Writing about public policy in Trumpistan

I have great enthusiasm for policy and very little interest in politics. For decades I’ve put in my time, walking my precinct as a Republican committeeman, volunteering for campaigns, working on local legislative councils and so on, out of a sense of obligation. But what really interested me was the work of assembling smart, effective legislation. Politics was a necessity. It was a duty, not an interest.

Now policy is dead. Starting in two weeks, both the legislative and executive branches of our federal government will be under the complete control of idiots. Our national labs will be led by Rick Perry, a C student and cheerleader who thinks climate change is a hoax. Our security infrastructure will be administered by people who believe the crap in your crazy uncle’s Facebook posts. Education policy will be formulated by a billionaire heiress and religious nut who doesn’t believe in public education. The stupidity on display for the last six years on the House Science Committee will now spread like a brain-killing blanket across the entire federal government.

We can talk about policy at the federal level. We can debate which tax plans or health insurance proposals make sense. But for the foreseeable future, likely to extend beyond the 2020 election, our federal government will be either controlled or constrained by people who have absolutely no interest in reality.

Whatever policy emerges from the federal government in this climate, it will be guided by delusions, written by morons, and crafted to solve problems that don’t exist using mechanisms that don’t work. We are going to live for an extended time under a grand national experiment in Idiocracy. The tough, interesting, intellectually challenging work of crafting useful policy has lost any immediate relevance. Policy only matters to some potential future that looms out beyond the horizon.

What seems to matter for the near term is the challenge of organizing a resistance to the tide of malice building across the country. I’ll do my best to provide a platform here that can assist the fight. I’ll put my shoulder into the effort. This isn’t what I like doing, but it’s necessary.

You’ll still see pieces about public policy here. Don’t ask how they can be implemented. They can’t, at least not anytime soon. That really isn’t the point anymore.

If public policy has any relevance in the near term, it’s as a reference point for rallying a political resistance beyond the weak and crumbling infrastructure of our two parties. Right now, it is enough politically for people on the right and left to unite around opposition to a corrupt Idiocrat. In time, it will be necessary to organize around policy proposals, building a platform that can shape a new version of left and right. Whatever you read here in policy terms will be written toward that future.

Writing about policy under a Trump administration is a kind of rebellion against futility. Our ability to use federal policy to address public needs is dead for now. One day we may restore that capability. To get their we’ll need a new template of ideas, crafted in a frustrating environment of futility, with our eyes on a vision for the future that only exists today in our imagination.

56 Comments

  1. Republicans think capital hill rules are for ‘suckers’. This began with by denying Pres. Obama the right to have his SC nominee hearing and appointment. Now that Republicans hold the majority, they are ” are embracing procedurally extreme tactics they never would have tolerated from Democrats.”

    “As egregious as these tactics are, they carry real downside risks for Republicans, who will likely end up rubber-stamping cabinet officials who turn out to be corrupt or incompetent or both, and ultimately damage the administration and the party. Their legislative antics, by contrast, are nakedly self-serving.”

    The risk is that incompetent or corrupt people can be confirmed as they hold sufficient votes to gain approval of all nominees. This would be dangerous now but evidently is a risk Republicans are willing to take. As for “reconciliation”, that odious process lambasted by Republicans, it is going to be the means to repeal much of the ACA.

    https://newrepublic.com/article/139707/republicans-think-capitol-hills-rules-suckers

    1. It’s reports like this that are deeply concerning. Trump has cowed dissent. People in the medical industry who face a great deal of uncertainty from the repeal of the ACA .are ‘afraid’ to speak out. “Kenneth E. Raske, the president of the Greater New York Hospital Association (stated) many health care executives ‘don’t want to get on the wrong side of the new administration or the Republican majority in Congress.’”

      Heads of large companies are quietly acquiescing to Trump’s bullying tactics. America is being run like a dictatorship.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/us/politics/affordable-care-act-health-care-lobby.html?

      And, the alt-right that helped put Trump into office? This man is helping vet appointments!

