Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Half FOX and half free

I follow a blog called Stonekettle Station. It's written by a crusty old squid by the name of Jim Wright, and I enjoy his curmudgeonly and iconoclastic take on most things.

But since the election of the Tangerine Toddler Jim has been banging this drum about "compromise".

What compromise? Well...his premise is that there is this critical mass of "good people" out there who have been fooled (or stampeded, or sidled) into voting Republican because they have fears, and the Left just pooh-poohs their fears. So they go out and vote for the Republican who may (or may not) do "something" to change what it is they fear but as often as not simply uses their fear-vote to advance the GOP agenda of more Gilded Age.

The trick, see, is that:
"It seems Democrats have a historic opportunity, a moment when moderate conservatives could be given a choice other than dogmatic partisanship, if the left can pull together, can reach out, can compromise, and can but convince them that their guns and their bibles will be safe. If Democrats can address those fears up above in an honest manner and put them firmly to rest, then now, this moment right here, is an opportunity to prove that the alternative is better."
And y'know what?

I completely agree.

I don't want to take anyone's kid and convince him that his or her faith is a bunch of Bronze Age claptrap. I think it is, but, hell, I also think that french fries are good with mayonnaise.

I don't want to take anyone's Mossberg. Their AR-15? Yeah, maybe. But "their guns", as in ALL the guns? Christ, I'd be a lunatic to think it could even be done; We the People have chosen to offer up a blood sacrifice to the God of Weaponry rather than to disarm and I just have to suck that up.'s where I think Jim hits the wall. He says that"
You find the people, whatever their politics, who believe civilization is better than the alternative."
Which is a great idea, a terrific idea.

Just one little problem...what if the people you're trying to compromise with would rather wreck the joint rather than accept a "civilization" that's not on their terms?

There was this guy. Kind of a liberalish dude, really a mainstream corporate-capitalist sort of politician but in the liberal tradition that believes that governing is to "get things done" for the majority of the citizens. Sorta wonky. Hawaiian dude, funny name, can't quite remember it. But he was president back in the day. Remember him?

Remember how he tried to "compromise" with these people? Offered them all sorts of private profits, all sorts of corporate goodies, tried to defer to their "sensibilities" about things like religion and sex and gender and all that guff?
And remember how they "compromised" with him?

Yeah. Me, too.

Tell me, Jim; how the flippin' fuck do you "compromise" with people - and I'm talking your bog-standard Republicans, your soccer moms and Home Depot dads, not the shoutycrackers and the Stormfront bros - who think and thought that Barak Obama was a Kenyan commie out to destroy their freedoms? Who thought that living through eight years of having to press "1" for English and not being able to use the word "faggot" at PTA meetings was sheer tyrannical hell?

I'm serious. This is getting ridiculous. Jim keeps on and on about "compromise" as if the Left hasn't. Even. Tried. While that's about all the left HAS done. Given ground on abortion. Given ground on equal rights. Given ground on health care. Given ground on "terrorism".

Sweet Christ, these wingnuts have gotten damn near everything they've whined about...but did that motivate them to moderate their insistence that the queers hide back in the closet and stop getting all "married" and the blacks stop getting pissed off about being shot by cops and the wogs be fine with getting carpet-bombed and tortured and the uppity wimmen shut up and lie there and plutocrats get the tax cuts they need to better buy and sell government?

And much as I hate to be a "die, die!" libtard (Jim had a post talking about the war of extermination with the aliens in Independence Day and how that's where we're going if we can't compromise...), but equal justice and equitable democracy and other details like clean air and water aren't really negotiable.

They're starting points; from there I'm fine with arguing the details of potty time with people who are terrified that they will be assaulted in the ladies' can by a Cambodian ladyman in a Balenciaga cocktail frock.

Here's what I think.

I think Jim's got the fundamental relationship wrong. It's the fundies and wingnuts that are doing the "die, die!" thing here. They're fine with destroying the U.S. of the New Deal if they can't get white supremacy and plutocracy and corporate oligarchy. They'd rather fight liberalism to the death than compromise with it; their insane furor over the ACA and the other ridiculously moderate liberal institutions of 2017 America - their "fears", as you label them - pretty much gives them away. To them we're "babykillers" and "dhimmicrats" and "libtards".

They don't want to compromise with us. They want to destroy us. Those aren't MY words, they're theirs.

So sorry to spoil the fun. But I think Jim - and my other lefty friends and pundits who keep going on about how we just have to understand and reach out to the poor frightened rubes who went all-in for Trump - are preaching to the wrong choir.

I agree; the nation cannot long survive half FOX and half free; it must become all one or all the other. But I see no reason why those of us who object to becoming serfs to our corporate overlords need to give anything more to the ridiculous fears of Scary Brown People and fifteen bucks an hour and solar power and gay wedding cakes.

Instead, I think all y'all guys need to tell the Right all this "compromise" stuff.
I'll be here with the popcorn to see just how far you get with that shit.


P Harris said...

I like Jim Wright a lot, for a lot of the same reasons I like you. I understand where he's coming from on his last few posts, and as always he makes case well.

But I think you're right on this one. I've been thinking about what he wrote about for two or three months on my own, and I know that there must be some people on the Right who are reachable, but the majority? No. They're not interested in compromise. Or reasoned dialog, or (as far as I can tell) mutual coexistence. And I'm not interested in pretending that they're not insane, living in a Fox/Breitbart/Inforwars world that literally has no grounding in reality.

I don't know what the endgame is in our current national situation will be, but I can't think of any outcome that's not ugly and painful.

Malteaser said...

Well, I am a Jim Wright fan, but you definitely speak to the fed-up with those effin' right wingers in me. There is no compromise, and I'm sick of being nice to them, because they really are racists and bigots. You speak for me. I'm old, white, atheist, liberal, and female and my husband's taking me to the shooting range so that when our big dog dies I'll know how to use a gun in self-defense if ever needed. I guess should add cranky to my bio.

Jim Wright said...

P. Harris:

One thing I'd note is that I never said "majority."

