Reader Coping Strategies for Engaging With Committed Liberals

An oft-repeated bit of advice in America is never to talk about religion or politics. Sadly, the reason is that Americans are dreadful at talking across political lines. When I lived in Australia in the early 2000s and adopted a pub, by contrast, I found the locals to be eager to debate the topics of the day yet remain civil about it. That may be because Australians in general have mastered the art of being confrontational by lacing it with humor and/or self deprecation.

By contrast, Americans, who pretend to fetishize individualism, are conformists. Dissent is not well tolerated at work or in social spheres. And its only gotten worse as media fragmentation and political strategies based on hitting voter hot buttons means that many people are deeply invested in their political views, whether well founded or not. Punitive unfriending and other forms of ostracism have become a new normal.

And now that we have anger over Trump directed at not the best or most useful objects, like Russia!Russia! as opposed to his packing of the Federal bench, or his environmental policies, or even his push to privatize Federal parks, a lot of educated people expect, even demand, that their friends be vocal supporters of the #Resistance.

For instance, at the San Francisco meetup, I spent a fair bit of time with a woman who had held elected offices in her community. She was clearly distressed by the fact (without using such crass terms) that her friends had turned into pod people. They all believe that the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New Yorker are authoritative. When she tried arguing with them about what they’ve read in these outlets, they shoot back, “Oh, so you believe in fake news?” She said the “fake news” campaign has been extremely effective in discrediting non-mainstream views. And since her friends are also PhDs, she was also frustrated at their refusal to consider evidence, or entertain the idea that their preferred sources were biased.

One approach she has used that worked was to find information from other sources they could not reject, like Reuters and the Associated Press, that had not been covered in the New York Times or better yet, contradicted what they wanted to believe, such as a Reuters story describing how Germany opposed sanctions against Russia. But she clearly found it taxing to find these informational nuggets. She also said they would not consider foreign sources, even the BBC or Der Spiegel or Le Monde.

Readers also discussed their frustrations in Links over the weekend. For instance:


“Shame” looks to me like the word of the week. I’ve heard from liberal/Democrat friends that they are “ashamed” of this President. They are embarrassed by his behavior at NATO and Helsinki. I asked, “Who are you embarassed in front of? What does that mean?” Then I got a link to a Thomas Friedman article….

I’m not sure how to answer my friends with grace. I don’t want to be condescending by saying “Really, you read Tom Friedman without a red pen in your hand?” What should I say? “I had no idea you were a globalist although you are kind of anti labor, right?” Any suggestions for talking to Dems about this last week?

My usual answer is “I don’t know why we need NATO now that the Cold War is over. Bush I promised Gorbachev not to expand NATO into the former Warsaw Pact countries. Putin wanted to join NATO. Russia, especially the populous West is more European than Asian. So why don’t we have Russia join NATO. Wouldn’t that solve the problem?

Amfortas the Hippie

on talking to you and me both.

haldol as a prophylactic, perhaps.
the Berners are a lot easier…but the “mainstream” dem people have been difficult to talk to for some time…too many triggers and blind spots. They’ve become as reactionary as the tea party..the aversion to figuring out what we’re FOR must be overcome.


“Any suggestions for talking to Dems about this past week?”

Yes. Ask them how good of a ‘bug out bag’ they keep handy. Then tell them that they will not be welcome at your farm when things go t—s up.

If they don’t get the message, explain to them the difference between a .223 round and a .22-250 round. “One of these I use on varmints,” should get the point across.


Montanahaven, great post, and I don’t know the answer on how to talk to Dems or the general gammit of duopoly supporters, but I have been working on refining a technique I heard Tim Black talking about: “drop a few lines, and walk away”. I am working on inserting a few judgment free comments without argument, however it requires patience in listening to the ramble of the other side. A few examples in my recent life:

Hillary Dem: “But Mueller found Russia was hacking. Blah Blah, Blah, 17 intelligence agencies”

Me: Did you know in 2003 Mueller helped lead us into Iraq and testified before Congress pushing WMD intel. [I did not follow with anything about along the lines of “Is this guy trustworthy.”]

Trump Repub: “People are killing each other in the streets, blah blah freeloaders, murder rate going up, blah blah, this country is not the same, what happened to our country”

Me: “People are desperate, Americans are addicted to opiates and will get it however they can, but someone peddling marajuana will get 10 years in prison, but the Sackler family who wantonly pushed opiates on all of America are worth billions” [I could have argued that American crime rate has gone down since the 80’s, but I just wanted to divert their attention to a part of the current problem, not to start an argument]

A few weeks later these folks repeated these talking points as their own, which is a win in my book. I have been trying to drop stuff as subtly as possible and hope they find their own way. People get more entrenched on their viewpoint while arguing, and more words often means less average impact per word. My sample size is admittedly low right now, so I will continue observation.

Another approach, although it takes a great deal of patience, is to go Socratic and ask the true believers in your circle to provide the support for their views. You may still be stuck with the problem that they regard people like Louise Mensch or Timothy Synder or (gah) James Clapper as unimpeachable.

Of course, not everyone is dogmatic. On my way back to New York, I sat next to a Google engineer (PhD, possibly even faculty member at Cornell since he’d gotten some major grant funding for his research, now on an H1-B visa and on track to have to leave the US in the next year+ due to Trump changes in the program) who held pretty orthodox views. He wanted to chat and we were able to discuss the Dems and even Russia. He even thanked me for the conversation as he was getting off the plane. But I knew I was lucky to find someone who wasn’t deeply invested in his views, or perhaps merely not invested in winning arguments.

Any further tips or observations would be helpful to everyone. Things will only get more heated as the midterms approach.

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  1. MassBay

    Nice comments.

    It is all about ego. Most of us become invested in our own position and will not surrender, because it is OURS!!

    1. Quanka

      This is true. This is why I like Hamford’s idea of information nuggets. You have to let people think you are on their side while they come around to your ideas more or less on their own. If you give someone a good nugget that they take in as their own, then you have more leverage to convince them of something grander.

      And listen. Just listen. You don’t have to agree with people to give them time and space to be heard. They are more likely to reciprocate if you do.

      1. ScottS

        Letting people “talk it out” works for strangers and acquaintances. They’ll eventually run out of road or realize they’ve monopolized the conversation and give you a chance to react, even if only out of politeness.

        I find closer friends and family will chew your ear off mercilessly, and once they start, you’re trapped. If you start poking holes in their beliefs after they’ve gone on for a while, they’ll feel betrayed. I find it best to say “that’s nice” and walk away to maintain your sanity. Don’t mess with tribalism, you’ll always lose.

  2. David Miller

    Ha ha these posts resonate with me – my mother is a committed Rachel Maddow watcher and my best friend is a Trump supporter.

    And both of them are otherwise very nice people and rather similar in terms of personality, interests, and outlook aside from red team/blue team foolishness.

    What I like to do with both of them is use the term BushBamaTrump. And at the slightest bit of pushback just jump right in to all the things that have been done more or less the same under all three. It never gets through and you really can’t change people, but still. Gives me a bit of pleasure to at least throw a little wrench into their silly partisan blinkered world view

    1. notabanker

      If you can’t shift out of the partisan mentality, then all hope is really lost. My brain just does not compute this way and I find it really hard to understand how someone else’s does. I find it difficult to break this construct without coming off as arrogant or cynical. I readily admit this feature in myself could be a bug.

    2. hemeantwell

      jump right in to all the things that have been done more or less the same under all three

      Yes. Even though disagreements appear to be about issues, there’s an underlying personal partisanship that often drives conversational breakdown. This is particularly true for people on the right. Saying early on that Hillary was an awful alternative to Trump can lower the temperature considerably. Going on to talk about issues and staying away from Trump bashing is a follow through.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Interesting gambit. Does expanding the hybrid-presidents word to ClintoBushObama make it stronger? Or weaker?

  3. Amfortas the Hippie

    Hamford’s approach is one that I have used with the people I live around(supermajority Repubs, altho much of that is habit and/or single issue…apathy is the only growing demograph)

    Introducing doubt, “short, sharp shock”, and then they worry over it for a day or a week, and later they seem to have incorporated it into their weltanshauung.

    That is, indeed, a win.

    I’ve much more experience, given my habitus(central texas wilderness) with culturejamming and otherwise undermining the orthodoxy of republicans. To talk about important things with them, one must avoid numerous trigger words that cause salivation or violent conniptions.

    Finding these rhetorical paths has been enlightening, to say the least. like talking about unionism by using the Chamber of Commerce as an example, or playing on their own memories of the Grange or the Farmer’s Co-Op…or even going directly at the cognitive dissonance, as in “hey, wait a minute…if we have freedom of religion, aren’t I by necessity free to be a Buddhist?”…

    Similarly, I’ve found that using the language of Jesus gets results, unless my interlocutor is too far gone into the whole warrior christ thing.

    I’m still working on how to do this with Team Blue.

    Like with the R’s, the D’s have an emotional attachment, and a psychological need, to avoid believing that their party is in any way less than pristine and above board.

    Similarly, I remember a discussion of the Puma’s(Hillary’s 08 supporters) wherein they were so caught up with Herstory(!) that an attack on(or even criticism of) Hillary was an attack on their Identity.

    Stages of Grief applies…the acceptance we wish for is a big step for most people, because the manifest problems are so huge and complex and intertwined that acknowledging them feels like giving in and even giving up.

    It’s a big problem, and I thank you for addressing it.

    The forces arrayed against civil discourse are huge and well funded(which is, in itself, a sort of indictment and indicator)

    1. Newton Finn

      Speaking as a member of the clergy, I have a suggestion about how to use the teachings of Jesus to reach Team Blue, whether or not they subscribe to Christianity in some form. One of the most radical of Jesus’ teachings, one that is often given lip service but is extremely difficult to put into practice, is the commandment that we love our enemies and pray for them. I have come to believe that the Russiagate attacks on Trump are driven not by reason but by pure hatred, a sin which always blinds. While there are many reasons to oppose much of Trump’s policies and actions, we must not allow ourselves to wallow in personal hatred of the man himself. If Jesus doesn’t work here for some of Team Blue, MLK, who taught the same message, is an excellent alternative. Take away the visceral hatred of Trump, and he will be opposed, much more reasonably, ethically, and effectively.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        I agree: whenever possible, Trump the individual should be ignored, since too many people seem unable to separate the man from the systems, processes and interests in play.

        When it’s all about Trump, he wins. You’d think people would have realized that by now, but take a look at Alternet, where it’s literally “All Trump All The Time,” and you see how trapped in their fears and illusions liberals are.

        As Lambert and others insist, make it about issues and policy; that’s how people can (eventually, hopefully) be reached over time. As the saying goes, they lose their minds in crowds/herds, and will only regain their sanity one at a time.

        The added benefit is that ignoring Trump’s provocations goes a ways toward depriving him of oxygen. Ignoring him is one of the few ways to drive him crazy(er), takes away much of his effectiveness, and provides the personal satisfaction of being able to do something against him, even if just passively.

      2. readerOfTeaLeaves

        I’m really hopeful that Michael Hudson’s upcoming book on the roots of Christianity will open up a whole new conversation for people of all views, particularly the role of debt and ‘what we owe to one another’. Or when we should, and what we shouldn’t, owe one another.

        IMVHO, Trump is the apotheosis of a debt-based form of greed, which conventional politics mostly exalts and exacerbates, but doesn’t seem to really understand — and papers over its social costs [see also: FoxNews, CNBC]. In this form of (leveraged) debt, the debtor owes absolutely nothing to society, irrespective of the social dislocations that his/her debt creates.

        I find that people who get caught up in Dem/Repub conflicts are unreachable on political terms, but if the conversation shifts to economics, to outrage at financial shenanigans, to who ‘owes’ what to whom, the emotional tone shifts and the conversations are much more engaged.

        The R’s that I know tend to affiliate with ‘lenders’, but have an abhorrence of debt. They seem weirdly incapable of grappling with the social and political implications of debt. To them, debt is a sign of weakness. I find myself struggling to grapple with their worldview on the general topic of ‘debt’.

        The D’s that I know tend to at least be able to think about debt as a means to an end: an education, a home, a business idea. But they seem to experience debt as a form of guilt, or powerlessness, a lot of the time. The people in my life who fall into this category are very careful with money, but they are also capable of carrying on a conversation about social meaning of debt.

        I don’t think it is any accident that the two most articulate, informed voices in current politics are on the ‘left’, and their expertise and focus is on debt: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. I suspect that is because debt is one of the most fundamental social-political-cultural issues of our time.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          You are right about the issue of debt. Regarding Republicans’ abhorrence of it, or more exactly, their vocal distaste for anyone who has trouble paying it off………

          My experience has been that many, many loud n’ proud Republicans have too much debt. Their houses are too big and too leveraged. Likewise their cars. They are less likely to over-spend on education, but they commonly can’t pay the full ticket for their kids’ college either. The characteristic loud Republican who’s always sneering about indebtedness is covering for a whole lotta fear IMNSHO.

          1. readerOfTeaLeaves

            I seem to know two kinds of R’s: those who are very (!) wealthy, through rent and lending.
            And those who fit your description ‘to a t’.
            I have a strong hunch that you are right: their puritanical expressions mask a lot of fear.

            I’ve never been left having to hunt down a Democrat for money.
            I’ve had ‘right wingers’ decry having to pay. In that respect, Trump is not only familiar, but deeply resonant.

            1. GGreene

              This is all a really interesting angle I hadn’t thought about. R’s have a lot of pride in their identity-story about overcoming challenges (abusive parents, alcoholism, poverty, layoffs, etc.) in their life. Their pride often degrades into hubris and sanctimoniousness toward others who haven’t made the mark, because there’s also this notion of Calvinist/Puritan “existential hygiene” at play in the Conservative American ethos. Others’ sin is “contagious.” The archetypal American Conservative hero is the exile who bootstraps, casting out into the desert like a Biblical Patriarch to establish a new covenant with the Lord. Or into the American Frontier. Away from the Babylon of the cities and the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Old World. This is where you see the Conservative’s total lack of Communalism and solidarity coming out: life is a race to heaven for the individual unshorn of the base depreciations of others.

              This clashes with the Liberal psycho-type because they are very rewarded by novelty-seeking and individual self-expression. The Classical Liberal is an individualist dedicated to self-improvement and the belief that handling our *own business* will lead inevitably to the better functioning of the Body Politic via a Smithian Invisible Hand. This was never really very compatible with Leftism’s Communalism and Solidarity, and it’s an irony of history that the two were glossed together in the Anglosphere. Whereas Liberalism’s greatest expression was the the Preamble to the US Constitution, with its negative rights, Leftism finds its modern source in Revolutionary French Republicanism’s “liberté, égalité, fraternité.” Actually, in this way, Liberalism has much more in common with American Conservatism (Both Machiavelli and Hobbes were really Classical Liberals).

              Both of these psycho-types clash with Leftists, who are much more communalist and social-justice oriented. To a Leftist, the suffering of one is the suffering of all, and there’s more of a focus on a structuralist view of the work, wherein we’re not as much agents as we are objects within a system. This, ironically, shares much with the Traditionalist worldview, that was almost entirely shorn away in the American versions of Protestantism, but still sees some expression in Catholicism (which is why Catholics fit so awkwardly between Right and Left).

              1. JTFaraday

                “This clashes with the Liberal psycho-type because they are very rewarded by novelty-seeking and individual self-expression. The Classical Liberal is an individualist dedicated to self-improvement and the belief that handling our *own business* will lead inevitably to the better functioning of the Body Politic via a Smithian Invisible Hand. This was never really very compatible with Leftism’s Communalism and Solidarity, and it’s an irony of history that the two were glossed together in the Anglosphere.”

                It’s like I’m back in undergraduate school and someone wants to force me to be a sociologist but not a psychologist. Why would I consent to this?

                To be realistic (or pragmatic), we’re not going to have a good collectivity if it is made up of f-ed up individuals. There’s lots of ways we can go with that, but I think that’s a pretty sound statement.

                I think the biggest problem Americans face is that we’ve all been subjected to an overly narrow definition of what it means to be a functioning individual.

          2. Amfortas the Hippie

            the Right covers for a lot of things in that manner.
            as in the loudest anti-gay preacher people getting caught with a rent boy….or the bullying belligerence that covers for secret cowardice. Or the lurid stories in the Old South about the white woman “knowing” a Black Man, and never going back.. Or the gun fetish..Fear of inadequacy, of being seen as inadequate.
            Fear seems to be at the root of many of their worst attributes.
            It was a real revelation when I suddenly realised that the tormentors of my youth were behaving that way out of mortal terror of Difference…and especially Comfort in Difference, as in I was cool with my freakdom(which consisted of being smart and a reader and not giving a damn about sports, or all their prancing about like roosters,and waving the proverbial branch,lol).
            Projection is a huge part of the Right.
            Maybe the Big Center analog is Virtue Signalling.

      3. Amfortas the Hippie

        “progressives” go on and on about tolerance…except for republicans.
        I’ve lived in rural Texas all my life, and yes…i hated all those bible thumping hillbillies. got chased with baseball bats, chased by cops, and had a rather terrible experience as a young adult.
        But then I started studying them.
        and that meant putting myself in their shoes…why do they believe these things (welfare queens, etc)?
        That puts a whole other shoe on it.
        Now I find that I can accept the great majority of the “conservatives” around here…even when I despise what they say or do…because they’re just people.
        fallible and terrified and stressed and confused by the post-post-modern world.
        it’s the unexamined assumptions, taken as fact, that cause most of the problems(like welfare queens,lazy poor, liberals eat babies, etc)
        so I have become an evangelist for American Liberalism out here in the hinterland, attempting to speak FDR in their language(“Least of these…”,Epistle of James, etc).
        They ain’t gonna become socialist crusaders,lol…but I have noticed an openness to new ways of looking at these things, in some rather surprising places.
        The True Believer Team Blue people who hate on “all republicans” either don’t know that many, or aren’t looking for commonalities. This is source of conflict(among many) between me and a great many dems on social media.

      4. Bern

        No one needs praying for. No heaven, no hell, no worries.

        This nation is supposed to take care of its citizens irrespective of religion. That’s what I vote for, and why I do not begrudge taxes for such programs (yeah, I know – spare me the MMT response I get it). And that’s ALL citizens – even the dolts.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > civil discourse

      From, definitions of civil:

      4. of the citizen as an individual:

      5. befitting a citizen:

      6. of, or in a condition of, social order or organized government; civilized:

      7. adhering to the norms of polite social intercourse; not deficient in common courtesy:

      It seems that failures at the level of #7 are cascading to #4, #5, #6.

      One might ask cui bono? Who benefits from a discourse structured like this? I don’t know how to turn this into a point one can easily make in conversation.

    3. Geo

      Introducing doubt, “short, sharp shock”, and then they worry over it for a day or a week,

      For those one the right that complain of “moochers” I tell them how much we subsidize fossil fuel companies every year and remind them of the bank bail out then tell them I’ll worry about poor moochers after we stop enabling rich moochers. Most don’t even know we spend billions a year subsidizing the richest companies in the world.

      For those on the left that complain about racists and immigration I remind them Clinton sent back Honduran refugee kids to “send a message” and admitted they may get killed upon return home; and that Obama deported more than any president ever. They still rebut that Trump is worse and to that all I can say is “lesser evil is still evil”.

      1. perpetualWAR

        I like to remind Team Blue, that so far. Trump has not allowed the banks to steal 18 million American homes, like Obama did. That shuts them up.

