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April 30, 2021

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I don’t get it about weddings.

I've found this a handy way to understand weddings. There are basically two kinds of weddings.

First, there is the "traditional wedding." This is the bride's mother's show. Yes, the bride is the star of the show, but she gets relatively little input. Not on the schedule. Not on the venue, for the ceremony or the reception. (For our wedding, we got to travel 400+ miles to where my prospective in-laws lived. As did most of the wedding party.) And a substantial majority of the attendees will be the bride's mother's cronies (and their spouses).

The bride does get a veto on her dress, but not a free choice. She does get to pick her maid-of-honor and bridesmaids -- except her mother may decide a couple of cousins simply must be added. The groom gets to pick his best man, and come up with enough groomsmen to match the number of bridesmaids. Beyond that, all he has to do is show up on time, properly dressed (probably in an outfit he didn't pick), and sober enough to repeat his lines. Oh yes, and the bride's father gets to pay for everything.

Alternatively, the couple can "elope." Which, these days, doesn't necessarily mean the families aren't invited. (When my sister got married, we got a message: "I'm eloping to Duluth. Y'all come." We all flew out from California.) It just means the bride and groom are in charge and make all the decisions, (and pay for it).

The reason for ever fancier weddings, with this view, depends on which type it is. For the traditional wedding, it may be partly due to "keeping up with the Joneses" on the part of the bride's family. And, sometimes, partly a way for the bride's family to ignore the awkward (in their minds) detail that the couple have been shacked up for years.

And if it's an elopement, the probable reason is that a wedding is basically just an excuse to throw a big party. So they do.

The mention of “pink” for girls led me to observe that when my own kids were born, I was bemused (okay, dismayed) to realize that the world, or at least US popular culture, had not moved an inch in a direction I would have considered forward, and was still obsessed with pink baby clothes for girls and blue for boys.

Culture does change.

"For example, a June 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw's Infants' Department said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” Other sources said blue was flattering for blonds, pink for brunettes; or blue was for blue-eyed babies, pink for brown-eyed babies, according to Paoletti.

In 1927, Time magazine printed a chart showing sex-appropriate colors for girls and boys according to leading U.S. stores. In Boston, Filene’s told parents to dress boys in pink. So did Best & Co. in New York City, Halle’s in Cleveland, and Marshall Field in Chicago.

Today’s color dictate wasn’t established until the 1940s, as a result of Americans’ preferences as interpreted by manufacturers and retailers. “It could have gone the other way,” Paoletti says."
When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?: Every generation brings a new definition of masculinity and femininity that manifests itself in children’s dress

@CharlesWT: You might call the reversal of pink and blue a first-order change. I'd like to see a second-order change: stop pounding so hard on which gender a child is (or seems to be, or is being railroaded into trying to be....).

@wj: I wouldn't disagree that those two kinds of weddings are major types, but I think there are more. The other major model I'd suggest is where the couple getting married and the parents, especially the mothers, are all heavily involved. Couples, at least among the "young" people I know, are getting married later enough so that they've got established careers, some money of their own, etc. But the parents aren't by any means shut out entirely. Also -- unlike in the insular world I grew up in -- potential invitees may be scattered all over the world instead of concentrated in everyone's same home town. Lots of interesing dynamics.

My experience with my children is the longer they lived together the bigger the wedding. They skipped the whole mother is in charge part and had the wedding they wanted, paid for mostly by them. For my daughter's it was clear that my expectation of what I would pay wasn't a huge fraction of what the wedding would cost, so I just gave it to them to spend as they wished.

My son had ten groomsmen, thus ten bridesmaids. He had participated in 8 of the groomsmen weddings so, turnabout.

All that said, my observation is the transition to permanent status is perhaps even more meaningful today, as young and unprepared are not the norm. So a big party to celebrate an end to the trial period and create a memory is in line with their, at least my kids, life focus on experiences over possessions.

Interesting observation in your last paragraph, Marty.

*****

Just as a sidelight, of the weddings I have been to, my favorite of all the pictures I took was of a table of seven groomsmen, all with white shirts, bowties, and light blue satin vests, alternating between grown men and little boys. So big, little, big, little, etc., right down the table.

I understand the need for ritual, for making a public commitment before one's community, and all that stuff.

What I've never understood is the reason for a hugely elaborate, hugely expensive wedding that stresses everyone out for months on end and turns people into various degrees of Bridezilla. Always seemed like an extraordinary waste of money, time, and energy. Not to mention one hell of a way, and time, to test the relationship of the soon-to-be marrieds.

It's also long been a source of merriment to me that wedding days are routinely described as "the happiest day of [the bride's] life." An implicit assumption that it's all downhill from there? with each successive day being a little less happy?... until death or divorce, presumably.

I think the relentless commodification of everything we do in life is a primary mover of ridiculously expensive weddings. The more money you have, the more of a "Once in a Lifetime!" event the wedding has to be, or your peer group will start gossiping about how your family isn't really one of the gang.

The image of wedding parties got of course
forever tainted by chapter 12(2) and 15 of "Atlanta Nights".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xtc6z57akI&list=PLFxoSpTy7nUNXBYC4kjiASwKjzx-cIhhz&index=16
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcJ6nF8r6JQ&list=PLFxoSpTy7nUNXBYC4kjiASwKjzx-cIhhz&index=20

An implicit assumption that it's all downhill from there?

Heh, great observation, along with the bridezilla stuff.

Reminds me of the amount of eye-rolling I did when my kids were little and it hit me that all the princess (Disney) cartoons -- Little Mermaid etc., but also the ones from my own childhood, ended with either a wedding or the promise of one, as though the wedding was the end of the story instead of just the beginning.

The princess archetype...there's another topic.

Open thread, so:

Goddamit, I watched a few minutes of what looked to be a very interesting interview with James Carville a few days ago, then stopped because I didn't have the time to finish it, and now I can't find it. But this is a very short but worthwhile transcript of it:

https://www.vox.com/22338417/james-carville-democratic-party-biden-100-days

I think Carville is well worth listening to. In my opinion, the Lincoln Project's ads, for example, were much more hard-hitting than anything the Dems came up with in the runup to the election - Rs generally seem much better at that visceral appeal to people's emotions. As he says about Biden's win:

We won the White House against a world-historical buffoon. And we came within 42,000 votes of losing. We lost congressional seats. We didn’t pick up state legislatures. So let’s not have an argument about whether or not we’re off-key in our messaging. We are. And we’re off because there’s too much jargon and there’s too much esoterica and it turns people off.

I really think his is a viewpoint which needs listening to, if the Dems want to hold on to the power to change things in the way most of us here think they should be changed.

Oh, I think this was the interview I was watching:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNewzZo2R38

But (although Carville says some of the same things) it's with someone different.

I'm about to watch it, but I wonder if he says, as he says so wonderfully in the Vox interview:

I always tell people that we’ve got to stop speaking Hebrew and start speaking Yiddish. We have to speak the way regular people speak, the way voters speak. It ain’t complicated. That’s how you connect and persuade.

I really do urge people to read the Vox transcription: there's a good bit about why AOC damages the Dems much more than Marjorie Taylor Green damages the Rs, despite the objective reality.

...gender reveal parties are the most idiotic idea since square wheels.

Thanks for the chuckle.