I said win over those (perhaps few) reasonable conservatives. Sure they might be a small percentage. But if you look at the numbers, well, that's all you need.

// Jim Wright

Leslie said...

I'm exhausted and depressed and do believe that there is no longer any compromise. I have not applied for and therefore not been admitted into the inner sanctum of JW though do generally appreciate his writings. But, on this one, I will agree with Graphic Firing Table. I am so tired :(

Krista said...

I think you miss the point. You don't try to compromise with the extremes. But whatever you think of republicans, there is *some* number of them who are not far right wingnuts. *They* are the ones who need to be reached. And they may not be in congress. They are your neighbours on the street who might just be convinced to vote differently next time, if they don't feel like every liberal considers them the enemy. That's who you compromise with. Who you talk to. Who you share points of view with in a civilized manner and maybe get them, and you, to see some agreeable middle ground. But that doesn't happen if you keep calling them all wingnuts who refuse to compromise. So take the first step, extend the first olive branch, and start working with those near the middle.

Darlene Harbick said...

I found you through Jim Wright's post, and have a few observations. 1. Thanks, Jim. 2. You're an excellent writer with a real gift for turning a phrase. 3. I don't think most Trump supporters are bigots or stupid, but I do believe that an awful lot of them hate government so much that it makes sense to them to blow it up, no matter what it costs us.4. I tend to agree with you rather than Jim when it comes to evaluating the possibility of success in finding much common ground with Trump supporters. A better bet is to craft a party platform that goes in the direction citizens want to go in, ditch the neoliberal policies, and run politicians who have appeal for potential voters. In other words, get more of our voters to the polls than they do theirs.

Carol McCulloch said...

Another follower of Jim, here, and I absolutely agree with you. I have long held that Obama's biggest flaw was his tendency to pre-compromise; trying to offer something that the right would find acceptable. Fact is, the very fact that the offering was coming from him meant that the right would find it unacceptable, even if it was a great idea if they had come up with it themselves. They also took the offering as a starting point rather than a compromise. e.g. Obamacare was really Romneycare but, because it was a Democratic offering, they had to oppose it. Meanwhile, we got stuck with the pre-compromise instead of the Medicare for all that we really wanted. We need to acknowledge that it is their way or the highway, and even if you offer them something that is "their way" they will reject it because of the source. This is a no win situation, and has to be played as such.

Phillip Ondera said...

Id say its worth noting that for some people, your "starting point" and your "details up for discussion" are unequal or even reversed. To the trans women I know, risking being assaulted or murdered vs. being arrested if they have to pee while outside of their homes is probably a step above clean air and water, which won't matter if they're dead or incarcerated.

Everyone - right, left, neither - has a different view on which issues are open to compromise and which are necessary/intolerable. To a die-hard pro-lifer, a pro-choice person is someone who openly espouses cold-blooded murder. To a die-hard pro-choicer, the pro-life folks want women to be nothing more than incubation machines with no rights while pregnant at all. To the people who have latched onto that issue (and any other issue), any opposition is unconscionable.

Problem is that EVERYONE has thei own unique sets of these we can't even agree on WHICH issues to try to debate!

SDK said...

You started to grasp Jim Wright's point, and then you ended up back at the same position he was warning about. So, all you have done is describe reasons not to compromise, and cite examples where the other side won't compromise. But, you offered no alternative solution, no alternative path to turn the tide in the sea of red shown in the map graphic on Jim's post.

Here's what you let fly over your head... Jim's thesis wasn't to compromise, rather its his conclusion. His thesis was that we're losing - losing elections, losing political ground, losing control - and as rational beings, we should want to reverse that trend. But there should be no mistake, the trend is clear, we keep losing. We're not just talking about Trump's victory, which was marginal and technical, we're also talking about the Senate, the House, state Governorships, state legislators, and local offices. The last decade has been a slow and steady advancement for the red team, reaching its pinnacle in this past election. Red has swallowed most of America of late.

So, the question is, do you want to win? Do you want to turn enough of that red into blue, so that government (at all levels) is built on policies and actions that reflect more moderate values? I am with you 100%, as I suspect Jim is, that most of the other side has been intractable, hypocritical and just plain unfair. Compromise has not been something they have exemplified, or even remotely considered. And yet, now they have most of the power. So, how do you propose to resolve that? By stomping your feet? By giving up? By trying to play their game, the way they play it? (see Jim's earlier posts urging us to consider "Either we are who we say we are or we aren't.") Of course, we can't compromise with those that clearly can never be reached.

However, if you look to the political scientists, there are clues that a good enough portion of those empowering the red team with their votes, are in fact reachable. Most Americans, regardless of identified ideology or affiliation, prefer progressive solutions when asked about specific issues. That's an extremely significant clue. Don't lose sight of that fact. MOST AMERICANS PREFER PROGRESSIVE SOLUTIONS (when asked about specific issues). That means, a good portion of those who voted against their own interests, are reachable. Why haven't they been reached lately? Well, because the other side has appealed to their fears, and they've done a damn effective job of it.

So, this is Jim's point. He's not saying we should compromise with Trump or McConnell or the Tea Party. And I don't think a single rational soul would ever believe it possible to compromise with the alt-right/neo-nazi/fascist assholes. No, he's saying there are those who really do fall into the middle, but have had their fears guide their political choices of late. Those individuals, communities, voting blocks, Americans... those are the ones we can reach. We can reach them by throwing water on the blaze of fear that has been so fervently stoked by the other side.

As Jim pointed out so clearly, we can't change things until we win. We can only win by convincing more people to put reason ahead of fear. That can only happen if we can reach them. We can only reached them if they feel their fears have been addressed and allayed. That's the point! Compromise, in this context, is to communicate with those who fear you and your politics. Compromise is communication. If we don't start revamping our strategy and tactics around that concept, we will continue to lose and continue to allow the most uncompromising among our citizens and representatives to gain and maintain power. 3 choices remain: 1) give up, 2) civil war, 3) reason and compromise. I, for one, can never do #1 and hope against all hope that we don't end up with #2. #3 is our best chance at seeing a swing in our direction and a moderation of policy, law, rhetoric and action.