      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        in the current state of team blue discourse, it doesn’t matter.
        I took issue with msnbc having people like Nicole Wallace and Bill Kristol on, and treating them as allies.
        I asked if Darth Cheney came out against trump, would he be welcome in this big stinking tent?
        “Yes! Absolutely!”
        Records don’t matter…history doesn’t matter(see: Hillary and Kissinger)…but I have a memory that functions, sadly. I remember when it was “but Bernie honeymooned in Russia!”
        At some point, maybe the fever will pass.
        Of course, looking at the precedence of the Right’s long term descent into madness, maybe not.
        What I hope for and worry about is, what if both parties go down?
        as in lose enough support that they’re not really functional?
        Since the machinery of elections has been so thoroughly parastised by these things, what then?
        We’d hafta go back to, what? the 1880’s for the DIY mechanisms?
        Does anyone even know how to run an election without the Duopoly?
        Like with trump’s blundering into the machinery of american capitalist empire, this contains a little bit of hope…how else did we expect these monoliths to fall?
        It could be an opportunity to build something better, more sane and less predatory…but it’s still worrisome

    4. animalogic

      It’s not easy, but the Socratic method can still produce good results.
      Advantages include encouraging your listener to speak (most of us prefer speaking to listening) & if your listener actually learns something it will appear to them as self learning.
      So establish general basic
      values, then encourage your listener to accept a particular example of the general value via tactical questioning.
      And, yes, again, not easy.

  4. ambrit

    I do come across as a bit of a nutter, and bloodthirsty to boot. However, in my defense, I am increasingly encountering extremism as the base line for discussions, really arguments, in my daily encounters. This comes from both ends of the political spectrum. This I perceive as a sign of desperation. The Third Way ‘faux left’ movement is running out of steam as the inequality that it was designed to enable takes hold, and disenchants those that the movement required to at least be neutral in order for it to do its ‘work.’ The Right wing has always cultivated a sense of being oppressed in order to cultivate the sense of ‘belonging’ to a ‘special’ and ‘chosen’ people. I have been called “dirty socialist” and even less salubrious terms so many times, I’ve developed somewhat of a thick skin to the insult. The problem with that is that those who are doing the insulting are dead serious in their obloquy. This can escalate into actions. Therein lies the rub. the step from verbal abuse to physical abuse must be guarded against and, if encountered, short circuited. Hence, the comment about the probable bad results of trying to crash someone’s SHTF refuge.

    I have worked with several ex-cons during my work life. Jail is the pressure cooker of power relations for Western society. All the ex-cons said that threats, even when coming from obviously superior physical specimens must be responded to quickly and decisively. As one man put it, “Even if you have to take a beat down. Make the point that you will fight. Once is usually enough. After that, people in jail will leave you alone.” Another man related the tale of a small man in prison who was being groomed for ‘bitchdom’ by a much bigger man. “The big guy poked the little guy in the chest and started to say something. The little guy grabbed the finger and broke it. Then this tiny tornado tore into the big guy. Man! Nobody f—-d with the little guy again. He was crazy everybody said. Some of the older cons said that he was smart.”

    It may not be relevant yet, but America certainly does seem to be sliding into a full blown Police State. As such, the etiquette of prison is slowly being imposed on the civil society. Pure power relations are becoming the norm. This manifests in our more genteel disputations.
    So, my present reply to people who take me to task for not voting for Her Royal Highness is to say; “Thank you for giving us Trump. Without your gallant efforts, we would have had a decent government, under Bernie.” Then, as one of the above comments suggests, I walk away, and make sure our Urban Bug In Bag is ready.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      That is a frightening observation and I believe it is unfortunately accurate. Relations in the workplace certainly have resembled this since 2008. Civil society was next.

    2. Another Anon

      I recall reading a book written by a Russian dissident in the 1960’s or 70’s
      who made the exact same point about Soviet society which he called the
      “Outer Prison” and with the Gulags referred as the “Inner Prison”

    3. Lambert Strether

      > America certainly does seem to be sliding into a full blown Police State. As such, the etiquette of prison is slowly being imposed on the civil society. Pure power relations are becoming the norm.

      Perceptive. Yikes. Back in the day when I was helping feed the homeless, I encountered the following, written (I think) in the black front or back pages of a bible:

      “When somebody says “You asked for it,”* punch them in the face, and ask them: “Did you ask for that?”

      Making the power relations clear…

      NOTE * “They should just move.”

    4. UserFriendly

      So, my present reply to people who take me to task for not voting for Her Royal Highness is to say; “Thank you for giving us Trump.

      I’ve found these people to be heavily invested in the blue wave. And questions with obvious answers are less offensive. Someone in my local DSA’s fb group said something along the lines of ‘I can’t believe Russia gave us this president’.My response:

      What would the House and Senate look like next year had Hillary won? Would the house be getting more or less gerrymandered after the next census? Which justice would she have gotten past the GOP senate? Would Kennedy have retired under her? Would Ginsburg? Who would the GOP nominate in 2020 / is there anyone on the planet they could nominate that Hillary would have beaten? How many more state legislatures would the GOP have control of by 2020? Enough to pass party line constitutional amendmendments?

      I’ll take 4 years of incompetent trump with the media that hates him and is all over everything he does followed by a (hopefully) Sanders presidency WAY before 4 years of a miserable Clinton presidency with a media that gives her a pass on everything except the stupidest stuff, followed by Ted Cruz (or worse) with a GOP super majority by a mile.

      There is also WAY too many holes in the Russia story. It’s not impossible but they haven’t proven anything.

      They responded with Trump’s court packing and I reminded them that Clinton would have had to get nominee’s past the GOP senate which is why Obama had little success post 2014.

      1. ScottS

        This is my burden. “You people who didn’t vote for Hillary — this is on you.”

        Yeah, sure. Ignore the fact that my state is winner-take-all, and there was zero chance of Trump taking all. What is it Saint Hillary was going to do different? Bomb Syria? Toothless North Korea treaty? Ham-fisted meddling in Brexit? Continuing to deport the undocumented? Neoliberal austerity nonsense? Corporate welfare?

        What would truly be different under Saint Hillary’s regime? Checks would be made out to Clinton Global Initiative instead of Trump International? So what?

  5. ambrit

    Skynet ate a longer comment.
    Short version: “Thank you for running Hillary so Trump could win.”

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      A brillant compaction. And nice (fascinating being even better desc.) to see the longer version as well. Skynet apparently liked it too.

      My poor wife has somewhat ‘come around’ (been dragged along) because many of the predictions (that I get from NC)seem to materialize in one way or another, but on the flip side we have lost what we thought were real friends (fortunately few), largely because of my inability to shut up (at least I don’t do it until asked some hard to get out of question) combined with insufficient command of a given subject – alas, all given subjects it seems.

      1. ambrit

        We do find out who our ‘real’ friends are when we go a little ‘off the reservation’ with subjects having a significant emotional content. I have found that I also discover personal biases by observing what subjects being ‘rejected’ by others give me pain. I have been surprised at some of my personal biases. Don’t be too hard on yourself about those things that you need to study more. Everyone has those kinds of subjects. I certainly do. Yesterday’s thread on the lowly apostrophe was such a wake up call to me.

    2. Zachary Smith

      Short version: “Thank you for running Hillary so Trump could win.”

      There are an awful lot of good comments here, but I’m going to focus on yours because that’s the strategy I’ve used with some success in my limited run-ins with the ‘we wuz robbed’ crowd. Even the true believers can’t deny that Hillary did “this” and “that”, and they also are unwilling to defend those horrible things she did when pressed on the matters.

      “Why did you vote for that criminal *****?”, I ask them. Often the reply is “So you voted for Trump”? No, says I, I don’t vote for criminals, and my 2016 vote was thrown away with a write-in for Jill Stein.

      “Why did you vote for the criminal ***** Hillary instead of sitting it out?” At least at this point they’re no longer on the holier-than-thou offensive.

      Reader Coping Strategies for Engaging With Committed Liberals

      I really resent that kind of description, mostly because until fairly recently I considered myself a “liberal”. Nowadays people who call themselves that are often low-information boneheads every bit as inflexible and narrow-minded as their counterparts who are in bed with the orange-topped criminal.

      I’ve tangled with the NRA types. With the Fundamentalists. With the door-to-door missionaries willing to sacrifice their own kids for their misreading of obscure/pointless bible verses. I’ve found all of them to be immune to reason. I’m quite aggravated that intelligent and educated and well-intentioned people can be every bit as looney as the traditional numbskulls.

      If this mini-rant has done nothing else, at the very least it has made me feel a little bit better. :)

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Agreed Zachary Smith — it’s the Foxification of the liberals. Some other word that doesn’t carry connotations of John Stuart Mill might be desirable for this social phenomenon; on the other hand, Phil Ochs and Eugene Debs would probably say they’ve always been like this, J.S. Mill notwithstanding (and hell, doesn’t Mill say despotism is okay for barbarians/deplorables? I seem to have heard someone say that somewhere — maybe Crooked Timber comments, which contain some rare gems amid the roughage).

        1. witters

          Mill on the Barbarians (From Jimmy Casan Kluasen, “Violence and Epistemology: J. S. Mill’s Indians after the ‘Mutiny,'” Political Science Quarterly, 2016):

          “Although some of his most important writings date to the period immediately after the Indian Revolt of 1857, J. S. Mill seemed unable to recognize that British violence might substantively contradict British people’s “civilized” character. Likewise, he could not view Indian actions, including recent insurgent violence, as political but rather only as expressions of “barbarian” character, nor could he consider the occasional reforming native leader effective in producing lasting political change. What enabled Mill to ignore evidence that contradicted his firm generalizations about essentially “barbarian” Indians and “civilized” Britons? ”

  6. ex-PFC Chuck

    It seems to me that the longer the person has supported the Democratic Party the more they are resistant to changing their views. The affiliation comes to resemble that of a football fan to her favorite team. People who’ve changed their political affiliation over the course of their lives, and especially those who have done so relatively recently, are more open-minded and willing to consider evidence contrary to their current views..

    1. ambrit

      Not to quibble, but your observation takes on the appearance of a ‘chicken or egg’ problem.
      As the Political Fundamentalists showed, politics is a long term game. That’s one reason that Lamberts comment about the Democrat party and their ‘missing’ ground game is so pertinent.

        1. ambrit

          Taking your analogy one step further; “Bernie is trying to form a Players’ Union.”

          1. Michael Fiorillo

            And to follow up on the MLBPA analogy, here’s a quote I remember reading about the great Marvin Miller (still blacklisted from the Hall of Fame), from one of the player-founders of the Union (sorry, can’t recall who): “We were children, but he (Miller) treated us like adults. And eventually we became adults.”

            That’s also got to be part of the Long Game: treating people like intelligent adults (even though the evidence often contradicts that) who will eventually come around to recognizing their shared interests with others.

    2. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

      Fair enough, Chuck, but I think you might be missing a very important bit: the fact that many people who are otherwise staunch rank-and-file supporters might also have an otherwise invisible breakpoint, or fault line. I say this as a former Dem Party supporter, who did the full song and dance – supported Hillary, supported Kerry before that, and was a total devotee to Obama. I was as tied to the Dem party as anyone not getting a paycheck could be, and when Obama won, I was elated. I thought that things would really change.

      The Financial Crisis was a rude, rude awakening. The pretty speeches meant little, and did even less. If anyone had a hand in setting fire to my generally moderate viewpoint, it was Obama himself, his worship for Wall Street, and his inability to put up a fight about anything. It was a weird time for me, politically, but 2008-2016 was what set the stage, while the last set of primaries only confirmed what I had felt in my gut for many years.

      I think there are many out there, struggling like I did. They’ll show. Eventually. I’d say that the famous line about the center not holding applies here, but I’m likely missing a ton of context.

      1. polecat

        My ‘turn’ was when Nancy P. swiped “impeachment” off the gilded table in 2006, Right • After • The • House • Elections. So, when shortly there after, while listening to Obama give his inaugural address, all I could say was “we’ll see ??” . Then came his cabinet appointments, and from then on the d-party lost me with their passive-aggressive “We’ll have to $ee what’s in it AFTER WE VOTED FOR IT” FU tactics.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          Mine was Bill Clinton’s two fer one special.(Billary)
          Nafta,”the era of big gov is over”, etc etc.
          the wishywashy on pot really bothered me, too.
          and the whole “we’re gonna out republican the gop!” nonsense made me want to barf.
          My first time voting, I voted for Ron Paul…later for Ross Perot.
          I didn’t agree with them on a bunch of stuff..but they felt honest…and neither Clinton ever has, to me.
          icky, fake, pretentious.
          I can’t wait til Clintonism goes the way of the buffalo.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            It won’t go there on its own. It will have to be sent there ( “away”) by sustained unforgiving force.

        2. Kurt Sperry

          The first Obama Administration was, I having up until then been an autopilot Dem for many years, my moment of clarity too. The dissonance between the soaring rhetoric and the cynical personnel and policy directions taken simply became too large to ignore or pretend away any longer. I, finally, realized that the Dems were every bit as corrupt as the Rs.

          1. Swamp Yankee

            For me it was two-fold: I changed from unenrolled to D in 2006, in anger at the Iraq-Katrina-Dubya clusterf—. Then, in 2010, a crack formed — the absolute failure of Obama in the face of the BP disaster to articulate even a minimally non-evil energy policy; my Father and I said, if he doesn’t respond to this in some big way, he’s not the man we thought (or hoped) he was. He wasn’t.

            and: 2013, when Snowden revealed that all the stuff Dems had been complaining righteously about W doing, they themselves were doing, and the date from which the most recent authoritarian turn (cf. Marshall, Josh; Yglesias, Matthew, etc.) in the Democratic Party can be dated, I think.

            I moved towns in 2013, so when I re-registered to vote at the Town Clerk’s office, I decided to switch to unenrolled. Doesn’t mean I won’t vote for Dems if they’re worthwhile, but I’m no longer in the club. It’s freeing.

            1. JBird

              Weirdly, it was the mass exiling of those accused of being RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) from the Republican Party of people are, and been for decades, conservative, often doctrinaire, conservative Republicans. Sometimes people whose writing I’d been reading just as long. I would read up on their supposed crimes and would find something like mild criticism of the War on Terror, or the Wall Street Bailout, or tax policy, or corruption and Goodbye Traitor!

              That somehow reminded me of the Democratic Party somehow. Like a mental itch,
              and l am an overages political science/economy major which gives me time and training to go down the Rabbit Hole. The more I looked the more I discovered just how much BS is used to create the illusion of differences or at least the pretense that what is now is like the past. It’s like when I found out that the Soviet Union and the Western powers especially the United States had the same economic relationship to the smaller nations in their sphere of influence. Colonizers to colonies. Britain to India. United States to Latin America. Spain to Latin America. The colonies shipped raw materials to the imperial power and received the finished goods like refrigerators and clothes. There were still great differences but they were used to hide great similarities as well. It was like seeing something obvious, in plain sight, that was previously unseeable.

              To cut this overy story long short, I realize that the Democratic Party was the conservative wing or at least the center of Republican Party of forty years ago. That all the many factions in both parties, that had been in both parties sometimes for a century, had disappeared. It is really all there to see, especially if you are over fifty, and really so for a political aware Boomer. Yet, people don’t see it.

              Lambert Strether made a comment asking about who benefits from this? I asked you who created this? The greatest propagandist and advertisers of the past 120 years are the corporations’ Madison Avenue, the American and British intelligence services/military, and the politics’ think tanks, pacs, secret or obscure foundations, universities researchers, “philanthropic” organizations.

              I could mention Big Oil and Climate Change, Cigarettes Makers and smoking and others. The first time I really was hit emotionally was when studying eugenics. I can recommend two of my books The War Against the Weak by Edwin Black and on advertising Toxic Sludge is Good for You by John Stauber to start.

              Getting back to our parties especially the Democrats; my road was circuitous as seeing how wonderfully ignorant I am on somethings made my head itch when thinking about them. I scratched that itch.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > an otherwise invisible breakpoint, or fault line.

        Thomas Frank really thought it was possible that Obama would be the next FDR. Then, IIRC, came the appointment of Tim Geithner.

          1. ambrit

            Someone had to convince the proles to get their own lube.
            “Kiss the cane before I thrash you with it!”

  7. Steve H.

    Mediation in kindergarten words: Listen, Talk, Ask, Agree, Write.

    Listen is first.

    Would you expect to walk into any fundamentalist church or mosque and change minds?

    Conversation among strangers gets more specific along commonalities until it hits a split point, then drops down a level. If nothing in common, there’s always the weather. That’s universal.

    Which blogger was it, trying to change the world when he realized he was only reaching the 5% who thought like he did, & stopped? Think how hard it is to undo economics class learnin’ and understand MMT.

    Politically, these are not going to be new customers. I can’t find number of new voters for AOC, but turnout was less than 1 in 5. She gained trust by knocking on doors. You can’t reach the frontal lobes if the amygdala is signalling threat.

    If you find points of agreement, you can move the conversation to universal. Then to concrete and material.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      This dovetails with hamsher above, whose defiines success as hearing his talking points adopted by those he has dropped them on.

      The key is to be nonjudgmental.

      1. Medbh

        I think this is key. I’ve realized that my opinions have changed over time based upon my experiences. I’ve almost gotten superstitious about it. Every time I’ve gotten a “holier than thou” attitude or had a feeling of contempt towards someone’s behavior or opinions, I’ve gotten a little taste of that experience, and became more understanding and sympathetic.

        We need to talk about controversial issues more often with people we love and respect. I can be more gentle with my father or friend because I believe that they are good people trying to do the right thing. This contrast helps us reconcile the contradictory thoughts of “she is a good person” and “I can’t believe she thinks that.”

        We should be humble to the idea that we may be missing information or experiences that could lead us to change our mind. “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” The people I most admire are the ones who are most open and confident to hearing other perspectives. You cannot grow or persuade others if you are not willing to listen and understand.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > Think how hard it is to undo economics class learnin’ and understand MMT.

      Somehow, and I’m not sure how, MMT managed to “change the world” by talking to people; bloggers did in fact play a big part in this (from 2013).

      I’m not sure what they did that was so different. Perhaps a coherent world-view and a set of policy priorities were part of it (plus a “thought collective” that was really, really good at staying in paradigm).

      1. Steve H.

        > Blogs are not really a “power of weak ties” phenomenon at all

        That’s my experience. Weak ties are local social gatherings.

        MMT has an advantage by being utterly simple at its core (though simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy). That helps staying in paradigm, and gives clarity to excluding bs. The internal hub stays coherent.

        I note the turnover in active commentariat members over half a decade. This blog has been around for a half-generation. Teach those who teach the children…

  8. kimyo

    there are two statements which have worked in my recent exchanges with liberals:
    1) Obama has bombed more nations than Bush
    2) no one person did more to put donald trump in office than hillary clinton (extreme, indisputable malfeasance against sanders in the primary)

    although many seem completely ready to discard ‘russian collusion’ i still hear ‘why is he trying to be friends with putin?’ on a regular basis.

    any criticism of obamacare is immediately discarded, even though many know someone who has health insurance but doesn’t have health care.

    i keep trying to argue that democrats are best served if abortion is constantly under threat. that most democratic politicians strongly prefer this situation, as it would otherwise be close to impossible to motivate people to get out to the polls. (or, likewise, republicans and gun rights) so far, this doesn’t seem to work.

    calling out tesla as a nonsense scam is working pretty well, though. (monorail!)

    also, pointing out that new research shows that wifi/cellphone exposure increases miscarriage risk is starting to gain traction. i cringe everytime i see a toddler playing with an i-pad. (obviously not a liberal issue, but it helps to dispel the fog of complacency)

    1. Lambert Strether

      > ‘why is he trying to be friends with putin?’ on a regular basis.

      On one level, Trump does tend to be nice to people who are nice to him. That doesn’t seem to translate to being nice to Putin on pipelines; and sending $200 million to the Ukrainians doesn’t seem friendly. But there’s also what seems to have ended up as a modus vivendi in Syria. Is that friendly? Is it so very bad? Do liberals want another war (or anything at all that can be had?

      At a second level, paraphrasing Lord Palmerston, “nations have friends, only interests.” The whole “friend with” formulation is so idiotic and childish I can’t even. It’s probably good I just sit out in my garden and don’t interact much, unlike so many others on this very useful thread.