Making things into major productions unnecessarily seems to be a trend in too many areas. How big of a deal is asking someone to the prom?

I think it’s at least partly because of the ease of recording and broadcasting whatever moment or event with today’s technology. That and reality-TV wealth-porn giving people stupid things to strive for.

I was a co-best man in a “surprise” wedding the summer before last - an overblown engagement party at which a wedding unexpectedly (to most of the guests) took place. As it turns out, it was a relatively modest affair by today’s wedding standards - not that big or overly fancy. But, still, adding the stress of keeping it secret to the usual stress of planning struck me as being silly.

From Wikipedia on Carville:

He is also a media personality with expertise in U.S. elections who continues to appear frequently on cable news programs, in podcasts, and in his public speeches.

What practical benefits are gained by Carville's pundit shtick?

Seems to me it's all about how clever James Carville is, and how dumb all the rest of the Dems are, a narrative that I'm heartily sick of.

I know, I'm scolding about scolding about scolding...but at least McK and I just scold on an obscure blog, whereas Carville is scolding from his platform as an eminence of political consultancy. If there was a way to measure such things, I'd bet that his "the Dems are doin' it 'rong" serenade would turn out to be helping the Rs much more than it's helping the Ds.

If he really wanted to make a difference, maybe he'd be more like the people in this article, most of whom I've never heard of, because they were doing the grindingly hard work of winning an election instead of grandstanding about how to win an election. (This article may have been brought to us by bobbyp, but I'm not sure. I don't tag my bookmarks by where I got them -- though maybe I should.)

I'm so sick of pundits who are high on their own supply of self-regard...which is most of them, it seems like.

By the way, I'm not making a judgment about whether some of Carville's observations are or aren't true (e.g. the effect of "wokeness" in turning people off). I'm just saying that I'm pretty sure the "they don't know how to do this right and I do" narrative doesn't help, and probably hurts.

Of course, this here blog commentary is even more useless, so I think I'll go outdoors. "It's May, it's May, the lusty month of May...."

Yes, that article was fascinating (and terrifying, if it's the one I'm thinking of). But the truth is, I'm much more interested in whether Carville is right than in whether he's high on his own supply, and to me he sounds pretty damn convincing (despite the thickness of his accent, which makes him slightly unintelligible a lot of the time!). I'm really much more interested in whatever will help the Dems win, and be able to enact the kind of policies which I think are preferable, and in my opinion his analysis is very practical in that respect. I only hope that those with the power to set priorities for coming elections agree.

We cross-posted! I only hope that his narrative does help...

e.g. the effect of "wokeness" in turning people off

Carville has this entirely backwards.

'woke' is a word that came from a (ahem) specific subculture and context, and the GOP is trying to use it as an example of how loony all Dems are. and Carville has fallen for that spin.

the Democratic Party (all caps) never talks about being woke. i'd bet most Democrats have never used the word.

the only people talking about 'woke' on TV are Republicans.

it's this year's "caravan".

if Carville has a problem with people being aware of broader racial inequities...? then he really has no business being a Democrat.

What cleek said.

Chiding the same people the Rs are incessantly demonizing somehow doesn't ... help.

No cleek, he's not talking about the word "woke". He's talking about coining expressions like, for example, "Latinx", which he uses as an example that alienates many people who would otherwise back Dem policies like $15 minimum wage, or restoring the vote to felons (both of which policies got 60% or more in a Florida election). He's talking about positions which are seen as "woke" by the ordinary person on the street, as opposed to positions which actually address broader racial inequities and could have broad popular support.

Given how we talk often about how the working class in America consistently votes against their own interests, my own priority would be to try to reverse that, not consolidate it by making it somehow taboo to criticise the people who have been in charge of not very successful messaging to oppose it.

Chiding the same people the Rs are incessantly demonizing somehow doesn't ... help

Actually, it seems to me he rather helpfully talks in places about how to demonise vulnerable Rs more successsfully.

Does he, or do you, actually think the people who coined "Latinx" give a shit what he thinks? Or that they have anything to do with the D party apparatus that runs elections?

Does he really think, or do you think, he's going to make any dent in what the mass of people in the big tent do?

He's talking about positions which are seen as "woke" by the ordinary person on the street, as opposed to positions which actually address broader racial inequities and could have broad popular support.

Seems to me Biden is doing nothing of the former and nothing but the latter. So who is Carville yelling at, some obscure professor at Bard who is in turn high on their own supply?

No cleek, he's not talking about the word "woke".

maybe the full interview is different. but, well, "woke" is in the name of the article and when asked about it, he has strong opinions about it. he even has this to say about why the Democrats won't talk about their 'woke' problem:

Because they’ll get clobbered or canceled. And look, part of the problem is that lots of Democrats will say that we have to listen to everybody and we have to include every perspective, or that we don’t have to run a ruthless messaging campaign. Well, you kinda do. It really matters.

cancelled! woke! Latinx!

he's parroting GOP nutpicking attacks and blaming the entire Democratic party for doing what the GOP says they do. but they don't do that. Joe Biden has probably never said the word "woke" or "Latinx" or "you're cancelled!", Pelosi, Schumer, none of them say that stuff. even Hispanic people hate 'Latinx'. nobody uses it. how can a word that nobody uses be a symptom of a problem in the whole party? it can't be, unless you believe the GOP spin.

Does he, or do you, actually think the people who coined "Latinx" give a shit what he thinks? Or that they have anything to do with the D party apparatus that runs elections?

No. But unfortunately, the Rs (with the connivance of e.g. Fox) have succeeded in making a large part of the population believe the answer to the second question is Yes.

Does he really think, or do you think, he's going to make any dent in what the mass of people in the big tent do?

I don't know whether he thinks so, but I hope he will make a dent with what people running the Dem messaging for elections do.

Seems to me Biden is doing nothing of the former and nothing but the latter.

Carville agrees with you, and goes into some detail about this in the Kristol interview. He also talks about how the "stunning" 2018 young intake should be given more responsibility in the party (committees etc) to start making their mark.

Alas, it seems that more than "some obscure professor at Bard" were under the impression that the Dems wanted to defund the police. If you think the Dems don't need help with their messaging, so be it.

Then let James Carville STFU in public and go behind the scenes to help them with their messaging, instead of framing them, on his huge platform, as a bunch of idiots.

Alas, it seems that more than "some obscure professor at Bard" were under the impression that the Dems wanted to defund the police. If you think the Dems don't need help with their messaging, so be it.

but that's not Dem messaging. that's GOP messaging. they're lying, and successfully, sure.

but the Dems aren't the party of woke Latinx cancel culture; the GOPs caricature Dems are.

the Dems need a way to counter that. but they don't need to stop being that, because they're aren't.

all the princess (Disney) cartoons -- Little Mermaid etc., but also the ones from my own childhood, ended with either a wedding or the promise of one, as though the wedding was the end of the story instead of just the beginning.

So let's hear it for Shrek 2, which starts with the return from the honeymoon. Not to mention the additional sequels.

Actually, the original Shrek was notable, in that the beautiful princess was revealed to have a seriously ugly side. But she gets the happily-ever-after wedding anyway. It was good to see a message for kids that a pretty exterior is not the be all and end all. (And the scene with her taking down Robbing Hood and his Merry Men was simply a delight.)

but the Dems aren't the party of woke Latinx cancel culture; the GOPs caricature Dems are.

