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The changes in vibes — why did they happen?

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Clearly it has happened, and it has been accelerated and publicized by the Biden failings and the attempted Trump assassination.  But it was already underway.  If you need a single, unambiguous sign of it, I would cite MSNBC pulling off Morning Joe for a morning, for fear they would say something nasty about Trump.

Another way to put it is that Trump was a highly vulnerable, defeated President, facing numerous legal charges and indeed an actual felony conviction.  Yet he now stands as a clear favorite in the next election.  In conceptual terms, how exactly did that happen?

I had been thinking  it would be a good cognitive test to ask people why they think the vibes have changed, and then to grade their answers for intelligence, insight, and intellectual honesty.

For instance, I used to read people arguing “Trump is popular because of racism,” but now that view is pretty clearly refuted, even if you think (as I do) that racism has some marginal impact on his support.  Or other people have attributed the development to “polarization.”  Whether or not you agree with the polarization thesis, it begs the question here, as we could be polarized with Trump as a big underdog.

In any case, thought I should start this process by offering my answers.  Here they are, in a series of bullet points:

1. Trump and his team understand that we now live in a world of social media.  Only a modest part of the Democratic establishment has mastered the same.

2. The “Trumpian Right,” whether you agree with it or not, has been more intellectually alive and vital than the Progressive Left, at least during the last five years, maybe more.  Being fully on the outs, those people were more free to be creative, noting that I am not equating creative with being correct.

3. The deindustrialization of America has mattered more than people expected at first, and has had longer legs, in terms of its impact on public opinion.  I would say this one is squarely in the mainstream account of the matter.

4. Many Trumpian and MAGA messages have been more in vibe with the negative contagion effects of our recent times.

5. The Democrats made a big bet that trying to raise the status of blacks would be popular, but at best they had mixed results.  Some part of this failing was due to racists, some part due to immigrants with their own concerns, and some part due simply to the unpopularity of the message.

6. The ongoing feminization of society has driven more and more men, including black and Latino men, into the Republican camp.  The Democratic Party became too much the party of unmarried women.

7. The Obama administration brought, to some degree, both the reality and perception of being ruled by the intellectual class.  People didn’t like that.

8. Democrats and leftists are in fact less happy as people than conservatives are, on average.  Americans noticed this, if only subconsciously.

9. The relentlessly egalitarian message of Democrats is not so popular, and furthermore — since every claim must have messengers — it translates in lived practice into an “I am better than you all are” vibe.  Americans noticed this, if only subconsciously.

10. The Woke gambit has proven deeply unpopular.

11. Trans support has not been a winning issue for Democrats, but it is hard for them to let it go.

12. Immigration at the border has in fact spun out of control, and that has been a key Trump issue from the beginning of his campaign.  And I write this as a person who is very pro-immigration.  You can imagine how the immigration skeptics feel.

13. Higher education has been a traditional Democratic stronghold, and it remains one.  Yet its clout and credibility have fallen significantly in the last few years.

14. The Democrats made a big mistake going after “Big Tech.”  It didn’t cost them many votes, rather money and social capital.  Big Tech (most of all Facebook) was the Girardian sacrifice for the Trump victory in 2016, and all the Democrats achieved from that was a hollowing out of their own elite base.

15. Various developments in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Israel did not help the Democratic cause.  Inflation was very high, and real borrowing rates went up sharply.  This is true, whether or not you think it is the fault of Biden, or Trump would have done better.  Crypto came under attack.  The pandemic story is complicated, and its politics would require a post of its own, but I don’t think it helped the Democrats, most of all because they ended up “owning” many of the longer-lasting school closures.

And we haven’t even gotten to “Defund the police,” the recurring rise of anti-Semitism on the left, and at least a half dozen other matters.

16. In very simple terms, you might say the Democrats have done a lot to make themselves unpopular, and not had much willingness to confront that.  Their own messages make this hard to face up to, since they are supposed to be better people.

You might add to this:

17. Trump is funny (he is one of the great American comics in fact), and

18. Trump acts like a winner.  Americans like this, and his response to the failed assassination attempt drove this point home.

19. Biden’s recent troubles, and the realization that he and his team had been running a con at least as big as the Trump one.  It has become a trust issue, not only an age or cognition issue.

On the other side of the ledger, you might argue, as do many intelligent people, that the Democrats are better at technocracy, and also that Democrats are more respectful of traditional political processes, especially transitions after elections.  I’m not here to debate those issues!  I know many MAGA supporters are not convinced, most of all on the latter.  I’ll simply note that, in the minds of many Americans, those factors do not necessarily outweigh #1-19.

And there you go.

Addendum: Of course there was and is plenty wrong with Trump and the Trump administration. But the purpose here is not to compare Biden and Trump, rather it is to see why the Democrats are not doing better.  If your response to that question is to cite reasons why the Democrats are better than Trump…well then you are exactly part of the problem.

The post The changes in vibes — why did they happen? appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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1 day ago
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15 hours ago
> For instance, I used to read people arguing “Trump is popular because of racism,” but now that view is pretty clearly refuted

Uhh, “clearly refuted” how?

> The Woke gambit has proven deeply unpopular.

What in the ever loving shit is a “woke gambit”

> Trans support has not been a winning issue for Democrats, but it is hard for them to let it go.

Yeah fuck those people we should dump ‘em, they’re just dead weight.

