Tom Nichols explains why he’s leaving the GOP to become an Independent

Tom Nichols is (or was) a “never Trumper” Republican who is a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and teaches at the Harvard Extension School. (Wikipedia also informs us that he’s “a five-time undefeated Jeopardy champion.”) He writes a lot for The Atlantic, and in its pages this week he tells us why he’s leaving the GOP (he left once before in 2012, but now is leaving for good). He’s not becoming a Democrat, but an Independent; still, this shows that some Republicans can change their minds.

And the article has a lot to say about both parties, with Nichols not leaving the Democrats unscathed. Click on the screenshot to see what he said:

His reasons are multifarious, but center on the Kavanaugh affair, which made Nichols realize that the GOP has no substantive goal beyond power itself.

It was Collins, however, who made me realize that there would be no moderates to lead conservatives out of the rubble of the Trump era. Senator Jeff Flake is retiring and took a pass, and with all due respect to Senator Lisa Murkowski—who at least admitted that her “no” vote on cloture meant “no” rather than drag out the drama—she will not be the focus of a rejuvenated party.

. . . Politics is about the exercise of power. But the new Trumpist GOP is not exercising power in the pursuit of anything resembling principles, and certainly not for conservative or Republican principles.

Free trade? Republicans are suddenly in love with tariffs, and now sound like bad imitations of early-1980s protectionist Democrats. A robust foreign policy? Not only have Republicans abandoned their claim to being the national-security party, they have managed to convince the party faithful that Russia—an avowed enemy that directly attacked our political institutions—is less of a threat than their neighbors who might be voting for Democrats. Respect for law enforcement? The GOP is backing Trump in attacks on the FBI and the entire intelligence community as Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on the web of lies, financial arrangements, and Russian entanglements known collectively as the Trump campaign.

And most important, on the rule of law, congressional Republicans have utterly collapsed. They have sold their souls, purely at Trump’s behest, living in fear of the dreaded primary challenges that would take them away from the Forbidden City and send them back home to the provinces. Yes, an anti-constitutional senator like Hirono is unnerving, but she’s a piker next to her Republican colleagues, who have completely reversed themselves on everything from the limits of executive power to the independence of the judiciary, all to serve their leader in a way that would make the most devoted cult follower of Kim Jong Un blush.

. . . But whatever my concerns about liberals, the true authoritarian muscle is now being flexed by the GOP, in a kind of buzzy, steroidal McCarthyism that lacks even anti-communism as a central organizing principle. The Republican Party, which controls all three branches of government and yet is addicted to whining about its own victimhood, is now the party of situational ethics and moral relativism in the name of winning at all costs.

These are truefacts, but, as I said, Nichols doesn’t spare the Democrats. And I have to admit that, as a registered Democrat, I was embarrassed at my own party’s behavior at the hearings, especially that of Dianne Feinstein, who seems to be in her dotage. For my party, too, it seemed to be more about getting revenge for their own failed Supreme Court nomination than about getting at the truth. It was grandstanding. Here’s Nichols, and I agree with him here on the Democrats’ behavior during the hearing.

As an aside, let me say that I have no love for the Democratic Party, which is torn between totalitarian instincts on one side and complete political malpractice on the other. As a newly minted independent, I will vote for Democrats and Republicans whom I think are decent and well-meaning people; if I move back home to Massachusetts, I could cast a ballot for Republican Governor Charlie Baker and Democratic Representative Joe Kennedy and not think twice about it.

But during the Kavanaugh dumpster fire, the performance of the Democratic Party—with some honorable exceptions such as Senators Chris Coons, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Amy Klobuchar—was execrable. From the moment they leaked the Ford letter, they were a Keystone Cops operation, with Hawaii’s Senator Mazie Hirono willing to wave away the Constitution and get right to a presumption of guilt, and Senator Dianne Feinstein looking incompetent and outflanked instead of like the ranking member of one of the most important committees in America.

Well, I won’t dwell on the Democrats’ missteps, as at least they were on the right side. And I’ll still keep voting for them. But if they ever want to regain power in at least one branch of the government, they have to clean up their act. Who’s running that railroad?

Lesson: there are some Republicans capable of reason and adhering to principle. They’re just very few. 


  1. skrooeylooey
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    The Democrats didn’t have a “failed” Supreme Court nomination. McConnell (AKA the gravedigger of American democracy) wouldn’t allow the Garland nomination to go through the process.

    • Posted October 8, 2018 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      That’s what I meant. There was a nomination, and it failed because of GOP opposition.

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Nice piece by Nichols. It’s got some spot-on analysis, and a freshness of expression and bouncy rhythm to boot.

  3. harrync
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    “Lesson: there are some Republicans capable of reason and adhering to principle. They’re just very few.” Reminds me of the story about the Adlai Stevenson supporter telling Adlai “Every thinking person will vote for you.” Adlai responds “Yes, but I need a majority to win.”

    • gluonspring
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 3:57 pm | Permalink


    • Rita Prangle
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink


  4. Independent Democrat
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I was an independent pre-2016, when the nomination of Trump and the subsequent cow-tailing of his sycophants lead me to become a Democrat. At my core, I am against “joining tribes” as Sam Harris put it, but in this moment in time, I think that is precisely what is needed to combat the overreach of power we are seeing on the other side. In a world where the GOP controls a majority in every branch of government, I feel compelled to vote straight-ticket blue. That may change after 2020, but for now, I have no reservations voting that way. Will I end up voting for a few candidates with questionable policies in some areas? Absolutely. Are those policies more worrisome than rampant blind nationalism, assaults on church-state separation, and hostility toward facts,truth, and civility? There is no reason to throw the baby out, especially when the politicians on the other side have shown no interest in challenging their newly appointed God-in-chief. As one MAGA-rally attendee put it: “it’s Jesus, then Trump”. I foresee America surviving the Trump presidency thanks to Democrats taking the house and holding things in check just long enough to correct our mistake in 2020. The question will be how much of the damage already done (environmental policy, supreme court, gas lighting, erosion of trust in free press, bipartisanship, etc.) will have long-lasting effects, and how quickly will we recover?