      “http://www.forbes.com/sites/mattdrange/2017/01/09/chuck-johnson-troll-trump-transition-team/#2e3f41415c12

      1. Who else is afraid of the big bad wolf? Republican women are starting to look more critically at what Trump stands for and their party stood for and is doing now. Some don’t like what they see but will they defect, and if they do, will they be enough to deal a blow to the GOP?

        Some thoughts from conservative women:
        “The election has led some women to fundamentally re-evaluate how they view the Republican Party. “I never thought there was that much hatred or racism in the Republican Party, but I see it now…” “There is no way I can be associated with a racist, white supremacist, anti-woman party,” …. “The GOP as I knew it, is dead.”

        https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/republican-women-donald-trump/512558/?utm_source=nl-politics-daily-011017

  2. From a commentator named Abby on the Weekly Sift post, comes this suggestion:

    “Here’s a thought: What if it turns out that a good way to revive the fortunes of small towns and cities in Trump country is to encourage businesses that are led by women and members of minorities?

    This isn’t outrageous. First of all, there is ample evidence that tolerance and openness *lead to* good economies, rather than being products of good economies. Also, businesses, especially startups, that are led by women and minorities may have a harder time getting funding. Given that I believe that talent is spread pretty evenly in the population, offering some opportunities to those who don’t get them as often could lead to some very worthwhile businesses being attracted, at bargain rates. A little encouragement and help for these small businesses could be a civic gold mine.”

    Now, that’s thinking! You may recall that there is a concerted effort in the Middle East to set up schools that girls can attend. Boys are given preferred treatment relative to education, but it is being found that educating girls strengthens communities. Maybe there’s something we can learn from this effort.

  3. Hi Mary,
    It’s Malaysia btw not Mexico, that’s where I’m from. Third generation ethnic Hokkien Chinese on my Dad’s side, and Cantonese on my mum’s. I didn’t get to go back, more’s the pity. I was unwell, it was a culmination of work related stress anxiety and broader issues. I was thinking how I now understand what the LBGT community meant when they said that self care was a political act. I can’t be an effective activist if I fall apart mentally and physically due to lack of self care. So one of my New Year intentions will be to look after myself and to make sure our little community of friends here are okay. Hope you are okay too.

  4. How very odd. It seems that the Democratic Party has begun a switch to a more anti-Federal, pro-States’ Rights position. Looks like Trump may have brought out the inner Confederate in more than a few people.

    “Officials and advocacy groups in the two Democratic strongholds are plotting how to use the power of state law-enforcement agencies, municipal regulations and regional bully pulpits, and they’re assembling a wide-ranging apparatus of political opposition that they hope will slow the Trump agenda.”

    “We are independent; we have tremendous powers under the American federalist system,” he said. “The government of the United States was set up very much with the understanding that states were to be a protective layer, to protect overreach from the newly created federal government.”

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/trump-opposition-california-new-york-233321

    1. I’m pretty liberal and I have always believed in the value and independence of state government. I also believe in a strong central government and that the two can co-exist; in fact, they act as a checks and balance on one another when the parties are in balance (which they aren’t presently).

      However, this article preceded the announcement by the GOP that they intend to pass a law that restricts states from enacting laws that could contradict with federal law. On the face of it, that sounds exactly correct; however, the purpose of the new GOP law would be to quash the power and independence of large cities and blue states.

    2. That actually could be a good starting point for a Democratic revival under a mixed banner of assertive states’ rights and limited federal powers; a particularly convincing argument in the Era of Trump.

      That’s what Republicans usually say, you point out? Yeah, but we don’t have a Republican Party anymore. There’s only the Party of Trump.

      That said, and more importantly, that kind of banner could provide an impetus for a renewed focus on individuals, their lives and their problems, something that’s been frustratingly absent from our politics. My concern, and what’s most likely is that Democrats are merely using this as political convenience to provide a bulwark, as much as is within their severely limited powers, against Trump.

      If so, that’s a horrendously lost opportunity, but typical of modern-day Democrats.

