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October 27, 2004

Comments

Matt's has some very unconventional views. His views on policy are only somewhat ideosyncratic, but he doesn't share some of the values or underlying assumptions of basically all other contemporary "liberals".

I think because his opinions are unconventional, people sort of tune them out, they don't register.

I thought he was being ironic. It smells like a clumsy attempt at sarcasm to me.

It is of course possible that he was trying to be ironic, in which case I'm sure he will have a "Republicans are so Stupid and Humorless Update." But he definitely has an authoritarian streak in his writing, so it seems very possible that he was serious.

Yup -- this time Matt was just being dumb, imho. I suppose you might think that democracy is only instrumentally valuable if you meant: in principle, if we had some better means of selecting candidates (e.g., if God, who (if He exists) is both loving and omniscient, endorsed a candidate in an absolutely unmistakable and public way), and also some alternate means of producing the various ancillary benefits of democracy (God might promise to keep letting us know which candidate was best only so long as we debated this for ourselves before His endorsement, kept ourselves informed on matters of public policy, participated in other civic endeavors, and so forth), then we might think: why go to all the trouble of having an election? Might we not spend all that money on e.g. veterans' benefits? Maybe so.

However, in the world we live in, this is not an option. And if one is going to get all instrumental about democracy, one at least needs to keep all its benefits in mind, not just the 'picking the best candidate' part. And these include not just deliberation, but our belief that our candidates are chosen in a fair and open way. To say that voter suppression is OK as long as it's directed against the voters who oppose you has to ignore this benefit, and so fails even on Matt's own terms.

I am all for making sure that no one who is not entitled to vote does so. But I find the stories now coming out about attempts to get whole armies of people into Ohio to challenge voters, mainly in minority districts, really scary, since I think there's a really important line that separates legitimate challenges from an attempt to make voting so frustrating and time-consuming that people don't do it, and I worry that that line will be crossed on election day. I really do. And I would worry just as much if it was Matt trying to deter voters on my side. That's just wrong.

This was a joke. This was a JOKE. THIS was a JOOOOOOKE.

"But I find the stories now coming out about attempts to get whole armies of people into Ohio to challenge voters, mainly in minority districts, really scary, since I think there's a really important line that separates legitimate challenges from an attempt to make voting so frustrating and time-consuming that people don't do it, and I worry that that line will be crossed on election day. I really do. And I would worry just as much if it was Matt trying to deter voters on my side. That's just wrong."

This brings up a point I have wondered about since the 2000 election. A system to verify that voters vote in exactly one precinct and are citizens and are alive really shouldn't be that difficult in the computer age. We could have a provisional voting system for the cases that might be wrong, and verification for the other cases. Why wasn't this persued by either party? My only explanation is that both parties are convinced that they are getting more out of the cheating than the other party. Is there another explanation for why something so easy and important wasn't even seriously persued by either party?

Well, I am not so sure. MY is very much an empiricist and pragmatist, so he fears slippery slopes leading to irrevocable dystopias much less than your average idealist or deontologist.

A little extra-legality applied in extraordinary circumstances most likely will not result in the end of Democracy in America. And when consensus on the legitimacy of institutions is not achievable by legal means, we probably need to fight this out on the streets.
Scarey, painful, but ain't nothing permanent. A familiarity with history provides hope and comfort.

But intimidation of voters and other cheating is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Much ado about a statement taken largely out of context. Moreover, the hyperventilation surrounding it is a deliberate deflection away from the very real events and issues taking place presently.

Maybe, but... People frequently get him wrong (though I myself don't) but he tends to update and clarify those posts. This post is from yesterday.

Responding to Fafnir.

man, you guys really don't get it.

Mathew is simply saying that if he were a republican he would think like a republican.

"If I thought Kerry would be a terrible president and that Bush was a good one, I'd be applauding efforts to intimidate likely Kerry voters."

But since he is a democrat and not a republican he supports increased voter turnout, not the intimidation of republican voters.

Get it?

Mathew is simply saying that if he were a republican he would think like a republican.

Because Matthew, having been a Republican until late last week, remembers well how they think. Riiight.

I'd buy:

Mathew is simply saying that if he were a republican he would think as he thinks republicans think.

So far, in one article, Matthew suffers from lack of clarity, lack of logical reasoning capacity AND lack of imagination. Me, too, sometimes, but I don't get paid for writing.