Anonymous said...

A well reasoned position

nbarrett said...

I often feel exactly like this. I grew surrounded by the exact people who are currently attempting to dismantle our nation, and you are right that the vast majority of them have no interest in compromise. But I think it's important to remember that we don't control what others do, only what we do. I can reach out my hand to you, I can't make you reach out your hand to me. And if I never reach out, chances are good you will never do so either. I'm not in charge of what they do, but I am in charge of what I do--if I don't do everything in my power as often as I can, that's on me. And it is exhausting and terribly disappointing, and I fail spectacularly on an unfortunately regular basis, but I keep coming back, choosing my battles, and trying again. Keep fighting.

Anonymous said...

As much as I agree with Jim that we need to reach out to the "reachable" Conservatives out there, From my (admittedly limited) interactions with Trump supporters, that's never going to happen. I actually had a now-ex-friend tell me that she voted Republican because Christians were being persecuted in this Country and that she has lots of gay friends and PoC friends that voted for Trump, too. I have never wanted to bitch-slap somebody so hard as I wanted to that privileged Caucasian wife of a retired-Officer--with a persecution complex to boot. She actually had the nerve to tell me that she removed my (polite, actually) comment from her page because I was intolerant, and when that happens she's "going to bounce." GTFO.

It took supreme willpower to walk away from her message, and I really need to get the hell over it, but when someone THAT privileged pulls the persecution card it just pissed me the hell off.

So no, I really don't have any faith that Faux News et al hasn't created a large group of people who will NEVER ever compromise with the "wicked" Left. But then, I'm as pessamistic as hell nowadays, so what do I know?

Stephen Brough said...

Jim, I read your posts daily. Whether I agree with them or not, you are always entertaining and well spoken. My question would be: When is the moderate left going to speak up and make their voices heard as loudly as the militant left? When is the moderate left going to finally tell the far side of their own party to sit down and stop making a spectacle of themselves, much as the uber-right does? There are many here and on Stone Kettle among us that are tired of the truly far wings of both parties. Its time we put aside the differences and look to the commonality and the things that unite, rather than divide us.

RobF said...

What Jim's post said the most loudly to me, which gets me past my "how the fuck am I supposed to compromise with the far right fuckers who want to fuck with me and my rights" feelings, is that we're not really in a situation of left versus right. It's now a matter of civilization versus those who would rather see it burn.

Left or right, conservative or liberal, religious or atheist, most of America recognizes the advantages of civilization and would like to see it thrive (and therefore progress). Those are the people we need to find and talk to, because they are already on the same side that we are on. That's what I see Jim as meaning by compromise.

Forget the barbarians at the gates, because you're right - they can't be talked to. But focus on the civilized, the advocates of civilization, and we will drive off the Huns.

Timaree said...

One point none of you have mentioned while talking about the non-compromising righties is that many Bernie supporters, far lefties, won't compromise either. They won't vote to help win the Democratic ticket because they want the Democrat party as it is now to be gone. They want to throw out anyone who supported Hillary and did not support Bernie. So think about that. There are two groups who don't want to compromise and they are both rather extreme and no, everyone who was for Bernie isn't nor is everyone who voted for Trump but for the hardcore group that's where we are really at.

Ophelia said...

I'm a big fan of Jim's. I've read the blog posts and the comments under them. I personally think he had an idea in his head but he got it wrong in the message he put out. He doesn't seem to be too willing to accept that possibility but he has his own section of reality as do we all. I'm a lesbian with a gender non conforming spouse, living in Texas. We've marched, donated money, educated bigots kindly, to the point where they love us, but they still vote red, every single time. They are constantly fed propaganda and I think it has an effect on their brains like a bad drug. I changes them. I can't even describe how many times I have been kind to someone, trying to engage them in a thoughtful discussion with the motivation to just put a human face on a person of color, transgender people, gay people, Muslims, etc. Any kind of compromise, they consider a weakness. Being courteous and kind is considered a weakness, aka "political correctness". I've watched as my party moved farther and farther to the right, just as Republicans moved farther and farther to the right. I watched my party become centrist/right while Republicans went extreme right. If we look back at Republican presidents of the past, they would be considered socialist liberals today and be spat upon.

The reason Jim got his reaction to compromise is that that's all we've been doing for forever. We have had to fight so hard for every crumb and every agonizing step into the future. Now, in the blink of an eye, it's all being destroyed. All those years of blood, sweat and tears, just gone with the stroke of a pen. We've seen that the establishment is so deeply corrupt and broken in so many ways that marching, voting, protesting, does nothing really. They just do what they want anyway. Every human civilization has fallen at some point. I think the attitude of "DO SOMETHING" is a frightened person in denial of what is actually happening. It's just a different stage of grief. Some of us see what's coming and we are choosing how we are going to deal with what is inevitable by either letting go of the illusion of control and just appreciate the good times while we have them, by stockpiling ammo, guns and food, by figuring out where your bug out place is going to be, or just by yelling at people to "do something" or berate them for not doing enough or "giving up". Everyone has their way of coping. Loved this post and I love Jim's posts. I just think he got it wrong this time.

Anne Martinez said...

Oh goodness! Someone who can succinctly state exactly what I feel but have a hard time putting in words. Thank you. Very happy I found you. (Through Jim Wright) :)

Larissa said...

In reply to SDK here:

"So, the question is, do you want to win?"

You know what? I don't know. I don't know if "winning" is worth it if it means giving up on civil rights, conceding reality to Infowars, massaging the egos of the uninformed and illiterate at the expense of things like science and the Enlightenment.

I honestly don't know that that would be a society worth preserving. I don't think that compromise is worth it. I'd rather start over in another country that values education, literacy, and rationality over appeasing people who want to be terrified of the boogeyman because it makes them feel important.