  9. timbers

    Here is my general approach, good or bad towards Hillary “liberal” or establishment think or whatever you may call it. I think it helps put the burden of proof to the fake news’ers

    On Russia – the biggest “liberal” fake new angle for years now – I say “Not one single piece of evidence has ever been presented that Russia meddled in the election. Not one single piece. The same agencies that said WMD in Iraq are now telling us Russia meddled. This is Democrat’s WMD in Iraq moment.”

    I ask them to “show me the money” if they can point to any evidence to support the claim Russia hacked. Depending on how much time I have, I can shoot it down (like the click bait social media example that is full of holes) but there is so much non-sense out their I am always up on the latest.

  10. Chris

    Long time NC reader in the DC/Maryland area.

    Re: discussing what’s happening with people… I just gave up. Partially because I couldn’t keep calm in the face of being labeled a “white cis gendered Russia loving hate monger.” Partially because the medium for debate my friends and I were using was Facebook, which is really not a great tool for serious discussions. Partially because it took so much time and energy and garnered no rewards.

    Most of my circle of friends ardently believe the following:

    (1) the Democrats are significantly different from the Republicans and suggesting otherwise is lying. This gets you the most violent reactions from most people.

    (2) all or most of what Trump is doing is a significant departure from the Obama administration.

    (3) withholding votes or voting for other candidates than “electable Democrats” is equivalent to voting for fascists.

    (4) US citizens who live in depressed economic areas are to blame for their own problems because they vote against their own interests and won’t move to better places.

    (5) increased immigration, increased globalism, and free trade agreements like TPP are policies we should support.

    (6) Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, etc. are not monopolies and anti-trust law should not be used to break them up.

    (7) solutions to inequality in public education should not include busing children from poor areas to wealthy areas. Or vice versa.

    (8) our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan must continue.

    (9) we need identity politics in this country.

    (10) the world would be better off if Hillary was president. P.S. she was robbed by Russians, misogynists, and electoral manipulation from the fascistic Trump campaign.

    When I try to mention that all of those points are debatable at best, and admittedly I do that with varying degrees of success, they do not accept it. Any of it. They find discussions of what happened during the Obama administration which either lead to, or was similar to, what Trump is doing now tiring and painful. Mentioning how poorly the HRC campaign was run, how HRC laundered money through local state dem orgs, the wasted millions in consultants, the lack of campaigning in key states, globalism, etc. get you a soulful vomiting of Russia/Misogyny/Fascism. They will ask why you focus on the Democrats, and not the Republicans. It’s the Republicans fault we’re here and their voters deserve rock suffer.

    Humor or analogy doesn’t work on this topic either. If you mention something like both parties blame outsiders for their troubles, except Republicans blame people from Mexico and Democrats blame people from Michigan, you get angry stares. If you mention both parties want to go back in time to a better, safer place, except for Republicans it’s an imaginary 1950 something and for Democrats is an imaginary 2006, you’ll end up drinking alone.

    I realized that the only thing I was doing was aggravating my friends and hurting my cause. They’re all too high strung to have discussions. They don’t want to consider that the status quo ante that they think was great was only “great” for a select portion of the country. They might have admitted that progressives and leftists weren’t happy with the Obama administration in 2016. They have no space for that kind of thinking now. So I logged out of FB and Twitter, deleted the apps and spend the time doing other things. I will talk to people about this stuff if they’re interested and if it’s in person. I stop when I see their body language shift to ‘uncomfortable.’

    The other thing I’ve been doing is working to support local candidates who believe in th kind of policies I want to see in my community. I think that’s a much better way to use my time and political energy.

    Good luck to anyone who wants to try and fight this battle with words. No one is reading or listening anymore. They just want red meat and a torch to join their preferred mob. And with what’s happening if you post something a boss or other person finds objectionable, I strongly recommend the virtues of self censorship and keeping your mouth shut until this time passes.

    1. Marshall Auerback

      “being labeled a ‘white cis gendered Russia loving hate monger'”

      Welcome to the club!

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Likewise, but what do you do when that rhetoric is used as a weapon and tool of manipulation within an ostensibly “radical” group?

        I’m speaking from personal experience here, having recently gone through the purposeful shattering (“Rule or Ruin”) of the “Social Justice” opposition caucus of the United Federation of Teachers in NYC, whereby an alliance of International Socialist Organization and DSA (sorry, Lambert!) sectarians destroyed the organization because they could not control it, and because they could not conceptualize, let alone act upon, the fact that they would have to speak with and listen to fellow Union members whose politics were different from their own, yet have similar interests in the workplace and beyond.

        You’ll not be surprised to hear that most of these people are only in the classroom for a cup of coffee, before moving on to “better things,” and have little or no interest in the union as an organic expression of worker power; they’re just hoping to leech off mass organizations, whether for recruiting purposes, or to broadcast their moral superiority.

        Sadly, it ain’t just the liberals who need schoolin’.

        1. Chris

          That last is true. It’s why the lack of discussions is so sad. There are a lot of holes in current DSA and lefty positions. They won’t be filled without debate and critique.

          I don’t know what to say to help. But I think if you stick to the principles of “fighting fair” when arguing with friends you’ll do OK. Like they teach in pre-marital classes. Unless they’re too far gone, in which case, perhaps ignoring the subject is the only choice.

          1. Tempestteacup

            I’d still like to think that when talking with lefties rather than liberals there is still a staging post of empathy and solidarity that provides hope for moving beyond the sectarian subjectivity that postmodern theory has spread into politics. It is hopefully possible to begin by reiterating the fact that People. Are. Suffering. The media has successfully implanted in people the idea that politics is some kind of secular morality play, but the truth is that workers don’t have to be saints in order for their hardships to be wrong. They don’t have to subscribe to an homogenized litany of urban, middle class cultural totems in order to deserve to be listened to, engaged with or to work alongside on the basis of common interests. I hope that can be conveyed to at least some on the left and that it is worthwhile to do so – in many cases, people are coming to political consciousness in spite of decades of depoliticisation – we shouldn’t be surprised if they sometimes (often) lack a grasp of what may for others appear core left-wing principles!

            Flowing from that, I think it’s essential to try to advocate for a structural understanding of how capitalism really works and how it is an integrated system based on a set of constants: the profit motive, the extraction of surplus value, commodification, and the exploitation of everyone who sells their labour time in the market, which of course also usefully expands the meaning of worker beyond the stereotypes many still retain of Chaplinesque figures getting Repetitive Strain Injuries from pulling Lever No. 2494 on the assembly line for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

            Bernie’s campaign marked a good start in this respect but I’m concerned that what he began is calcifying into a set of slogans all-too easy for meretricious Dems to invoke for direct access to whatever they cynically view as the youthful zeitgeist. Not only that, but without an understanding of class relations and how capitalism distributes power, it leaves people ill-equipped for the nitty gritty of the struggle to achieve concrete gains in the teeth of determined, well-resources opposition from the most powerful sections of society. Which brings us back to the beginning insofar as the only means to achieve anything is by building a large enough force and mobilizing it – and that means engaging with the working class. Or, better yet, accepting that we are for the most part members of that class as well!

            1. Michael Fiorillo

              That may work with unaffiliated, rank and file Leftists, but once you’re in an organizational setting, the Sectarians appear, and they’re impossible. They will invariably form an unacknowledged (by them) “caucus within the caucus” that often pushes positions intended to “Build The Party,” with little or no concern for the history and make-up of the group involved. When you call them on their unethical behavior – refusal to debate honestly and openly, manipulation of meetings so as to highlight their priorities, unfounded accusations of racism/misogyny/homophobia, and in the case I referred to above, willful destruction of an organization they couldn’t dominate, etc. – you get accused of “red-baiting.”

              As someone who started on the Left as a 12year-old Trot in 1968, I’ve seen this play out again and again (especially in Left opposition Union caucuses, which these types flock to as a matter of course), but it’s gotten worse, since many younger Leftsists have only experienced politics screened through an Identitarian lens, are susceptible to it, and become vectors for it…

              1. ambrit

                It makes me wonder who the new Wobblies are going to be. That function is inherent in the spectrum of interests design of politics. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t see the Occupy movement as a truly ‘radical’ group. Too accomodationist for my tastes. That the Elites reacted so strongly to such a quietist political movement as Occupy shows the heightened levels of fear within the ruling elites. That suggests that overturning the present political arrangements might be easier than we imagine.

              2. drumlin woodchuckles

                How would these Lefto-Sectarians react if you responded to their accusations of “red-baiting” with replies of ” red parasite carpetbaggers deserve to be baited”.

                Has that approach ever been tried?

                Are legitimate worker-union organizations developing knowledge and expertise in the swift and sure expulsion of the sort of johnny-come-lately “red parasite carpetbaggers” which you have described for us?

    2. Shane Mage

      Please. When mentioning Facebook bots, *always* put the scare quotes about the word “friend.”

    3. Chris

      These were all people who I know and associate with off line. What surprised and saddened me was that they couldn’t leave an argument behind.

      I can leave an FB discussion on FB. I have other topics to discuss when I’m with my friends. They can’t do that anymore.

      It was that fact more than anything that lead me to believe there was no benefit in trying to post articles or participate in social media discussions. No one is listening. Everyone in my socal circle is feeling too raw to have measured discussions about how we got here and where we could go next.

      1. flora

        I’ve experienced the same from long time friends… or who I thought were friends. For months after the election all they could talk about was ‘Hillary was robbed.’ I let them vent because it seemed like a grieving time for them. After six months or so, when they still could not talk about anything else even if I tried shifting the conversation to family or gardening or something, then I knew they were caught up in more than grieving. I’m starting to wonder if this is the fury of people who suspect they’ve been conned and are determined to prove they were not conned. ‘The most qualified candidate ever’ was a terrible campaigner.
        From 2016:

        My outlook now is that people determined to prove they were not conned then will need to find their way back to calmness.

        1. flora

          adding: she couldn’t turn out the vote. simple as that. imo. but not something people who are determined to prove they were not conned want to hear.

          1. Elizabeth Burton

            Using the “she couldn’t turn out the vote” talking point doesn’t work because the people we’re discussing are of the firm conviction it’s perfectly fine to order people to vote for whoever they consider on the right side even if the candidate is as toxic as HRC.

            This mindset is being encouraged by the establishment, of course. I’ve seen multiple versions of “Get out and vote in November” implying it doesn’t matter who’s running as long as they have a D attached. Issues are never mentioned.

            The sports-team analogy mentioned up the line a bit isn’t just speculation. If you’ve ever hung around people who are fanatically dedicated to one team or another, and compare their behavior to that of #theResistance, the similarities are clear. If one goes a step further and then compares the language used to work up sports fans to that the media applies to elections, it’s not hard at all to understand the cult mindset that applies to both.

            1. Baby Gerald

              It’s hard to argue the ‘turn out the vote’ point because, well, she got 3 million more votes than her opponent. They just happened to be cluttered in the wrong places. The electoral college is responsible for this. Not Putin. Not Comey. Not Julian Assange. Not Susan Sarandon. Not Jill Stein. Not sexist Bernie bros or racist deplorables who don’t know what’s really good for them.

              This is one of my primary arguments for the many, many, many ‘friends’ and even close relatives who are still distraught over 2016. I will have a list of other retorts lined up, but this one works pretty good without tipping off which side of the fence you sit as it’s coming from a neutral point of view. But never have I received any response suggesting we eliminate the electoral college system and go to popular vote and how the EC is a relic of the slave-holding era.

              After you drop their defenses with this retort, you can find chinks in their armor and drop a dig about how such a ‘qualified and experienced’ politician could have ignored the aforementioned electoral college system while hopping from coast to coast for fundraising dinners, ignoring states like Michigan, etc.

              By this point, my companions are usually completely frustrated, so I drop another truth bomb about the voters being sick of eight years of shuck and jive and wanting anything that rang of populism, and stuck their vote to the orange haired goon when Bernie got literally cheated because Trump talked a good line, also ripping off the Bernie vibe but with a crass, xenophobic twist to make sure his rightest-wing followers still came out to vote.

              Three incontrovertable bombs dropped like this, you’ve likely lost whatever ‘liberal friends’ you might have had and relatives who used to call you on the phone start texting instead.

              1. redleg

                Agree, and the Dem establishment silence about the role of the electoral college in their F’ing up the one-car coronation parade is deafening.
                There should be calls for an amendment to abolish or laws to modify it, but… crickets. That says it’s not a problem.

        2. Arizona Slim

          In Roger Stone’s book, The Making of the President 2016, there was a passage about people, many of them on the left, who view those who disagree with them as truly evil people.

          What comes next explains a lot about what we’ve seen since the election. Quoting Stone:

          “This is a very immature worldview that produces no coping skills.”

          Hence, the meltdowns that go on and on and on …

          1. flora

            Great quote.
            I should make clear that in the phrase “people who got conned” I’m primarily referring to the MSM, Eric Schmidt/Google, Silicon Valley and their AI dreams, and some members of the intelligence agencies. This is less a reference to regular voters.
            The MSM reported from deep in NYC and SF/LA and Chicago. The computer AI geniuses ran much of her campaign in terms of where to visit and what to address. They still seem unable to process the fact they had no clue about what was happening in and important to half of the country. And they are the one’s now keeping the hysteria at a full boil, imo, and trying to cover up their many failings.

            Any decent national reporting about the aftermath of the GFC and Nafta and the opiod crisis and its causes should have alerted the Dem campaign that not all was well for the Dem party in the upper midwest and elsewhere because these things happened on a Dem president’s watch.

        3. fresno dan

          July 24, 2018 at 11:29 am

          I had a friend who idolized Lance Armstrong, the tour de France bicycle champion many times. Turned out he (Armstrong) was a fraud.
          It is just something my friend cannot accept or talk about.
          But maybe I am the one that there is something wrong with – people are not logical, and they put more of a premium on loyalty than on the character of who they are being loyal too…..

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            I see an analog in my stepdad…paralyzed in viet nam, and mom and George W Bush eventually turned him into a Liberal…watching Amy Goodman and ranting about the wars.
            He never talks about viet nam, and i detect from his hillbilly roundaboutness that he knows deep down that he gave his legs for nothing…for some rich, educated fools’ crazy ideas…that it wasn’t for Freedom and mom and apple pie.
            But he can’t look that in the face.
            the “we wuz robbed” people(stealing that!) feel like the same sort of thing, just maybe less dramatic and life-changing(when you get down to it)
            people got all invested in the idea of Herself, in spite of all the warnings.
            and when it went to hell, they couldn’t deal with it.

    4. fresno dan

      July 24, 2018 at 7:01 am

      you are exactly correct. There are people who don’t listen and who can never admit that they were in error. There really is no upside of debating people who have religious certainty about political topics.
      I enjoy this site and debating and learning about issues. But I accept that it is predominately an irrational, illogical, ill informed world, and that I can’t fix it.

    5. Lambert Strether

      > They’re all too high strung to have discussions.

      I really think, though I grant without evidence, that 2016 was seen by the 9.9% as a rejection of their right to rule. And was (explaining why their ceaseless complaining never gets outside their bubble). The collective ego damage and trauma was enormous, and they (as a class) still cannot process the outcome. (I’m trying to come up with a similar example of trauma, though, and cannot.)

      So perhaps the approach strategy needs to be the same as to a traumatized person?

      1. Chris

        I get that. What I don’t understand is why there’s no amount of data or evidence that can convince them that any of their beliefs are wrong.

        For example, when the rending of garments and gashing of teeth over Justice Kennedy leaving the bench hit the interwebs, I heard from a lot of female friends that that loss “hurt.” Now, most of them did not need an abortion. And none of them lived in a state that would outlaw abortion. And, of course, Roe v. Wade is still alive and as good as it was during the Obama administration. But they were apparently all convinced everything was going from great to crap in nothing flat. I mentioned that Kennedy was problematic as a justice, and that some of his rulings could do much good for the left if Congress ever changed sides and wanted to pass progressive leaning legislation. But that illicited a chorus of insults.

        Likewise, when I mentioned that insulting voters and using absolutes and hyperbole in arguments isn’t useful because if you say “this never happened under Obama” all a right leaning person has to do is use google for a second and then they’ll come up with numerous articles from the NYT or whatever, that, yes, Obama bombed peasants, separated immigrant families, refused to prosecute white collar criminals, kicked the left, etc. So unless they accept that things weren’t good under Obama, and take a historical perspective of what we’ve been doing as a country, they’ll lose every argument. And then they accused me of being completely deranged and making a nonsensical comment.

        There are none so blind as those who will not see.

        1. redleg

          Cognitive dissonance is a kind of mental spinning that is extremely difficult to break free from, like PTSD or a mental equivalent of a aeronautical flat spin.

      2. Swamp Yankee

        Yes, I quite agree. It’s why your observation about Restoration-#Resistance is so spot on. I think, though obviously in very different ways, the loss of confidence by the British aristocracy in the period 1914-45 is somewhat of a similar analogue, replete with the Election shock of 1945 (Of course, Trump is no Clement Attlee). But world-history does seem to have sped up, what happened in a decade now happens in a few years. I think it was Levy-Strauss who talked about “hot” periods in history, like the Age of Revolutions or the World Wars.

        There’s always the patricians’ response to the Secessio Plebis, too…. “Who will hew our wood and draw our water?!”

  11. christy

    Yes! Plz someone tell me a way to discuss immigration at the border and separating families. The word on the street that 10k of those 12k children being separated were ACTUALLY being ‘trafficked’ and WITHOUT their REAL parents in the first place.

    There are a lot of Dem Nuts on facebook that harrassed the heck out of me and since I posted #walkaway, as an astute BERNIE supporter, this has SHOCKED many and I been unfriended 5 times.

    8 million MISSING children and our FBI has only reunited/found 526?

    Someone plz tell me wth?

    1. marym

      Please don’t post such serious charges about trafficked children without sources. As far as I know not even the Trump administration in its own defense is claiming to have identified trafficked children at those levels.

      I’m going to try to put together a comment later today about what we know of the current situation, the need to understand what was happening pre-Ttrump, and what may be happening to the children now after separation. It will probably be on the links thread, as it’s not directly related to the coping issue of this thread.

    2. Lambert Strether

      I don’t buy the 8 million number and I don’t think the #WalkAway tag is organic (which is not at all the same thing as saying it’s a Russian troll farm). My understanding is that “This is what it will take to get liberals to join us!!!!” is a well-worn trope for conservatives (which as an obvious analogue for liberals seeking to appeal to suburbanites), and that #WalkAway falls into that category.

      Less credulity, please.

      1. Grebo

        And they allow some unknown middleman to insinuate themselves for who-knows-what purpose.

        And they are completely unnecessary since you can give any link whatever meaningful or short title you like, as you demonstrate.

  12. fresno dan

    So, I made the below comments in today’s LINKS. But I will emphasize a different aspect here – in the Links comment my point was the reporter was wrong (about Obama representing the 1% – I think he did). Here my point is that she enforces dogma and insinuates disloyalty in any heretic.

    fresno dan
    July 24, 2018 at 7:25 am
    Why So Many Reporters Are Missing the Political Story of the Decade Washington Monthly. Versailles 1788.