I think it's far more worrying that von is thirty.

Ken --

So it's a poorly phrased stealth ironic statement?

Look, the purpose of writing is (generally) to communicate. Since Matt's failed communiticating whatever it is that he intends to communicate, I'm sticking with the "he's drunk" thesis.

Because Matthew, having been a Republican until late last week, remembers well how they think. Riiight.

You know, I've read statements by Republicans that sound exactly like what MY is saying. Never in the context of *American* elections, mind you, but (accepting for the sake of argument that MY was totally serious) the argument is pretty much the same. Not that those Republicans are representative of Republicans in general.

You have it backwards. The ends do justify the means. Looking at the history of England, when the people felt themselves well and fairly governed, the legitimacy of the King was not questioned. They had no problems even with the Hanoverians. But during the Wars of the Roses and the Reformation and the time of Cromwell, no succession mechanism was adequate.
....
The perceived legitimacy of the President is not granted him by the legality of the process. Lincoln was simply unacceptable to the South. I would place the blame on Republicans for not granting Clinton the moral legitimacy of the Presidency, but in any case we have had three results in a row where the legitimacy of the President has been questioned, resulting in a stress put on the the process. The extra-legal attempts to subvert the process are a symptom, not a cause of our problems.

And I would say that when a leader rules for the benefit of his faction rather than the country as a whole, the process is put in jeopardy. Like Mary and Henry VIII and LBJ and George W Bush.

I've read statements by Republicans that sound exactly like what MY is saying.

I wouldn't be surprised. But Matthew, being a paid writer, ought not to substitute "Republicans" for "some Republicans". There are all kinds of Republicans, just as there are all kinds of Democrats.

Matthew, being a paid writer,

Maybe he's less careful with his non-paying gig. I know I would be.

"Less than careful" does sound a bit better than "drunk". I can live with that.

Maybe he's less careful with his non-paying gig. I know I would be.

Which gig would that be? He's paid for blogging, IIRC.

This was a joke. This was a JOKE. THIS was a JOOOOOOKE.

Aha! Fafnir is Matthew Yglesias.

I may be wrong, but I thought it was quite clear that Matthew was being sarcastic.

I'd agree that he didn't do a very good job of it, but that was my interpretation.

Which gig would that be? He's paid for blogging, IIRC.

AFAIK he's paid for blogging at TAPPED, not at his eponymous site.

I don't think it was clear that he was being sarcastic. In fact I don't think he was being sarcastic. But in any case, it spurred an interesting conversation on the other thread.

"The reason "destriction [sic: "restriction" or "destruction," I take it] of ordered liberty would be 'okay'" is that liberty's value is purely instrumental"

From an argument MY had with Will Baude. Matt pretty much meant what he said. Hardcore "hedonic consequentalist" or "empirical consequentialist" he is very close to nominalism.

Note the very careful way he phrased it. "If I thought Kerry was a terrible..." There were actual phrases he preferred not to put in print, so he inverted the case.

Enough with the piety. So suppose that we do a little value theory and the Democratic process has a self-standing value and isn't merely instrumentally valuable. What then? Surely there are possible circumstances in which some candidate is so bad that subverting the process that would lead to his election is justified because the value of respecting the process is overridden by the value of stopping this candidate and the evil he stands for. Anyone care to tell me why this isn't just such a case? You have operatives for Bush actively trying to subvert the democratic process, you have a candidate in Bush who is so terrible that a good case can be made that subverting the process in this particular case is justified. If Matt was drunk, it was a moment of clarity. If Matt was kidding, he shoulda been kidding on the square.

BBC News: Tens of thousands of postal ballots have gone missing in the US state of Florida, sparking fresh concern over irregularities in the poll campaign.

Some 60,000 absentee ballots were despatched by authorities in Broward County, north of Miami, this month.

However, only 2,000 of them have been delivered.

I don't think it was clear that he was being sarcastic. In fact I don't think he was being sarcastic. But in any case, it spurred an interesting conversation on the other thread.

That it did; and I've seen enough of MY's contrarianism (or, conversely, head-up-assianism -- and I say that as someone who generally likes his stuff) not to believe he was being serious in that post.

[He reminds me of a couple of Ivy League types I knew back in college, who were sort of like the elitist version of a redneck cousin: most of the time I thought they had interesting, sometimes even profound, insights, but every now and then something would come out of their mouth that would just make me cringe.]

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