    • gluonspring
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you here. I never even considered joining a political party before 2016. After 2016, I feel there is a deep crisis that needs to be met with the only force that has any chance to meet it, and that’s the Democratic party. In the last month I have made donations to three Democratic candidates, my only political donations in my middle-aged life.

      I don’t think the crisis will end with Trump himself. Trump is a symptom of a bigger disease, the most visible and hard to ignore endpoint of a couple of decades of increasing GOP radicalization. Nixon’s southern strategy is one marker. Gingrich’s scorched earth approach, complete with a demagogue’s guide to political discourse that he promoted (don’t call your Dem opponents wrong, he said, call them evil, traitors, depraved) is another. Relying on the religious fundamentalists for a key block of support means a radical know-nothing element is indispensable for the GOP. And those folks have been using the demagogue’s language Gingrich promoted since the dawn of time, so they were hot to go with that prescription.

      Throw in radical right wing media and the GOP is a party just waiting for a demagogue. Unless the defeat is catastrophic, and lasts several election cycles, once Trump is gone the GOP will just be waiting for the next demagogue. So I am resigned to having to support 100% Democratic candidates for at least the next dozen years, probably longer.

      • Rita Prangle
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        I don’t understand what is so terrible about joining a political party, it’s not like you sign up for a lifetime membership! You look at each party’s platform each year and decide which party’s platform is most closely aligned with your goals. Then you register as whatever party you’ve chosen. In most states, you must do that in order to vote in that party’s primary elections that give you a further voice in the direction that party goes. In order for these party choices to be available to you there must be a party structure in place, so I think it’s something more than just a “tribal” inclination in operation here. So you may be a principled independent (a tribe in itself) or maybe a freeloader. It could be a little of both.

        • gluonspring
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I was a freeloader. I’m confessing a sin here, one I’ve repented of, not expressing my disdain for parties.

          I suppose I do have a disdain for *elements* of both parties, and so I’ve been reluctant to embrace a label that will cause people I know to lump me in with those elements. That still makes me feel a little reluctant, but what I’m saying is that I have been shaken out of the complacency that allows such secondary considerations to influence me.

        • Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

          I agree. We should view signing up with a party in the way you suggest here. It should not be a matter of pledging blind allegiance to a party no matter what they stand for, as many Trump and GOP voters did, but a purely practical issue. Allegiance to ideals!

  5. Posted October 8, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    So, he left flamboyantly before, and is leaving flamboyantly again. I eagerly await his next departure, when he will doubtless up the Kim Jong Un rhetoric.

    • Randy Bessinger
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Don’t denigrate Trump’s newest bestest buddy Kim that way.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Guess Nichols would rather be outside the tent pissing in, rather than inside the tent watching white nationalists piss all over what used to be the Grand Old Party’s principles.

      • Posted October 8, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        Then why didn’t he leave when Trump won the nomination? I mean, if he is leaving now, he must have been a member then, no? Or does he leave the party every few months?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

          He was a never-Trumper, but he still clung to his Republican Party registration — the way many Republicans who renounced Trump continued to cling to their registration in the hope the Party might survive Trumpism. An increasing number of those never-Trumpers are abandoning the Party outright, however, now that they see Trump has claimed it as his own completely, lock, stock, and barrel-of-monkeys.

          • gluonspring
            Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

            I think a lot of them have yet to come to grips with how thin the veneer of the “Grand Old Party’s principles” really was, and this has led them to keep holding out for a return to principles that never really held any political clout in the party. The “intellectual” commentariat seems especially blindsided. I think they assumed that the party was made up of people like them, free market, anti-communist, pro-freedom world wide, internationalists. That is, they thought they were leading the party instead of just giving it a thin coat of whitewash.

            I confess that I too was a bit suckered by the act. I’d read thoughtful conservatives and think, “If the GOP could eject it’s retrograde elements I could support some of this”. I can remember after the 2012 GOP “autopsy” report on their loss thinking, “Maybe now they will join the 21st century”. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

            Reflecting, I think it’ll not end with Trump either. The GOP was ripe for a demagogue. If Trump is defeated in an election, it’ll still be ripe for the next demagogue. Only losing like three or four presidential elections in a row can provide enough disciplinary feedback for the GOP to reorganize their coalition to not rely on a radical fundamentalist and white nationalist base.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

              The big risk there is that the next demagogue might actually be competent, coherent, organised and not repulsive.

              Then you’ll never shift him. 😦


            • XCellKen
              Posted October 8, 2018 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

              Actually, the Dems have won seven outta the last eight presidential elections (92, 96, 00, 08, 12, 16). Well, the won the popular vote…

              • XCellKen
                Posted October 8, 2018 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

                Meant six outta seven. Duh !!!

              • gluonspring
                Posted October 8, 2018 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

                And they held the office four outta the last eight times. Dems have only held the WH 4 out of last 10 times. Whatever you call that, I don’t think it’s “winning”.

                The defeats the GOP needs to feel to reform, or just be stopped, are not symbolic defeats, or opinion polls that reliably show people don’t like their agenda, it’s raw defeat at controlling the levers of power.

          • Posted October 8, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

            Didn’t Jerry say he quit in 2012? When did he rejoin?

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted October 8, 2018 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

              Not sure what you’re referring to; our host is a life-long Democrat.

  6. Posted October 8, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t Joe Kennedy the vaxxer?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Is ‘vaxxer’ a term of abuse? Joe Kennedy III is quite rightly a vaxxer [pro vaccination] & it’s Robert Kennedy Jr. who is the poorly informed [or determinedly, purposefully uninformed] fringe anti-vaxxer.