I largely agree (although of course a small minority of the Dem coalition is), but a way has to be found to thwart the GOP in their caricature attempts, and in my opinion someone like Carville is much more likely to have insights into how to do that than many in the current Dem hierarchy, if recent events are anything to go by.

Anyway, I'm not Carville's agent. Anyone who thinks his views worthy of attention, go for it. Anybody who doesn't, as I say: so be it.

Does he, or do you, actually think the people who coined "Latinx" give a shit what he thinks?

The problem is that those responsible for that coinage also don't give a shit about what the average voter might think of it. The right wing media engine will find something to demonize Democrats over, regardless. But why insist on handing them ammo?

The right wing media engine will find something to demonize Democrats over, regardless. But why insist on handing them ammo?

This is self-contradictory. If they'll find something regardless, then anything whatsoever is ammo, and we might as well tell the truth. Recognizing (again) that "defund the police" is very very far from being a production of the Dem party apparatus. Which makes contradicting it a dicey proposition: un-alienating one potential set of denizens of the big tent at the severe risk of alienating another set. Simple messaging would be worse than useless, and complex messaging...makes people tune out.

They're demonizing Biden at the moment over a fncking dandelion.

Who is James Carville's audience presumed to be, I'd like to know, that his punditry is supposed to be so very useful and effective at turning the ship?

why insist on handing them ammo?

This is like bemoaning the fact that a variety of provocateurs, common thugs, and exceedingly angry people show up at peaceful protests and break windows (or worse). That diverts a lot of attention from the core message of the protests, but it is part of reality, and therefore part of the challenge that the people working for change have to factor in.

Who on earth is going to stop the professor at Bard from inventing LatinX (I made that up, I forget who invented it), and a bunch of woke college students from hounding people about it on Twitter? No one. That kind of thing is part of reality, and therefore part of the challenge.

And again, if anything, even a dandelion is ammo, then spending a lot of energy worrying about "giving them ammo" is a waste of energy.

Are there really people out there who would vote for (D)'s and support (D) candidates and policies, but decided not to, because AOC said something on Twitter?

Don't know the answer to that, just asking the question.

The thing that seems to make the biggest difference in outcomes is getting people to actually show up and vote. Maybe talking about stuff with jargon like 'woke' etc. de-motivates some folks to actually show up. Then again, maybe it motivates others. I have no idea what the percentages are.

What seems to make a difference is solid organization on the local level, making contact with people at the local level, and getting people to the polls. I'm not sure Carville has much to contribute there.

AOC is a great rep for her district. That's why she *is* the rep for her district. A guy like Fetterman is a great Lt Gov for PA. And that's why he is the Lt Gov of PA. Marty Walsh was a pretty good mayor of Boston, and will probably be a good Sec of Labor, John Tester is a really good Senator from MT, etc etc etc. All of these people use really different language, and present themselves quite differently, to talk about the same basic stuff.

People should be able to live on what they make from their labor, everyone should be included in public life, the impulse of some folks to get filthy stinking rich needs to be balanced against the interests of people at large, the basic and rudimentary requirements of a decent life need to be accessible to everyone. And it's completely appropriate for government and the public sector to take an active role in making all of that happen.

That's the message, in very broad terms.

There isn't one bag of jargon that is going to resonate with everyone. Different people express all of the above differently. Different parts of it are more urgent than others to different people, and when those folks talk about stuff, their own set of priorities is emphasized.

Carville's got a point, jargon-y stuff like 'woke' and 'Latinx' doesn't resonate with a lot of people. Fortunately, not everyone uses it. Most people don't.

Then, of course, logically, the James Carvilles of the world are also part of reality and have to be factored in.....

Turtles all the way down.

Cross-posted with russell. My 12:41 wasn't a response to his 12:41. In case that wasn't already obvious.

This just bugs me, so I'm going to repeat it a different way. "Defund the police" is said to be a problem because it (allegedly?) turns off a significant number of people who might vote D if it weren't for that slogan. But that formulation of the problem ignores the fact that "defund the police" also represents the anguished views of a significant number of people who might decline to vote D if the Ds start to contradict it.

The D party apparatus did not invent the slogan, though certainly they have the tricky challenge of knowing what to do about it now that someone else did. And if you think it's a viable plan to try to stop a million someone elses from inventing things that the Rs will use as ammo, I have a bridge for sale....

if you think it's a viable plan to try to stop a million someone elses from inventing things that the Rs will use as ammo, I have a bridge for sale....

I don't, of course. But I do fantasize about going to some of those who invent those things, and pointing out that, by doing so, they are showing serious unconcern for anybody but themselves (and their little group of like-minded twits). In other words, they are acting exactly like the Republicans who refuse to inconvenience themselves by wearing a mask. Different views, identical behavior.

I don't agree that that's a valid analogy, wj, but I'm too scattered today to work out why in a hurry. Maybe someone else will take the bait. ;-)

Political messaging is complicated. The Rs didn't move the Overton window as far to the right as they have with a decades-long campaign of anodyne, centrist messaging designed to never turn off the meek in the middle. Maybe, hopefully, they've overdone it to the point where the snap-back of the elastic band is going to sting badly, but if they had known where to stop, we might be more stuck than we are.

But extremists have their role. Trailing along behind even something like "defund the police" is a complicated conversation about policy that will have different parameters because some people are asking for the moon. They won't get the moon, but they/we might well get more than we might have gotten without them. (And yes, of course, maybe it will all backfire. Or maybe it won't matter when the planet burns.)

I'd like to see a second-order change: stop pounding so hard on which gender a child is (or seems to be, or is being railroaded into trying to be....).

Such efforts might just collapse under the weight of their own absurdities.
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/04/anti-transgender-laws-backfire-jane-crow.html

All of the tone policing is bullshit. There is no way to police tone with ubiquitous computing and a 24 hour news cycle. Anyone anywhere who says something in public can be boosted by anyone with access, for good or ill. Things said in a classroom of 15 people on a small campus get blown up into scandals by the Troll Armies and Tucker Carlson and Ben Shapiro and the like.

This is not about tone policing. This is an attempt to silence and intimidate. It's propaganda aimed at demonizing ideas and language and at demonizing and silencing experts and intellectuals.

I'm not going to stop talking the way that I talk or arguing the way that I argue online or in my classroom. These contexts matter just as much as the conversations with relatives and friends on social media. The people I am talking to in those conversations need those words and concepts for their survival and growth, and I'm not going to sideline them out of fear that some disgruntled Young Republican in the room is only there to check a box for graduation and looking to score points with partisan friends. I can't do anything about them.

but a way has to be found to thwart the GOP in their caricature attempts

BTW, Biden seems to be meeting this challenge by simply ignoring them.

One of the ancestors of "don't bite hooks" is "Resist not evil." Because (as Danaan used to say using an aikido analogy) resisting evil merely feeds it energy.

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Funny how only one bit of that passage gets quoted.

Biden seems to be meeting this challenge by simply ignoring them.

And the evidence is how upset they are getting that he won't play their game.

From Cheryl Rofer at BJ, a sobering take (by implication) on the conversation we were having in the previous thread.

But hey, don't mask up, things are back to normal.