At some point, winning becomes the same as losing. I love Jim and all, but I'm pretty sure that the degree of ruination we'd have to agree to in order to "compromise" with even moderate Republicans would make us about as morally clean as the Good Germans, and I do't think it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

Please don't generalize Bernie supporters. Much of Bernie's platform IS our ideal, but that doesn't mean that we can't come towards the middle. Saying that, anything right of the middle really is a problem.

HanBarbara said...

I also follow Jim and am in awe of his writing ability, and also of his common sense. My problem with compromise is that 50 years ago, the grandparents of many of these same conservatives were afraid of the very same things- just substitute African American for LGBT. African Americans were going to move into their neighborhoods, go to their schools, date their daughters and then...and then...they'd have beautiful grandchildren.
How are we supposed to assuage their fears, especially when there's a whole media industry that's been built to scare old white men? How do you reason with them? Also, do we sacrifice the hard won tights of LGBT people to make these conservatives feel more comfortable?
Besides, I don't think that's the point. The people who've been left behind by this economy don't want welfare, or food stamps, and while they like health insurance, they'd rather get it through an employer. They want decent jobs, and they want dignity. How do we convince them that Liberals can help them to get the things they want?

Peter Kruger said...

Actually, I think you can do it.

I'm a law student, but I'm especially focusing on alternative dispute resolution. I work with insanely unreasonable people as a neutral and as a lawyer, trying to work out deals.

These are people in deep crisis. Usually a lawsuit has been filed. That's liable to make anyone a mighty bit tetchy to begin with. Then someone makes a threat, and someone makes a counterthreat, and by the time I usually get involved, both sides want the blood of their opponent's firstborn child and are willing to burn a moderate sized village to the ground to get it.

So, what do you do?

I think Jim uses the wrong word in compromise.

I think the better word is negotiate.

Negotiation isn't necessarily compromise. Not in the sense of the traditional split-the-baby, give-some-get-some kind of compromise.

Roger Fisher and William Ury explain the concept of "principled negotiation" in their book Getting to Yes, one of the foundational negotiations textbooks.

I won't go into the entire book here, because, well, it's a pretty dense book, but the gist of it is learning to separate the people from the problems, figure out what their interests are rather than simply their positions, invent options for mutual gain, and insist on using objective criteria to measure those options' validity or success.

If you're interested in following up, I'd be happy to discuss further. (I think this thing should give you my email, if not, I tagged it to let me know about follow up comments.) Honestly, I'd be happy to talk with you and Jim about it. Both of you have a pretty decent audience, and I'd like to be able to do some good in the world.

Ettore Johnson said...

I don't believe you have to compromise with extremists, though they are always the ones upon whom we concentrate. Why? Because they are the high profile cases that draw all of the attention to themselves.

Take the case of al-Qaeda. Name the next nine senior members of the group, after Bin Laden. Unless you were a member of the US military, given specific briefings on the group and a deck of cards with their faces, you have no chance.

When Jim said we might be best to compromise, I understood we would be looking to compromise with a scared, unemployed coal miner who's struggling financially, not with some impenetrably conservative neo-Nazi like Steve Bannon.

Most people you know will be close to the middle of the bell curve; not way out at 4 SD from the mean. The outliers are beyond reach. Let them stay there. We outnumber them one thousand to one.

SDK said...

Larissa: Again you are missing Jim's point. If you read all 3 essays in the series, he repeatedly made it clear that he isn't at all considering compromising on values or rights. He is talking about how to strategically preserve those values/rights and, strategically gain victories for the expansion of them. We're not talking about compromise with the conservative agenda or the GOP platform. We're talking about communicating with those who voted against their interests because of the fears that have clouded their reason. We must compromise with those fears by addressing them, and convincing those who are reachable (enough of them anyway) that they don't need to be afraid.

steve williams said...

I've been following Jim for years and though I agree with some of your points I will say this, people hold on to certain beliefs like they hold on to those socks that's been sitting in the sock drawer for three years. We are at some point going to need to compromise on some things. For some reason we became the non working class party that loves government and hates working class people (of course were not but that's the picture being painted.) We need to compromise the branding of our party to fit what we really are, the party for the working class.

Stephanie said...

I have cousins I have not spoken with since they proudly declared their support of Trump the day after the election. Gobsmacked is about the only term I can use to describe how I felt when I read their posts, and how pitiable I found their reasoning. There is no formal break there, because if I do engage with them on this subject, there will be Fire: White-hot, steel-melting, dragon-daunting ire backed by an intellect that they have never seen me display in anger. There is no point in burning that bridge with quite that amount of napalm, because I will never, ever, not in a million years, change their minds about this. They aren't stupid, but their brains haven't been trained in how to evaluate informational sources. What they feel is true, and it's true because that's how they feel. They aren't the people that Mr. Wright would have me compromise with, because they don't know what compromise is.

On the other hand, I have a very dear friend, one I regard as family that I got to choose. I have no idea how she voted in the election: She hasn't told me and it isn't my business to ask. She is deep-dyed conservative, though, and if she didn't vote for the orange menace then it is quite likely she voted for somebody other than Hilary or Bernie. She has never rejected any of my arguments on the ground that I am a screaming liberal, nor do I reject her arguments because she's a deeply conservative person: We examine the arguments and chew on them thoughtfully. Sometimes we change each other's minds, sometimes we come up with something together that looks better than the individual parts we came into the conversation with, and sometimes we just agree to disagree, but it is never with rancor, just a recognition of different value sets. I think we get along so well because neither of us is a stone-cold ideologue. We have guiding theories but at heart we're pragmatists and our conversations often include "Is there a problem?", "Can we define the problem so we both agree on what's wrong?", and "How do we solve the problem with the best usage of the resources at hand?". We agree that improving things in real life, even incrementally, is a lot better than wasting time working for an impossible perfection. I may be wrong, but I think this is the sort of person Mr. Wright wishes us screaming leftists to engage with. There may not be many like her, but there are enough to turn the tide if we can reassure them we aren't going to run roughshod over their values and beliefs.