      • Posted October 8, 2018 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for the clarification. Yes, vaxxer l8ke birther l8ke truther is a term of abuse. At least it is when I use it 🙂

        • Randy Bessinger
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

          Bill Gates tried to set Trump straight on vaccinations, no?

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

          Ken B. This language of yours is opaque & needs your decoding please:

          “Yes, vaxxer l8ke birther l8ke truther is a term of abuse.”

          [1] I know “vaxxer” = pro-vaccination & if that’s a term of abuse to you then I suppose you are an anti-vaxxer?
          [2] I know what a birther is [Obama place of birth & nationality dispute]. I know what a truther is [9/11 an inside CIA job or Jewish conspiracy or illuminati or whatever]. But what’s an “18ke birther” & an “18ke truther”
          [3] How have I clarified the matter for you?
          [4] Who then is the “vaxxer l8ke birther l8ke truther” you are referring to?

          • Diane G
            Posted October 9, 2018 at 1:57 am | Permalink

            I thought he was just hitting the “8” when he meant to hit the “i.”

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted October 9, 2018 at 2:30 am | Permalink

              Aha! not number 18+ke, but li+ke
              Very good – numeral 1 & lower case letter l are indistinguishable on my small screen
              Strange making the mistake twice, but I’m sold on your explanation Detective G.

              • Diane G
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 12:44 pm | Permalink


  7. Historian
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I would agree that the Democrats have been quite “outpoliticked” by the Republicans for at least the last three decades. They don’t just have the instinct to go for the jugular. This is why I am quite nervous as to whether we will actually see a blue wave.

    However, in regard to the Kovanaugh nomination, it wouldn’t have mattered how competent the Democrats would have been. No votes would have been changed.

  8. tomh
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    So, after being part of the Republican morass that led us to this point, being sure to blame Democrats as well, Nichols now rises above it all. The column reminds me of the xkcd cartoon on atheists and fundamentalist Christians. “The important thing is that you’ve found a way to feel superior to both.”

  9. Giancarlo
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Nichols describes the Democratic Party as having totalitarian instincts. Really? Compared to what, a flock of cats? That just sounds like sloppy, blanket fear-mongering to me. Not to mention the fact that any whiff of political malpractice, which the Democrats seem abundantly capable of when they repeatedly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, would completely undermine any capacity for totalitarianism.

    • Giancarlo
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Clowder, duh. Clowder of cats. Gotta be careful around here with my terminology…

    • gluonspring
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      The party’s actual leaders are very milquetoast and not imbued with totalitarian instincts. But there is on the fringes some element of “we’ll coerce you into the right view” which is kind of authoritarian.

      The key difference between the authoritarian elements in the Democratic party and those in the GOP is that those in the Democratic party are on the fringes, those in the GOP are totally mainstream, all the way up to the President and Supreme Court. And that’s a HUGE difference, which makes comparing the *parties* on authoritarianism laughable, as you say.

  10. Neil Wolfe
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m so tired of being a Democrat by default.

    • BJ
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      As am I.

    • gluonspring
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      Buckle up, then, you’ve got a long haul ahead.

      I’m pretty sure the GOP is going to be too awful to touch until it loses *at least* three presidential elections in a row, probably four. It’ll take that much pain for them to jettison their core fundamentalist and white nationalist constituencies.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        So a Republican version of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone? 🙂

        The Republicans have lost six of the last seven popular votes in presidential elections. It’s only the electoral college, the undemocratic senate, ruthless gerrymandering of House districts, voter suppression, and cold-blood deployment of congressional parliamentary rules that’s given it control of all three branches of government.

        But even those tactics can’t keep it in power much longer given its shrinking demographic base of white men — although its internal dynamics may tear the GOP apart even sooner.

        • gluonspring
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          I think we underestimate how long they can hold onto counter-majoritarian power at our peril.

          With a solid court behind them, and a slightly more competent demagogue than Trump, all sorts of things are possible. We’ve seen it in other countries. It’s hubris to assume we are immune.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

          Republicans have only lost five of the last seven presidential popular votes. Sorry for the miscount.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

            Should be “… lost only …” (I know our host is a stickler about the misplacement of “only.”) 🙂

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 8, 2018 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

            Hell, I was right the first time six of seven: Clinton, Clinton, Gore, [Busch], Obama, Obama, Clinton.

        • mordacious1
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

          You know that Trump got 53% of white women who voted? The last poll I saw, gave him support of 25% of African Americans, 31% among Hispanics and 41% among Asians. You can’t win the White House if only white men vote for you.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 8, 2018 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

            Trump won just 8% of the black vote, 28% of the Hispanic vote, and 27% of the Asian vote in 2016. Since taking office, he has been losing support among college-educated white women.

            But the point here is that the Republicans’ traditional demographic base of support is shrinking. This is not subject to reasonable dispute.

            It is also not open to dispute that many, many more Americans — millions — will vote for Democratic candidates over Republicans in next month’s election. The only question is whether these millions more Democratic votes will be sufficient to overcome the Republicans’ institutional and gerrymandered advantages.

            • tomh
              Posted October 8, 2018 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

              Exactly right about gerrymandering. Beyond that, going by past midterms, about 40 percent of eligible voters will vote this November. Millions more would vote if (Republican) state legislatures hadn’t enacted restrictive laws about whether, how, and when people can vote in a federal election. For some reason America allows state laws to set rules for federal elections.

              Since the Voting Rights Act was gutted by the SC in 2013, Republican legislatures have done everything in their power to limit the opportunity for people to vote. It has paid dividends for them and will likely pay off again in November.

            • Zetopan
              Posted October 13, 2018 at 4:23 am | Permalink

              And overcome the suppression of democratic votes, which is still going quite strong. The supreme court had even assisted that kind of voter suppression a while back.