    Frankly, someone needs to tell this guy (i.e., Bernie Sanders) to sit down and shut up for a while. Reinforcing the notion that a party that was led by Barack Obama for eight years has merely been representing the one percent contributes to the divide and reinforces Republican lies.
    party that was led by Barack Obama for eight years has merely been representing the one percent
    BESIDES believing that Obama DIDN’T represent the 1%, I’m sure this reporter believes:
    1. The earth is flat
    2. Elvis is alive
    3. The living head of John F. Kennedy is kept at the CIA
    4. There are 2 Melania Trumps
    5. that Hillary got more white women voters than Trump….
    other examples are welcome

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      on that inability to confront the less stellar record of Obama:
      it’s the same process that happened(and is happening, I’d argue) on the Right….and that happens, over and over, when science chips out another block in the wall of religious certainty.
      Fear of the disenchantment…of having been wrong, or fooled…they’ll resist tooth and claw from admitting being descendants of apes….even when they feel/know in their secret hearts that it’s true.
      With the Dems(non-Berner subspecies), it’s acute right now.
      They must defend the paradigm at all costs, because to do otherwise is to open the door to a frightening and incomprehensible world that would demand their attention and resolve. For so long, the ire was safely directed at the Right…it’s their fault we can’t have nice things, they are a regressive existential threat, omgomgomg. This is rendered tolerable by the belief that the Dems are their team, on their side and the polar opposite of the hateful Right.
      This latter set of assumptions was thrown into existential…even ontological…doubt by numerous reports, surveys and even by plain old look-out-the-window observation.
      The belief and the Reality couldn’t be reconciled(America is not already great for a whole bunch of folks)…and the Nature of the newly perceived Reality was so ugly, and so huge, that they recoil into paradigm defense.
      a giant edifice of bullshit is inherently unstable, it turns out.

      The challenge, as I see it, is to acknowledge that the Way We Do Things is falling apart, and that it should fall apart, if we really believe all the high minded rhetoric we perform to each other…and then to try to figure out what system/paradigm we’d like to replace it…to use the chaos and destruction of the trump era to our advantage.
      So more and more, in lib/dem/prog* social spaces, I’m asking “what are we for?”

      (* the confusion of tongues here is both instructive and disheartening and encouraging(!). asking folks to define such things is resulting in less fury and spittle and froth, and more with either silence or thought and honest questioning. at least in my little circles )

      1. fresno dan

        Amfortas the Hippie
        July 24, 2018 at 8:29 am

        I can’t beat what notabanker said:
        July 24, 2018 at 8:26 am
        If you can’t shift out of the partisan mentality, then all hope is really lost. My brain just does not compute this way and I find it really hard to understand how someone else’s does…..
        “Independent” self sufficient Americans….join groups called political parties that as a rite of passage evidently require the adherents to believe idiotic, inconsistent things.
        But another thing is that the number of people who even belong to political parties isn’t that great. But they set the agenda.

        It would be great if the one group of unthinking believers cancelled out the other group of unthinking believers, but of course the adherents are so blind to reality that that can’t see that the difference between Bush’s Goldman Sachs’ Treasury Secretary and Obama Goldman Sachs’ Treasury Secretary is….????
        NOW, of course there were real differences between Obama and Bush….Obama droned a LOT more.

      2. witters

        What we have here, Amfortas, seems to me what the greatly forgotten but still great philosopher, Anthony Ashley-Cooper (3rd Earl of Shaftesbury), called in Characteristiks of Men, Manners, Opinions (1711) “Vulgar Enthusiasm.”

        In such a mood (VE), Shaftesbury said, “The Examination [of their claims] torments ’em. They want to be rid of it, upon the easiest terms.”

        He condemned it utterly:

        “the most evidently ruinous and fatal to the Understanding is that of … vulgar Enthusiasm. This Passion, not contented like other Vices to deceive, and tacitly supplant our Reason, professes open War, holds up the intended Chains and Fetters, and declares its Resolution to enslave. The artificial Managers of this human Frailty declaim against Free-Thought, and Latitude of Understanding. To go beyond those Bounds of thinking which they have prescrib’d, is by them declar’d a Sacrilege. To them, Freedom of Mind, a Mastery of Sense, and a Liberty in Thought and Action, imply Debauch, Corruption, and Depravity.”

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          we humans really are sort of slow learners.
          falling into the same mudhole, over and over.
          …and NC really is a special place,lol.

          So backatcha: this has been running in my brain off and on for some time, now:
          “Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos is restored;
          Light dies before thy uncreating word:
          Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;
          And universal darkness buries all. ”

          1. witters

            See you, and raise you an Eliot:

            What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
            Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, 20
            You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
            A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
            And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
            And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
            There is shadow under this red rock, 25
            (Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
            And I will show you something different from either
            Your shadow at morning striding behind you
            Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
            I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

            1. JBird

              (I just realized that my response to your comment might just be a bit…overwrought. Sorry.)

              It really depends on any religion’s current leadership and followers doesn’t it?

              The beliefs of Jesus, Mohammed, and Gautama, even if one accepts the written accounts accurate, all espoused religious beliefs, ethics, and moralities are often remarkably different than followed by supposedly godly, ethical, and morally ostensible believers. The Golden Rule of do to others as you would have done to you, which in some form the is moral heart of most(all?) of the major religions seems to be ignored for some reason. Perhaps because it is convenient?

              All of these religions, even when they are primarily faith based, or at least treated as such requires followers to think about their faith, to not only believe, follow, and obey but why, and ultimately to live, and if needed die, as their founder would have them. Even just following the Golden Rule requires one to respect the other and attempt to understand their position.

              Those who proclaim that BELIEVE, FOLLOW, AND OBEY! like some mindless cultist is the way to prove one’s faithfulness towards religion, or party, or beliefs, or even one’s patriotism want to either control you or are themselves too afraid to actually live what they proclaim.

    2. Chris

      Well, we know that JFK’s brain was transplanted into a black man’s head years ago and that he died living in a retirement home with Elvis. While fighting a red neck mummy. I love Bubba Ho-Tep :)

      1. fresno dan

        July 24, 2018 at 7:05 pm

        I loved that documentary….but I love all the Bruce Campbell documentaries

  13. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves and the community.

    This situation applies in the UK, too.

    It’s amazing to meet people who took time off to protest against Trump, but won’t against homelessness or austerity.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, the Irish media used to be moderately independent, but they are getting in line too. Over the weekend I nearly threw my copy of the Irish Times away in disgust at reading some of the articles from writers I’d consider pretty clear minded normally. They are just gradually absorbing the message by osmosis I think.

      When someone here rants about Trump, I usually say something like ‘well,what exactly has he done thats worse than anything Obama did to, say for example, Libya, or Honduras?’ I’d love to say I get a thoughtful response, but thats rarely the case. Interestingly, I find that its the people who profess themselves as non-political or don’t read the newspapers much who are more open to discussion.

      1. Keith Newman

        I’m finding these comments fascinating. I live in Canada (near Ottawa) and am experiencing the identical nonsense. The media is full of TrumpTrump and RussiaRussia, even the apparently independent Le Devoir of Montreal, let alone the Toronto Globe and Mail (I am considering cancelling my subscriptions to both) Comments are made by smart and progressive people I know about Trump who they see as a uniquely insane fascist moron and Putin as a cartoon Doctor Evil. Comments sometimes come out of nowhere as I avoid these topics to reduce pointless discord. The one time I did engage, questioning the trope of Russia meddling in US elections/ Putin installing Trump as President, it did not go well. The other person was completely oblivious to rational discussion as eventually was I out of exasperation. I wish I could have been as Zen as some commenters have been. I remember the post 1965 part of the cold war well (I’m 65). It was never this bad, not even close. Although I do believe the 1950s red scare was just as bad, if not worse.

  14. Watt4Bob

    I’m sure that a lot of NC readers have, over time, experienced some amount of pain associated with the dissolution of long-held beliefs surrounding the American dream, and faith in our economic, and political systems abilities to ‘self-correct‘.

    It’s been very painful to realize that ‘things‘ are not going to get better if we simply vote for the other team.

    Over many decades, both the ‘other teams‘ have pointed fingers at each other and invited us to believe that our problems originated on the other side of the fence, when in reality, as many of us now understand, our two political parties have all the while, worked in collusion to forward the interests of the rich and powerful, the result of which has been wide spread, and extreme economic hardship for most of us.

    This failure of our politics has engendered a wide spread visceral hatred of our leadership class, that so far, has remained loosely in the control of the two political parties, but, and I think this a good thing, there is a dawning understanding among a significant number of us, that the hatred of Hillary, and her party, is well deserved, and rooted in exactly the same reality as the hatred of George ‘W’, and his party.

    All that hatred of the political parties and their leadership has so far, resulted in Trump, which in an odd sense is evidence supporting optimism that the two parties strangle-hold on our lives is not invincible, and that there exists a wide-spread thirst for change.

    I think that thirst for change is the point where we have an opportunity to make conversation fruitful, and find common ground.

    1. fresno dan

      July 24, 2018 at 8:15 am

      I’m sure that a lot of NC readers have, over time, experienced some amount of pain associated with the dissolution of long-held beliefs surrounding the American dream, and faith in our economic, and political systems abilities to ‘self-correct‘.

      It’s been very painful to realize that ‘things‘ are not going to get better if we simply vote for the other team.
      I don’t know how many times I have heard that voting for a third party is “throwing your vote away”
      REALITY, that voting for a democrat* or a republican is throwing your vote away, never seems to sway anyone.
      * maybe there are individual democrats that are worth voting for, but that is usually due to some screw up by the party apparatchiks

      1. Watt4Bob

        REALITY, that voting for a democrat* or a republican is throwing your vote away, never seems to sway anyone.

        2012 proved your point IMHO, and I believe more people are paying attention since then.

        I think Lambert’s idea to demand ‘tangible material benefits‘ will become a thing, and maybe not only on the lefty end of the spectrum?

        One of my most conservative family friends recently told me he thought that anyone showing up to work a full-time job should make $20/hr. He’s the sort of guy who believes there are thousands of free-loaders, but OTOH, if his $20/hr. idea was more widely supported, who would need welfare with a couple of full-time jobs in the house people wouldn’t be going hungry or needing hand-outs.

        Of course Trump isn’t going to listen to my friend, even though he is a Trump voter, but if Trumps base is thinking this sort of stuff, even privately, is seems to me there is an opportunity there.

        1. fresno dan

          July 24, 2018 at 1:23 pm

          I go back time and time again to the fact that Trump went against republican dogma by saying that he (Trump) would NOT cut social security or medicare (it was orthodoxy that these programs should be cut by the other 16 candidates and the outspoken conservatives think they are flat out WELFARE – even dems are for “reform” i.e., cuts). AND I think that was a BIG factor in Trump’s success.
          I still think there is a MASSIVE, MASSIVE disconnect between what the establishment political parties (which really, are REMARKABLY in consensus on foreign policy, neo liberalism, etc.) and what the people want. Trump was the first great crack. I am still astounded that this happened first in the repub party. Maybe, just maybe, if it can only happen with the dems too, we could start having some real choices…

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            I plug “tangible material benefits”, with the addition of “Universal”, everywhere I go, these days.
            and yes…I’ve had stereotypical rednecks(with actual red necks) ask me about my Bernie sticker on my truck…numerous times in the last 3 years…not so they can “kill a commie for mommy”, but because their life sucks and is inordinately hard and the gop keeps yelling about tax cuts, but they don’t make enough to pay taxes, and so on.
            even here, in deep red Texas, there are birdsnests on the ground for enterprising Social Democrats to pick up, if only there was some organisation with the will to.
            Both parties are moribund…and seen as illegitimate..”not on our side”.
            so yes, there’s hope.
            and a large hill to climb to get there(ballot access, debate access, media access, etc)
            If some way could be found around those access issues, I think it would be a good time for someone with name recognition like Bernie to launch a People’s Party(if he doesn’t swallow too much borscht, that is)

      1. Watt4Bob

        As I said to Fresno Dan above;

        I think Lambert’s idea to demand ‘tangible material benefits‘ will become a thing, and maybe not only on the lefty end of the spectrum?

        Populists of the world unite, please agree we could all use a few tangible material benefits, and consider cooperating toward that end.

        1. tegnost

          yes, I stick with concrete material benefits when talking to the left, thanks lambert, it gains ground, and when paired with trump will win in 2020 unless… then it becomes almost a threat:) and get the right to go on about socialism and obama, call america a socialist country to great applause, then detail the massive giveaways to the rich of both parties (qe infinity of course being my fave, but there are others) and say this socialism for the rich is no good which often induces some grumbling, as they feel unfairly used in the exchange, so I list the people I voted for in my life, carter mondale dukakis clinton twice gore kerry obama once then i skipped the last two after being fed up with obama first, then voting bernie in the primary…which tends to provide comic relief…”You’re ok but I wouldn’t be too proud of that voting record…” and everyone goes away happy

  15. festoonic

    I wonder, sadly, if “engaging with liberals” might be, in fact, a lost cause. Struggling to find common cause with the delusional amidst the collapse of empire, environmental catastrophe, and financial ruin might not be the best use of limited resources. There’s a guy running for local city council whose campaign I intend to work for, and anyone campaigning on Medicare-for-All (free at the point of care, of course!), a minimum wage humans can live on, and anything else beneficial to people who work for a living will get my jealously-guarded vote. But the rest looks more and more like the re-arranging the proverbial deck chairs.

    1. Code Name D

      No. They are defiantly not lost causes. While your frustration is real, its largely the result of internalizing already existing strategies that largely do not work. Democrats by enlarge like to ignore these issues, or use hit and run strategies. It shouldn’t surprise us when they don’t work when it matters.

      As an atheist, a skeptic, and former Bill Clinton apologist and 9-11 truther, I do have some insight to share here – on both sides of the debate.

      It’s starts with “the threat”. There is always some shadowy danger, lurking just under the surface that threatens our way of life, even our existence, that most “normal people”, just can’t see, that the “true believers” can clearly see. Bit it the Christian devil, the Liberal’s Russian collusion, SJW “rap culture”, Libertarian’s “socialist pledge”, and so forth. The threat gives the beliefs real world stakes. And this threat is always invisible. Requiring the special powers of the true believer to see clearly.

      Because of the threat, you have something called the “besieged” or “persecuted” mentality. We are at “war” with the threat, and constantly assailed by invisible forces that normal people can’t see. Of course, these battles are always ideological. But it distorts the goals of the true believer. In a healthy debate, the goal is to share information, and test ideas, until the best possible conclusion can be reached – given the facts on hand and the perspectives available to analyze the question. The end result is to arrive and a more sophisticated and robust understanding of the question. But for the true believer, the goal is simply to not be taken by the enemy – the “hostile” ideology that they presive as the threat.

      In this distorted perspective, evidence that would normally challenge a conclusion, is actually interpreted as affirming the conclusion. Evidence that the Russians didn’t interfere with the election becomes evidence of a hyper sophisticated conspiracy to cover the tracks of their election tampering. This seems counter intuitive but showing them evidence can often deepen their fanaticism. (Which is one reason why we tend to think its hopeless.)

      “Thought leaders” also play a huge role in the process. If left one their own, the true believer will eventually figure it out on their own. This is because any ideology is bound the be loaded with contradictions and divorces from reality. The thought leaders police the natural inquisitive nature and keeps it constrained by tight dogma. True believers are never free to inquire on their own, and must always get their answers, solutions, and even the questions them-selves from authority figures.

      There is no magic to help pull them out of their delusions. But here are some dos and don’t from the atheist community when it comes to deal with religion which can apply here.

      First, understand that you are not dealing with rationality here, but emotion.

      Do keep the discussion calm and ordered. Do not allow tempers or engage once voices are raised. Remember that you are a threat to them, and they will response violently to that threat. Do keep in mind that because they are so emotional invested, confronting their delusions will be traumatic.

      Do not try to prove your case with evidence. Again, this is counter intuitive. Especially when they are well educated. We expect them to respond to the evidence, but they rarely do.

      Do not accept the burden of proof. Those who argue the Russia narrative are the one’s who have the burden of proof. They always think they have the proof any way, make them produce it. Of course, when they do, they always react negatively when that proof doesn’t withstand scrutiny.

      Do expect them to expand on their beliefs. And force them to be specific. If possible, get them to commit their thoughts to writing.

      As an atheist, a have been exposed to a number of deconversion stories. While no two stories are quite the same, a common thread with many of them involve diaries or school assigned essays. And, probably one of the most devastating questions to try and answer is the simple question of “Who is God?” This is because many believes are held at an emotional level, in the older parts of our brain, simply cannot be translated cognitively into spoken or written words. Remember the “invisible” nature of “the threat?” It’s invisible for a reason, even to the true believer. However, the spoken or written words pertain to the real – even if they are merely concepts and ideas.

      Do pull them off script. The thought leaders do more than just maintain the narrative, they actually engage in thought policing. And they do this by basically programing them with scripts to be produced with commonly encountered pushbacks. Pull them off script and the programing become more apparent to the believer.

      Do not expect this to be a quick or painless process. One atheist I admire described beliefs as “belief networks.” Take out one node, and the many other nodes can kick in to reinforce the belief. Each node has to be dismantled one at a time. And that takes time. Lots of time.

      Do remain forgiving and understanding. Do not hold this against them. This has to do with my own story. I didn’t leave the 911 truth movement because of my rational exploration of the evidence – I was kicked out. The one any only unforgivable sin for any ideology asking questions. And that is what I did, I asked one to many questions. I was instantly branded as a CIA planet and kicked out of the group. Fortunately, my family welcomed me back in as if I had never left. Once I was deprived of my thought leader, I was able to inquire to the real evidence and start asking real questions and finding real answers.

      My transition was easy. The truth-movement thought leaders are not all that common, making it easy for me to gain some distance from them, and allowing my head to clear. With the Russia narrative however, this will not be the case, and they will always be them to pull them back into the fold.

      In Christianity, this is called “back sliding”, and most of the apologetic industry is geared and convincing the back-sliders of the narrative by addressing the questions they do dare to ask. This is why Maddow must keep talking about it. The moment she stops, sanity will start to reassert itself. And for her to keep talking about it, Muller must keep producing new bomb-shells.

      1. Grebo

        “It’s The Devil/Putin* that makes you say these things.”

        [* Delete as applicable.]

  16. macnamichomhairle

    I also think that this is not the time to try to argue.

    Many people (liberals) seem to have been shocked to their core by Clinton’s loss and the arrival of the barbarians. The world has come unhinged, it appears to them.

    That is a deeply unsettling feeling that can induce a deep distress and panic. I think it’s also new to most liberals because things in America had proceeded pretty much sensibly, even during the Bush years. Also, I suspect many are at a stage in life when they have settled their own sense of their lives on a platform of comfort with the status quo as personified by the liberal consensus; or they are deeply committed ideologically for other reasons of self-identity.

    The liberal establishment everyday is whipping the flames of people’s panic and resulting outrage, and has created a huge firestorm. The “resistance” gives people a way to make sense of the world again. They will hold onto the “resistance” with all their power because admitting that the “resistance” is in any way flawed throws them back into a chaotic world. So any argument about this stuff derives from a deep place and is not conducive to reasoning. You threaten them, if you try to take away their “resistance” bear.

    I also think it is better to put energy into other things, like building positive political movements or structures of life that extend “under” the current debate. (If you go down below general political buzz words, you can sometimes find agreement across political barriers.)

    I still make general comments non-locally, but I do not engage with people individually about this. It’s useless right now.

    1. Massinissa

      I don’t know. I sort of get the entire moral outrage thing. But we have given them two years now to get over it. They still are not over it. I don’t think they’re going to be over it by 2018, and I’m not sure if they will be over it after that either. And as you say the liberal establishment keeps whipping up the furor, and they won’t stop.

      I would like to give them all the time they need to get over it, but they are not coping with anything healthily right now and I don’t see that changing soon going forward. And worse yet, as you say, I don’t think there is anything we can do about it but wait and hope.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        How can they get over it if they rely on the corporate media, which has been following Goebbels’ Law with a vengeance? I know of a Clintonite who savagely hates Bernie Sanders, whom she blames entirely for the loss. Her hatred runs so deep it rejects even those whom he endorses. This is someone who will refuse to vote for any progressive candidate solely on that basis. Likewise, she will not support any progressive action if Bernie Sanders is in any way associated with it.

        Why is she that way? From what I can tell, because she identified personally with the image of Clinton presented by the media. Something I firmly believe was carefully crafted for that purpose.