As for the Republican hierarchy, I see no point in compromising with them at all. As has been pointed out, their idea of compromise is to get everything they want (and then some) and concede nothing. Their hides need to be kicked around the block from here to forever, but I don't see being able to do that without the support of people like my dear friend. Once somebody like her starts to light torches and gather pitchforks, congress-critters Pay Attention.

de1057 said...

We need to be voted into office to be able to have our policies put into practice. If we treat them as enemies, we will not get voted into office. We need to talk to those who disagree with us in a way that will peak their interest instead of push them away and make them hate us. Instead of treating Republicans as an enemy, treat them as an old friend that you love but disagree with. That is the compromise.

SDK said...

Well said de1057. That's exactly the point I was trying to make above, and really the source point is Jim's. You captured exactly how I interpreted Jim's series of essays on this topic, but in a much more concise and powerful way than I could. I am a bit shocked at how many seem to be misinterpreting this, especially among Jim's own readers.

Rebecca Kesler said...

I think that you miss one little point. Compromise isn't about "winning" or "losing". It's about getting to a place where while you don't get everything that you want, neighter does the other guy, but you both get something.

The Left has given in on somethings, but over the years, so has the Right. The problem is backlash, in politics. This happens on both sides of the aisle, not just on the Right. We are just far more aware of it on it on the Right, because it's more recent.

A friend of mine, in the UK was tasked with showing the newly elected Tea Party Congress Critters around Parliament... when he was asked how the Conservatives and the Liberals made things work, my fired replied that they compromised... he was told that in America, this was never going to work again.

Well... history says that the lack of compromise didn't work all that well for Speaker Gingrich, didn't work for Speaker Bohner, and doesn't seem to be working all that well for Speaker Ryan. History also tells us that Congress also tends to flip, during a president's tenure, IOW if it is Republican, when the President is sworn in, it will go Democrat in the midterms, and vice versa. (This in no way absolves ANY ONE from voting!)

But during the Reagan era, compromise could be had, working across the aisle was de rigour... As it was up until Speaker Gingrich's time.... So think on it... It is the ideologues that are bringing this on...

Mary Ann Gisburne said...

I too am a follower of Jim Wright. I am looking at both parties responding to the voters, not the voters changing their views to fit the parties' platforms. This is not a matter of fear, but of convictions. I have to place blame on both parties, not just the Republicans.

I have considered myself to be a moderate Republican only because the Democratic party does not want me.

You said that the Democrats have tried to compromise. You mentioned abortion. I am whole life pro-life. As a child of the sixties, the Democratic party of Hubert Humphrey was a perfect fit for me. That party no longer exists.

The Democratic party has changed. Clinton stands with Planned Parenthood. My two Democratic senators and congressman align themselves with her. Democrats for Life approached the DNC for some sort of inclusion in the platform. They were rejected.

So where does that leave people like me? I suspect that there are a significant number of moderates, who like me, look for the candidates who are the least inflexible on life issues, which includes much more than abortion.

Meanwhile, my husband, who is a Fox viewer, just wants the government out of his life. He doesn't elaborate on specifics. He doesn't offer any alternatives for necessary government programs. I think that for him, and others too, it really is a matter of having some control over his life. Even though deregulation may have no impact on him, it represents the government giving up power over peope. Once again it is not fear. Maybe illusion, but not fear.

Erik Engstrom said...


Another die-hard social liberal here. On Monday's I agree with you. Five other days of the week I agree with Jim. On Sundays I dont give a fuck, because Christ said so, or something something football.

I feel neither viewpoint is morally or intellectually inadequate. I read Jim's work because he reinforces the already thin membrane that prevents me from going crazy. To me, he also personifies the America that I grew up in and reminds me that it once existed.

I don't think the "wall" is his, but rather it is ours. We are tired of tolerance and want more action, more resistance and results. I can't argue against this rallying cry because I often feel the same, but I cling to my belief that American has, can and will moderate itself.

I appreciate both the historical similarities and the uniqueness of the current political and social climate and I certainly do not like it. I always point back to the Federalist Papers and early Washington administration and I mostly receive blank stares. I point to the early days leading up to the New Deal, to the rise of Mccarthyism and can find common thread. I hope we will moderate soon and I know there are enough of us who wish to be more in the middle, even though we are currently polarized. I hope there will be few casualties. Until then, I will keep reading Jim's articles like a survivor of a house fire inhales tanked oxygen.

He shared your post, which I appreciated and look forward to reading more of your thoughts and writing.



Catherine Hoernlein said...

Very well said. Thank you!

Fred Pearson said...

I believe you and Jim are both looking at this from the perspective of sides: left or right, Dem or Repub, liberal or conservative. I think it is time to reject those labels and positions in favor of a different approach to governance and government. I haven't found a good fit to that myself, but I think the answer is out there. Going to keep looking.

Don Keightley said...

Great! Now I have three critical thinkers to add shades and hues to my thinking. The third being the liberal redneck, Trae Crowder.

A cornucopia of truths and beliefs which I find somewhat unpleasant as the consequences of all viewpoints are decidedly unpalatable. But they illustrate most clearly the state of the Union in unvarnished and unapologetic terms. It paints the realism of the world we live in

You both have a point as I see it. Jim is right that we should compromise, but not with the knuckle dragging yahoos who cannot see beyond their bigotry and prejudices, which you so eloquently explain are beyond redemption. Their are however those with brains who still hang onto a failed ideology yet are seeing it crumble into a swamp of lies and corruption. They are the ones who need to be convinced that compromise is the only savior of their held values and the future of conservatism

Those of the fringe are not a majority. There are signs that thinkers are realizing that they made a mistake and they should not be ignored.

In fact they are the only hope of ending this White House and Congressional shit circus

Dale Ellis said...

Well GFT, you sure know how to pee in the cornflakes. At least Jim Wright holds out a tiny bit of hope in this otherwise hopeless dystopian wasteland we call home. I sure as hell wish I didn't find myself nodding my head at every other sentence you wrote. Where it all ends, I don't know, but I don't see it ending well.