  11. Posted October 8, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I applaud any defection from the Republican party for the same reason I welcome the White House insider exposées. They send a message to Trump 2016 voters that some on their side have seen the sausage being made by this administration and Congress and have found it very ugly. It also nicely counters the MSM biased fake news meme.

  12. Bend
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Nichols is small potatoes compared to previous GOP defections. The good ones left two years ago. David Frum, Max Boot, George Will, Steve Schmidt, Joe Scarborough. Boot, Will and Schmidt have explicitly called for straight ticket Democrat voting this midterm in order to shock Republicans back into some semblance of sanity or in order to burn the party to the ground so that a principled movement could rise in its place. I’m not saying that Nichols’s piece isn’t true or well written. But it’s been said already (and better) by more prominent voices.

    • gluonspring
      Posted October 9, 2018 at 1:24 am | Permalink

      I think they are all small potatoes compared to what would be needed to make a difference. If George Bush renounced his GOP membership and called for people to vote Democratic, that might drag a measurable percentage of rank-and-file GOP members away from the party. Nothing smaller matters, really.

  13. BJ
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Very good article. It gets at the true problem: in the last decade, both parties have decided that principles are worthless, and only control of the government matters. The Republicans started this with their belligerent opposition to everything Obama did, and they continued it with their blind following of Trump. Meanwhile, the Democrats have jumped on board the polarization train by leaning into their identity politics wing and becoming ever more like the Republicans with how they act in elected positions.

    The last two years should have been an excellent opportunity for the Dems to show that they are the new party of reason and responsibility; a party with ideas and principles; a party interested in governing, rather than simple power and reelection. As usual, they’ve managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and I don’t see any way out of this situation of extreme polarization and two parties who care more about beating each other than governing their country.

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      I don’t see the Dems the last two years as being a party bereft of the criticisms you charge. There are many liberal voices to listen to if the media cares to listen and broadcast. It is clear to me that since all the major MSM networks are owned by the oligarch “Republican” elite, the views, reasons, platform, ideas, principles, interest in governing etc. expressed by Dems are lost. There are a few like Lawrence O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow on MSBN that highlight what the Dems are fighting for and who they are, but that’s just two voices among hundreds.

      Perhaps if Dems regain power (and with solid mandate majorities), their collective voices will be reported with more consistency and accuracy by the monopolized networks (not FOX of course). When a network news-branch’s business model is “if it bleeds it leads” there isn’t a lot of room for rational discourse. And Trump and his administration strive to bleed every day. It might as well be their imperative.

  14. Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    What I don’t understand is why he joined the republicans at all and stayed this long. I have never seen that they ever had any principles. But I admit voting for Ford, Regean twice and Bush in 1992. But not because I thought they had anything to stand for but because if the Democratic Party during those years.
    I voted for Hillary in 2016 not because I wanted yo but because Trump was so bad.
    I fon’t think I can vote for the present Democratic Party but will not vote republican. I think I will stay home or write in my first cousin. He has mental problems himself but is fairly harmless unless unduly agitated.

    • Rita Prangle
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      If you stay home, you’re enabling Trump.

      • Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        That is one way to look at it. Another way is to say if I stay home I am enabling the democrats. Or you could say that I am refusing to aid and abet either party in the destruction of our country.

        • tomh
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

          So, you’re enabling Democrats because if you voted you would vote for Trump? It’s a little confusing. And you’re saving the country by refusing to have anything to do with fixing it. That part is clear.

          • Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

            I am glad you understand that I am saving the country by neither voting republican or Democrat. There are other ways to voice opinions. Third party votes, write ins, or refraining from voting for certain offices sends a message, as surely, clear and certain as voting for one of the two main parties.
            The main parties notice how people vote or whether the vote and react accordingly.

            • tomh
              Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

              “The main parties notice how people vote or whether the vote and react accordingly.”

              I’m afraid they don’t. Third party voters in the last election sent Trump into office without much reaction from a main party besides anger. Equating the two parties both as evil, and not voting for either, simply maintains the status quo. In the present case that means another term for Trump and more Republicans to support him.

              • Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

                Trump is not on the ballot this year. That will be in 2020 maybe, or maybe not. And the Democratic Party May be differing 2020. I said the “present” Democratic Party. Not what they may be like in two years.
                My message to them is they need to regroup, step back and get a plan if they want my vote. Time for them to look at the nation and start addressing the problems if they want the White House back. Right now they don’t have a workable plan and nrutherufo the republicans. I can not vote for someone unless they have a programming can support. I don’t see that anywhere thus year.

              • Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

                I will have to run the numbers in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, but the republic and libertarians together got more votes nationwide than the democrats and the Green Party do nationwide your numbers don’t add up.

        • Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

          Only if you think the Dems will “destroy our country”. What’s your case for that? Is universal healthcare the problem? Would it bother you if our government made it easier for people to go to college? Is raising the minimum wage distasteful to you? Or are you under the impression that Dems want open borders? While I don’t agree with everything every Dem politician stands for, nothing they’ve seriously proposed would “destroy our country”.

          • Posted October 8, 2018 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

            The real problems I see are the trade deficit, the budget surplus, the national debt, and the shrinking middle class. The democrats have to come up with proposals to address those problems. I don’t see them doing that.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      “… or write in my first cousin. He has mental problems himself but is fairly harmless unless unduly agitated.”

      Sounds like the ideal vice-presidential candidate. 🙂

      • Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        He is a lot like Mike Pence, come to think of it. 😊

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Just depends what state you live in I guess. If I didn’t vote D. here in Washington, it wouldn’t really matter. But that doesn’t stop me from voting in every election, local and federal. Not voting for Dems at this point for federal positions is a vote for a continuance of tyranny.

      From my point of view (and don’t want to offend, but it’s how I feel based on the evidence) not voting for Democrats at this critical juncture in our democracy is either a position established by privilege, illogical anger, virtue signalling or plain ignorance (which I know you aren’t).