      1. I believe that the DNC leadership learned some lessons from this defeat. The party has neglected local and state elections and has paid the price for doing so. Rank and file Dems need to be educated, that’s all. I have always agreed with Tip O’Neill’s axiom: “All politics is local”. In the end, and in the beginning, that is how you form personal allegiance. It’s going to require a tremendous effort now to play catch up but the price for not making the commitment of resources will be a nation that looks like Trump.

        People need to feel they have a stake in the process and that they can make a difference. There is no better place to achieve this than at the local level.

  5. I disagree with Chris’ broad strokes here. There will be plenty of policy with interesting and involved effects, it’s just that in a lot of cases that policy will directly target institutions we rely on — and their future, making sure they don’t make a comeback.

    But there’s also this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/07/upshot/the-major-potential-impact-of-a-corporate-tax-overhaul.html?_r=0

    If you’re starved for policy wonkery, here’s some to chew over.

    1. What would happen if the world banks/countries decided to use a different currency than the greatly appreciated dollar that could result if this tax proposal is passed?

      I hope some of our commentators who specialize in financial markets, currency, trade will speak to this tax revision concept.

      1. I have read some commentary that the border taxing scheme would have a huge negative impact on retailers, for example cutting Walmart’s profits in half, and putting someone like Best Buy deep in the red. I imagine a company like Boeing would be more profitable as it exports a lot.

        The currency effect isn’t as clear. It seems that the hope is that the tax incentives will stimulate exports and reduce imports. That means a greater demand for dollars (to pay for our products), and subsequently a rise in the value of the dollar relative to other currencies. But a rise in the dollar makes our products more expensive, offsetting some of the tax effects and pushing exports back down. How it all comes out in the end is hard to say, but big changes like this are bound to provoke a big fight.

        Our corporate tax system is, as the story mentions, extremely screwed up. The nominal rate is very high, but in general only small companies pay it. The big ones get loopholes.

      2. I understood these points in the article but am more interested in the possibility that other countries could switch out of the US dollar as an international currency. The article indicated the rise could be as much as 25% which would seem to offer a huge incentive for consideration of a different denomination.

  6. The rebellious used to be the young left wingers. Now it is the old right wingers.

    Most could possible be the same people. The 20-year-old anti-Nixon crowd became the 60-year-old anti-Obama crowd. (I have absolutely zero evidence to back this up, it is more of a musing than anything else.)

    Regardless, it is time the visionary realists realized that expecting everybody to be sensible in the end (i.e. vote against Brexit, realize Trump is a two-bit conman, etc.) isn’t working.

    Time to get off our asses and into the streets. Also time for the Millennials generation of politicians to start pushing the old baby-boomers out of the way. Nobody is going to take a revolution seriously that is led by 70-year-olds (with all respect to Bernie, Warren, Biden, and even Hillary and Schumer).

    1. Wow. Pretty mixed message there, old boy. Anti-Nixonists are now anti-Obama? With your “exceptions,” in mind, are we to take away that ‘older means more right-wing’? Is that your message? (Me thinks our Mime here would take exception.). Or are you saying that older means stupid? What, exactly, are you trying to say?

      I am genuinely curious, though I’m guessing a poorly formed germ of a bad idea…

      1. Mime understands where Neil is headed even though he paints with a very broad brush regarding septuagenarians….I can’t fault him for thinking most 70+ folks fall into the right wing category, but I never could fit this profile…I’ve always been a proud liberal female and don’t see any chance of that changing (-;

      2. My 70-year-old point was that we need a new generation of progressive wing politicians, not a comment about the larger population. Voting patters do show that older people are more conservative than younger people, my point was that the revolutionary fire we used to see in the young in the 1970s seems to be coming from the older people in the 2010s – the fact that they could be he same people was just a off-the-wall thought (as I said with no evidence).

        Why you think I mean that 70-year-olds are stupid is beyond me. I don’t, just for the record.

