world.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m one of those 50 something types that really doesn’t care what happens all that much, as politics as practiced here since I can remember, leaves so much to be desired. It’s a rather naked grab for whatever you can steal, or in words not so damning-appropriate.

        It wasn’t always that way though, the year I was born, there were qualified cabinet members proudly serving for a buck, they called them “Dollar-A-Year Men”, and there weren’t any gimmicks, they did it to better the country, and obviously it wasn’t for the money.

        Our politicians remind me of the last decade of the Soviet Union, really old party members advanced to leadership they neither deserved, nor knew how to go about making the public welfare a priority, just like here now.

        That’s not to say don’t get involved, as it’s your country’s future, more than mine. But i’d wait until our political system is purged, and that means a revolution of some sort.

    2. JCC

      I happen to be a Boomer and I really believe that generational warfare is a complete waste of time. I polled my immediate friends (more than a handful) and more than 90% of them did not vote for Trump. Other than one person my age (low 60’s) that I’m aware of, all those I talked to that voted for Trump were in their thirties and forties.

      And, like millenialls, most people I know my age are in debt. Many are dealing with mortgages and with either complete job loss or being shoved into lower paying jobs or jobs with no raises for years while helping their kids pay for college with their small retirement funds that in no way will afford them a house in Palm Beach, let alone pay a decent amount towards their present mortgages which will probably exist after they are long gone. Most will be working as long as possible and none will be retiring to Palm Beach

      It is definitely not the Boomers (as a generation) that caused these problems, we all face them.

      It’s a class issue, pure and simple, the top economic 10%, the majority, admittedly Boomers, that have controlled the process for 30 to 40 years and that 10% is fully supported by both the Dems and Repubs. But that doesn’t mean this 10% is only Boomers. I happen to know a few people that fit into the 10% category and that are in their 30’s and 40’s that have no problem whatsoever supporting our present status quo.

      And don’t forget, when this mess was intentionally kicked off it was kicked off by the top 10% in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the “Greatest Generation”, that in no way were Boomers. We have all had to put up with the same sh*t.

      I’m a firm believer that all politics are local. My father for example (not a Boomer :-) was a dyed-in-the-wool conservative Democrat and would never consider himself a subversive in any way. One thing he did was change his Party Registration from Dem to, in his words, the hated Republicans. His reasoning was that since the county we lived in (Upstate NY) had been controlled for decades by Republicans, the only way he could affect local politics was to make sure that the most reasonable people were picked in the primaries (our county for some odd reason had no local Dem primaries). He became a subversive.

      I don’t know what the solution is, but voting is the best we have short of getting out of the country all together. The Blame Game promoted by our Rulers on a daily basis will accomplish nothing.

      1. perpetualWAR

        The Boomers failed to stand up en masse during the 2008-present foreclosure crisis hit. If the Boomers all stood up collectively, we could have brought the financial system and the collusive government pansies to their KNEES.

        YES, IT WAS OUR FAULT. Hook, line and sinker.

        But now the baton is passed to the millenials to en masse stand up against the financial system regarding the horrendous student debt slavery. If they stand up, I certainly will stand there with them.

        1. Darthbobber

          No generation has ever “stood up en masse” as a generation. (with the possible exception of being mobilized by the state to provide the requisite cannon fodder.) Perhaps because there are so many obvious conflicts within each cohort. This is a sterile framing.

          1. perpetualWAR

            The Civil Rights movement, they mobilized en masse.

            The women during the ERA mobilized en masse.

            The anti-war demonstrators in the 60’s-70’s mobilized en masse.

            1. Darthbobber

              That is not thesame thing at all as a generation doing so. Which was my point. And the struggles you name illustrate the point. There were large factions of every politically active generation on both sides of all those issues due to obvious cleavages along race class gender and ideological lines within every generation.

        2. JCC

          90% of the entire country according to every available poll stated that they were against the bailout. Something like 97% of those that bothered to contact Congressman and/or Senators were against it.

          Do people really believe that only millennials contacted their reps telling them not to support the bailouts, or that only Boomers voted for Obama or that only 10% of the entire population that were for the bailouts were part of the boomer generation?

          I guess some believe that all Boomers should have quit their jobs and joined Occupy on the streets, the hell with jobs, mortgages and food on the table for the kids.

          Personally I directly, and financially, supported parts of the Occupy Wall Street Crowd. I’m part of that Boomer generation, as well as many other friends of mine that chipped in then as best they were able to. And how about our own hostess, Yves, solidly in the Boomer Generation?

          Almost the entire population was against the bailouts and Wall St. Fraud.

          D.C. politicians of every age supported those bailouts and lack of criminal pursuit against the fraudsters.

          People in D.C. and Financial Head Honchos are not representative of Main Street America, They are not representative of any generation. For the most part they represent only themselves and the rest of their 10%er buddies.

          It was no one’s fault but our Financial system, the foundations which were primarily, as it operates today, built by the “Greatest Generation” during the 50’s, the IMF, the World Bank, and our own Fed Reserve through people like Alan Greenspan (b.1926), Phill Gramm (b. 1942), Jim Leach (b. 1942), and Tom Bliley (b. 1932) – authors of the Financial Services Modernization Act and the end of Glass-Steagall – people my father’s age and older, and corrupt D.C. politicians of every age group.