Where "normal" means it doesn't matter if people go right on dying.

Biden seems to be meeting this challenge by simply ignoring them.

As I said, Carville noted this very approvingly as well.

This is an attempt to silence and intimidate. It's propaganda aimed at demonizing ideas and language and at demonizing and silencing experts and intellectuals.

Always unacceptable. And I note that this is being done in both directions.

I'm not going to stop talking the way that I talk or arguing the way that I argue online or in my classroom.

Nor should you. I didn't like it when sapient tried to police what could be said about the Dems, and I don't like any version of the same approach.

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

I must say, this is where I break from Danaan, who in all respects sounds like a terrific guy and teacher, and from Christ. I am much more with the misquoted

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

which apparently was really said by John Stuart Mill in this form:

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.

I don't myself favour a campaign of anodyne, centrist messaging designed to never turn off the meek in the middle, and from all that I know of Carville, I doubt he does either. In fact, for the Dems to improve their messaging and start to get out from under R attempts to smear them as radical lunatics, I like russell's formulation, which he has often put succinctly, but most recently just above:

People should be able to live on what they make from their labor, everyone should be included in public life, the impulse of some folks to get filthy stinking rich needs to be balanced against the interests of people at large, the basic and rudimentary requirements of a decent life need to be accessible to everyone. And it's completely appropriate for government and the public sector to take an active role in making all of that happen.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Danaan didn't say to do nothing. "Resist" isn't the only option, although I can see that you might interpret the word that way.

But no one else said to "do nothing" either.

But hey, don't mask up, things are back to normal.

it's kindof amazing how short-sighted and selfish humans are.

Yes, you're right: I saw the opposite of "resist" as being "do nothing", because there are so many possible different forms of resistance.

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.

See, for example, the other officers present at the murder of George Floyd.

Yeah, I feel for the fact that they were all raw rookies in the presence of their training officer. But still.

As for what Matthew Arnold said...eh.

At that moment Elrond came out with Gandalf, and he called the Company to him. 'This is my last word,’ he said in a low voice. ‘The Ring-bearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him alone is any charge laid; neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to any servant of the Enemy nor indeed to let any handle it, save members of the Company and the Council, and only then in gravest need. The others go with him as free companions, to help him on his way. You may tarry, or come back, or turn aside into other paths, as chance allows. The further you go, the less easy it will be to withdraw; yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road.'

'Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,' said Gimli.

'Maybe,' said Elrond, 'but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.'

'Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,' said Gimli.

'Or break it,' said Elrond.

James Carville is a has-been hack who had one bright shining moment back in 1992. To those of us who can count, that was nearly 30 years ago.

This may come as news, but a lot has happened since 1992.

Look (as Joe Biden would say), think back to the time you, dear reader, changed your mind on a political question. What process did you go through? Did you speak with friends and acquaintances? Consult public office holders? Go to the google and read up on the issue? Or perhaps it was something more direct? Your factory moved overseas, and you lost your job? Somebody died that shouldn't have due to lack of health insurance? You lost your newly purchased house in 2008? You sense of loss as your community just seems to be no longer the same? Some dolts raised your taxes. There are many reasons that would contribute to a change of opinion about who gets the stuff.

That is the nub of politics, is it not?

But I would wager this...you did NOT change your mind because some undergraduate at Oberlin complained about the food in the cafeteria. You did NOT change your mind because some sociologists started throwing around words like "woke". And you did NOT change your mind because some street activists chanted "defund the police".

As argued here the incessant demand that we all bow to, and spend an overly great amount of time and money chasing imaginary "swing voters" is simply a fool's errand, and bad politics.

For those of you with an investigative mind, I would be curious to know just how many times AOC has uttered the word "woke" in public. I'd bet she's uttered it a lot fewer times than James Carvill has.

chasing imaginary "swing voters"

I suppose it depends on how you define "swing voters." But pretty clearly there are people who, for example, voted for Obama and then voted for Trump. And some who voted for Trump, and then voted for Biden. That, to my mind, is a swing. IMMV

There may not be vast numbers of them. But there are enough to swing an election. For those who care about such things, it may be worthwhile to ask why their party preference changed like that.

Honestly, this is awfully silly. It's not about the word "woke", it's about the phenomenon, and whether its perception is helpful in improving the Dem chances of success in elections, which seems well worth examining. As for AOC, if anything, Carville seems to think quite well of her. What he is interested in is why someone like AOC is so easy for the Rs to saddle with a threatening image, whereas a fruitcake (at the very least, he uses various descriptions) like MTG somehow escapes the same sort of electoral baggage. And clearly, for anybody who wants the Dems to win elections, this is a question worth examining.

I repeat what I copied upthread from his interview:

We won the White House against a world-historical buffoon. And we came within 42,000 votes of losing. We lost congressional seats. We didn’t pick up state legislatures. So let’s not have an argument about whether or not we’re off-key in our messaging. We are. And we’re off because there’s too much jargon and there’s too much esoterica and it turns people off.

I realise that this (with the exception of the final sentence) is deeply upsetting and annoying, but nonetheless it is true. And although you might not agree with his conclusion in the final sentence, and you might despise him for various reasons, this is the nub of the problem which needs to be addressed if the Dems are to win decent majorities, and get stuff done that most of us believe in. Shooting the messenger, even if one particular messenger is (in your opinion) wrong in his prescription, is hardly the way to win back the rather skittish electorate.

What he is interested in is why someone like AOC is so easy for the Rs to saddle with a threatening image, whereas a fruitcake (at the very least, he uses various descriptions) like MTG somehow escapes the same sort of electoral baggage.

IMO, it's because the Dems don't have anything like the GOP myth-making machine that can take a person like AOC and, through coordinated and focused messaging, turn her into a Republican household name and a symbol of everything that's wrong with their caricature of the Dems.

the Dems just don't have the machinery to make MTG a household name. they don't even have the cultlike devotion to the party that could make such a machine work.

the GOP is great at providing their base with a handful of simple (and usually imaginary) things to rally around. "defund the police" was one they chose last cycle, and they hit it hard. they tied it to people who had never come close to saying it. and it worked - voters hated the slogan and a lot of them suspected the Dems wanted to literally, no shit, eliminate police budgets.

One of the major takeaways from my discussion with these voters was their distaste for the slogan “defund the police”. While 80% agreed racism exists in the criminal justice system and 60% had a favorable view of Black Lives Matter, only one participant agreed we should “defund the police”. Another participant was exasperated, “That is crazier than anything Trump has ever said.”

We tried to explain the actual policies behind the slogan “defund the police”. We noted that many activists who use this phrase simply want to reduce police funding and reallocate some of it to social services. One woman interrupted us to say “that is not what defund the police means, I’m sorry. It means they want to defund the police.” “I didn’t like being lied to about this over and over again,” added another woman. “Don’t try and tell me words don’t mean what they say,” she continued. The rest of the group nodded their heads in agreement.

And you did NOT change your mind because some street activists chanted "defund the police".

no, you changed your mind because you thought the Dems actually wanted to do this, because that's what the GOP's relentless (BS) messaging said they did. the GOP says those street activists control the Dem party, and Fox played clips of bottle-throwing antifa 24/7 for 12 months while chanting "this is the Democratic party. this is the Democratic party. this is the Democratic party."