I guess we really did make god in our own image, after all. It will be harvest time soon, and time to go reap the whirlwind. If I"m wrong, I'll treat Jim to a bottle of his favorite Scotch and match him shot for shot in celebration. Never did care for the taste of Scotch myself. Might as well drink gasoline. But I'll drink it with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. That's just how much I want us to be wrong.

M said...

I like Jim's take on things except for the compromise thingy. Down here in Texas we don't compromise with water moccasins or rattlesnakes. Now I'm not one for pointing fingers too much, but we are now at the beginning of April and things have not gotten much better in and around the White House. For the most part those that are left on my "Friend's" list that were Trump supporters are still Trump supporters. In fact they seemed to become more entrenched in their support of him each and every day. They are the exact people he cited when he said he could shoot someone in New York and they would still back him. I see those people as just a little tetched. Sort of like the dog that starts foaming at the mouth. You just can't bring either one of those back from the brink. I've found that you can't reason with an unreasonable person any more than you can rollerskate in a buffalo herd. You're going to lose every time. As to the destruction of our democracy well isn't that special. Anyone that studies Bannon knows that is exactly what he wants. The ouster from the NSA is all smoke and mirrors. Apparently not too many people have ever been around the sideshows at a carnival. Those games have one intention - to beat you and take your money. Not with a club, but ny outwitting the 'smart people'. Bannon studied Lenin and a few others whose only intention was destruction of the state. Now SCROTUS is implementing those plans by edict. He's cut the budget for the State Department while increasing the one for the military. He took out seasoned diplomats who might have been useful to Tillerson who knows absolutely nothing, nada, zilch, and even less than that about diplomatic relationships. Gosh, could SCROTUS be preparing us for something?? Could he be pushing us toward something?? And yes there are the locksteppers that want this beautiful experiment to plunge smooth over a cliff. They would rather destroy it than let anything 'different' survive. Part is for the sake of greed. Part is for the sake of their own imagined supremacy. Part is just cause. The rest of us if we remain complacent will reap the aftermath of a whirlwind, but more like the swirling down into a cesspool. Compromise? Never. Understand they were had? Yes. Hope for the best, but always prepare for the worst. My Great Depression and WWII grandparents taught me at least that. They also taught me to be wary of traveling snake oil salesmen. They're slick. They'll tell you what you want to hear not what you need to hear. Then they won't follow through on a dadgum thing. Sounds like SCROTUS to me. [SCROTUS - So-Called Ruler of the United States].

Grace said...

Well unless you and the people who agree with you are a) planning civil war
or b) just going to give up
You are going to have to persuade some people on the Republican side to change their vote. Unpalatable as that might be, reaching out to some of them is an essential part of that process.
Sure throwing insults feels good and both sides are guilty of it but it's counter-productive.

I think you missed the point of Jim's essay, and I'm fairly sure you might miss mine. Neither of us is saying you have to compromise with Neo-Nazis or extremists, you can't compromise with them, we know that would never work.
However, there are moderate people out there who want pretty much the same things you do (decent schools, hospitals, roads etc.) but who voted Republican. If you can reach them, find that common ground and deal with their fears and objections rationally and calmly, then you might change the way they see you and what you represent. If you can do that, then next election you can effect real change.

Alternatively, you can continue down the admittedly feel-good path of 'No compromises and No Surrender!', entrenching those moderates you might have otherwise have reached, confirming their fears and enabling the present administration to continue and possibly even win a second term.

Jennyele said...

Sorry Stephan, but as one of the far left I am not interested in sitting down and shutting up. I am a transgender woman that is sick of being sold out by moderates

0ne said...


MikeTheFid said...

I clicked the "Post a Comment" link and I'm sitting here staring, my thoughts unable to coalesce. I feel overwhelmed.

SDK and that "negotiate not compromise" person (both commenters above) make the most sense to me.

To me it's like the people of the U.S. (I'm Canadian) have a giant collective case of PTSD. You had a good time after 1945. Things felt pretty damn good up until the traumas really started: McCarthyism, Sputnik, Bay of Pigs, Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy's assassination, the civil rights movement and Johnson's moves to desegregate, MLK's assassination, Bobby Kennedy's assassination, Cold War, Vietnam, the national fuel shortage crisis, free-trade-inspired exodus of decent jobs, all the way up to 9/11 and now (WTF HAVE WE DONE!?!) Trump. (I'm sure you can add to the list but you get my drift.)

Maybe Trump will end up making America great again because he's become a mythic symbol at the end of the long road of gerrymandering, and money-induced oligarchic allegiances, and lobbying, and all manner of dirty tricks like voter suppression, and so on. His election has fired up ordinary people on both sides. His presence has poured fuel on outrage everywhere, again, on both sides - different outrages, but outrages.

Trump's ugliness and incompetence and what he represents will turn those centrist Republicans who are moderate and wise enough to see him for what he is.

I'm not so sure you have to work that hard at compromise or negotiation. The heavy lifting is already being done by the fear and seething anger over what people now see they are losing as President Trump guts the Federal government with his unthinking, uncaring, unfeeling sickle, and the GOP (with Trump's support) mold government into nothing more than a giant money sucking machine transferring lower and middle class tax dollars to the parasitic wealthy, bankers, and corporations including the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned you about a long time ago.

If you, you in particular, don't have sufficient irresistible force of persuasion to bring on board the immovable objects on the right, fa-get-abat-em. That obviously isn't your place on the tug-o-war rope.

Spend your time finding local, State, and Legislative Branch candidates and getting your butt AFK! working for them. Make sure their platform includes getting the money out of elections (Sanders has shown it can be done), undoing gerrymandering, strengthening the voting rights laws.

I read somewhere recently that the Koch bros are pressing red States to move to open up the Constitution for amendments.

THAT! That right there (as Jim likes to say) scares the ever-loving crap out of me.

Think it unlikely or impossible?

Did you think Trump unlikely or impossible?

Anonymous said...