        Granted, she’s an extreme, but the entire media campaign since the election has been keeping the focus entirely on Donald Trump, denigrating everything he says and does and repeating the implications he is an illegitimate holder of his office, whether because of Russian interference or some other form of corruption. The minute people seem likely to perhaps recover from the initial trauma and move on, the media create some other Trump-related outrage so they can repeat the message.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          like the yearly replay of the tv footage of 9-11 that they did every year forever.
          “let’s relive the pain and terror and trauma, again!”
          adds weight to the tinfoil that it was at least a Lihopped(let it happen on purpose) psyop of gigantic proportions.
          and while the whole nation is wallowing in ptsd, erect a large edifice of Das Heimat Security and kill off Habeus Corpus, and so on.
          If the Trump Event is being used in a similar fashion(damn, this foil itches!), the Machine learned a few things from last time…ie: ProporNot, etc…to relegate much of the Free Inquiry portions of the Web to oblivion.
          Thankfully, you guys are still here.

      2. Michael Fiorillo

        Many/most won’t get out of it because there are powerful institutional interests favoring their not doing so. Namely, the powers that be/donor class within the Democratic Party, for whom Russiagate is a card shark’s panoply of misdirection.

        In that same vein, Aaron Mate of The Real News Network has called Russiagate a “privilege protection racket.” His coverage of the topic, including recent interviews with Stephen Cohen, is worthwhile and necessary.

  17. Eric

    IMO, these factors contribute to the problem:

    – Humans in general are highly social animals

    – Humans usually have a strong need to identify with a tribe

    – In stressful times humans seem to want to simplify their lives, which can be done by joining a tribe, which allows you to NOT think for yourself

    – There are a lot of physical and mental benefits (and perceived benefits) to being a member of a tribe

    – Humans have a remarkable ability to do things that are, in the long run, not to their own benefit

    – Humans will too often defend their own self image to the death, because they don’t have the self respect that comes with a developed personality, and thus support their self-value through the groups they have chosen to identify with, the tribes they feel they belong to

    – Tribalism unfortunately seems to be mostly about screwing other tribes

    Some additional tribes: Wall St bankers, corporate CEOs, police, teachers, Congress, your town, your state, sports fans, etc.

  18. GeorgeOrwell

    Very relevant commentary to which I can completely relate. I had to leave a certain FB group because it became increasingly apparent that these mostly PhD, higher education types were not really interested in being the resistance or fighting fascism. No, what they really want is a safe space/echo chamber in which they can whine about everything that has gone to shit while completely ignoring how they themselves and the ‘Democrat’ party facilitated said shit’s construction. The level of cognitive dissonance was simply mind boggling.
    No rational thought about how going along to get along contributed to the current situation, that the lesser of two evils still gets you to the same destination. My working theory is they suffer from social detachment disorder due to their comfortable government (many tenured professors) jobs. As I attempted to explain to one of them, the economic damage created by the policy responses following the GR directly contributed to the door opening for Trump or something like him. These PhD types seem to be completely willing to overlook the social injustice of the Obama tenure, growth of the surveillance state, economic monopolies etc.
    Many of these people have not had to worry about a paycheck for some time, thus the complete disconnect from the realities of the current economy. They talk a good game about fighting for social & economic equality, but when push comes to shove many of them are willing to throw their working neighbor under the bus so they can keep their comfortable (not rich mind you) tenured positions and lifestyles. If nothing else, the level of cognitive dissonance in this group certainly made me think about tenure from a much different perspective. Certainly not an encouraging picture of higher ed for sure.

    1. TroyMcClure

      Thomas Frank has repeatedly pointed out that credentialed professionals were the most reliably Republican voting block in America for decades. Now they’re firmly democrat. Did their politics/interests change? Doubtful…

      The decades-long purge of any hint of leftists from the American university system (which started right here in California in the 50’s then spread out) has led to our extremely conservative tenure class of professors.

      I’ve had the same experience with these credential class types. Their politics are uniformly anti-labor and elitist. There’s no convincing them.

      1. jrs

        I think that it is seldom clear in discussions what differentiates credentialed class from not. Just a bachelors degree? Bachelors degree attainment is over 30% now among young people. They are luckier than many who don’t have the degree, but with every white collar job wanting a bachelors degree (often for fairly lowly work that didn’t used to) and with a bachelors degree no guarantee of anything (nope not even that white collar job) I’m not sure its all that. (BTW I don’t have a bachelors degree, but I’m in no good shape economically at all, if I had a degree maybe I’d be allowed to live, that is all .. so I consider it but without illusion at 40 something).

        I think what really protects people’s jobs etc. is licensed professions (lawyers, doctors, CPAs, landscape architects etc.) and in some cases those requiring post-bachelors attainment including years of additional training (physical therapists etc.). Well and unionization in the public sector obviously and tenure in academia.

        1. Massinissa

          I was under the impression to be in the credentialed class required a masters degree, but I’m not sure about the meaning of the term either.

          Anyone here willing to describe the term to us?

          1. Lambert Strether

            I would think “licensed professions” (as above, the old professions) plus Masters on up.

            But “a degree” is in some way aspirational, either for as in the profit-making beauticians colleges or with certifications for labor aristocrats. Neither of those are so very bad, I think.

            The concrete to which the jackhammer must be taken has its heart in the 9.9%. What “credentialed” does, I think, is severaled things: First, it turns the license into a class marker, which it is, it shifts focus to the process of getting the license through a credentialing process, and it leave the door open for membership for professions beyond the old professions, like technical people whose credentials are won in the field without a formal licensing process. Which reminds me that military officers moving to different fields — like all the MILOs running in the Democrat primaries — should be included, as they would not be in the old professions.

            Hope this helps and I’d welcome reader thoughts; as in all social relations, analysis is hard…

            Adding, there’s also the question of power and aspiration: It’s entirely possible to be a downwardly mobile version of the 9.9%, especially if you’re in debt, picked the “wrong” field, and so. Further, adjuncts, credentialed or not, seem to me to be proles. It’s not the credential itself that matters, but the social relation for which the credential is a trope or shorthand.

            1. ambrit

              I would argue that there was another ‘credentialed’ class before: the licensed trades Journeyman and Masters groups. This group was a vertebra in the backbone of the old “Lower Middle Class.” Power wise, that class has been ‘decertified.’ This group was the labour version of the ‘petit bourgeois’ of the ownership class. Both are being driven to extinction by the modern elites. To continue the analogy, when the ‘backbone’ is excised, all that remains are the head and the tail, which will soon come into a less than comfortable proximity. Then, the MILOs and the Technos will have a stark dichotomy forced upon them. One will be either in the Head or the Tail, and be treated accordingly. Fun will not be had by all.

              1. Lambert Strether

                > the licensed trades Journeyman and Masters groups

                These no longer exist?! (That’s where I was going with “certifications for labor aristocrats”).

                This is hard stuff, since oddly, or not, no data is collected that directly bears on these social relations. It all has to be done with knowledge of the workplace and the labor force. “Anecdotes,” if you will.

                1. flora

                  ,i>This is hard stuff, since oddly, or not, no data is collected that directly bears on these social relations.

                  And thereby hangs a tail, as they say.

                  1. ambrit

                    Yea, verily, the profits of the owners were threatened by the organized workforce. After all, to gain certification of competency in any trade or semi profession requires some organizing principle to judge competency. That implies a hierarchical organization in which the member ascends as competency in the trade or profession is increased. This requires rules, organized so that said rules apply to everybody equally. An incentive of an economic nature is required to motivate the majority of people to undertake the work required to master the subject. This economic incentive must increase as the difficulty of the subject matter increases. Thus, more money than a mere subsistence wage is required to adequately motivate the entire program. Above subsistence wages means less profit for the owners. There is the friction point.

                  2. ambrit

                    Skynet is in dinner mode. Eating comments with a piquant sauce.
                    Short version: Trades certifications require incentives to enable. The money for that has to come out of the owners potential profits. Hilarity ensues.

                2. ambrit

                  Truly competent tradespeople are a shrinking part of the labour force. Owners and managers are trying to see how far they can ‘crapify’ the trades without killing too many people. One of the core functions of the Labour Unions was to educate and support competent workers. The Unions essentially promised the owners to provide an educated and effective work force in exchange for a larger cut of the profits.
                  Now, the owners want it all, without taking the responsibility for educating and nurturing an adequate workforce. In essence, the owners want something for nothing. So far, the governments have been backstopping the owners. Eventually, the process will reach a breaking point, if it hasn’t already.
                  One quantifiable measure of labour degradation is the ratio of Journeymen to Apprentices, or Helpers allowed on big jobs. I can remember it being one helper for one Journeyman. Now two or even three helpers to each Journeyman can be found on some jobs. The limits of oversight are being tested.

                  1. Amfortas the Hippie

                    my little county is hardly representative, but all the plumbers and electricians and carpenters and general contractors I know are at least 60.
                    Rick Perry put in some rules that made the entry into these fields worse, but I think there’s more to it.That’s an interesting observation.
                    I do all that myself, mostly due to poverty.

                    1. ambrit

                      I’m the same way, but there are sections of the country where the local governing authorities actively suppress DIY as a method to guarantee profits for well connected local business owners.
                      The most common scam I have encountered is the requirement that a tradesman maintain a certain level of business insurance. This not only feeds the insurance shops, but squeezes out the smaller trades shops. Roughly, there is only so much money floating about in the lower and middle income cohorts. This ‘amount’ is shrinking as a percentage of the total wealth, while basic costs are increasing along with the total, not the available to lower cohort amounts.
                      “When ‘they’ outlaw everything, everyone will be an outlaw.” Now make that an equation with a variable that shifts over time.

            2. relstprof

              “but the social relation for which the credential is trope”

              This is how I conceive the concept. I take “credentialed class” to mean a degree-holder of the top 25 or so universities or their professional and graduate schools (doctors, lawyers, profs, architects, actors, MBAs). In other words, a degree-holder who has access to a number of interrelated networks by virtue of the degree, e.g., the Yale Club in NYC is actually the Yale-UVA-Dartmouth club if you look at the membership guide. The credentialed class is more mobile and connected. It’s less about having a degree to my mind, but the right one, in usual usage.


              Dr. Smith is a graduate of the Univ. of North Barbados Med School (fictional) and so is always looking for work.

              Mr. Jones is a graduate of Duke Law School and has practiced at top firms in DC, NYC, and LA.

              But I agree — I’m not sure there’s an actual normative usage that has a science behind it.

      2. BummedOutMillennial

        I got a PhD in Anthropology at UCLA within the last 10 years. I was not allowed to utter support for Bernie around these colleagues during the 2016 presidential primaries, not without substantial pro-HRC-driven personal attack (“you must have internalized hegemonic androcentric beliefs” etc and so forth).

        The credentialed elite often have no concept of “the real world.” They live very sheltered lives. My PhD advisor never worked a day outside of academia. Out of my cohort of admitted PhD students, about 80% came from families of higher degrees (PhDs, MDs, JDs). Most had “family accountants,” as I learned when tax season rolled around. Discussion about society and economy during graduate seminars consistently suggested that most had never worked wage labor, while many imagined that they had participated in the Real American Work Experience as a gap year lackey in mom’s law firm or a summer receptionist at dad’s surgical clinic.

        So, yes, the credentialed elite have little grasp of the problems the average American worker faces and the need for labor reform. Unfortunately, professors in the social sciences perpetuate neoliberal thought to undergraduate students — to the point where any ideas or philosophy diverging from neoliberalism are given a cute, highly abstracted derogatory label and likened to the Right or associated with Racism and Sexism etc.

        Now, classified staff at UCLA tend to come from all walks of life in Los Angeles and are more likely to be aware of class and labor issues, and there are active movements to unionize where unions are currently lacking, etc.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > Out of my cohort of admitted PhD students, about 80% came from families of higher degrees

          That’s important; combined with legacy admissions you have an aristocracy in the making. (Factions being property-based, per Madison, the credential becomes the key piece of property for the 9.9%, even more so, I speculate, than houses.) That would have implications for service delivery in a finance-driven economy.

          1. Swamp Yankee

            This times 1000. As I said in another thread, my experience at a big Midwestern research university was that, of my fellow humanities PhD students, well under 20% were from working class backgrounds. Many, many sub-par children of professors.

            And yes, they really don’t know how bad life is in much of the United States.

            When we began our work as TAs/Graduate Student Instructors, they gave us a demographic breakdown of this public university’s student body. This was about ten years ago, so it could only have gotten worse: about 10% of undergrads came from households making under 75K per year; a larger portion came from households making between 75K and 250K per year; but the plurality came from households making more than 250K a year.

            From my own experience, I was the working class scholarship kid at an elite liberal arts college. It was a truly dislocating, shocking experience, being among both the 1%ers and the 9.9%ers in an intimate way for the first time. People who didn’t know how to do their own laundry, who got wasted on Tuesday nights because it didn’t matter if they got Cs and Ds. Or weird earnest Organization Kid (Brooks deserves credit there) sycophants with no sense of humanity whatsoever. These people are the base of the Democratic Party, and they often have grandparents with Ph.Ds — this means, in short, that if your grandpa is getting a Ph.D. from Harvard in the 1930s, you are essentially an aristocrat.

            So of course they pronounce high minded things; but when it comes down to it, when Bernie threatens social democracy, it scare the hell out of them, and they act with ruthless accord. The evidence is that they really prefer (though they will never consciously admit this) losing to Trump to winning with social democracy.

            Also, lots now work for Amazon, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, etc. — lots of rice bowls to be guarded.

              1. Swamp Yankee


                Especially since much of the tuition expenses came from kids from Long Island or Suburban DC who couldn’t get into Duke or Yale. The number who came from the iconic rust belt factory towns and North Woods rural America, from within that state, where shrinkingly small.

                And they were paying big, big money ten years ago as out of state students; could only be worse today.

            1. Michael Fiorillo

              Indeed, and if you want to see this process in its current incarnation, look no further than so-called “education reform” ((aka Privatization), in which self-described “progressives” work to destroy public education, while calling it “the civil rights issue of our time.”

              They make the same usual cliched denunciations of Trump’s vulgarity, but they keep cashing Betsy De Vos’ checks.

      3. Big River Bandido

        There has been an increasing divide among the faculty where I teach, between “tenured” faculty and everyone else (which would include both adjuncts and staff).

        Curiously, teaching is considered a profession. But teachers are definitely not considered professionals by the neoliberal class — at least not if they belong to a union.

    2. jrs

      it’s not in their class interest to care, well the tenured ones, the adjuncts it depends on who they identify with, with the working class or with the tenured ones whose life they can’t get anyway.

      The average office worker would be more likely to care, although usually not political, and though they usually pretend otherwise, and though they are taught to sympathize with the bosses, there is a chance they might at some level ultimately know the are pawns in a game that they don’t control and that can eat them alive (unlike those protected with tenure).

      1. TroyMcClure

        Ask the professors at Vermont Law School, 75% of whom just had tenure stripped unceremoniously. It’s coming for them all. I give it less than 10 years. These tenured types total lack of solidarity within their group or any other will finally come home to roost.

        My dear friend has been slogging through the trenches of the adjunct lifestyle for the better part of a decade and it’s only now at this late date starting to dawn on him that he’ll never get regular work at the university. Those waves and easy smiles from tenured faculty hid what they were thinking all along, “Better you than me pal!”

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Indeed, tenure is worthless when you’re department is being cut back or shut down entirely, as is happening everywhere with the liberal arts and social sciences.

    3. rps

      Many of these people have not had to worry about a paycheck for some time, thus the complete disconnect from the realities of the current economy

      IMO, many of the ivory towered echo chamber paychecks are greatly beholden to their right and/or left leaning gratuitous patrons who endow the university chairs and research. Perhaps, the questions to ask are: what organizations fund you and/or the department’s research and grants?, Who’s your largest donor? The university’s largest donor? etc….

      1. Tom Doak

        Good point. Membership in the 9.9% ultimately boils down to, “Who are your clients?” If you are working for the 1%, it’s much easier to see things from their perspective, as your continued work could depend on it.

        So, there are white-shoe lawyers and corporate lawyers in the 9.9%, but public defenders, not so much.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > Membership in the 9.9% ultimately boils down to, “Who are your clients?”

          That’s a keeper. Very astute. Thank you.

          0.1% own capital. 9.9% have clients.* 90% have labor power to sell.

          * OK, complexities…. Does a tenured Harvard Law Professor have clients in the same that a doctor or a lawyer does? Hmm.

          1. rps

            According to the specific terms of endowments, a tenured Harvard Law professor is “restricted by specific programs, departments, or purposes (dedicated scholarships, named professorships, etc.), and must be spent in accordance with terms set forth by the donor. Payout from these funds can only be spent in support of the fund’s designated purpose. Distributions from Harvard’s endowment provide a critical source of funding for the University. The endowment distributed $1.8 billion in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017—contributing over a third of Harvard’s total operating revenue in that year. The overwhelming majority of the funds that make up Harvard’s endowment are restricted.” I’d assume, a tenured Harvard law professor is governed by Harvard’s contractual obligations and thereby limited in securing the ‘right’ clientele…

            Medical doctors, especially in large cities are often under contract with corporate hospitals and university hospitals whether its a for profit or not-for-profit; both affiliated with pharmaceutical companies- think clinical studies and research, and medical device companies. Plus, there’s the wealthy donor class- wings, buildings, chair endowments etc… paid for by the Zuckerberg, Pritzker, Waltons, Buffett, Koch brothers, etc…

            Who’s gonna bite the hand that generously feeds their research, departments, continuing ‘education’ trips, grants, etc…??? IMO, personal Ideology runs a distant last place to a regular paycheck and bonuses, family, home and comfort

            1. relstprof

              OK, so now we’re talking private universities. This is a pretty good description of how it works. I’m interested in ways to change these bloated, super-rich, late-capitalist universities. It’s a private pyramid, yes. How to change it, yes?

        2. Hamford

          At the end of People’s History of The United States, Howard Zinn calls what we call the 9.9 or professional class, “The Guard”. Quite fitting- Zinn argues that the 1% cannot exist without “The Guard”.

      2. relstprof

        But it is a bit more complex than this, and paychecks also depend on whether the university is public or private. Laying everything at the feet of public university faculty is risible given the neoliberal starvation of higher education by states in re public institutions. You want to take universities out of the hands of donors (corporations!), then I hope you want a more robust degree of public funding for universities, no? Or federal monies? Because if your solution is to cut off all funding then I don’t see what you’re arguing for.

        If you want to have research that is accountable to the PUBLIC, then you have to legislate how public monies regulate the research, and how it’s used by and for the public. Don’t blame universities for 40 years of Republican and Democratic austerity — 40 years of selling it off to the private sector anyway.

        You have to legislate who owns and controls the research. Who is the public university for — big money or the citizens?

  19. David

    Not my country, but this is less a question of talking to “liberals” (who have their own problems) than of talking to conspiracy theorists. All over the world, certain groups of people are finding that history has suddenly, in the last few years, veered off in directions it has no right to. Since they refuse to believe they are responsible, however distantly, and since they seek, as we all do, simple explanations for complex problems, it must be a conspiracy. And anyone who questions the existence of a conspiracy is by definition part of it.
    Because conspiracy theories serve essentially emotional and ideological purposes, rational discussion is by definition useless, and studies show that pointing out that people are factually wrong actually makes them more likely to cling to their beliefs.
    I’d recommend a site which discusses and dissects conspiracy theories (, and which has discussion threads on how to argue with conspiracy theorists.

    1. Unna

      …history has suddenly, in the last few years, veered off in directions it has no right to…

      Great comment.

  20. Darius

    I was a Keynesian. I thought that meant the same as being a Democrat. Obama cured me of that mistake. Now, I’m in the Modern Money camp. Explaining that to paygo liberals is an even bigger chore.

    1. Jeff N

      Yes, although I’ve found that when I simply explain basic MMT concepts to either repub or dem friends, I come across as non-political. Because neither dems or repubs support it.

      And I gain instant credibility/solidarity with them when I agree with their knee-jerk reaction that state/local governments ARE constrained.