"woke" is today's "defund". they're saturating the sponges of the GOP base's brains with it. that's why McConnell and Carlson and Rubio and Cruz and all the rest of them are repeating it every chance they get.

the Dems? we can't even agree that words matter.

It's entirely possible to be on-message, and yet still "come with 42,000 votes of losing" and lose congressional seats. Those last two figures have more to do with voter suppression and gerrymandering than they do with messaging.

The D message "won" by 7 million votes. The message is, by necessity, a national message inflected by regional concerns. The 42,000 is an artifact of the electoral college results, and the states that count as swing states change from election to election precisely because of the complexities of negotiating the difference between federal and regional concerns.

The loss of seats in the House also probably has more to do with the efficiency gap in voting caused by partisan redistricting than it does with messaging. If the Rs can crowd enough D partisans into safe districts and crowd them just far enough out of "swing" districts, they can win more seats than the percentage of their support warrants.

Then they turn around and blame defeats on messaging, rather than saying that the Rs messaging cannot prevail in an election with a more neutral efficiency gap.

cleek @05.52, I agree with almost everything you say here.

I suppose it depends on how you define "swing voters."

It may well be the case, and even so, there seems to be a good deal of uncertainty.

But that begs the issue under discussion. Just why do these voters switch?

If you tell me it is because Chuck Schumer utters the word "woke" too often, I will have a very hard time taking you seriously. Just as I have a hard time taking James Carvill seriously.

nous @06.04, I'm sure that most of what you say is right; the EC rules, and the gerrymandering, give the Rs an absurd and unfair advantage, given the repeated outcome of the popular vote. Dems will have to win a lot of elections (state and federal) to be in a position to counter all these manifest injustices.

italiexo! as cleek says. Has it worked?


Here's an interesting essay about how Paul Krugman changed his mind on some public issues.

damned italics.

So let’s not have an argument about whether or not we’re off-key in our messaging. We are.

So, basically, let's assume the conclusion and go from there.

Somebody tell me how this is not a classic case of begging the question.

As for what cleek says, I can say that I understand the frustration, but I don't think it is as simple as all that. We can agree that "defund the police" is not the clearest messaging for an election, but:

- That language already exists in the public record in a different context and even if the groups that use that language had pivoted to calling it something clearer, the opposition would pull out the record and accuse them of deception. That's how BLM keeps being characterized as a radical Marxist organization.

- Meanwhile, the groups that have a legitimate grievance with policing get to watch their "allies" backpedal on support and complain about the past missteps, rather than watching their allies having their back in a time of crisis.

How many elections have swung on African-American turnout? Do we really want to abandon our support of them in order to chase rural whites who may choose to believe the lies anyway, or to just decide that the problem is not as important as bathroom bills? That could well leave us without the support of either group.

Meanwhile, the groups that have a legitimate grievance with policing get to watch their "allies" backpedal on support and complain about the past missteps, rather than watching their allies having their back in a time of crisis.

It's perfectly possible to have their backs and be their allies, while explaining (again and again and again if necessary) exactly what you mean, and why "defund the police" isn't it. Again and again and again.

Dems should never abandon their support of African Americans. It is not only a matter of whose electoral support you need, it is a matter of principle, at least until there is racial equality in Amerca - an outcome which seems so far distant as to be impossible to imagine. It should be perfectly possible to disown an idiotic slogan like "defund the police", while still making it clear that grievances against racist policing must be addressed, and racist police must be properly dealt with (prosecuted, and/or ejected from the police force).

Interesting stuff as always. Wanted to make a few observations on weddings, which are kind of a Japan speciality (thank god they haven't decided that gender reveal parties are worthy of that!)
https://savvytokyo.com/the-dos-and-donts-of-a-japanese-wedding/

It seems to me that weddings are a great example of how both meaningful and meaningless gestures get wrapped up into one, making the meaningless gestures important and reducing the meaningful gestures to window dressing. When I got married, I wanted to show both my bride and the people who were in my life that 1) this was a serious committment and 2)that I was proud to be with her. It's easy to see how this becomes a celebration of conspicuous consumption, bent on showing people that you deserve to be on the same economic island as they are.

About Carville, which strangely enough brings up spouses, I don't want to dismiss him, but he's married to Mary Matalin, a conservative commentator. Every profile of the couple has them as 'amazing that they stay together'. This is not to dump on his choice of lifetime partner, but it does indicate that he enjoys that contentious middle ground, so it is unsurprising that he would seek to make it the high ground in political discussion. Yet it sounds like a grumpy old man shtick. Why get all bent out of shape by a term like Latinx, which is simply an attempt to try and understand a group of people without dividing them. What does the term itself hurt? Are Americans so tied up with names of things that they are going to pour gas on themselves and start lighting matches? (unfortunately, the answer to that seems to be yes)

I tend to think that it is not words that matter, it is the intention behind them. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to discern that intention. Like this

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article250844469.html

Fortunately, then this
https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article250836964.html

One wonders what would have happened had there been no video. Or had the representation of the board been less diverse. Unfortunately, the aim is often to present these things shorn of context and history. This is why a number of folks here thought that Dems actually had complained about travel ban because they just didn't like clickbait rather than what they were really doing, calling it out because it was a theatrical gesture that did nothing to keep Americans safe.

About Latinx, here is an interesting article
https://www.motherjones.com/media/2019/06/digging-into-the-messy-history-of-latinx-helped-me-embrace-my-complex-identity/

That one would want to avoid the gendering issues of Latino and Latina seems to be obvious, but I'm guessing that Carville thinks knowing about the grammar of other languages is another hopelessly elitist gesture.

That's an interesting article about Japanese weddings, lj, thanks.

That one would want to avoid the gendering issues of Latino and Latina seems to be obvious

It would be interesting to do a poll of a few thousand Americans (not only politically obsessed ones like us), and see to what percentage this would be so obvious.

And on that note, I'm off to bed. I think James Carville should pay me money. Night all.

Honestly, this is awfully silly.

Well that settles that then.

"Alexa, beg all the questions!"

GftNC - It should be perfectly possible to disown an idiotic slogan like "defund the police", while still making it clear that grievances against racist policing must be addressed, and racist police must be properly dealt with (prosecuted, and/or ejected from the police force).

So BLM Minneapolis says "Defund the Police."

The RW goes all frothy.

The LW says "we don't support actually defunding the police." ...

Now BLM Minneapolis can either say 1) "us neither, we meant this other thing" or they can say 2) that they really did mean it.

If 1) then the RW goes back and argues that they had been saying "defund" for a while in all these other places and pretend that there is no context in which that statement could be reasonable and continue to repeat that talking point the same way they do with all of the "BLM is marxist" and "Obama was a marxist" stuff and the people who were mad about it to start with will probably still stay mad about it.

If 2) then the LW has to decide if they want to a) back BLM by saying that the LW still supports BLM despite BLM's support of defunding the police, or say b) that they don't back BLM and defunding the police, but they do back police reform. If a) then the LW is trying to hide its radical agenda (which is exactly what they already say about Biden anyway). If b) then the LW has thrown BLM under the bus and left them feeling unsupported while still probably having the RW say that the Dems are all socialist marxists who want to abolish the police because look at these journal articles and past press releases.

I've literally watched all of these things happen online, depending on the venue and the groups involved. None of them have worked even in the limited contexts.