          Sure, some Wall St people officially in the boomer generation took advantage of corruption without penalties, as did Greatest Gen people and Millennials (like Martin Shkreli, a classic example of a corrupt Millennial)

          But gee, apparently I haven’t been thinking correctly… I have two cousins that are both Directors at two of the biggest Banks on Wall St., and they are part of the Millennial Generation. I suppose, in order to be politically correct, I should just start blaming all Millennials based on my cousins’ age and profession. I think I’ll mention that at the next Family Thanksgiving Dinner I attend. I’m sure it will solve lots of issues.

          Again, Generational Warfare and Blame Games do not solve the problem. Voting helps. A little knowledge of History and Economics helps a lot more.

          1. perpetualWAR

            Do you know how many people left their home in the middle of the night because “foreclosure” was so shameful? Do you know how many people allowed their neighbor to leave their home in the middle of the night?

            Other countries can demonstrate in the millions on the streets, but Lordy, not our privileged Americans. You gave money to Occupy: *clap.

          2. subgenius

            I guess some believe that all Boomers should have quit their jobs and joined Occupy on the streets, the hell with jobs, mortgages and food on the table for the kids.

            Given the very obvious direction, it seems the only chance is for.a.vast number to do EXACTLY that.

        3. SteveB

          If the election of Barak Obama and a democrat controlled congress and senate in 2008 wasn’t
          “standing up en masse” what would you call it?

          Obama, who imo could have been the second coming of FDR, chose instead fealty to the financial sector…

          I think Michael Moore had it exactly correct when he said the election of Trump was a giant FU to the political system. The only shot WE had ! (yes I voted for Trump, but Bernie was my real pick).. Definitely a longshot.. but the only shot imo.

          And Trump’s idea of MAGA is fealty to the financial system.

          Until control of the monetary system is out of the hands of the “few”… Nothing will change..
          Hence the rise of bitcoin and cryto’s….

          Until the tax code punishes Debt and not savings and investment (real investment not trading paper). The Financials will rule….

        4. Yves Smith Post author

          Please tell me how people could mobilize “en masse” against foreclosures? It’s a state law matter, handled in courts. Dirt law has precedents going back in some cases 150 years (that’s the age of one key Supreme Court precedent; many of the important New York trust cases are over 100 years old). And on top of that, foreclosures were concentrated in certain states (CA, FL, AZ, NV).

          What would your ask have been? You can’t say only “Don’t foreclose” because “get a free house” isn’t acceptable. What sort of loan modification approach would you have recommended?

          Look, I worked on this daily for the better part of 3 years. Despite our considerable efforts to get info out and enlist activists, the most we saw was some local Occupy Homes groups that were effective. There were too many people differently situated to get any mass effort going.

  9. Lynne

    I am so sick of this whining that Republicans are evil cheaters while Democrats are hapless pure victims. That’s not the real world out here. How long has it been since our poster lived in the US and how much ground did he ever cover here?

  10. Altandmain

    I think that there is a simple reason why the Democratic Establishment has not done much about the Republicans.

    They see the Republicans as representing their class interests. The Democratic Establishment sees the left as their real enemy, not the Republicans.

    They are after all paid by their donors to make sure they are able to suppress the left.

    1. Barry


      Each party in the ‘two party system’ has an important role to play. One party moves us to the right; the other prevents us from moving to the left.

      1. Ape

        In the 20s and 30s in germany, the spd focused on stopping the commies while the center party got in bed with the nazis. You may have seen the movie and how it ends.

  11. JEHR

    When I vote, no one knows who I vote for (not even my husband). I am not registered with any party because my party affiliation changes depending on who is running. As far as I know, none of the constituencies I’ve voted in have been gerry-mandered. It seems to me that the US system has become so manipulated and manipulating that only a 51 to 49 percent vote result for president can happen. Just an observation.

  12. bob


    The political party that defines itself by waiting for the GOP to start howling, then ONLY proposing half of what the GOP wants, plus markets

  13. TG

    I must respectfully disagree. Voting doesn’t matter. No matter who we vote for, or what they say during the election, nothing will change and the elites will remain firmly in control.

    So after 8 years of Dubya people had had enough of stupid pointless wars and corporate bailouts, they voted for Obama – who promptly turned into a Dubya clone (though with a prettier face). Trillions for endless pointless wars, trillions for bank bailouts, etc.etc. Nobody voted for that, too bad, we got it anyway.

    Now during the last election, Trump was elected in large part because of opposition to these pointless wars, and corporatist anti-labor trade agreements, cheap-labor immigration policies, etc. Once elected, it did look like he might actually have meant some of what he said… and then under pressure he folded, fired the nationalist/populist advisors, launched missiles at Syria, and it’s pretty much back to business as usual. Yes the style is inelegant, but the substance is as rotten as ever.

    Modern ‘Democracy’ is simply a means of privatizing power and socializing responsibility. It’s a con. I’m really thinking that all those people who don’t vote are the sane ones.

    Oh, and BTW: “The third is don’t think that the Democrats don’t play dirty, but they seem to play dirtiest in primaries, as the many forms of shenanigans versus Sanders in the California primary suggests.” Perhaps: they play dirtiest against a candidate who is not a total corporate sellout. It’s just that these rarely make it past the primaries, for obvious reasons.

  14. Joel

    I can’t believe that the “Millenial” meme has caught on.

    The Baby Boom was a clear demographic bulge that followed on a huge world-historical event. Gen X was the half-joking name for those born after that bulge. What is the supposed rationale for grouping together everyone born in the 1980s and 1990s? How does someone born in 1981 have more in common with someone born in 1995 than with someone born in 1979?

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