      • Posted October 8, 2018 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        No offense taken. It may be some or all of the other three. Plus maybe a rant to let democrats know I am not happy with their platform. And throw in a little hyperbole.

        • Mark R.
          Posted October 9, 2018 at 12:18 am | Permalink

          Hyperbole throw-in for sure…a little interference. If you don’t like the dems’ platform, just look at the GOP’s, and I hope someone reasonable like you can see the clear choice. The GOP and POTUS appreciate the Russian style for starters…

          • Posted October 9, 2018 at 12:33 am | Permalink

            I can see the difference. But my point is that the democrats, especially Hillary. are focusing on the wrong problems. In my opinion they are ignoring the larger problems: shrinking middle class, trade deficits, budget deficits, national debt. They do get it right n the environment. But they have been complicit in the last thirty years in the decline of the middle class. Their ignoring these problems will eventually lead to the same results as the policies of the republicans.

          • Posted October 9, 2018 at 12:36 am | Permalink

            I can see the difference. But my point is that the democrats,especially Hillary. are focusing on the wrong problems. In my opinion they are ignoring the larger problems: shrinking middle class, trade deficits, budget deficits, national debt. They do get it right n the environment. But they have been complicit in the last thirty years in the decline of the middle class. Their ignoring these problems will eventually lead to the same results as the policies of the republicans.

    • gluonspring
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

      If you don’t like the parties themselves, vote in a damn primary and change them.

      Otherwise, you fully and totally deserve whatever government you get.

      • Posted October 8, 2018 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        I am ranting now to try to change the Democratic Party.

        Disagree. We don’t get what we deserve whether we vote or not.

  15. Curtis
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    People leave political parties all the time (from Reagan “I didn’t leave the Democratic party, the Democratic Party left me” to Arlen Spector for purely political reason to Elizabeth Warren in the 90s.) Unless it becomes a one way trend, it does not matter. As far as I can tell, just as many people are joining as leaving the Republicans because of Trump. Different leaders, different member.

    For decades, I voted Democratic because they were less bad on gay rights. Once gay marriage became legal, I became free to vote according to other issues. Since I live in the control-left/socialist state of Oregon, that generally means Republicans or Libertarians. I am still registered as a Democrat but I voted for one only one last election and probably will not vote for any this time.

    • tomh
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      “Since I live in the control-left/socialist state of Oregon”

      That is hilarious.

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        There’s nothing more socialist than free, convenient, tamper-proof, mail-in voting (at one’s leisure) and/or the horrible law that adults are automatically registered to vote once they turn 18. The socialist HORROR!!!

        I presume Curtis is probably talking about some other issue, but to me, the act of voting is the most democratic process that blue-America still embraces, and Oregon’s commitment to citizens voting is the best example of any state to date.

    • gluonspring
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Once gay marriage became legal, I became free to vote

      I’m fascinated by your confidence in the permanence of that.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        I wonder which will sink first, gay rights or abortion. 😦


        • gluonspring
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

          They may not pull it off, I’ll grant, because neither course is very popular. But none of their agenda is, yet they are pretty effective at getting it done (e.g. tax cuts for wealthy probably polls below either of those, but it passed). I have no doubt that they will seek to erode them as much as possible.

          My evangelical mom is terrified that the government will one day force her church to accept gay members and perform gay marriages. It’s both ugly and insane, but that doesn’t matter, she backs it up with voting and donations.

      • Curtis
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        I am very old fashion in believing in the basic decency of the American people while understanding it may take a while for people to get used to a new idea. A large majority of Americans now believe in gay marriage. It’s not going away.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

          I expect that’s what the pro-choice people thought right after Roe vs Wade.

          ‘the basic decency of the American people’ ? That is an interesting concept.

          I think most people are decent if you give them a chance, but all people can be horribly misled. Like, say, the German people c. 1930.


          • gluonspring
            Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

            I think people are basically decent to their family and tribe, cuz evolution, but are almost naturally ruthless and wicked towards people they consider outside their clan/tribe/family. Decency towards all is contingent on getting people to consider all people part of their “circle of moral concern” (Singer). The track record on this is very mixed, to say the least.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      Yes, by all means, hie thee to the party of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. As of last Saturday, there are now five votes on SCOTUS to overrule Obergefell, should they so choose.

      • BJ
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

        Do you honestly think they would? Gay marriage isn’t abortion (and I’d put 98% certainty that they won’t be overturning Roe either). At this point, nearly 50% of Republicans and 70% of Independents approve of gay marriage. The country isn’t exactly divided on the issue and, perhaps more importantly in contrast to Roe, it’s not as if it’s being continually litigated in the courts.

        • gluonspring
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

          They won’t overturn either directly because that risks awakening an effective backlash. They will, instead, just poke holes in them until they are meaningless.

          I also think a lot of people confuse what polls say about people’s preferences and what has political power. None of the GOP agenda polls well, yet they keep enacting it. There are a number of reasons for that, including our counter-majoritarian institutions, the effects of $$$, but one reason is that the people who want to overturn Roe or Obergefell want it badly, and that makes their influence larger than their numbers.

          • BJ
            Posted October 9, 2018 at 12:23 am | Permalink

            They enact it for their base, at least in my opinion. The base simply doesn’t care about gay marriage — it is a non-issue to all but the evangelicals, who will vote (R) no matter what.

            • gluonspring
              Posted October 9, 2018 at 1:42 am | Permalink

              Sure, evangelicals vote R no matter what.

              They also vote in primaries.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

          As I’ve said a couple times in this space before, I don’t think Obergefell will be overruled, and same-sex marriage isn’t something that can be chipped away at, the way reproductive rights can.

          I think SCOTUS is still one vote away from overruling Roe v. Wade outright. I think Chief Justice Roberts will insist (so long as he remains the potential swing vote in a five-person conservative majority) that the edifice of reproductive rights be dismantled plank-by-plank, beam-by-beam, doorjamb-by-doorjamb.