> Trump is funny (he is one of the great American comics in fact)

Not particularly, he’s mean though and that is humor to some people

This is a complete assclown of a post.
Bend, Oregon
9 hours ago
Trump isn't funny, but he speaks in the rhythms of Jay Leno's Tonight Show monologues ("Elizabeth Warren, did you hear about this?") and folks can't tell the difference.

Migration policy, and should you favor your own country?

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There is a longstanding debate — for centuries in fact — as to whether you should consider only your national (or regional) interest, or whether you should think in cosmopolitan terms when evaluating policies with cross-national ramifications.

Some commentators, for instance, suggest that American immigration policy should be set to serve the interests of current American citizens only.  Whether or not one agrees, I can understand where that argument is coming from.

But what if an American is evaluating a French decision to take in or exclude some potential Algerian migrants?  You might think the French should take a French point of view, and that the Algerians should take an Algerian point of view.  But is the American allowed to be cosmopolitan in his judgment?  Even if he or she is otherwise a self-regarding nationalist on questions concerning America?

It seems to me Americans should in fact take the cosmopolitan perspective.

Alternatively, you might argue that there are degrees of relation.  American culture, politics, and gdp are much closer to their French equivalents than to anything in Algeria.  So perhaps the American can side with France after all.

But then I wonder about two things.

First, this scheme might count Algerians for less, but it doesn’t seem it counts them for zero.  Maybe America and Algeria have “better rap music” is common, or some degree of religiosity in common, or other points of similarity.

Second, once you start playing this sliding scale game, why look only at the dimension of nation?  You also could classify people by their taste in music, how smart they are, and many other dimensions.  I first and foremost might decide to identify with people on the grounds of their openness and their desire to travel.  Or how about kindness and generosity as a standard?

As a result, the major moral lines will not cut across nations in any simple way, even if in the final analysis the French people count for more than do the Algerians.

While this is not exactly simple cosmopolitanism in the Benthamite sense, it is just as far from strict nationalism.  Once you let partialism in the door, it seems like a tough slog to argue nationality is the only relevant moral fact for partial sentiments.

It is interesting to look at how people choose their friends.  Most of us have many friends of the same nation, but that is largely for reasons for convenience.  Unless perhaps I were living abroad, it would seem strange to be friends with someone because they were an American.  But it is not strange to be friends with them because they are smart, have good taste in music, like to travel, and so on.  So when it comes to our actual choices, nationality is just one fact of many, and it is (beyond the dimension of practicality) not an especially important fact for how we choose our partial commitments for our own lives.

So why should it be such a dominant factor for how we make moral decisions when it concerns other countries?

The post Migration policy, and should you favor your own country? appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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16 days ago
Treat other countries as you would choose friends
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The Screwworm

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The Atlantic: Screwworms once killed millions of dollars’ worth of cattle a year in the southern U.S. Their range extended from Florida to California, and they infected any living, warm-blooded animal: not only cattle but deer, squirrels, pets, and even the occasional human. In fact, the screwworm’s scientific name is C. hominivorax or “man eater”—so named after a horrific outbreak among prisoners on Devil’s Island, an infamous 19th-century French penal colony in South America.

For untold millennia, screwworms were a grisly fact of life in the Americas. In the 1950s, however, U.S. ranchers began to envision a new status quo. They dared to dream of an entire country free of screwworms. At their urging, the United States Department of Agriculture undertook what would ultimately become an immense, multidecade effort to wipe out the screwworms, first in the U.S. and then in Mexico and Central America—all the way down to the narrow strip of land that is the Isthmus of Panama. The eradication was a resounding success. But the story does not end there. Containing a disease is one thing. Keeping it contained is another thing entirely, as the coronavirus pandemic is now so dramatically demonstrating.

To get the screwworms out, the USDA to this day maintains an international screwworm barrier along the Panama-Colombia border. The barrier is an invisible one, and it is kept in place by constant human effort. Every week, planes drop 14.7 million sterilized screwworms over the rainforest that divides the two countries. A screwworm-rearing plant operates 24/7 in Panama. Inspectors cover thousands of square miles by motorcycle, boat, and horseback, searching for stray screwworm infections north of the border. The slightest oversight could undo all the work that came before.

A reminder that civilization takes work. Excellent piece by Sarah Zhang. Read the whole thing.

Hat tip: Stone Age Herbalist.

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38 days ago
Civilization requires work
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Анекдот №2 за 29 мая 2024

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Всё меньше великих русских учёных, писателей, художников, композиторов рождается в еврейских семьях.
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How the Guinness Brewery Invented the Most Important Statistical Method in Science

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The most common test of statistical significance originated from the Guinness brewery. Here’s how it works

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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Generivory

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

I'm actually surprised no weird economist is pushing this somewhere.

Today's News:
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227 days ago
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230 days ago
This hits super close to home. Commercialized products that are hyper specialized do feel this way. Products made at home much less so: So grow your own wheat if you want bread.
230 days ago
Ok but seriously: this is a real issue I sometimes get stuck with when trying to figure out what alternatives are *actually* ecologically more sustainable and/or less economically extractive of the poorest half of the world.

Obviously economies of scale are a valid optimization strategy, but the joke ignores whether the process being scaled is harmful or not compared to the alternative. But comparing the overhead from the smaller scale of production of the ecologically more sound alternatives is basically impossible most of the time, unless it's *really* obvious.
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