  21. Carolinian

    Americans, who pretend to fetishize individualism, are conformists

    That’s spot on. Perhaps it has to with out lack of a set class structure which makes people socially insecure. Plus the rise of the meritocracy means that the worse thing you can call someone these days is “stupid” meaning uneducated. Life experience gets little credit at a time when knowledge has been overly formalized.

    However we can take some comfort in a history where periods of intense conformity such as the 1950s provoke periods of more liberated thinking as in the 1960s. Things do seem to be changing–hopefully not for the worse. Patience with those vehement NYT and WaPo readers may be necessary until the fever breaks.

      1. flora

        If it is not named then it does not exist. Ergo, if it is not named then America is a classless society. Isn’t that right?

        1. ambrit

          Are you invoking the power of ‘Names’ to assert control? (Not you personally.)
          I’ll cite Plato’s Cave as the controlling meme here. The ‘Names’ are the shadows on the wall. The reality of class is the unseen ‘Perfect Ideal’ throwing the shade. This formulation gives manifest shape to the ‘conspiracy theory’ of class.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            all I needed to know about Class in America I learned when I was walking home from a long day at work with a beer in my hand, and the cops came to harass me for “public intoxication”(one beer, but I’ve had a limp for 30 years). while they were doing that, my frelling Boss(rich, by any comparison) came by in his BMW(or whatever), stopped, got out, and fell down and rolled, he was so drunk…to see what was happening to His employee.
            I got a ticket for PI(could have been jail)…he got to get back in his fancy car and drive away.

            1. ambrit

              Yes, I’ve had similar experiences. My fave was when I was picking up empty beer and soda cans along a minor main road where I had figured out that yahoos after Friday pay time usually bought a six pack and threw the empties out of the window as they drove home from the factory town where almost everyone worked, when they had work. I returned to my very old and beat up pickup truck to find a state trooper writing me a ticket for an expired inspection sticker. When I complained about it, showing the half a bag of empties, and suggested that he set a DUI checkpoint at that spot on a Friday afternoon, he told me to shut up or I’d get a ticket for disrespecting an officer. I knew that no such rule existed but did shut up, seeing that I was in a no win situation.

            2. ambrit

              Skynet just had a comment of mine for lunch.
              Bon appetit!
              (I’m beginning to wonder if there is some sort of built in delay function in the Comments algos. Should I start waiting five minutes before complaining?)

  22. Amber Waves

    My concern is that we have a poisoned public space, as it is hard to find the facts in the press or the body politic. Hard to find common ground to discuss or solve problems. I think our democracy, what is left of it, is in deep trouble. I agree that we need to talk to our neighbors about issues of the day. It is hard to overcome the do not talk about politics meme of the last 30 years.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      We receive little news or fact from our fourth estate and rant at each other regarding fabulous fictions. And what replaces advocacy and argument as means to understand an issue, construct agreement, and consolidate group actions? How did we reach this juncture and where can we go from here? Democracy requires the social lubrications of advocacy and argument.

      1. John Wright

        The news media is able to have their cake and eat it too.

        I remember the NYTimes as it amped up the Iraq threat.

        Then when the Iraq threat was shown to be an unethical/illegal invasion of another country, the Times simply had a retrospective on how they got it wrong.

        They could have fired many columnists who supported or tacitly supported the Iraq war effort.

        But they didn’t.

        It is a good game in service of the elite class.

        1. rps

          The tipping point and cancellation of the NYT were the Judith Miller and Lewis Libby show along with Robert Novak outing CIA employee Valerie Plame- who had operated under “non-official cover” — a status considered to be classified information, and potentially dangerous to both Plame and national security. Novak’s feckless retribution towards Plame’s husband Joseph Wilson- a US diplomat at the time, for criticizing the Bush administration’s analysis of intelligence regarding Saddam Hussein’s weapons program.

  23. Utah

    I try really hard these days to talk about the system. Trump is a product of the system that we created and we need to change to better everyone.
    I try to be compassionate above all else. Trump supporters are not evil or selfish. They believed the lies of someone telling them he was going to save jobs. We, as a nation, believed the lies of Obama’s “hope and change” and it got us nowhere except a little more hopeless. Its not about political affiliation. Its about the world oligarchs having entire control. I refuse to be divided by what they want me to be divided by.

  24. Brooklin Bridge

    A fascinating and often painful subject. Being mostly a dismal failure in my own attempts, I’ve been keenly interested in and come up with several ‘types’ (hardly exhaustive) that seem gifted with varying degrees of success in communicating though I’m not sure about convincing others. Making others sit up and think (I should say ‘having that effect’ rather than ‘making’) might be as far as most in this select group will ever get but I strongly suspect such exchanges can ultimately be very powerful (meaning the ‘other’ will almost always do the changing of pov, or the expansion of understanding, under their own steam and in their own time).

    Trite as it may seem, those who have a strong core of honesty, or who always tend to gravitate toward truth, have the most success in the above. They are the ones who seem to make headway under the most ridiculously difficult or impossible conditions. That they often have a strong command of their subject seems (to me) to be a natural outcome of the affinity for truth rather than truth being a result of knowledge breadth. They aren’t always likeable but are often admirable.

    After that, there are the ‘warm intellectuals’ and note that this categorization does not preclude honesty. My father was such. He had a way of making all present feel welcome and valuable despite the intricacy of the discussion. One usually had to ferret out his opinions or his ‘take’ on something as he rarely made an issue of it. But his conversation and ‘presence’ always made fairness and decency seem cool; the natural order of things, and I know for a fact he had a profound influence on at least some people – some hard core ones as well.

    The ability to bend and compromise for a greater good (or in some cases for another purpose) is yet another ‘type’ who I see as potentially having considerable power in their exchanges with others. I see them as having emotional energy and an ability to see through the ‘facts’ or to ‘supend’ them for a period. This is obviously a tricky – perhaps flawed (although in reality they are all flawed) – category, home to intellectuals inclined toward the Machiavellian as well as do-gooders quickly judged and relegated -not always justly- to the lot of suck-asses, and I image it has mixed results. It includes but is not the sole domain of those with the facility to put themselves in anther’s shoes (and occasionally get lost in so doing).

    I am only describing those who can influence others of extreme or highly contrary positions and beliefs, not the relatively larger group who can be eloquent in their own right but are not of note in dealing with made-up minds. Since we are all banging about under varying degrees of illusion, the truly or profoundly successful ambassador, along with his/her close cousin the successful negotiator, even the mundane every-man commenting on a blog or at a social gathering that provokes others to reassess, is a rather unusual individual indeed. That there is some preponderance of such individuals on NC does not contradict the rarity in general.

    Perhaps just a very long winded way of saying, “Don’t be too hard on yourself.”

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      What I meant to say in the last sentence is, “I won’t be too hard on myself“, but put in the general form while thinking of it applying to me. I don’t presume to give others such advice (though I imagine it holds for others as well ).

      Also, since the process of changing or simply being influenced, always takes time, it is almost impossible to see or assess; an unhappy circumstance for those who try at it rather than let it be an outcome..

  25. Bite hard

    Arguing with entrenched people is a lost cause but sarcasm = mercilessly tearing right into their own hypocrisy does the work of shaming them for a while, especially if you make the point about a topic they are virtue signalling about. These people do not have a policy idea in mind, they are pure virtue signallers.

    Sarcasm is not to be confused with irony, which allows people to react mildly along ”ha, ha, ha, oh my, what a world we live in”. You can always escape from irony but a good, hard sarcasm put the moral dilemma right out there and people cannot escape their own crap poorly founded opinions.

  26. danpaco

    Political talk has really become a competition as opposed to a conversation. If the conversation decends into competition I’ll try to ask “are there are any rules to this game?”. When all else fails, go socratic. Their answers can be enlightening.

  27. Skip Intro

    I think it can be effective to do a virtual cannonball into the kiddie pool of their belief system. Like Maddow squared… but willing to connect the dots.

    ‘Of course the Russians put Trump in, but the whole hacking story is part of a scam and a distraction. There’s barely a connection between the leaked emails and the election results. They are a sideshow to get Assange. No, the real story is that the Russians had a high level operative inside the DNC. That’s how the emails leaked. That is why the campaign was diverted away from Wisconsin, for example, in favor of Arizona. It is why the campaign pulled strings to get airtime for Trump during the GOP primary. It is why the DNC relied on bad software models and ignored experienced campaigners. Heck, it is why the DNC ran Hillary, even though she was over 43% animatronic by the end of the primary.’

    Then you reveal that the mole is Mook.

    The more facts you can weave into an acceptable narrative, the more secret landmines you can slip into their bubble, until the critical mass of cognitive dissonance causes a rupture…

    1. ambrit

      Watch out for the response being a psychotic break. I have had that happen when I got too carried away with ‘weaponized humour’ in my arguments.
      I mean not just angry outbursts directed in my direction but actual punches. These times are becoming physically dangerous.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I never believed that “Love trumps hate” slogan. Whatever this is all about, it’s not about love. I Corinthians 13 seems a propos. I’ll quote it all, if only because the prose is so lovely:

        13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

        4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

        8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; 10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

        I myself tend to be a little short on the “patient and kind” part.

        1. ambrit

          This was the Homily Phyl chose for our wedding ceremony, lo these many years ago.
          Invoking the Mystery.
          Love does not trump hate. Too true. It does, however, make enduring hate much easier.
          None of this absolves one from defending ones self. Martyrdom is a public rite. Suffering the private one. Neither implies the other.

  28. William Hunter Duncan

    I will generally, when I encounter a true believer Left or Right, let them get comfortable, agreeing with their critique of the Other until they say something grotesquely hypocritical or patently false or deranged, and then I will call out the hypocrisy/bs by way of pointing to it in their own party, then segway into something like ‘MSNBC is part of the DNC, CNN is mockingbird CIA/DEEP STATE, and FOX is Rupert Murdoch’s geriatric limp dick. Sometimes I call myself an anarchist, because I am liberal about some things and conservative about others and hypocrisy sucks. Wtf are Americans left and right going to pull their heads out of their buttz and realize the country has been gutted and the people put in debt servitude to globalist corp, bank, billionaire and eternal profiteering war/surveillance machine? Oh, and capitalism looks like a death cult if you are a pollinator or an ecosystem, so wtf about your bloody party….”

    Which rant I can sustain as long as the person can hear it. Sometimes with liberals though I just ask why they think Hillary would have been a better president, and they usually realize at some point they have tied themselves in knots.

  29. voteforno6

    One quibble: It should be “Russia!Russia!Russia!”, not “Russia!Russia!” – it makes the Jan Brady jokes a little funnier.

    Anyway, with some people, I’m not sure if people should really be trying to “talk to” liberals, with the intent of changing their minds. I remember similar discussions going on in Daily Kos around 2006 or so, but there they discussed how to “talk to” conservatives, or people in rural areas, or “low information voters,” as they liked to call them. It does seem a little condescending – some people believe what they believe, and you’re not going to be able to argue them out of their positions. As macnamichomhairle posted above, the election of Trump really seems to have caused a psychic break in certain segments of society. I’m not sure if agitating them any further would really be that helpful. It’s gotten to the point that I wonder (only half-jokingly) if Trump Derangement Syndrome will be included in the next volume of the DSM.

    So, if you want to argue with people about something, make it sports. It seems that Americans are much more civil and mature when it comes to arguing about that topic. That is, unless they’re from Philadelphia.

    1. Arizona Slim

      From Philadelphia? Whatsa matter with that?

      Says Slim, who was born in Pittsburgh and raised outside of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

      1. ambrit

        Hold it. Didn’t the “New Riders of the Purple Sage” do a song about the much storied Arizona Slim?

  30. vidimi

    thank the lord i don’t live in the united states.

    when facing russia! putin! arguments, i usually retort with a big “i don’t care” and paraphrase Mohammed Ali: “ain’t no vladimir putin ever set the middle east on fire and crash the global economy”.

  31. The Rev Kev

    At first I was going to suggest using a lead pipe on so-called liberals as a coping strategy but I think that this is too serious to joke about. Think about this. The US midterms take place on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 and only 16 days later you will have Thanksgiving in the US. If you think that people are on edge now can you imagine what it will be like around Thanksgiving tables this year?
    Look, it is a real bad idea to tie your identity to any political party. Too much putting your faith in princes here – or princesses too for that matter. I don’t think that the US voting system helps either where they want you to register for Party A or Party B which, when you think about it, kinda defeats the purpose of a secret ballet.
    If people with phds are drinking the kool-aid and are not using their critical thinking skills, then how can you expect average people to be convinced? I am not sure that you can but what you can do is undermine their beliefs. Don’t let them shape the battlefield of argument (‘Or course everybody knows Russia did it!’) or else it is a losing game. In any case, this whole thing reeks of the old identity game where those in power set two sides to fiercely combat each other while skimming profits all the way to the bank. An example of this? Democrats and Republicans hate each other’s guts but when it come time to vote $1.5 trillion to the wealthiest people in the country then it was bipartisan all the way, baby.

    1. Arizona Slim

      My birthday comes shortly after the election. I’m thinking of throwing a party for myself and inviting liberal Democrats, libertarians, Republicans, Greens, independents, and those who refuse to be classified.

      It’ll be fun!

      1. polecat

        So Slim, will it be a ‘Masked Participants Only’ Ball .. A
        CARNIVAL, or will they be ripped off upon entry ?

    2. flora

      Thanksgiving in the US. If you think that people are on edge now can you imagine what it will be like around Thanksgiving tables this year?

      hmmm… if the MSM determine too many of the midterm winners are the *wrong* sort of people then watch out for more MSM, Thanksgiving weekend, crazy stories, as in 2016. Properly speaking… or not. ;)

    3. Lambert Strether

      Thankgiving time at Naked Capitalism, November 2016:

      [T]here’s a vacation coming up. Maybe we can have a “national conversation” round the collective Thanksgiving table. Bringing this 1898 Caran d’Ache cartoon from the Dreyfus Affair era to mind:


      Caption for top: “Above all, let us not discuss the Dreyfus Affair!” Bottom panel: “They discussed it!”

      As other commenters have said, little seems to have changed.

  32. vlade

    For a discussion to occur, both sides have to be willing and able to listen. While most people claim both, in my experience especially the latter (able to) is a learned skill which majority lacks (of all bents, not just liberals etc.).

    Hence after this was tested, I do not discuss anymore, I rant, if I feel like it.

  33. tokyodamage

    Talk about small, but ‘respectably’ sourced news stories instead of whatever’s dominating the current news cycle – stories where the DNC spokespeople haven’t already poisoned the well by telling people “This is your team’s official position, there’s no need to make up your own mind.”

    Give the liberal a chance to make up their own mind on the small story. Chances are that they sympathize with the underdog in that story – showing how ‘liberals care’.

    Then – if you’re in the mood – spring the trap:

    “You’re absolutely right to be concerned about the underdog in [story A]. The compassion -that’s why people like liberals! By the way, why do you think that [famous dem spokesperson] doesn’t show the same compassion regarding [morally analogous but more mainstream news controversy B]?”

    That’s all i got.

  34. tokyodamage

    “Russian meddling, eh? That’s a scary country. I’ve been reading about Russia in the 90s. The average life expectancy of the whole country went down by years after the communist government collapsed. Old people dying alone in their apartments from easily treatable illnesses. Yeah, it IS terrible. Yeah it IS disgusting and immoral. Oh by the way, that’s around the time they switched to a for-profit medical system like we have. Weird huh?”

  35. Brooklin Bridge

    The inability to talk politics with others of differing views is hardly limited to the US even if it expresses itself in different ways. I have family in France (je suis une pièce rapportée – in-law) and it’s almost identical to the US. As even my wife is somewhat of a ‘guest’ when we go over now, You simply avoid subjects where you know it could get too hot and so do they among themselves. Things are not at all as cut and dry as they were (at least seemed) back in the late 60’s early 70’s when students AND workers united massively in common cause.

    A few years ago, I had a discussion that turned into an argument with a friend visiting from France who is an economist by training but made his pile (of comfortable not gargantuan size) in real estate. It turned around Jeremy Corbyn with my argument that as long as people are really hurting, social/political/economic justice movements will thrive and often succeed in radical change and his argument that 1) he is an economist and therefore knows what he is talking about and 2) Corbyn is simply unacceptable and unworkable in todays economy…, c’est tout!

    How horribly frustrating for me not to have a good command of the subject, getting hot under the collar is not a compelling argument, (though I didn’t let him get away with the, being an economist, braggadocio), but on the good side, our friendship survived the bout and we holstered our pistols for the rest of their visit.

    1. witters

      He says: “1) he is an economist and therefore knows what he is talking about.”

      A nice performative (self)contradiction.

      “A performative contradiction arises when the propositional content of a statement contradicts the presuppositions of asserting it. An example of a performative contradiction is the statement “I am dead” because the very act of proposing it presupposes the actor is alive.”

      in this case the first claim – “I am an economist” contradicts the second (“I know what I am talking about.”

      If the second claim was true, the first must be false, and if the former true, the latter must be false.

      Either way, he is merely sounding off.

  36. Eureka Springs

    I find arguments of systemic problems, corruption, absence of actual solutions, divide conquer, class war, rather than D vs R work best.

    Ask anyone who has a problem with immigrants why not one politician demands an arrest of a ceo and board members for illegal hiring practices. Put them in jail just for a weekend and things would dramatically change over night. We don’t need to cage many thousands of desperate people, just a few greedy ones. Like them or not, quit blaming desperate poor people for crawling through a nasty river and horrific desert to get a crappy job. If the illegal hiring didn’t exist they wouldn’t come. As for children and adults, once ‘we’ have them captured, under our control, how they exist is all about us, not them.

    And then I shut up. You have to know when to shut up.

    At other times I love reminding D’s or R’s and especially those who are neither, the D’s and R’s are at best 27 percent of the eligible voters. Independents are far greater in number than they are and ‘refuse to vote’ for any of them are greatest of all. The D’s and R’s both have a super majority against them for good reasons which are being ignored at all our peril. That they are not listening, not asking, not representing. They are owned and we are all being played like a two dollar banjo. Fighting for either one of them is exactly what they want and need to keep the con alive.

    I keep reminding people this is not professional football, you don’t have to watch, much more you are not forced to pick between two teams, please choose neither like most of us are doing because we need an entirely new game. Issues, not personality. Because all owners are always a winner, cashing in, if you do.

    1. fresno dan

      Eureka Springs
      July 24, 2018 at 10:57 am

      I have friends that I disagree about things – but friendship means you listen, and second that you acknowledge reality. There is a VAST amount of hypocrisy in both parties (and in OURSELVES!)

      Whatever happened to ending Obama care and deficits – what with repubs controlling POTUS and the legislature???

      And of course, all fights on TV and most in newspapers is just like professional wrestling – just contrived fighting that is fake, only done for entertainment.

    2. Cancyn

      I have to agree with this approach… “a pox on both their houses” is generally a way to bring the discussion to more common ground. Even in Canada where we have 3 parties, there is still a great divide, we’re just a little closer to the centre than USians. When pointing out that the corporate world is really in charge, people will sometimes admit that’s so and further admit that neither the right nor the left is really doing much about the things that really matter – climate, poverty/inequality, healthcare, aging infrastructure, etc. People are scandalized when I say I don’t vote except in local municipal elections until I explain that I vote with my dollars instead. They see the wisdom in supporting local businesses, buying less, etc. … until bargain hunting comes up … sigh, then I lose them all over again. No one seems to see themselves as an over-consumer (full disclosure, I try but I know I still consume way too much, drive too much, etc.) I can almost win the the politicians don’t matter debate sometimes but I cannot make people see that pursuit of the cheapest goods is a very harmful way to live their lives.

    3. HotFlash

      And then I shut up. You have to know when to shut up.

      You know, I think that’s the trick most worth learning.

        1. ambrit

          Most lawyers being recovering debaters, and addicted to winning, it behooves us to keep lawyers out of politics.