I'm yet another one who found you through Jim Wright, and I think you both raise valid points, but miss the mark. I am not convinced of the value of attempts to compromise and assuage the fears of even the supposed moderates in the current Republican voting bloc. We have seen with the ACA what that got us. We gave in to their fears of "socialized medicine" and ended up with something no one on either side is happy with, and that's just empowered the far right as the champions of repeal. There is however a much larger bloc we do need to reach if we want to start winning elections, and that's the 40% of eligible voters who choose to sit out the process because they don't trust either side. Those people when polled show a marked preference for progressive policies, but have no faith in the Democratic Party's ability to deliver, and to do it in an honest manner. The corruption of many state Democratic parties is a real barrier for those folks, as is the continued reliance on corporate funding at the national level. These are the people we need to "compromise" with, and it shouldn't really be that painful, since it's not policy they want the D's to move toward them on, it's ethics. We need to take back control of our party from the Chuck Schumers and Nancy Pelosis and start electing honest representatives of the interests of the working and middle class and EARN the trust of those who are currently convinced (with good reason) that neither party cares about their issues.

toothgrisle said...

Great comments all around. Busy getting involved at every level, with extra attention to the ones closest to home. Thinking less about emigrating every day!

FDChief said...

And you completely missed MY point, which is that "we" have ALREADY compromised like a motherfucker and have put that compromise out front and have gotten exactly two responses from all these poor economically anxious republicans; jack and shit.

The Left hasn't been hiding all this compromising. The Right can go find it with a ten second Google search or a glance at the CNN webpage.

Let me know the next time you read some Breitbart piece about how that Obama guy was really kinda right on trade/taxes/health care...

We've been compromising right up to the narrow edge of our bedrock principles. That should be more than enough to peel these supposed moderates Jim talks about. Tell's that workin'?

Larissa said...

SDK: No. I've been reading Stonekettle Station for years. I read all three of the articles you're referencing. I completely understand Jim's argument. I just disagree with it; I think he's proceeding from some faulty assumptions and wound up somewhere entirely off-base. And frankly, I'm tired of being told that, as a liberal, the responsibility to compromise, understand, and sympathize is entirely on me, when liberals have in fact been doing all those things for decades and been rewarded with President Trump and full Republican control of the federal government for our efforts.

Sometimes people aren't misunderstanding your argument, they just straight-up think you're wrong. I agree with 95% of what Jim writes, but I think he's wrong on this one.

FDChief said...

Wow. I don't think I've ever gotten this many comments. I'm kinda gobsmacked.

Look. Here's the thing. I'm not sure where the single-payer, massively-unionized, 90%-top-marginal-rate, ironclad-race-and-gender-equal U.S. that all the "uncompromising lefties" have built around us is but I'd love to see it.

In the real U.S. conservatives have about 95% of their dreamland. We're a "center-right" nation, right? That's what I keep hearing. We're fighting not over Universal Basic Income but over poor sick people having to work to "earn" medical care. point is the Left HAS compromised like sonsofbitches. Not sure what more Jim thinks we can give on. And all those nice, reasonable Republicans are...where?

Jeff Swett said...

I found this blog from Jim Wrights blog today. I can see I have a lot of catching up to do. Got to respect a fellow FDC chief after all.

I think if you re-read Jims blog you'll see what he is saying isn't to compromise for the sake of doing so, in fact he clearly says you do not (in caps yet) compromise, at least not with the KKKretins etc but you look for the rational ones, the one who regret their vote ( and they exist) . I also follow Nic Kristoff at the NYT, he's got a lot of hate mail for saying talk to the Trump voters, don't demonize them all for the sake of doing so. He makes more sense than all the comments opposing him combined. Sadly he just proves that a lot of Anti-Trumpers are just as closed minded and obstinate as those who unflinchingly support the tangerine toddler ( hope you don't mind but I like that phrase and will use it, sparling but appropriately). There are some hard headed people out there, no one likes to admit they made a mistake, no matter how obvious or bad the damage. Belittling or demonizing Trump voters just ensures they'll build their fortress and not even listen to you. You'll reenforce their preceptions and you'll continue to lose elections you should have won in a land slide.

SDK said...

If you don't garner the votes of those voting against their own interests out of fear, you don't win elections. Plain and simple. You can't garner their votes if you can't convince them their fears are unwarranted. This is all about communication. If you aren't interested in that, then enjoy the continued loss of political ground throughout this country and its various levels of government. I want our progressive ideals to be championed in a strategic manner. We need more than just our principles, though it seems we agree on those, we need effective campaigns that achieve the implementation of those principles into policy.

FDChief said...

Again...the Left not only HAS compromised on issues all over the map, but we've shouted those compromises at the top of our voices. Short of ginning up a liberal equivalent of the Wingnut Noise that what everybody here is recommending? Not sure how you get those "moderate Republicans" to believe or even watch that; it's not FOX, y'know...

The whole point is that a lot of these people are working off irrational fears. And the definition of an IRrational fear can't reason with it.

I'm just an old artillery sergeant. I'm not interested in abstractly ideal concepts. I want a practical op order that shows me how I can accomplish the mission. But the mission here seems to be "get people who hate and fear me for irrationally senseless reasons to listen to sense and reason". How the hell do you write an execution paragraph to do that?

Linda Pacheco said...

I follow Jim Wright also and would like to follow you as well, but I don't see where to sign up.

bigmeannurse said...

A valid observation (even if it coincides with me mine!) However, I am attempting to be more "reasonable" when there's any common ground. Unfortunately, these assholes are still unwilling to concede anything.

Kalln Atc said...

Bingo. Stop running on a platform of rights of Cambodian lady boys using the can with their teenage daughters. Run on jobs. Run on freedom. Run on relatable issues. THEN ... Let the Cambodian lady boys use the can with their teenage daughters. It won't seem like as big a deal if they have jobs ...

VCarlson said...

I have a small problem with what you just said, because it sounded like you were saying to women/people of color/LGBT* that we should just step back with our little problems snd wait until the *real* problems are solved. Because what actually happens is the real problems never get solved, or if they do, they are replaced with even worse problems that also must be solved first. IOW, the same old same old.

In my view, the basic problem is that far too many people have been defined as "not really people" by the people with the power, who in this time and place are mostly straight white christian men. With money, of course.