      3. I understood what you meant Neil and actually agree with you. Most old white people have been privileged for so long in one way or another that they feel entitled. They’ve stopped growing intellectually (if they ever began) and are practicing entrenched politics. The young will have to take the reins of leadership as they have the passion, energy and longest incentive to change things. You’re on the money about that.

    2. I will be sixty four next month. In my youth I would of put the T into Tea Party. Very conservative. But living (seeing history unfold), reading, going to school and having very diverse people in my life changed me. I listen to the right wing and left wing rhetoric during my youth. Most of the right wing stuff was tried over my life time. Most of the left wing stuff was tried during my grandparents life time. It takes decades for the experiment to come to a result. Conclusion most of the right wing idealogy was just fluff to conceal enabling the wealthy and powerful to steal from the working class. My granddad tried to tell me that but I was too smart for him. But now I see what he was trying to tell me. So no not all older people are right wing. Many of us never were like Mary and some of us evolved like myself.

  7. “Writing about policy under a Trump administration is a kind of rebellion against futility.”

    Sort of like contemplating middle game strategy while playing with a pigeon that knocks the pieces over, shits on the board, and struts around like it’s victorious.

  8. It is ironic that Red State Legislatures and Governors are considering raising taxes. It seems that many red states are facing revenue shortfalls that are hampering state operations. The KS experience in which tax cuts were “supposed” to create economic growth has not happened. Balanced budgeting is hampered by lack of adequate income for basic needs such as infrastructure and transportation, not to mention all the other areas states must service. When you hold the reins to power, why not raise taxes? Will anyone notice? Care? Especially when the preferred taxes will be on gasoline and cigarettes…..not income (-;

    http://thehill.com/policy/finance/313101-red-states-mull-higher-taxes

    1. Wow – can you believe that cutting taxes leads to less revenue and larger deficits? Who’d have seen that coming?

      Supply-side economics will be one of the jokes that future economists laugh at. Demand-side economics (giving money to people who actually spend it) will be seen as obvious. When will the Laffer crowd finally learn – I mean it has been over 40 years of failure after failure (unless you are in the top few %).

    1. This absolutely works. Lately though, the Breitbart ads haven’t been worth pursuing because they are now mostly scam sites. The important thing in my experience is to get ahold of the person in the company you’re targeting who is responsible for advertising campaigns. You can often look up the company’s actual organizational chart to find the right person, get their email, and lob in your picture of their ad in context with Bb’s objectionable content in a targeted way. I am always super-nice and I always assume the company doesn’t know their ad is appearing in Bb. I just give them a friendly heads-up. If I can’t get the ad director then I go for the company’s communications officer. I have done this successfully with General Motors, Redfin.com, and Group Health Co-op.

      I write something like, “Dear so-and-so, perhaps you’re unaware that ads for your company are appearing on Breitbart.com. I am attaching a screenshot of your ad as it appeared to me yesterday (date). I know your company is a good corporate citizen and I believe this ad has appeared on Breitbart automatically, without your knowledge. Would you please assure me that your ads will no longer appear on this website? Thanks very much. With warm regards, (my name and email address).”

      I have gotten personal emails from high-level corporate officers for all 3 of the companies I have targeted to remove their ads, including a personal phone call from a higher-up officer in GM. Ironically GM’s corporate ads director has an Arabic last name. Her assistant contacted me. All 3 companies have assured me their ads will no longer appear on Bb and a quick glance through there has shown me they are as good as their word.

  9. EJ

    Not all resisters carry explosives.

    In an anti-intellectual environment, publicly being intellectual is an act of resistance.

    In an ideologically-driven environment, encouraging others to question is an act of resistance.

    In a kleptocracy, daring to be honest and idealistic is an act of resistance.

    Most of all, in dark times, the mere act of hoping is an act of resistance.

    Chris, by writing about public policy in Trumpistan, you are resisting.

  10. Chris, do you think that crazy emitting from Trump might upset the 1% sufficiently that they might back up some economically leftish-leaning ideas to counter Trump? Or are they just going to opportunistically use Trump to enrich themselves.