          If, however, the Republicans get to replace one of the sitting liberal justices, I think the conservatives will overrule Roe in one fell swoop (assuming there’s anything left of it by then to overrule). Abortion has been such a hot-button issue for so long, and Republicans have been promising to appoint strict-constructionists who will overrule it for so long, they will do it if they have the votes.

          Justices like Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh — three devout Catholics and an evangelical — all believe Roe was a legal travesty, wrongly decided at its inception. A nicety like 40-odd years of precedent won’t make them abide pregnant women murdering their unborn babies.

          • BJ
            Posted October 9, 2018 at 12:21 am | Permalink

            Roberts has, so far, shown a keen awareness of the political ramifications of decisions, as can be seen in NFIB v. Sebelius.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted October 9, 2018 at 6:44 am | Permalink

              Yeah, generally. But I think Roberts got blindsided by the alacrity with which Republicans went after voter suppression measures once the pre-clearance provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been gutted in Shelby County v. Holder.

              • Posted October 9, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

                One would hope that he now thinks it was a mistake but he wouldn’t admit it, of course. It certainly put an end to the “racism is beaten” meme. Then Trump says, “Not only that but …”

          • gluonspring
            Posted October 9, 2018 at 1:55 am | Permalink

            I think this is exactly right on Roe.

            I think Obergefell is less likely, but I think anyone who thinks it’s beyond question probably hasn’t spent enough time with religious fundamentalists.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted October 9, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

              Yes. I think the Supremes will dodge the issue by declining to grant cert on any case presenting a direct challenge to Obergefell. (Keep in mind, however, that it takes the votes of only four justices to grant cert. If the issue were squarely presented, Roberts might be hard-pressed to uphold SSM, given the strongly worded dissent he issued in Obergefell.)

              So it’s dangerous to consider the permanent availability of same-sex marriage a fait accompli.

            • BJ
              Posted October 9, 2018 at 10:48 am | Permalink

              I don’t understand what the religious fundamentalists have to do with it. They’re not the ones on the Court, and the Justices don’t need to rely on them to be reelected.

              • gluonspring
                Posted October 9, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

                Maybe fundamentalist isn’t the right word, religious conservative is closer.

                My point is the mentality. Religious conservatives are very motivated by their odious views. They have been paying very close attention to judges for a long time. Like for the entire life of BK. None of these judges would be there if religious conservatives didn’t think they’d pull the trigger at the right time. I think it’s foolish to look at their past rulings and think that tells you who these judges are and where they will go when they are able. Everyone knows you have to play it cool until you get on the court, and even then the stars have to align (cases come before you, etc.). It’s not as if the judges themselves are religious liberals either. They are on board with rolling all this back in their heart of hearts.

                And while it’s true they can’t be voted out by religious conservatives, those people are part of their social environment, and influence them even when they are on the court. Religious conservatives are perfectly comfortable imposing very minority views on everyone else. They feel it’s their calling to do so. So knowing them, I don’t think there is much comfort in where majority public opinion lay. The entire GOP is very comfortable operating from a position of minority rule.

                Finally, of course, they will continue to put pressure on GOP pols to install more judges to do their bidding. Things the court wouldn’t dare do with a 5/4 majority, they might with a 6/3 or (gasp!) 7/2 majority.

          • Diane G
            Posted October 11, 2018 at 3:49 am | Permalink

            One of my favorite cartoons from the Alito confirmation:


            • Diane G
              Posted October 11, 2018 at 3:50 am | Permalink

              (Mouse over “copyno” symbol if cartoon doesn’t appear right away.)

        • Posted October 9, 2018 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

          I think the first to go will be Affirmative Action. Nor am I convinced that gay marriage is safe merely because it’s no longer highly controversial; that might make it less safe, in fact, since overturning it would not cause as great an uproar as overturning Roe vs Wade.

          As for Roe vs Wade , I agree that they are more likely to chip away at it rather than overturn it. The problem here is that, just as with restrictive gun laws on the right, any restriction on abortion is judged not in terms of whether it’s sensible or not, but by the perceived intention behind it—i.e., to repeal either Roe vs Wade or the Second Amendment. Personally, I hold the (I’m sure not popular here) opinion that the Oregon law allowing 13-year-olds to get an abortion without any parental involvement, let alone consent, to be ridiculous. (Yes, I understand the “practical” reasoning behind it, but as a parent I still find it unconscionable.) This is an instance where both those on the left and the right could exercise a bit more restraint and common sense.

          • tomh
            Posted October 9, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

            You think a parent should be able to force a 13 year old to bear a child?

            • Posted October 9, 2018 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

              No, I think that the primary responsibility for a 13-year-old lies with the parent(s) and that therefore the primary rights regarding the health and well-being of that child lie with the parent(s) as well. I’m contending that until parents forfeit that right by abuse or neglect (as in denying the child medical care on religious ground), the state is obliged to respect the primacy of the parents’ rights. As it stands, the law in question violates the rights of the vast majority of caring parents in the service of preventing wrongheaded behavior by a few. I fail to see how this can be justified.

              • tomh
                Posted October 9, 2018 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

                “No, I think that the primary responsibility for a 13-year-old lies with the parent(s) and that therefore the primary rights regarding the health and well-being of that child lie with the parent(s) as well.”

                In other words, if the parents believe that the health and well-being of the child requires that the child give birth, after a rape, for instance, then you think that’s what should happen, regardless of age. How is that different than a parent that believes the health and well-being of a child requires that no vaccinations be given, or antibiotics be administered? The law was passed to protect children from such parents. Protection for children is how it’s justified.