    4. Big River Bandido

      Bravo. Thank you. I will have to reflect on this point, and see how I might incorporate this strategy into my own style.

  37. Adam Eran

    More generally speaking, there are actually clinical trials of ways to be persuasive. Doctors need this for the difficult patients: the heart patients who don’t want to take their meds, the addicts who don’t want to quit, etc. It’s worth looking up: Motivational Interviewing. The link is to a course offered by Citizens’ Climate Lobby, designed to help their members deal with climate change denial.

    The key, they say, is forming partnerships. Disagreement can take the form of fights, arguments or partnerships, with only the last providing some prospect for relief.

    So…providing the “perfect squelch” or putting down one’s opponent is the very last thing you want to do. Finding areas of agreement and building on those is the royal road to something more positive.

    I’ve also found some of the worst offenders in the environmental community. These are often former bureaucrats who want to keep the (bankrupt) process in place, but encourage a different outcome. They want to be the “good guys,” and judge the environmental “bad guys” rather than make a significant change.

    Ah, the human ego! Gotta love it!

  38. Quite Likely

    I tend towards the Socratic approach, both for establishment Democrats and the larger universe of people I disagree with in person. It generally means doing more listening than talking, which I know is a downside for some, but letting people talk things out in front of you with occasional nudges in the right direct does a decent job of moving them gradually in the right direction, and leaves them with an impression of you as a friendly good-listener with whom they have some disagreements rather than that asshole yelling about nonsense.

  39. JohnnyGL

    I’m going to throw out my tips that I’ve used for years to talk politics in various environments (office, family gatherings, etc).

    1) Keep context in mind…if you’re in the office, keep encounters brief and cordial, couple of news headlines as you breeze by for a couple of minutes. Crack a couple of jokes and try to keep it light. But choose your topics with care, especially if you don’t know the person really well.

    2) Find common ground…

    with trumpers…you can rail against clintons, obamas, and dem hypocrisy

    with clintonites…you can talk about how excited you are that Ted Cruz has a real challenge, Paul Ryan’s retiring, all the damage Trump is doing to the establishment repubs, etc. Tell them the positive thing about Trump winning is that ALL THE OTHER REPUBS LOST….badly!

    3) As far as genuinely changing minds….THESE THINGS TAKE TIME! Some minds aren’t open to being changed, some will periodically open and close, and some of us are genuinely trying to figure out WTF is going on in the world (which is why we come to NC!) In any case, minds get changed over weeks and months, not a couple of hours.

    4) Understand and remember that you DO NOT have all the answers and think about all things you’ve changed your mind about over the years and it helps to open minds to SHARE stories with people about what changed your mind and why. If you’re not sure why you think what you think, go figure out why! :)

    5) Once you’ve got a certain comfort level, don’t be afraid to crack a joke that aggravates the other person, but don’t overdo it and don’t do a lot of public mocking/shaming.

    6) When someone else uses 5) on you, practice to make sure you DO NOT get too mad about it. Get thicker skin, if you can’t do it….then you aren’t ready to talk politics.

    7) Yes, that includes people saying ignorant stuff. That doesn’t mean you have to grin and bear it, you don’t and you shouldn’t. Drop a mild rebuke (no more and no less) and change the subject. Don’t ostracize or shame. Keep interacting with people, as much as they want to do so. We’ve all said stupid $h!t at one time or another, we can and should all be able to forgive/forget. I’ve certainly said my fair share. But also, people do change their minds over time. It’s helpful if you can guide them in a positive direction.

    8) Talk about the context in which things happen and put yourself in other people’s shoes. This is something I’ve learned a lot in the last few years and people forget to step back and look at things from a high level. I’ve been amazed at how much more sense things can make when you think more about context.

  40. marym

    My coping method is mostly avoidance, but if I did intervene it would be something like this:

    I agree Trump is ill-suited to the job and has horrible policies.

    If Russia (or Russians) interfered with the election, if Trump and his cronies participated in that, or if Trump and cronies had other dealings with Russian that are illegal, Mueller is the right person to figure it out. His whole career has been defending and strengthening the pre-Trump status quo, the “norms” of the military-industrial-corporatist-security complex. If there’s a way to push us back in that direction, there may be no one on earth more committed to that job.

    Our job is to examine the impacts of current Trump policy, the roots where applicable in those status quo “norms”, issues other than Russia that weaken and corrupt our electoral system, failures of centrist Democrat policies to solve problems; and to promote alternative policies and politicians. None of this will be adddressed by any negative Mueller consequences to Trump, and maybe to a few of those around him.

  41. RUKidding

    Whether it’s committed liberals (eg, super strong Big D voters) or committed conservatives, there’s really not much point in “talking.”

    I accidentally said something truthful about Trump’s/the Republicans’ recent tax law, and my super conservative sister launched into a tirade that came right out of Rush Limbaugh’s mouth. I hadn’t meant to stir the pot, either, and what I said was pretty nothingburger. I let her rant for a few minutes; explained my side very graciously and calmly (mainly that MY taxes have been raised, not lowered as advertised), and then I changed the topic.

    I know a very few D voter friends who are starting to pay more attention – it’s taken a while but they are – and they’re starting to see that Big D is NOT their savior, at least, not as they currently exist. Of course, I have Big D friends who revile Bernie Sanders as the worst of the worst, and they’re HORRIFIED that he’s a socialist!!!111!!!!! Well, there’s nothing to say there.

    Mostly if I’m thinking about it, I’ll drop in a few salient points – as some other commenters have suggested, above – and then mostly walk away.

    The Big Fat Propaganda Wurlizter has done it’s job, and HOW. And it’s not just about conservatives ranting out the usual Fox/Rush rightwing talking points. Now it’s so-called liberals ranting out the latest from, I guess (no tv, never watch), Rachael Maddow and similar.

    I can barely ever listen to what passes for “nooz” on NPR, but possibly they get their talking points from there, as well. Some of those talking points now come up regularly in the weekend game shows. I duly noted that “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” had James EFFEN Comey on last weeked. R U Kidding ME???? Of course, I didn’t listen.

    So, go figure.

    Both sides are being heavily brainwashed by our M$M. For me: No TV at all and precious little radio (mostly music stations). And judicious nooz paper reading.

    Get my real info at sites like this one.

    Thanks to all who comment logically here in reality-land.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      I don’t have tv, either…haven’t for most of my life.
      I think it makes a difference in all this sort of thing, and wonder how many here on NC are also tv-free.
      I’ve seen it mentioned numerous times.
      Might correlate to being more calm and circumspect when it comes to politics.

      1. ambrit

        I’ll start in and raise my hand to testify to the healing power of a life with no television. Even Public Television became too much.

    2. Massinissa

      Your comment reminds me of a phrase I heard years ago, that “The left has become the right and the right has become insane”.

      Now they are BOTH insane. What an improvement…

      1. redleg

        The Dems try to be what the GOP was 10 or so years ago (w/ “ago” being measured from any point in time since approx. 1980).

  42. timbers

    In general, the way I deal with the liberals, partisan Dems, Hillary crowd or whatever you call it, is in person (I’m not on FB) with this type of statement:

    “Not one single piece of evidence has every been presented showing Russia meddled in the election. Not one. We don’t even have grounds to investigate such a thing. And what evidence we do have points away from Russia. The same agencies that said WMD in Iraq are now saying Russia meddled in the election, have you learned nothing? Russiagate is Democrat’s WMD in Iraq moment.”

    That usually silences them because they don’t have any evidence and some even know that. If they offer “evidence” (like the social media click bait adds) I am usually familiar enough show how silly the examples given are.

  43. meadows

    I hike regularly w/my buddy who is a 73 year old Nam vet, I am a 65 year old concientious objector… he is blue collar for generations, I am college educated family for generations… New Deal Dems forever.

    Our concerns in life are the same, the well being of our adult children and grandchildren, our relationships w/our spouses, how to manage our retirements. But Oh do we talk politics! He teases me that I’m a Trumpster because of my deserved critiques of Clinton, Obama and my anger at that gang of liars, as if that means I think Trump and his band of “obligerant” oligarchs are great! (oblivious and belligerent)

    The executive branch is a huge about-to-become-extinct dinosaur w/the brain of a tiny reptile, little realizing only the little mammals will survive, while still imagining itself to be king of the place forever.

  44. Cat Burglar

    Talking politics with concerned people of goodwill is always worth doing — who else is there to work with? Having a good memory helps.

    Most liberals attack Trump personally on a moral basis, and they will attack you the same way. Think of the recent meme, “How can Sanders voters now have any respect for themselves after they elected Trump!” First I say that this is politics, not morality.I tell them ever President in my lifetime was a criminal (Vietnam, Central America, Iraq, Yemen, the bank bailout, the Zelaya ouster), and I ask them how they felt about voting for a criminal. You might get called a moral purist at this point (notice they have abandoned the moral high ground here), but I always tell them I am waiting for a total political opportunist who will close the overseas bases, give us single-payer, free university education, raise real median incomes, etc., etc.

    So with HRC blackened morally, we can talk about what they expected to get out of her that would be better than Trump — usually it is immigrant LGBTQ rights, climate change, and racism. I always refer them to Adolph Reed jr.’s Vote For The Lying Neoliberal Warmonger, It’s Important! — the only honest left case for an HRC vote, and it makes them feel affirmed and recognized. You can laugh together about the title of the article (which is really good). Then you can start talking about making political decisions, and about policy.

    Obama hagiography usually enters. I tell them about his Senate vote in favor of FISAA immunization of Bush and the telecoms for their tens of thousands of felony FISA violations — all impeachable offenses. You can mention Obama’s failure to prosecute the torturers.Then you hit the bank bailout (especially HAMP, a racist divestiture program) and failure to nationalize, the wimpy Paris accords, the Yemen war crimes, black african slave market restart in Libya, and so on. You can bring this around to showing them that it is unlikely that the Dems will impeach Trump — the recent bipartisan vote to increase presidential surveillance authority is a good one to recall.

    They usually get around to telling you you think there’s no difference between the Dems and Repubs, but you can say there is a very great difference in how arsenic and plutonium work on the human body in fatal doses. You can also point out the end result id the same, because the large donors want the same thing. I find it worth asking them, “Well, how many of the Reagan reforms did the centrist Dems reverse when the got in office? Not many, and that is because they like them, and so do their donors.”

    Naked Capitalism readers are uniquely able to provide accounts of recent events that can reorient how people of good will — for now suckered — think about politics. The first step is to create cognitive dissonance; in later talks, you can educate. Jokes always work. You want to provide them with another way to read the news.

    Putinghazi has been a great propaganda campaign for introducing old and fatuous ideas through the back door. Trump is destroying the liberal international order! You mean we’ll never get to napalm villagers again! He met with Putin in Helsinki and they talked about nuclear arms reduction agreements! Just when I was getting to like the prospect of the instant incineration of all those gentrified yuppie neighborhoods I can’t buy into. You get the picture — these things can be charmingly mocked, and they’ll think about it.

    Sorry to have missed NW meetups because of old friends visiting from far away.

    1. fresno dan

      Cat Burglar
      July 24, 2018 at 12:10 pm

      very well argued and an impressive array of facts and history.
      But I think the argument for objective people who are intellectually honest is that at its most fundamental level, Trump is a horrible, bad, terrible, very bad man….but the other candidate was worse (maybe not). So it is an interesting discussion, but I imagine for most it is just too depressing to talk about. Still, an excellent synopsis.

  45. armchair

    If someone tells you they’re a democrat, it does not mean they’re a liberal. The third way was conceived to suffocate and silence liberal impulses, to make democrats more palatable to plutocrats. A liberal is not a war-hawk. When all of this gets conflated, in NC’s new definition of a liberal, it does get kind of hard to have a sincere conversation. NC has joined a long list of liberal bashers, like Nixon, Reagan, Gingrich, Lieberman, LBJ and on and on. So, yes it is hard for a liberal to engage in a conversation with someone who has painted devil horns on you.

    NC provides helpful links across a wide range of topics, but its campaign against liberals has, for me, tarnished its analytical side. The NC definition of liberal appears to be a recently made up definition, and that definition is basically everything that’s wrong with democrats. Honestly, any student of history knows that liberals live under the democratic tent, but are mostly ignored. It is kind of hilarious to hear, on NC, all of the horrible things that liberals have done, when liberals have been the least powerful people in the beltway for decades.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      We are critics of Democrats from the left. You clearly don’t know the site to assert otherwise.

      I suggest you read Thomas Frank’s Listen Liberal. Our take on liberals (top 10%ers, members of the technocratic elite who quietly or overtly loathe the working class) follows his, hence our use of “liberal”. It has nothing to do with your caricature.

      For instance, from one reader by e-mail:

      I am SO glad you wrote that piece, “Reader Strategies for Engaging with Committed Liberals.” I just refuse to engage any longer as I think the “liberal” community has in fact become as illiberal as the Right and cannot engage rationally on any issue. They all suffer from Russia Derangement Syndrome, and react in a completely over the top manner to every single one of Trump’s tweets. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party as a whole is particular prone to these pathologies, which means they will sabotage any chance of regaining power. They don’t have policies. They have complaints and group therapy sessions.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        I think that confusion of tongues is a legitimate worry. I always use “Lib/Prog/Left” to indicate what I used to call “Liberal”…and I merely owned that for the same reasons I own “Hippie”: because the men with baseball bats called me thus, and it fit well enough.
        I understand the complexity of the matter, eg what “Liberal” means in Europe, and in Marx, etc, and how America came to define it differently, and therefore understand the usage, here..
        But it’s still quite confusing for the run of the mill person…especially when one tries to talk about “neoliberalism”.
        I can’t help but think that this confusion is another MK Ultra thing that got loose before they burned the files.
        Definitional confusion is a big part of the broader ontological crisis, and only helps the Rulers.

      2. Oregoncharles

        NC’s present use of “liberal” echoes the New Left’s use of the term, making me wonder just how old Lambert is.

        OTOH, “liberal” in those days essentially meant the New Deal and some 60’s initiatives, like the “Great Society,” that extended it. IOW, it was primarily economic. That meaning is almost the opposite of the original, still used in Europe, which is essentially what we mean by “conservative.” “Neoliberal” essentially returns to the original meaning.

        Now it’s almost entirely about “cultural” and “identity” issues, with essentially conservative economics. Bernie is pretty much a New Deal liberal, updated. Political terms have a strong tendency to morph over time.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, if anything, aside from following Thomas Frank, we are also following the usage in the press, where the economically center-right Obama was consistently called “liberal”. The term has been appropriated by Democrats to make Third Way types appear more left-leaning than they are.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      I would love to hear what your definition of a “liberal” is. To me a liberal is a person who is a free market economic supporter married to social justice causes. I always enjoy having Frank conversations with people who qualify themselves as this.

  46. Cat Afficionado

    “And since her friends are also PhDs…”

    Piled Higher and Deeper, as the saying goes.

    1. anon y'mouse

      i know. it is this false meritocratic system we live in that makes people, everywhere, over and over assume/believe that having a phd makes you smarter.

      i once read something by someone with a phd. he basically said he needed it to do his job, and that after doing it for 10 years, he understood that it had nothing to do whatsoever with intelligence or intellectual. diligence over the long term in working towards what may be a boondoggle in the end was how he kind of summed up.

      so, i am continually surprised that everyone thinks that phds are smarter. they may have just spent a lot longer and been more invested in something pretty darned stupid, that managed to pay off for them somehow.

      destroy the “meritocracy”!

  47. fresno dan

    I just throw that out as an example. Even though I enjoy talking about politics, MOST people don’t. AND, even though I doubt there is anything to the Russia!Russia!Russia! thing, I could be wrong. I think people have a point about Trump being curiously deferential to Putin – I think it is possible the Kremlin has “kompromat” except I think it is all due to financial illegalities (Why were such illegalities with Trump never found before you ask??? Duh, how many financial illegalities were found after the Great Recession – America doesn’t go after ANY rich people and we can’t start endangering the things the rich get away with by going after Trump for financial stuff)

    To get back to my example – maybe, just maybe social justice warriors OR reactionary fan boys didn’t have much to do with the quality or how entertaining a Star Wars movie is. Maybe movies, or maybe football is watched less because there is just too damn much of it…Maybe conversation about it fills up a lot of Facebook time and sells a lot of advertising, but it really is a small number of people who drive a conversation that the vast majority don’t pay any attention to.

    How many NC readers are there, and how many NC commenters?

    1. Louis Fyne

      —To get back to my example – maybe, just maybe social justice warriors OR reactionary fan boys didn’t have much to do with the quality or how entertaining a Star Wars movie is.—

      IMO, yes, reactionary fan boys exist. But there are a tiny, tiny percentage of the total audience. BUT reactionary online comments are pure clickbait to the HuffPost, gaming sites, movie sites, etc.

      And conveniently, IMO, the nothing-burger “controversy” over the reactionary comments distracts from any discussion on how boring, tired, cliche-ed, and uncreative the new Star Wars trilogy is. The first movie was a literal beat-for-beat remake of “A New Hope”.

      And these same thoughts could be applied to the 2016 “Ghostbusters” remake or “Star Trek” 2009 or most other creatively bankrupt Hollywood movie franchise.

      your mileage may vary.

  48. Altandmain

    From my experiences, the big gap is class.

    The Liberals tend to come from the upper middle class and on many occasions have benefited from neoliberalism, whether that bt due to higher wages, property prices, or some other gains.

    As far as persuading them that things need to change, often you can find chases that they supposedly cherish.

    An example – Liberals are often indifferent and in some cases even sadistic about the decline in fortunes of working class whites and the loss of manufacturing employment.

    For example, I show this video. This was the infamous Carrier outsourcing that became infamous in 2016.

    Note the number of minorities in that video. That tends to get the Clinton Liberal types to think about this. It is not just a white man who will lose their jobs. I personally have worked in a plant where people have lost their jobs to Mexico.

    In other words, that can be a big wake up call. Also, I note that this played a role in the low turnout, especially in the key swing states in the US Midwest.

    Usually they then say that manufacturing is outdated or low skill or something along those lines. I reply that Wolfsburg, Germany, the headquarters of Volkswagen is Germany’s wealthiest city per capita. Detroit used to be America’s wealthiest city per capita. There is also very advanced manufacturing still here. Semiconductors, aerospace, materials sciences, and yes the atuomtovje industry are all examples.

    I think though that in many cases, it may be best to cut losses. Here is why:

    That’s the conclusion that emerges from a recent study by professors at the University of Michigan and Indiana University. Evaluating surveys of more than 5,300 anti-war protestors from 2007 to 2009, the researchers discovered that the many protestors who self-identified as Democrats “withdrew from anti-war protests when the Democratic Party achieved electoral success” in the 2008 presidential election.

    Had there been legitimate reason to conclude that Obama’s presidency was synonymous with the anti-war cause, this withdrawal might have been understandable. But that’s not what happened — the withdrawal occurred even as Obama was escalating the war in Afghanistan and intensifying drone wars in places like Pakistan and Yemen. The researchers thus conclude that during the Bush years, many Democrats were not necessarily motivated to participate in the anti-war movement because they oppose militarism and war — they were instead “motivated to participate by anti-Republican sentiments.”

    Not surprisingly, this hyper-partisan outlook and the lack of a more robust anti-war movement explain why political calculations rather than moral questions are at the forefront of the Washington debate over a war with Syria.

    This type of Liberal is too deep in their own hypocrisy to see themselves. It is a lost cause. This article is a few years old now, but the same is happening with Trump. He has actually been a lot more similar in policy to Obama. Not that Liberals will see that.

    A well known example of this is the NIMBY types who come up with various ways to prevent affordable or new housing. They give a lot of excuses, but the sad thing is that they only care about their property values. Many tend to be very socially liberal.

    Another may be the ones pushing for school integration, while sending their kids to private schools that have a very high percentage of graduates going to the Ivy League and other prestigious universities. Despite their supposed care for the community they often push for their property taxes to be reduced.