    And here’s a disturbing possibility: http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/01/03/trump-and-the-batman-effect/ (just read last three paragraphs, from “there’s an old joke” if you don’t have the time)

  11. We’ve all followed the NC saga with the embarrassing ouster of Republican Governor McCrory by Democratic AG Cooper and the actions Republicans (along with McCrory) have taken to stymie Governor Cooper from governing.

    The Daily Kos is a left-reporting organization which offers current updates on politics impacting the Democratic Party. You can follow for free and I recommend doing so, particularly certain areas of their reporting. This piece deals with actions occurring throughout the nation on voting rights. For those who live in TX, there is an update on the 2010 court order to re-draw legislative districts that the court has sat on for six years! How flagrant and arrogant can jurists be in denying another court’s finding, and denying the plaintiff the right to a final judgment!

    http://www.dailykos.com/blogs/elections/?link_id=0&can_id=d423a80f4477a1e75a49f2997f8e6c6e&source=email-voting-rights-roundup-courts-block-key-parts-of-north-carolina-gops-undemocratic-power-grab&email_referrer=voting-rights-roundup-courts-block-key-parts-of-north-carolina-gops-undemocratic-power-grab&email_subject=voting-rights-roundup-courts-block-key-parts-of-north-carolina-gops-undemocratic-power-grab

    1. There is a deeper look at John Kasich as well. A wolf in sheep’s clothes? Included under the OHIO paragraph. It’s hard to separate the “good” Republicans from the “awful” Republicans….and I am really trying to find decent conservatives among the group.

  12. Change is a constant in life. In our country it has happen before by ballot and at times by bullet. I do not think people are going to submit to Feudalism. And the technological third wave of manufacturing is upon us. You don’t need labor but you also do not need capital in this emerging world. All you need is access to materials and savvy. I have said before Joe Martina is as stupid as Joe Six Pack. The elite are not going to escape unscathed in the coming social upheaval. Greed in the end will have it’s own punishment.

    1. I don’t agree with your statement that “you don’t need capital in this world”. That is the basis for Chris’ push for the Basic Income. How much one needs is individual, but try living without capital and you’ll struggle….unless I misunderstood your point?

    2. Stephen, I see your point. 3-D printing, internet publishing, and other technologies place enormous disruptive power in the hands of people who may be armed with only $500 worth of capital or less. Innovative capital markets like kickstarter open the possibility of remarkable levels of innovation for people who are otherwise unable to get capital.

      That said, it’s still true I think that almost all of the income from emerging markets are flowing to capital owners rather than laborers, even if those are small capital entrepreneurs.

      1. Small thought from a small brain:

        1. There are two burger shops in a city, and both are equally good.
        2. They both decide to expand because there is demand in other cities.
        3. One store owner (A) wants to grow organically and opens a new store when the accumulated profits allow for the investment. The other (B) borrows a bucket of money and opens dozens of stores at once.
        4. A will keep all the profits, however B will share with the investors who funded the rapid expansion.

        A will find that all the best opportunities have already been snapped up by B. B will probably make more money but have less ownership in the larger business.

        The point:

        So as we get more sophisticated financial services that allow more capital to flow into emerging markets, the ability of capital to extract a share of profits from these markets and take it abroad will increase. Thus countries economies will grow faster, but may level off faster as well with higher external ownership vs. an organic growth emerging market economy (such as China).

  13. Here’s where we can start. Republicans have scheduled 7 cabinet nominations for hearing on a single day. More critically, the office in charge of doing background checks has not had the time nor staff to complete the required background reviews. Democrats have requested more time and fewer hearings in one day so that they can attend overlapping and conflicting hearings. Republicans have said: tough.

    Call your representative and senators’ offices and let them know that you oppose hearings conducted in this manner. Do it Monday. Read this article before you write out what you want to say, and be brief but knowledgeable in case a staffer asks you a question (usually they don’t but Rep. Brady had a young intern answer my call on the Ethics issue and she was argumentative. I knew to call another office and I reported what she said while making my statement. Point is: be prepared and be firm and polite.