"If a) then the [RW will say that the] LW is trying to hide..." etc.

"woke" is today's "defund". they're saturating the sponges of the GOP base's brains with it.

The thing is, "woke" just doesn't work as well. Two problem (for them) with it: 1) there aren't large, visible groups of Democrats saying it, 2) its meaning is objectionable only if you understand what is intended. Sure, the base will be on board. But we're looking at the persuadable voters here. For them, "woke" just isn't particularly scary.

The problem, for the Democrats, with "defund" is that it has a well-understood meaning. Those using it may well intend something else. But, as the quote indicates, for voters not closely following the discussion, "'defund' means defund." Convincing them that the slogan is intended to mean something different is between extremely difficult and impossible.

Not to get all reductionist, but MTG is white and AOC is. . . not. (as “whiteness” is generally taken in the current US political context)

How many elections have swung on African-American turnout? Do we really want to abandon our support of them in order to chase rural whites who may choose to believe the lies anyway

But that's not really the choice, now, is it? The choice is whether to devise a message which will work with the suburban voters who are, potentially, persuadable. So as not to have to abandon the African American supporters.

But that's not really the choice, now, is it? The choice is whether to devise a message which will work with the suburban voters who are, potentially, persuadable. So as not to have to abandon the African American supporters.

But Biden did that. And Harris did that. And Pelosi did that.

And we are still having this discussion.

Which suggests to me that there really is nothing to be done to prevent this.

But Biden did that. And Harris did that. And Pelosi did that.

And we are still having this discussion.

Would it be rude to point out that Biden did that . . . and won.

Sure, we're still having the discussion. But to me that says that some on the left haven't internalized that stark lesson. Pretty clearly, we know what will work in practice. But some resent having to do it.

That one would want to avoid the gendering issues of Latino and Latina seems to be obvious

The thing is, when we talk about "Latin(oax)", were are mostly (not exclusively) talking about people who either speak Spanish, or come out of a Spanish-speaking culture. And the ones who don't mostly come from a Portuguese-speaking culture.

Spanish and Portuguese are gendered languages. English is not. Hence, awkwardness. It's hard to find words rooted in those languages that talk about people in gender-neutral ways.

If we really wanted to address the question of "what should we call them", maybe we should ask them what they prefer to call themselves. There would probably be twenty different answers.

I understand that some of the jargon used to talk about this stuff is off-putting to some people. Language, like every other artifact of culture, has baggage. But words are invented, or are used in specific ways, in order to express ideas that may not be captured as specifically or concisely with other language.

'Woke' as used by folks who use it in a positive sense means 'have an awareness of how racism is embedded in cultural and social institutions of all kinds'. More colloquially, 'we are immersed in it to the point that we are often unaware of it'.

Right?

'Woke' is more concise. And what people mostly object to is the underlying idea - the idea that they may be complicit in racism, without being that aware of it. See also all of the outraged cries of "I'm not a racist".

If the goal is to introduce ideas into public discourse, language is the tool. Right? "99%". "Woke". "Inclusion". Or, conversely, "real American". "Family values". "Makers and takers". This is not an exclusively liberal or left-wing phenomenon.

If the goal is to make tangible changes in public policy, the effective tool appears to be getting people to the damned poll. Ground game, local organization and outreach, get people to show up and vote.

I'm sure there are folks who decided to vote or not, or to vote one way or the other, because somebody somewhere said "woke". I'm fairly sure the number of those folks is relatively small.

Most people are probably gonna vote one way or the other for reasons that don't have all that much to do with nuances of political language. The question IMO is whether more of the folks who are going to vote for people who support policies that are in your interest show up, than show up for the other guy.

If we won, then why are we pretending that this is an issue that needs to be addressed? Accept this and Carville is just wringing his hands over diversity of opinions being allowed.

It would be interesting to do a poll of a few thousand Americans (not only politically obsessed ones like us), and see to what percentage this would be so obvious.

Now you understand my burden as a linguist.

from Carville:
You ever get the sense that people in faculty lounges in fancy colleges use a different language than ordinary people? They come up with a word like “Latinx” that no one else uses. Or they use a phrase like “communities of color.” I don’t know anyone who speaks like that. I don’t know anyone who lives in a “community of color.” I know lots of white and Black and brown people and they all live in ... neighborhoods.

"They" come up with a word like that because they don't want to be taken as speaking to only men (Latino) or only women (Latina). Does Carville think 'they' made up the word just to try and make the good hard working people of America feel like shit?

And about community of color, we used to call the ghettos, which was actually just a different word for neighborhood. But does Carville think that a white neighborhood is just the same as a black neighborhood? Don't mean to be too sarcastic, but don't tell that to Ahmaud Arbery

'Communities of color' ARE different from neighborhoods by virtue of the people who live in them, which itself is an aspect of America's racism. Struggling to find a neutral word that does not demean those who live there and acknowledges the differences is a challenge, but the fact that 'they' are trying reveals a much better intention than those like Carville who would just suggest that a difference in degree can never be a difference in kind.

And given that the bulk of the faculty at these 'fancy colleges' are adjuncts, one can see that Carville is relying on old tropes to further his brand as a 'truth-teller'. Maybe he believes them, but that doesn't make the true.

40% of the classes in the University of California are being taught by lecturers (i.e. adjunct faculty) and another sizable percentage is being taught by graduate student researchers (i.e. TAs). The median salary for adjuncts in the UC system is just under $20k.

A lot of the discourse around race and gender in universities comes from graduate students who are going through a teaching apprenticeship at the very same time that they are being introduced to a lot of these larger concepts. They end up working through these ideas in their teaching, but that means that the undergraduates that they are teaching are probably being given material that they are not yet equipped to understand properly by people who are still struggling with the nuances and long histories themselves. There's room for a lot of confusion there. Fortunately, there's also not a lot of political power within reach, so there's time and space for them all to get things sorted. Or at least there would be if people would leave them well enough alone and not keep dragging them into a public discourse for which the search for understanding is secondary at best to partisan power struggles.

You know what really chaps my hide? Hollow wall anchors.

Last brief comment on language and "wokeness" for the moment. A lot of times people cannot see the possibility of difference until someone invents the language to express that difference and invite the possibility.

And a lot of complaints about exclusive language are complaints about the possibilities that the exclusive language opens up.

A lot of times people cannot see the possibility of difference until someone invents the language to express that difference and invite the possibility.

And so "woke" may be a useful coinage. I'm not totally convinced, but I certainly acknowledge the possibility.

In contrast, "defund" really has nothing that I can see to recommend it. Rather than being new language to facilitate communication, it's language that inhibits communication and facilitates misunderstanding.

wj, I think you acknowledge the problem that is being addressed by the term 'defund the police', so what would be a better way to say it? De-militarize? Disarm? Cutback?

Defund inhibits communication because the assumed tropes are so deep.

You know what really chaps my hide? Hollow wall anchors.

Not the hollow walls ?

You ever get the sense that people in faculty lounges in fancy colleges use a different language than ordinary people?

Yes.

As do business executives, engineers, musicians, attorneys, cops, marketing consultants (especially marketing consultants), physicists, bikers, doctors, and long haul truckers.

And, political pundits.