    These groups are largely lost chases I’m afraid.

    1. Altandmain

      Odd. I typed that on my phone and it seemed to think that the work causes should be chases.

      The point though is that reframing in ways that Liberals ostensibly care about is the best bet. Otherwise there are many who I think that are simply too deep in their ideology.

      In many cases, their own interests lie with the rich. That is especially true among the upper middle class who still enjoys excellent upward mobility.

  49. KYrocky

    As a committed liberal allow me to offer this suggestion for engaging in political conversations:

    Speak the truth.

    I will illustrate with some generalizations:

    Yes, conservatives and especially the Republican Party have pandered to racists for 40 years, so what.
    Yes, the goal of conservatives and the Republican Party is to roll back the New Deal programs and end Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc., as we know them via privatization.
    Yes, conservatives and the Republican Party claimed to have a replacement plan for Obamacare for 6 years, ready to go on day one, but they never did, we lied, so what.
    Yes, conservatives and the Republican Party claimed that deficits matter to elect Reagan and Trump, we lied, so what.
    Yes, conservatives and the Republican Party have spent decades creating barriers and preventing Democratic leaning individuals from exercising their Constitutional right to vote based on the fiction of voter fraud, we lied, so what.
    Yes, conservatives and the Republican Party have engaged in decades of racial gerrymandering, we lied about it, so what.
    Yes, conservatives and the Republican Party want tax policy changes to provide the rich (the makers) while using the resulting shortage of tax dollars to force cuts and elimination of programs that serve the middle class and needy while lying that there simply aren’t other options.

    You get the idea.

    Conservatism and the Republican Party seem to incapable of being honest with our country about their real goals and methods, and so it has been for a long time. Conservatism and the Republican Party have become so comfortable living their lies that they have become inured to the lies they tell about others. They claim that their members are the more patriotic, more Godly, more family values. They are not. They purchase millions of copies of books making the case that Democrats are evil, treasonous, in bed with the terrorists, communists, haters of freedom, haters of God. We are not. They rail about fake news. It is not. Conservatives and the Republican Party benefit from filling the airwaves with Rush, Hannity, Levin, Ingraham, etc., speaking from the same script day after day, telling their listeners what their listers should believe about liberals and Democrats. Much of it is a lie, so what.

    It is one thing to lie with intent; it is another to fail to recognize that you are lying.

    It is also hard to have a discussion with someone for whom facts do not matter, history does not matter, science does not matter, and that the Bible only matters when it helps their cause.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Note that when choices are binary decision is easy: A > B or (B < A). When choices are more than binary, it's not so easy: A > B does not imply a choice of A if C > A.

      The application to our current situation should be obvious. Liberal Democrats seem to believe that it’s sufficient to be better than conservative Republicans for them to be the obvious choice. But as we see, that’s not true if there are more choices. (This is the fact that liberal Democrats are resisting with “He’s not even a Democrat!” to my response is generally “Yes, and?”)

      There’s also the case where A ~= B (is approximately equal to). That is hard, although A = B is easy.

    2. Plenue

      You seem to misunderstand the point of the post. This isn’t abut trying to communicate with conservatives. It’s about trying to punch their the liberal centrist bubble of the vichy left. Which it seems you also reside firmly within.

      “It is also hard to have a discussion with someone for whom facts do not matter, history does not matter, science does not matter, and that the Bible only matters when it helps their cause.”

      I know this is aimed at conservatives, but all of those, with the possible exception of the Bible, apply to liberals as well. Trying to talk to liberals about the realities of Obama or the complete lack of evidence for Russiagate shows how little liberals care about facts.

      From the Iran coup to the US bombing of Serbia on behalf of Kosovo, or how how we were lied by the ‘intelligence community’ into Iraq, or how when we had a party and president who ran on the type of ‘unrealistic’ platform Sanders champions, he was reelected. Three times. Only death removed him from power. Liberals don’t care about history.

      We’re on the brink (assuming we haven’t already gone over the cliff) of literal civilization ending climate change, and all I hear from liberals is blather about token non-binding international commitments and electric cars. The arctic (you know, that place all those people died trying to find a passage through? The Terror and all that?) has melted so much ships can reliably get through without the aid of icebreakers now, and you people have only now gotten to taking carbon taxes seriously. That’s not even talking about issues like soil depletion. Liberals don’t care about science.

      The single biggest thing I’ve taken away from the last ~2 years isn’t how loathsome conservatism is. I already knew that. It’s how downright vapid, stupid, and petty the liberal establishment in this country is. It’s just been one long, increasingly insane hissyfit since November 9th, 2016. Endless attempts to undermine what’s left of American democracy, the embracing of spies and torturers as Heroes of the Republic. And now we get to witness the awful spectacle of a party based around identity politics social issues turn on itself and cannibalisticly weaponize homophobia as the latest stage in its hysteria. Of course, maybe that isn’t such a shock, given how quickly they delved headfirst into racism against ‘the Russians’.

  50. Wukchumni

    Was talking about my 2 brother-in-laws with my mom @ breakfast this morning, and my sister that voted for the place holder, is horrified about what’s gone down, but if anything the brothers castavotic have doubled down on their winning entry of a few Novembers ago.

    Here’s a typical exchange with a Phd B-I-L:

    Me: “I’m worried about the inroads the evangelicals are making in our government, i’m wary of a theocracy taking hold.”

    Him: “Antifa is just as bad, if not worse.”

    How do liberals engage with the far right, i’m not sure how it’s done?

    1. ambrit

      It helps to see the political discourse as one big giant circle jerk. Thus, the further right you go, the closer to far left you end up. Then you can inhabit the empty centre of the circle and be the Zen Master to all your poor benighted kith and kin.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Me: “I’m worried about the inroads the evangelicals are making in our government, i’m wary of a theocracy taking hold.”

      Him: “Antifa is just as bad, if not worse.”

      How do liberals engage with the far right, i’m not sure how it’s done?

      JohnnyGL: “Wake me up when Antifa starts winning elected office and conquering the judiciary. How does your brother in law propose to deal with fascist, neo-nazi (not using the words lightly) thugs with riot gear marching around Charlottesville? It’s become clear that certain mayors and governors aren’t interested. Regarding ANTIFA, a few punk teenagers breaking street signs isn’t a threat to civil society”

    3. Lambert Strether

      Him: “Antifa is just as bad, if not worse.”

      Me: “Antifa has no real power, and won’t, because they’re anarchists, and anarchists wouldn’t know what to do with power if you handed it to them in a paper sack. That’s not true with Evangelicals, who have a great deal of power and know how to use it.”

  51. susan the other

    I have learned the truth in “it’s not what you say but how you say it.” I don’t get much opportunity to practice that outside my family because I don’t know any rabid liberals or conservatives. But little story: My kids, daughter and son in law, shocked me big time. They are Rachel Maddow afficionados. (I simply say, “I just don’t like her” – same for Hillary. I avoid giving them a big political history lecture because I’ve seen their eyes glaze over many times. But last November they were really over the top. They were literally hysterical about the Russian hacking. Nobody knew who had done the hacking, it seems, except dear Rachel and they believed her without even a tiny objective bit of perspective. Shocked is too tame a word. Bec. they came at me from both sides and I calmly explained that Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation and had a long historical connection with Russia; I gave the example of Yalta, etc. And I pointed out that even if the Russians had hacked us, so what? Everybody hacks us and we them. They weren’t listening to any of it. They were so aggressively stupid (this from 2 people who are way smart about everything – much smarter than I am) that I finally got fed up and said, “You two missed your calling – you should have been Jehova’s Witnesses.” And they had been so wrapped up in their rant that they both got a puzzled look, stood back and shut up. I smiled like an indulgent mother. And we all had a chocolate wafer and mellowed out. But it makes me nervous that my grandkids hear some of that irrational reactionary nonsense maybe a little too often.

    1. Jeff W

      …even if the Russians had hacked us, so what?…

      Didn’t whatever hacking or “hacking” occurred expose how incredibly corrupt the Democratic primary process was? It’s not like anyone has claimed the email messages disclosed were false. Doesn’t that constitute a kind of public service?

      I have a cousin who is sort of glued to Rachel Maddow’s show and I say to her, “I doubt that the Russians have had much to do with the 30 years of growing inequality in this country or the fact that we’re the only advanced country in the world to not have what amounts to guaranteed health care or that average citizens have little or no independent influence on US government policy” and she says “You’re right but…” and her answer drifts off into, well, nothingness. I guess the only thing left to do is offer her a chocolate wafer as she contemplates the meaning of it all.

  52. Jeremy Grimm

    I doubt it were still possible to engage in any serious discussion of matters political or otherwise. I gave up on the enterprise after a failed attempt to agree with my sister and her friend. They assumed my position without hearing it and never let me finish even a brief statement of agreement even after I’d already listened at length nodding to their assertions and arguments.

    I used to enjoy argument when I was younger. It was good exercise for the mind and helped me learn and better understand how I felt and thought and how others felt and thought about an issue. I found out things I didn’t know and other things I thought I knew but really didn’t understand well enough to properly argue.

    Now I practice responding to the noise called argument, sometimes called discussion, like the character of Smiley as Alec Guiness portrayed that character for the BBC series. I practice his manner of looking wise and tilting the head to one side while raising one eyebrow to indicate consideration and acceptance of an assertion however wild it might be — as long as the matters in discussion are without immediate real consequence to me. I can become more tart in matters of direct concern to me though with little effect beyond making clear my concern and ending further ‘discussion’.

  53. Rates

    The Chinese have a saying: 旁观者清. It literally means “The spectator sees things more clearly.” That says everything from bubbles, family disputes, invested liberals, etc. So not surprising that Yves was able to have a more civil conversation with an H1B holder. Unless that person is from Iran, going back to one’s own country is no longer such a bad option even for Indians, I would think.

  54. Oregoncharles

    It helps to remember that both clubs are shrinking demographics.

    Personally, I live in a bubble of sorts; but there is one friend who’s been warmongering at the peace vigil, so she’ll hear about that the next time I see her.

  55. funemployed

    I apologize if this is a repeat, but in my experience, it’s really only a fairly narrow band of Americans who can’t have perfectly reasonable conversations about things and consider new ways of thinking about political economy. These difficult people pretty much fall into three categories:

    1) Thomas Frank’s 10% (basically people with graduate degrees and/or fancypants undergrad degrees, like from Hahvahd).

    2) People that a good friend of mine (a devout Christian) would call Christian Christians (i.e. Christians who take themselves and their faith way too GD seriously such that their whole lives and identity revolve around it).

    3) People who, for whatever reason, have enough money to buy their kids nice cars, but lack the degrees/cultural capital to hang with the (1) crowd.

    These people, with few exceptions, seem to have a deep-seated need to believe that they are more moral and more capable than everyone not in their group. They will consequently shun, insult, condescend to, shame, and ultimately condone violence against anyone who threatens this belief, even just rhetorically.

    Rarely can they be reasoned with, and it is maddening to try. I focus my efforts on those people not in this group. There will be a power struggle. There will be violence. But groups 1, 2, and 3 are still a minority, and their power depends on oppressed people either fighting with each other or internalizing belief in their own inferiority (dawning awareness that their losing grip on these means of control explains, I think, much of the hysteria). So I focus on politically awakening everyone else, though I am less than hopeful these days, unfortunately.

  56. SimonGirty

    Thank GOD my girlfriend’s liberal, formerly yuppie pals seldom actually speak WITH me. They’ve seen me in metatarsal boots, wearing work clothes, going to evil places like Alabama or Louisiana and simply cannot be bothered? I’d gotten confused, when young, to hear Liberals referred to as “reactionaries,” by Union, Black and Anarchist heros from my parent’s generation. I’d kinda figured that all out, due to sputnik forcing nerdy working class kids into the facade of acceptance (we weren’t quite allowed to play hippy, but were tolerated as punks?) The first time I’d dared to posit, “Hillary’s likely to lose, there goes the Judiciary…” to a Liberal, was right after Bernie said he’d back Secretary Clinton, before Philadelphia. Her eyes glazed, confused. Then she went right on yapping, at my girlfriend. I didn’t bother to ask if Wasserman Shultz, Mook & Podesta were throwing the election at the behest of Monsanto, ExxonMobil, AIPAC, whomever… what would be the point?

  57. ChrisPacific

    Since I no longer live in the US my conversations are mostly online. I find my friends seem to fall into one of two categories.

    First are the true believers, who were 100% behind Hillary and still believe everything they read in the media because it hasn’t occurred to them that it might not be trustworthy. The world is a dark place for these people right now. Somehow a majority of Americans chose a grotesque and frightening president ahead of the Chosen One, and they can’t come up with any rational explanation for why that makes sense in their world view, so they’re accepting the irrational ones on offer (Racism, misogyny, Russia-Russia-Russia, and so on) because their default position is still to trust authority. If I’ve known these people for a while I can often get them to agree with me on obvious points (an electoral college coup against Trump would not have advanced democracy, talking to Russia about peace and disarmament is generally a good thing…) but it doesn’t penetrate their general emotional outlook or change their underlying viewpoint. I think the cognitive dissonance that results gets through to them on some level, but it just adds to their general feeling of worry (“nothing makes sense.”)

    The others are the ones who might have been like that a while back, but who are becoming suspicious. They smell a con, but they aren’t always sure what it is or who is responsible. Often they are convinced that Trump is behind it all somehow, but can’t figure out why. These ones are often more open to other viewpoints, especially ones that make sense of things that are confusing them or will help them figure out who is conning them. You still need to be really careful to sound out possible hot buttons and avoid knee jerk reactions. If you start sounding Breitbart-y, for example (which is easy to do) then they will put you in the appropriate pigeon hole and switch off. It’s also easy to get frustrated and think they are dumb even if you know they aren’t. I try to remind myself that I live outside Ground Zero for US propaganda, and stuff that is obviously tinfoil-hat crazy when viewed against the backdrop of my (still largely sane) local and national news feed may not be as easy to spot when it’s force fed around the clock with no basis for comparison.

    Overall I have had the best luck with statements and arguments that (a) are so obviously true as to be self-evident, or are sufficiently backed up by facts as to be irrefutable, and (b) call the other party’s world view into question. I don’t always have the time to figure these out myself so if I find an article or link where someone does it really well then I’ll share it. Often I will get a couple of bites on these which sometimes leads to productive discussion.

  58. rps

    I like to point out to the committed liberals, they own why Trump ran for president. It began at the 2011 WH correspondents dinner with President Obama filleting Trump and Seth Myers skewering him, “Donald Trump has been saying he will run for president as a republican which is surprising since I assumed he was running as a joke.” Considering the WH correspondents dinner is to roast the president, I would not be surprised that Obama had deliberately invited Trump to taunt him in a public forum hoping that Trump would run as the republican (haha) candidate- seriously who’d vote for The Donald?

    Would Trump have considered running if he wasn’t the late-nite committed liberal celebrities, politicians and media butt of one-liner jokes? It seems they all forgot the Celebrity Apprentice featuring Trump as ‘the best business brain’ whose audience was 7 to 12 million voters over a 7 year period. That was an enormous amount of air time for the audience, uhm- Trump’s middle america voters getting to know him while watching CA in their family rooms every Sunday. Possibly more than any previous candidate had prior to running for an election. Way to go Barry….

  59. Steely Glint

    I always bring it down to money in politics, no matter who I’m talking to, I consider this to be the common denominator between all sides, since nobody supports it. Why can’t we have “nice things ?” Money. After we agree on that point, and I start to get into particulars, I usually get an eye-roll, which when questioned results in ” you think you know more than me” or “you think you’re better than me”. I always say, yes, I am better informed than you on certain things because that is my area of interest. I got a lot of chuckles from a neighbor when I said “I’m a better cook than you”, she hates cooking, “but you run laps around me on public health”. It’s really not that difficult to find common ground and go from there. An attitude of “I know better” gets you no place.

  60. Plenue

    “She also said they would not consider foreign sources, even the BBC or Der Spiegel or Le Monde.”

    It should be noted that Reuters is a foreign source. It’s based in London and its parent company is Canadian.

  61. Plenue

    In my experience you can’t engage with them. Either something they encounter will jar them out of their stupor/poke a hole in their bubble, or it won’t. It’s completely outside of your control. You could say “well, maybe you could be the one to draw their attention to something that might jar them”, but in my experience they won’t even bother to look.

    As I’ve said before, I’m the crazy conspiracy theorist in the family for not accepting crazy conspiracy theories. You can try presenting facts, but it doesn’t matter. They either don’t believe you at all, or accept in abstract while not actually digesting anything you said. In one ear, out the other. I know for a fact my sister-in-law has never read NC, because 30 seconds on this site will tell you it isn’t insane. Moon of Alabama? “Oh yeah, I bet that’s enlightened, run by some southerner”. No, it’s run by a German, you idiot bigot. The name comes from a Bertolt Brecht poem, which you might know if you consumed any culture other than Jane Austin novels.

    We live in a world where John Oliver has persuaded my (self-proclaimed) communist brother to gleefully hate the ‘wacky’ socialist government of Venezuela. I don’t know how the hell you’re supposed to effectively fight that.

  62. Jon Claerbout

    Obama betrayed the blacks! He did it by inviting all those foreigners in to take away their jobs.

    1. ambrit

      Yes to some of that. I see Obama as the triumph of class politics over race politics.
      That’s why I like to read the “Black Agenda Report.” The synergy of class and race is an order of magnitude more powerful than either on its own.

      1. Michael Fiorilo

        “In the US, Class often speaks in the language of Race.”

        Don’t know who said the above paraphrase, but it’s spot on.

      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        I love Bruce Dixon.
        I think it was from him I stole “a Black CEO doesn’t trickle down”.

  63. drumlin woodchuckles

    Way back when the election was happening and then had happened, my younger brother was so hysterical for Clinton/ against Trump that he himself recognized that the subject was such a trigger for him that he himself would drop it. So it dropped.

    I have not tried engaging liberals on the subject. If it comes up, I will get pre-emptively belligerent to see if I can put them on immediate defensive.

    ” The Democrats wouldn’t let me have my Sanders. So I wouldn’t let the Democrats have their Clinton. Nominations have consequences.”

    And if I have to use it, I may try this as a conversation stopper/ switcher-offer . . .

    Hashtag: NotOneMoreClinton.
    Hashtag: NeverEver
    Hashtag: NotMyResistance

  64. drumlin woodchuckles

    I remember saying several months ago that the Clintonites ( and probably I should have said the Core Clintonites) were, are and will always forever be an unreachable unredeemable mass of Jonestown Cultists. They will be a Threat and a Menace to American political and social stablilty for decades to come. They can not be assimilated. Encystment and calcification ( as with chronic tuberculosis infections) is the best we can hope to achieve against them.

    For those who wish to find out if I am wrong, Riverdaughter’s blog The Confluence is the purest mason jar-full of distilled Jonestown Clintism that I know of. I will copy-paste a random comment just so readers can see how strong the Jonestown Clintism can be.

    “william, on July 26, 2018 at 4:58 pm said:
    Well, if you are implying that Hillary did not run a competent campaign, I strongly disagree. She ran a better campaign than Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, McCain. Romney, and both Bushes. She ran as competent a campaign as Obama both times, except that she did not have the VRA in effect; Obama did not face massive Russian interference and voter suppression; and Obama got the great benefit of the economy collapsing two months before the election, or he may well have lost. Hillary faced more headwinds than any Democratic candidate I have seen, and somehow she won by 3 million votes. Oh, and what Democrat ever had to face a spiteful primary opponent,, quite possibly being used by or colluding with Russia, who kept attacking her for months after he had no chance of winning the nomination? Or had a fourth party opponent, definitely in the employ of Russia, telling people that the insane Republican opponent was better than she was? Even Nader didn’t go that far.”

    If anyone here thinks they have a key to the Jonestown Clintonite mind, this blog would be the place to try your key out.

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