    Knowledge is power. Know it and use it. Share it with your circle and ask them to make calls.

    http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/313175-ethics-office-accuses-gop-of-rushing-trump-cabinet-confirmations

  14. We can’t ignore the possibility that the irrational, shallow decisions of Trump, supported by a cartel of wildly enthusiastic, power-grabbing, over-reaching Republicans, could so upset the balance of power on a global basis that the disruption could come from without, rather than civil violence. Think of Trump’s predilection for taunting, and his deep insecurities to demonstrate power, and his undisguised personal vendettas. Trump will push too far and will underestimate adversaries who might be right under his nose or across the pacific.

    When Republicans proposed the bill that would limit cities and states from taking certain actions within their legal jurisdictions just to cripple the Democratic urban stronghold, I realized then that this is going to be much worse than I had imagined. Republicans are going to crush anything they “perceive” as a hindrance to their power. The GOP and Trump are fitting partners who distrust one another and will not hesitate to destroy one another if necessary. The “enemy” of this administration and the GOP is not the Democratic party – their enemy is within.

    From a political perspective, I believe the effort has to focus first at the local level and at the state level, selectively. Mayors, councilmen/women, district attorneys, state reps/senators, governors – bottoms up. Time, energy, donations.

    From a policy perspective, our efforts are going to have to be highly focused. There are simply too few who care deeply enough to commit the time to study and follow up as will be critical. We can’t do it all. Those who lack time can at least stay informed by reading critical thinkers. Possibly it would be helpful to compile a distilled list of reporters, journalists, journals/papers. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I subscribe to more media than I can read. Maybe we could divy that up and collectively have a deeper benefit through more focused effort. It’s expensive to subscribe to major tomes in addition to time constraints of actually reading them fully. Others can commit financial resources and get involved as possible and as their personal interests determine.

    Chris is right. This is going to be bad for a few years and it is tempting to sit back and hope someone else steps up. We can’t. Like everyone, I have limited time and resources, but my concern demands that I do all I can to help. This is going to take lots of shoulders.

    1. “Possibly it would be helpful to compile a distilled list of reporters, journalists, journals/papers. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I subscribe to more media than I can read. Maybe we could divy that up and collectively have a deeper benefit through more focused effort.”

      You only need three-ish. One local, one national, and one international, news source.

      The local one is the most important. It needs the financial help and it is where the national news draws a lot of its information. It starts there.

      Think of activism like exercising: no wasted motion. You have to target certain muscles on certain days, and focus helps strengthen faster than trying to holistically ‘fix’ your entire body. Flailing around and running through random exercises can help a lot, but it’s not as effective; in some cases, if you’re not paying attention, you can hurt yourself.

      When you receive the daily newspaper from the local source, realize that half that bulk is nothing: ad sections, sports, entertainment news, lifestyle. Throw it in the recycling. There’s nothing there. Browse the arts section only to see if there’s anything about demonstrations, protest art, what the local scene is doing to support the artists — but beyond that, throw it out. Waste of time. Weather? Waste of time.

      Pay more attention to the Business section than you used to. In there you will see what the private sector is doing to react to the chaos around it. There may be more kernels of effective action there than you’d think.

      Your reading should not be in the order designated by the periodical, but in the order designated by you. Start local; move outward to national; then international.

      Lastly: 90% of the Opinion / Editorial section can be dismissed. It covers news already reported in the articles, but gives just one writer’s and a few editors’ opinion on that subject. The only time you should read the Op/Ed section is if you finish an article in the main paper and think, “I need to know more.” Then check the Op/Ed section to see if there’s an article on it. If not, then write a letter to the editor requesting more information.

      Over time you can start speed-reading several articles. Articles that cover information you know you can browse only for new information. Articles that cover areas that you’re cursorily aware of you can read the first and last paragraphs to get a sense of whether it’s something you should be aware of.

      Mostly keep your eye out for calls to action: anything that says “A decision is coming up on [date],” “On [date], lawmakers will…” “Voters will determine if…”. Take that article, read the issue, look it up, and plan out activism around it.