              • Posted October 9, 2018 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

                “after a rape, for instance,””

                I realize you’re trying to make this seem the exception by invoking rape, but rape is the rule here, not the exception, since no thirteen-year-old in this country has reached the legal age of consent for having sex. In my home state of Oregon, however, they have reached the age of consent for having an abortion. What’s wrong with this picture?

              • tomh
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

                Well, 18 is the age of consent in Oregon, which is my home state also. There is nothing wrong with this picture. I’m grateful that parents are not able to prevent a child from having an abortion, whether they are 9 or 17. The rest of the country needs to catch up with Oregon in regards to voting (by mail), assisted suicide, and child abortions.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 10:09 am | Permalink

                Oregon has a Romeo & Juliet exception to the 18 rule: “anyone 14 years or older can consent to have sex with someone who is no more than 3 years older than them. The older adolescent will not be accused of statutory rape if there was valid consent”

            • Posted October 10, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

              “How is that different than a parent that believes the health and well-being of a child requires that no vaccinations be given?”

              Not so different. That’s why the state respects the rights of such parents by allowing for exemptions rather than making vaccinations mandatory.

              I have no problem with a minor getting an exemption from parental consent laws based on extenuating circumstances, per Ken Kukec’s post below. But the idea that the thirteen-year-old daughter of caring, responsible parents can undergo even a relatively safe medical procedure (albeit one with potentially serious emotional and psychological consequences) without her parents being so much as informed is just downright wrong. IMO.

              • tomh
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

                So now you’re just objecting if caring, responsible parents aren’t involved. In reality, caring, responsible parents won’t force their 13 year old to give birth. The law is necessary to prevent uncaring, irresponsible parents from forcing birth. And the law does not prevent the parents from being informed, it prevents them from stopping the procedure.

                AS far as vaccinations, it’s true that Oregon fails children by allowing non-medical exemptions, both religious and philosophical. Oregon needs to follow the lead of Mississippi, West Virginia, and California in removing those ridiculous exemptions, which endanger the lives of children. Hopefully, it will change.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 9, 2018 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

            In any healthy, intact family, a 13-year-old girl who becomes pregnant will seek the counsel and assistance of her parents. Under extant law, all but a handful of US states now require that a minor girl’s parents be notified, and, in some, that the parents grant formal consent, before the girl can obtain an abortion. To be exempted from these parental consent laws, a girl must either have been previously adjudged emancipated or must obtain judicial authorization. Most of the cases where judicial authorization is granted involve incest or other exceptional extenuating circumstances.

            • Posted October 9, 2018 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

              You’re right, Ken. I realize Oregon is in the minority about this, which is why I qualified my comment. Specifically, the “handful” of states that allow abortion “with no parental involvement” is 10.

              Are you a lawyer by any chance? This isn’t a dig: I sense in many of your comments that you have a more than usual knowledge of the law.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted October 10, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

                I am indeed, but don’t hold that against me. 🙂

    • Giancarlo
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      Curtis, I’d appreciate it if you gave me some examples of how the socialist state of Oregon controls your life.

  16. gluonspring
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    If I’m reading him right, Nichols was bothered by the fact that the investigation of the allegations was obviously a sham?

    I think that is itself interesting, how many moderate GOP people, and how many Democrats, seem to think that there is an important bloc of the GOP who would have cared if they were true. I mean, maybe. But my own family makes me wonder if that’s correct.

    Some in my evangelical family think that if you are assaulted at a party where there is drinking, that only shows why women shouldn’t go to drinking parties. It shows how society has gone off the rails. They also think that sexual harassment and assault at work just shows how society erred in mainstreaming women in the workforce. If the allegations were true, they say, it just shows even more the need to put GOP people in power and return to the mores of an earlier era.

    I don’t know what percentage of the GOP shares these views, but I suspect it’s a lot larger percentage than college educated non-fundamentalist professionals realize. It’s also a very very highly motivated part of the GOP.

    If you wonder why MAGA people are so angry all the time despite controlling all the branches of government, part of it is because that hasn’t magically ushered in adoption of 1940’s social mores. They are frustrated and angry about this.

  17. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Re your last para, I expect they all watch The Waltons* with approval and faux nostalgia. I see those girls in long heavy dresses praising Jesus all the time and think “Poor things, they might as well be in Saudi Arabia”.

    (*It’s on some channel here along with other zombie things that refuse to stay decently buried. My wife is an indiscriminate TV watcher).


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Bugger! That was of course a reply to gluonspring’s comment at #16. Oh for an Edit function (for the 257th time…)


    • gluonspring
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Of course they do. Also, they think it’s a documentary. My dad seems convinced that The Andy Griffith show accurately portrays a lost golden time.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

        In Britain we are more sophisticated. We hanker after Boadicea and Camelot 😉


  18. Posted October 8, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see the GOP either going away or reforming itself significantly after Trump is gone. Even if they lose a few elections, they will still have enough voters behind them to think that all they need to do is fix a few problems or wait for the Dems to field a bad candidate, as they did in 2016. Remember, the GOP are a team now. They don’t represent a particular set of ideals so much as a pure identity, a focal point for allegiance.

  19. yazikus
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    As a newly minted independent, I will vote for Democrats and Republicans whom I think are decent and well-meaning people;

    Is this not what most people do? Even as a registered Democrat, I have no qualms voting across the aisle if I think the candidate is the best suited for the job. Do people vote for the lesser candidate just because of party lines?

    • Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I’m sure they do, but I doubt they consider them the lesser candidate. They vote for their team, not the candidate. I had a business associate that would always vote Republican simply because they always promised to lower his taxes. I doubt he actually knew much about the candidates for which he voted except for their names.

      • yazikus
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        One of my great civic pleasures is sitting down with my voter pamphlet (which my lovely state mails out in advance) and going through each candidate, researching them, etc. I don’t actually fill out the ballot until the week of, so I have plenty of time for pondering. Honestly, the letter in front of their names only tells so much. Where I recently moved from, one had to run as an R to win anything – regardless of political views. Where I am now, people seem to think they must run as a D to win. If I can’t get a finger on what I think they think – I’ll call them.

        • Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

          My lovely state (CA) does that as well. (Don’t all states do this?) I have my booklet and I will admit that I have not yet studied it but I will.

          • yazikus
            Posted October 8, 2018 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

            All states should do this- the only reason not to is to hope less people vote.

          • Posted October 8, 2018 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

            No, all states do not. I never heard of that before. Who pays for it and writes and edits it?

            • Posted October 9, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

              I don’t know the details but there’s actually two booklets:

              1) “California General Election: Official Voter Information Guide” which has a “certificate of correctness” on the cover, signed by Alex Padilla, CA’s Secretary of State. It’s 94 pages!

              2) “Official Sample Ballot” with the stamp of the Los Angeles County Registrar. It is much smaller than the other one.

              I haven’t heard of party battles over the wording. I assume the proposition descriptions are written by each proposition’s authors.

    • gluonspring
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      I always voted by candidate before 2016.

      I think the peril of authoritarian Trumpism, coupled with the winner-take-all nature of control of legislative bodies, means I don’t have that luxury for the foreseeable future.

      To resist the negative trends in the GOP it’s necessary to install Democratic majorities so that they can do things like hold proper investigations of presidential abuses or approve SCOTUS judges. 49% of the house or senate isn’t worth a warm bucket of spit. So I’m committed to voting straight ticket D until the Ds have that control and can put the breaks on some of the awfulness that Trump represents.

      • yazikus
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        I understand this, and am mindful of such things when evaluating. However, I do think there is value in remembering that we can shape the Republican party too. If we vote for a moderate Republican over a unsuited Dem, that is not a bad thing. I’ve also had elections where my only choices were Republicans, so rather than writing in, I select the one I think is best. The more moderates there are, the less Trumps, no?

        • gluonspring
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

          Certainly if you only have Rs to vote for, I’d go for someone more moderate who can get elected, because symbolic votes are worthless.

          And I agree in principle on shaping the GOP from within, I just think the window to shift them away from authoritarian demagoguery closed quite a few years ago. I don’t think the party can now be salvaged from within until it’s suffered enough crushing defeats to leave it no choice. I think the only way to do that is to make the Democratic party as good as it can be and to ruthlessly use that party to deliver those crushing defeats.

          Only then, I think, can we really talk about reforming the GOP.

    • BJ
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s what most people do, and not just with politics. People side with others from their religion, their social circle, their sports team, their neighborhood, etc. Most people don’t have critical thinking skills, and most people who do have critical thinking skills still often allow instinctual tribalism to override them when it comes to more emotional situations and decisions (e.g. politics).

  20. Posted October 9, 2018 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  21. Ron Goren
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Here is a transcript of the speech from the fictional secretary of state on “Madam Secretary”

    I thought it worth disseminating

    Your courage and determination have made humankind safer from the second-greatest threat it faces. What is an even greater threat than nuclear weapons? That which makes the use of them possible: hate. Specifically, the blind hatred one group or nation can have for another. That is why I am convinced that nationalism is the existential threat of our time.
    “Now I want to be clear. Nationalism is not the same as patriotism. It’s a perversion of patriotism. Nationalism, the belief system held by those who attacked us, promotes the idea that inclusion and diversity represent weakness, that the only way to succeed is to give blind allegiance to the supremacy of one race over all others. Nothing could be less American. Patriotism, on the other hand, is about building each other up and embracing our diversity as the source of our nation’s strength. “We the people” means all the people. America’s heroes didn’t die for race or region. They died for the ideals enshrined in our Constitution. Above all, freedom from tyranny, which requires our unwavering support of a free press; freedom of religion, all religions; the right to vote, and making sure nothing infringes on any of those rights, which belong to us all. Look where isolationism has gotten us in the past. Two world wars. Seventy million dead. Never again can we go back to those dark times when fear and hatred, like a contagion, infected the world. That, as much as ending the threat of nuclear war, is what today is about.

    “And it is why we must never lose sight of our common humanity, our common values and our common decency. I was reminded recently of our nation’s founding motto, E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. Thirteen disparate colonies became one country. One people. And today, we call on all Americans and people everywhere to reject the scourge of nationalism. Because governments can’t legislate tolerance or eradicate hate. That’s why each one of us has to find the beauty in our differences instead of the fear. Listen instead of reacting. Reach out instead of recoiling. It’s up to us. All of us. Thank you

    • Posted October 9, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      That is nice but it says nothing about our shrinking middle class, trade deficits and budget deficits, or our foreign policy intrusion, overreach, interference in the affairs of other nations with our troops on foreign soil defending nations who should be defending themselves.

  22. Kurt Lewis Helf
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Category 5 false equivalence by Nichols.

  23. Steven E
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I’m just pessimistic, but I think it’s too late to save the USA as a single country. Basically, blind faith in a system of democracy designed by people with mixed intentions in the 18th century is not holding up well in the 21st century.
    Remember, key features that support the GOP’s (and Democrats for that matter) assault on democracy are intentionally baked in, and will not be changed:
    – representation in the senate by state, regardless of size, ensuring over-representation of rural voters
    – electoral college and winner takes all, preventing growth of smaller parties
    – close ties between business interests (lobbying) and government ensuring that government represents those with money over the majority of the population.

    These are not oversights on the part of the framers, these were created so that the key interest holders at the time wouldn’t have to worry about being displaced by the interests of the poor just starting to congregate in the cities.

    As the countryside has depopulated and demographics have changed in the last 60 years this has gone from a minor to serious problem for some, but it benefits those with the power to change it. Thus, it will not be fixed until it blows apart.

    It’s just a question of how long till the first state (my guess is California) just says: this isn’t working for us any more, we’re divorcing you.

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