If that is not what you meant, I'm here to tell you that's what it sounded like.

FDChief said...

Kalin: Here's the problem with your suggestion;

We already DID that and look where it got us.

Specifically, the original New Deal was crafted to appease the crackers. It made damn sure that none of that lovely government got handed to the browns and blacks, too. So we ended up fighting that fight through the Fifties and Sixties and ended up losing the crackers; they went to the GOP after the Civil Rights Acts and have been there ever since.

And I'm not talking about the Imperial Kleagles, either. I'm talking about the sweet kindly white people who are just a little...uncomfortable...with the idea that they need to consider themselves the "equals" of some dusky savage.

Look at what happened with "jobs" and "freedom". So long as the unions offered jobs for other white folks all us nice white folks were jake with that. So long as the freedoms didn't include the freedom of your daughter to date that big black buck us white folks were perfectly good with them.

but...when they DID...


So as VCarlson points out; this isn't an "either-or" deal. You - as in "you nice white conservative people" - gotta take the whole cake, not just the frosting. You want nice things? You gotta accept that those scary queers are gonna want to get married, when they do they're gonna want a wedding cake, and if you're in the wedding cake biz you're gonna have to smile and bake it for 'em just like a het couple because the law says that they have the same rights.

Like I said; us lefties have compromised our asses off. If I had my way every damn church and mosque and synagogue in this country would be taxed. The top marginal rate would be something like 95%. You'd get to own a bolt-action rifle or a pump-action shotgun and you'd have to pass MY goddamn handgun "safety and responsibility" class to even get a sniff at a handgun. And so on and so on.

I'm not going to get that, I know it, I've "compromised" with it, and moved on.

But some baselines remain, and one of those is that the ladyboys get to ladyboy so long as their ladyboy fist doesn't come in contact with your homophobic nose. You get squicked out? Xin loi, GI She doesn't have to deal with your fears - YOU do. Pull up your homphobic Big Boy panties and get over it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:
>>There is however a much larger bloc we do need to reach if we want to start winning elections, and that's the 40% of eligible voters who choose to sit out the process because they don't trust either side. Those people when polled show a marked preference for progressive policies, but have no faith in the Democratic Party's ability to deliver, and to do it in an honest manner. The corruption of many state Democratic parties is a real barrier for those folks, as is the continued reliance on corporate funding at the national level<<

Fully agree with this. There is no compromise with the far-right Banzai Suicide Squad and with the Center-Right folks you will get some success in bringing them over to a more liberal point of view, but nothing to bank on. I live in Kansas, the Land of Brownback, the most unpopular governor in the US. That unpopularity gave him the maximum of 2 4-year stints in Topeka. Our moderate and occasional liberal candidates compromise right from the start and generally run as Republican because the Liberal Democrats support abortion doctors who everyday auger out healthy cute children right out of their addled mothers' wombs by the grain-truckload. A few years ago, the opposition candidate who ran against Sen. Pat Roberts compromised so much that he ran as "neither party" and got his ass handed back to him, nicely fricasseed on a sizzling skillet.
Many statehouse seats here are unopposed at election time, because any possible Democrat loves to shove Obamacare, and gay rights and illegal immigrant drug pushers and jihadists down poor Republican Granny's throat and install Sharia law into every God-fearing church, because Obama is Muslim and hates Christians and will take our God-given guns away.
I don't see Kansas as that much different from the Gulf Coast States and their immediate neighbors who've been for the most part solidly red for decades. We have made some progress in the state House and Senate this past November, but not enough to over-ride Brownback's veto of a Medicaid Expansion bill brought up by the legislature. Mostly due to the 4 X 4 knock to the electorate's heads by nursing home and hospital closings and talk of school district and county consolidation. Much of the fabled small town America would disappear in Kansas if much more of that happens.
Sen. Sanders is doing the right thing, in going out to Wisconsin and W. Virginia to talk to people about their problems and what government can and should do for them, local, state and national.


Anonymous said...

Ron Estes' ad running against Democrat ( brave fellow BTW, a lawyer and military vet, fantastic candidate ), with statement by scumbag that he has no control over ad but stands by it at the end. Mike Pompeo's former Congressional seat.

The election is next Tuesday, if you care to follow up.


FDChief said...

Here's the thing, tho, basil; Bernie's townhalls? He tried talking economic and political sense to the Trumpkins, got a bunch of nonsense in return, and left it at that. The Trumpkins never bought in or abandoned the Dark Side.

Same problem the social democrats in Europe are finding; economic populism is no match for xenophobia, racism, and authoritarianism.

Anonymous said...

The results aren't in yet, and if they're shown to be all negative in future elections, can't give up.
It might help too, if the Democrats put up candidates who aren't the usual corporate speech-giving stooges.
But it's election day down south of me in Wichita, so let's roll the dice and see what tumbles out. We had Lyin' Ted Cruz up and the NRCC dump money and that ad to boost the no-show-at-debates republican, but no major Democratic money or person of substance stop by for Thompson.
The only liberal of note that might've created a stir IMO is Bernie. No one wants to walk around Kansas with a big national Democratic banner.
I asked one of the barely-above-minimum-wage CNAs that works where the wife is if she planned to vote. Her no response was very forceful, and actually shocked me. She also did not know who was running or the race.
I know what you are likely to say about that, but that's the state of the disconnected voter here, at times a real hatred or disgust with our country's government. Why half of us or fewer do not vote, why just a quarter of us plus change decides national and local elections.
No way to run a country, I think.


Anonymous said...

The Lame-O "Day Late and Dollar Short" Party . . .


FDChief said...

Well, it's supposed to be a popular republic. If you choose not to try and change what you don't like you kinda give up the right to complain. The oligarchs are perfectly happy to asswhip people like your CNA whether or not they fight back. And if she hates the "establishment" so bad why not turn out for Sanders?

No question things are fucked up for non-plutocrats now. But how much worse than back in the original Gilded Age? We the People fought our way out of that. Are we so much less now than they were then..?