A lot of people who voted for Obama voted for Trump. That seems highly weird to me, but I’m sure they have their reasons. A lot of those people probably voted for Biden.

If we, or specifically the (D) party, would like them to vote for people like Obama and Biden going forward, instead of voting for Trump or whatever Trumpish thug the (R)’s cough up in 2024, they would be much better served by worrying less about whether they should say ‘woke’ or not, and more about whether there is a solid (D) ground organization where those folks live.

The consistent story from (D) organizers in so-called ‘red’ areas was not that all this talk about woke-ness was alienating their people. I’m sure that was an issue, but it isn’t what seemed to be the make-or-break thing. The consistent story was that the national party was ignoring them, had written them off as a lost cause, and was spending all of their money and attention on the easy pickings in traditionally (D) areas.

No money, no people, no attention, no support. No organized ground game.

People in traditionally (D) areas who turned out for Trump say similar things. ‘He showed up’. ‘He listened to us’.

You have to show up and you have to listen to people. Then you have credibility. When you have credibility, people are less inclined to sweat stuff like whether somebody said ‘woke’ or ‘Latinx’.

If the Carvilles of the world really want to make a difference, they’d do better by putting aside the obsessive dissection of “the message” and focus instead on supporting local and regional (D) organizations in areas where people aren’t already going to vote for (D)’s.

Show up and listen. Then the ‘appropriate language’ will be pretty easy to identify. In some places, it will be ‘woke’, because long-standing cultural and social habits of racial disparity actually are a pressing issue in those places. In other places it will be something else, maybe more focused on economic fairness.

But unless you show up, nobody is gonna believe you, no matter what you say.

It's just struck me that GftNC's introduction of criticisms of the Democratic Party was an ingenious reinterpretation of the title of the post.

And here I thought that "xenophobia, racism, incompetence and corruption" was the excuse for the Partei Of Trump.

Or an excuse for drinking heavily. Or both!

"woke" is a weird little word. but what it describes should be inoffensive.

unfortunately, the GOP has decided it needs to pretend (per russell) that racism is not embedded in cultural and social institutions of all kinds. it's pretending there's no such thing as systemic racism, and that any evidence that looks like systemic racism is really just the collective reasonable response of white people to the bad behavior of blacks in general.

sure that is the exact definition of systemic racism, but since it lets "conservatives" shift the blame for it to the victims, they get to pretend they're not doing anything wrong. and that's all that matters, since conservatism is, above all things, avoidance of shared responsibility.

You have to show up and you have to listen to people. Then you have credibility.

I believe this 100%. But that doesn't mean that you (for some subset of "you") don't have to think about the message. The abysmal Dem ground game in large areas of the country must be addressed, but in combination with that, showing you have concerns that align with your potential voters' concerns is absolutely necessary.

Words like "woke", as I kept trying to explain, are not the issue. (Speaking for myself, I find it a useful word to describe a set of concerns.) It is the phenomenon of disproportionate attention to those kind of concerns (terminology for racial groups, terminology for proliferating gender identities etc) which is possibly (or probably) alienating large swathes of potential Dem voters.

Again, and for the avoidance of doubt, I am not in any way against refining this kind of terminology, or showing solidarity with minorities. What I am talking about (and I think Carville was talking about) is the greater value in the pursuit of electoral success of concentrating the message on the kind of core Dem values which russell here, but others elsewhere, articulate so well.

There is no doubt that the Dems are handicapped by not having the bullhorn of Fox et al. And it is absolutely true that whatever the Dems' message is it will be distorted, caricatured and just outright lied about by the Rs and their media lackeys. But pre-warned is pre-armed - ways must be found to mitigate against this if entrenched R government in the US is to be avoided.

And one of the ways to be pre-armed, is in the messaging. "Black Lives Matter" is an excellent message, it is easily defended if it needs to be, and I think most people except out-and-out racists understand it. "Defund the police" is worse than useless (because actively damaging, except to woke people who understand its history), and while "Demilitarise the Police" is a start, I am sure better can be found - particularly since one of the most important things to get across is that the police need to be colour-blind.

I do think that thrashing through these problems is necessary; there is something very chilling about the feeling that any criticism is unsayable, and renders the messenger outside the pale.

I do think that thrashing through these problems is necessary; there is something very chilling about the feeling that any criticism is unsayable, and renders the messenger outside the pale.

Does criticizing criticism count? Carville criticizes someone, we criticize him. That's "chilling"? So it's our criticism that should be suppressed?

Really?

After all this, I still think he should STFU and go, for example, help Stacey Abrams register some voters. That's "chilling," to wish that he'd go make himself actually useful instead of preening before the cameras to say he knows better? Stacey Abrams and her ilk rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Carville just sits there saying that everyone else should get to work.

Also, maybe the messenger has rendered himself outside the pale by decades of "I'm smarter than everyone else and I'll be glad to tell you about it" punditry.

You, GftNC, have written again and again in this passive voice form: ways must be found to mitigate against this if entrenched R government in the US is to be avoided.

There are many, many kinds of effort that go into winning elections. Many of them have been cited in this thread, so I won't make another list. Many of them are unexpected, unpredictable, and ineffable.

But "messaging" seems to me to be the most utterly mushy, unknown, and uncontrollable one of all.

No one can stop a bunch anguished activists in some US city where another cop has shot another Black person from inventing a phrase that will turn off some people.

No one can stop the right wing loony tunes machine from fastening on that phrase, or a dandelion, to demonize Democrats.

You're arguing passionately and as immovably as a boulder in favor of someone doing something about "messaging," and in the context saying that James Carville knows what he's talking about in that regard.

Most of the rest of us distrust and/or dislike Carville and (may I go this far?) think he's doing more harm than good, and part of the reason he's doing more harm than good is that he's doing the Rs' work for them. "Oh look, these stupid Dems, they don't know how to do slogans right!" If that's "chilling," so, as you said yourself, be it.

Also, the "chilling" comment made me think of the Gish Gallop in a roundabout sort of way.

You can't counter the Gish Gallop on Gish's own terms. If you try to counter the likes of Carville on his own terms, you get something like what we're doing here: a long argument that eventually is just going in circles. Maybe someone is learning something from it at first, but after a while it's just entertainment. For the practical purpose of getting Ds elected, it's probably more efficient to just say "James Carville should STFU" at the beginning. Or maybe to just say nothing, and keep on registering voters (etc.).

Is it silencing people in a chilling way to simply refuse to listen to them? Rs would say so if it were an R being ignored, that's where "cancel culture" came from....

GFTNC,

A classic example of "messaging" by an actual elected, and powerful, Democrat is found here.

This is, simply put, both bad politics and bad policy.

So, is it the "messaging" or the policy that is doing the most harm in this instance?

Discuss.

You, GftNC, have written again and again in this passive voice form: ways must be found to mitigate against this if entrenched R government in the US is to be avoided.

I argue in the passive voice because I am not American, and not in a position to act. But it seems to me that there are several different types of "the work" which need to be done. Stacey Abrams is brilliant at one kind, and has achieved miraculous results (two Dem senators in Georgia!). More power to her, and anybody who can join her, or do the same. But that is not the only kind of work to be done, your opinion of "messaging" notwithstanding. And as for whether James Carville knows what he's talking about in that regard, opinions obviously vary.