      The rest is circus.

      1. Aaron – my point is not that I don’t know how to read critically and selectively, but that I lack time to read widely. I want more than one paper/journal for comparison purposes, but I recognize that I subscribe to too many. I’d rather use my time and money for other purposes in my efforts within the political/policy arena.

        If we each listed the journals we subscribe to, we might find we are overlapping significantly and we could rank order our choices and not duplicate. That would compel each of us who stipulate a certain journal to actually regularly read it (the relevant sections/writers) and report here in the appropriate place. It’s a matter of personal and financial resource allocation and effective action thereof. I don’t subscribe to the WSJ (anymore) but there are undoubtedly those who do who comment here and could share the articles that aren’t pay-walled. That POV has value but not at $$$/yr for my budget. WaPo are both excellent journals but do I need both? I always subscribe to my local paper….always. I value The Atlantic but do I also need The New Yorker? I am doing some soul-searching because I need to set aside more time for phone calls and letters/visits. I can’t do it all and manage my personal life obligations and needs.

        Possibly Chris has some ideas about this but things are going to start happening fast and furiously and we need to be able to respond in kind. That’s all.

      2. All fine points, Aaron, but mime has a point in that there’s only so many of us here and even if we do as you say, there’s always going to be a lot that’s gone over our heads that we missed. It wouldn’t hurt to come together on a modest list of papers, sites and the like that best encompass what we feel we should be paying attention to, see who’s overlapping and what we’re missing and then perhaps divy up our limited resources to spread our proverbial net out a lot farther.

        Let’s say we do that and maybe have an up-to-date topic in the Off-Topic section every week or so.

      3. Well okay, but most national stuff will be covered by all major periodicals (ignore those idiots on Facebook with all the ‘And the Mainstream MEDIA IGNORES IT!’) and what you miss you’ll learn about through social media anyway (typically under the headline ‘And the Mainstream MEDIA IGNORES IT!’).

        It’s your local stuff that is going to slip by, and that local stuff isn’t going to apply to many people here in the sense that even if we know, there’s not much to do about it. A good example is NoDAPL: At this point if you care, you can support the NoDAPL protestors in many ways, but back when it was just a localized issue there wasn’t really anything to do unless you knew someone from North Dakota.

        Anyway I’ll stop naysaying. If you guys set up the Off Topic thread I’ll try to do my part.

    1. Democrats are intellectually exhausted and calling Republicans the Party of Stupid would be a compliment at this point, so you’re right that people are looking for an alternative, but a viable alternative. We have a lot of third parties as it is, the Libertarian and Green Parties being the most prominent, but all they amount to is a protest vote every four years. Virtually no one takes them seriously.

      It’s too soon to say with any certainty what’s going to happen to the Democratic Party, but as for the Republicans, we’ve already seen a large splintering of conservatives and moderates and that process is likely to accelerate in the Era of Trump. Outspoken voices like Evan McMullin that hearken back to a more sane time will be interesting to watch, but their comparative influence is like a bud that’s just started to grow.

      With all that in mind, and depending in no small measure on how many people feel a critical need to invest more of themselves in politics, we shouldn’t be surprised to see more third parties emerge in the not too distant future.

      1. Happy New Year from across the pond everyone. It’s quite hard for me to comment on threads like this, obviously, but will keep reading to keep myself informed. Am concerned, for the reason that I have developed a lot of respect for all the commentators here and for the rest of the American electorate who have been failed so abysmally. Best wishes to you all

      2. Good to hear from you, hoonteo. Hope your health trip to Mexico was helpful for your family. We who comment here are doing our best to stay abreast of what is going on while doing what we can to influence that process. It is a challenging time for all who support equality and democracy.

        Thank you for checking in. Your Off Topic post is still alive and well which is great. In fact, I have asked for a “Steps #2” as there are so many comments there. Not sure if you’re in the UK or made the move to Mexico, but wherever you end up, you will contribute. Keep us informed and comment when you can.

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