Alas, nobody needs to do the Rs' work for them, they're horrifyingly good at that themselves. Carville is a big boy, and won't feel the chill. But this degree of pushback purely for just considering that his analysis has some merit is chilling to me - it is beginning to feel as if giving him any credence at all is a thoughtcrime.

So it's not okay (wj says it's like not wearing a mask) for activists to invent a slogan that turns out -- allegedly -- to be harmful to Dems' electoral chances, but it's okay for James Carville to air what might be called the Dems' internal disagreements in a way that might also harm D electoral chances?

Airing family dirty laundry in public:

Tara Westover
JD Vance
Meghan Markle and her sidekick

and now

James Carville.

*****

As to the pushback -- are you saying it's okay for you to hold hard and implacably to your original opinion, but it's not okay for the rest of us to do that?

We (for some value of "we") don't agree with you.

"Thoughtcrime"?

Seriously?

Also, it's not like the comments haven't included thoughts about messaging as such. It's not like anyone is saying "I don't like Carville so I'm going to ignore his message." It's more like "I don't like Carville" and "I don't agree with his message in any case."

Two separate things.

There many, many factors involved in electoral politics, and apparently some of us think there are ways to get much better ROI than by obsessing about messaging, especially obsessing about it with a strong flavoring of "Ds are doin' it wrong."

it's okay for James Carville to air what might be called the Dems' internal disagreements in a way that might also harm D electoral chances?

But I don't agree that this is what he is doing. As I am sure you must have gathered by now, I think his analysis contains seeds that could improve D electoral chances.

Further to which, unlike you I do not have a problem with airing family dirty laundry in public - I think it's often a very good idea. But as to Carville (or anybody else) giving ammunition to the Rs, I think this is irrelevant: they invent their own ammunition, faster than it can be given to them.

I think it's okay for me to hold hard and implacably (although this seems a somewhat exaggerated description) to my original opinion (which, to restate, is that there may well be some merit to some of Carville's arguments), and it's okay for the rest of you (or you) to do the same. Sometimes we may (or may not) have our opinions changed, but I think there is value in exchanging opposing opinions in a forum where disagreement doesn't get personal because we assume goodwill in each other. And I believe accusing someone (a liberal Dem partisan - I'm talking about me, but of course this could apply to Carville too) of favourably considering arguments which are likely to damage Dem electoral chances verges on the personal.

If that was not your intention, I am glad. But feeling that that was what I was being "accused" of doing (I put it in quotes, because it felt, perhaps paranoidly, like an accusation) was what gave me the impression of thoughtcrime, as if there was an "approved" way to talk about the Dems' electoral strategies, and I was not talking within it.

If that was not your intention

That was not my intention.

And with that, I'm out.

there's room for both Carville's approach and BLM's approach (and many others', too), because the target audience is large and heterogeneous.

Carville's complaints here just sound a bit too much like the GOP's attacks on their imaginary Democratic Party, IMO.

i don't want him to go away. i just think he's mistaken about this.

GFNC,

What cleek said.

I would offer that the conflation of "defund the police" with "Democratic messaging" is the nub of the problem. There are, for all intents and purposes, virtually NO Democrats, especially those holding or running for elective office, who use or used "defund the police" as a political message. So if you feel it important to discuss better ways of "messaging" it might be helpful to discuss the messaging actually employed by Democrats rather than some messaging you disagree with, but no actual existing Democrats use.

Fair enough?

That was not my intention.

As I say, I'm glad. And therefore, I apologise for my unwarranted defensiveness. As you said upthread, this argument just becomes circular.

cleek, I agree wholeheartedly with your first paragraph.

bobbyp, fair enough.

It is the phenomenon of disproportionate attention to those kind of concerns (terminology for racial groups, terminology for proliferating gender identities etc) which is possibly (or probably) alienating large swathes of potential Dem voters.

I think this is true - my sense is that there are a lot of people in geographic areas and/or demographics that have been historically (D), but who voted for e.g. Reagan, and Bush, and Trump, who did so at least in part because they felt like the (D)’s were all about “identity politics” and had lost their focus on the traditional (D) constituency of working people.

There may even be some justification for that, although I think it has less to do with a (D) focus on race, and more on a (D) strategy of doubling down on low-hanging electoral fruit in larger urban areas.

And even given all of that, I would personally not want the (D)’s to back down from their current focus on issues of race and the inclusion of marginalized people in public life.

To put a point on this, and with specific reference to Carville, IMO his candidate Bill Clinton made some headway by stepping back from a full-throated support of minority interests, and in particular the interests of American blacks. And part of the legacy of that was legislation targeting mythical “super-predators” that resulted in a generation of mass incarceration of minorities.

I do understand the point you’re making in this thread, I just think there’s only so much ground you can give before you lose the point of why you were in the game in the first place.

Too many people have been on the outside looking in, for too long. And for sure, a lot of the people on the ‘outside looking in’ are white, but I’m not sure cutting other folks loose just to get their support is worth the candle. Hard to measure these things, but that’s my opinion.

It’s always the economy, stupid, but it’s also always making sure everyone gets a seat at the table.

I still think he should STFU and go, for example, help Stacey Abrams register some voters.

No money in that, though.

russell, I don't think you have to give ground. You make it very clear that you are against discrimination, and for inclusivity, and then you restate traditional Dem values about adequate compensation for work, adequate labour protections, access to healthcare, strengthening of the social safety net etc etc. These apply equally to people of all ethnicities and genders, and your messaging can spell that out explicitly. When you come to talk about taxing the super-rich, your target audience will not, I think, be concerned about the inherent racial disparities.

...who did so at least in part because they felt like the (D)’s were all about “identity politics” and had lost their focus on the traditional (D) constituency of working people.

My version of this is somewhat different.

There is a related phenomenon in the more conservative states that have ballot initiatives: voters will approve Dem-favored initiatives while voting for Republicans for the state legislative seats. Examples include AZ approving a redistricting commission years ago, MO a minimum wage hike, NE Medicaid expansion. Yet in those same elections, the state legislature remained solidly red.

The common factor is, I claim, that the Republicans have successfully tied a lot of baggage to the "coastal Democrat" label. Obama was a Midwesterner and a relative newcomer on the national stage. Also a world-class orator, and it was hard to hang the baggage on him. I also Biden has the same property. He's an old, nice, white guy who has been around forever. As anecdotal evidence, read some of the posts and comment threads at LG&M, and consider the number of people there who are just stunned by Biden's progressive policy proposals so far.

Not to get all reductionist, but MTG is white and AOC is. . . not.

If AOC is not white, does that make her guilty of cultural appropriation?

Michael Cain: that's interesting, but there's something about it that I find confusing, or incomplete.

Throughout this thread, I've been tempted to quote the saying, "All politics is local" -- and your mention of state-level races evokes that thought again.

But you shifted from talking about state legislative seats to talking about Obama and Biden, i.e. national candidates. Most D candidates for state-level offices are presumably as local as their R opponents, so how or why are they going down to defeat because they're being mistaken for coastal elites?

It would be easier to imagine that Obama and Biden, as national candidates (and Biden as an actual true-to-life coastal "elite" (at least in the political sense)) could get tarred that way.

Could you flesh out the mechanisms a little more? Policy is one thing, but a "D" by the name on the ballot just evokes a knee-jerk response?

??

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