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Old 07-01-2019, 02:05 PM
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Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: Competitive Authoritarianism and how it relates to America


In the New York Times Opinion section, author Michael Tomasky spoke of a book that came out in 2010 but he feels is relevant today.
Quote:
I tripped across a 2010 book called “Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes After the Cold War,” by Steven Levitsky and Lucan A. Way. If you pay close attention to such things, you will recognize Mr. Levitsky’s name — he was a co-author, with Daniel Ziblatt, of last year’s book “How Democracies Die,” which sparked much discussion. “Competitive Authoritarianism” deserves to do the same.

What defines competitive authoritarian states? They are “civilian regimes in which formal democratic institutions exist and are widely viewed as the primary means of gaining power, but in which incumbents’ abuse of the state places them at a significant advantage vis-à-vis their opponents.”
He adds the coy "Sound like anyone you know?" The lede spelled out what he means.
Quote:
A number of observers, myself included, have written pieces in recent years arguing that the Republican Party is no longer simply trying to compete with and defeat the Democratic Party on a level playing field. Today, rather than simply playing the game, the Republicans are simultaneously trying to rig the game’s rules so that they never lose.

The aggressive gerrymandering, which the Supreme Court just declared to be a matter beyond its purview; the voter suppression schemes; the dubious proposals that haven’t gone anywhere — yet — like trying to award presidential electoral votes by congressional district rather than by state, a scheme that Republicans in five states considered after the 2012 election and that is still discussed: These are not ideas aimed at invigorating democracy. They are hatched and executed for the express purpose of essentially fixing elections.
The author of the book does concede, "for all of its unfairness and growing dysfunction, American democracy has not slid into competitive authoritarianism," but it's hard to not see that as the Republican playbook with the tactics they have employed - gerrymandering was their whole strategy around the 2010 census and they continue to try and influence the one for 2020.

Only one party consistently makes it harder for people to legally vote under the guise of stopping illegal votes that don't exist in any meaningful ways (and it's had to figure out how it improves "voter confidence" by removing or severely curtailing early voting, removing voters from rolls with little chance of fraudulent votes being cast but ample evidence of actual voters being affected, putting restrictions on GOTV and registration drives, among other techniques employed to fight mythological voter fraud).

It's the same with court appointments. Maybe a Supreme Court that had an Obama appointee rules differently. But Mitch McConnell has pretty much conceded that he would gladly let Trump pick a new justice under the same circumstances.

Even when Democrats are able to overcome these unfair advantages and win some races, Republicans change the rules so their actual power is limited as a going away present.

Republicans are doing their best to put their thumbs on the scale to maintain power and have done so even as demographics have shifted against them. In short, if they cannot win, they cheat. This has been pretty obvious for some time now, but now we have a nifty name for it: Competitive Authoritarianism.

Since there is no debate that Republicans have taken these actions at both the state and national levels for the past decade-plus, the only real debate is whether the United States can become a nation again where better ideas and politicians emerged by popularity on an even playing field rather than making it so that the party that did everything they could to ensure they were in charge in 2010 would change every rule they had to ensure that the minority party would have a disadvantage that was simply unfair. What steps can be taken to make things fair again, or have Republicans did such a splendid job of rigging the system that hose has left the barn?
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Old 07-01-2019, 05:00 PM
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A system that rewards a good performance with the means for an even better performance will eventually be restricted to monopolies within the system and that's the type of system we have, so...

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 07-01-2019 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 07-01-2019, 05:49 PM
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Nope, the hose has left the barn. These things take decades to happen, and if they are to be fixed, will take decades. I'm getting older, but I'm not old, and I don't really expect to see fixes in my lifetime. (Barring some actual real life honest to god gunning down large numbers of people revolts, that is.) Sure, Democrats will still win here and there, but I suspect they will be unable to actually fix anything against the team that shoots first and never gets around to asking questions.
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Old 07-02-2019, 07:59 AM
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The Republican party isn't going to change. The gop has spent the last fifty years appealing to racists and authoritarians, and then indoctrinating them with propaganda and hate speech to keep them in line.

The gop and their base hate democracy. We have to accept this fact. The base of the gop are the same kinds of people who supported jim crow (southern whites and authoritarians), and Jim crow turned America into a dictatorship for black people.

Can we do anything about it? I don't know. We can use the courts on the state level. Ballot initiatives. Legislative attempts if we gain power. But that's about it. The gop will declare war on democracy on every front and we have to fight back. But our system is based on the assumption that people act in good faith. The gop do not act in good faith.

We also need to make voting as easy as possible. The gop win when people stay home and don't vote.

We also have to be ruthless in enforcing the law. Until Republicans start going to prison for their crimes they have no incentive to stop.
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Old 07-02-2019, 08:50 AM
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America was founded on the ideas and ideals of a democratic republic that was white, Christian, and capitalist. It wasn't really even founded on the ideal of what we commonly understand as democracy. It's more of a capitalist and industrialist nation than a democratic and inclusive one.

On election night, I wrote that "White America took back its country tonight," and that's what's been happening these last few years. To be more specific, I should have written that white capitalist christian America took back its country, but regardless, what needs to be understood is that from their point of view they see absolutely nothing wrong with what they're doing. In fact, they view it as preserving America the way it was meant to be, and the way that it shall be going forward: a nation that opposes liberalism, multiculturalism, agnosticism, socialism, feminism, and other isms. For them, this is a war, a war for the survival of their nation and what it means to be "American." And they're willing to do a lot of unpleasant things to protect their America -a lot of very unpleasant things.
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Old 07-02-2019, 09:37 AM
Wesley Clark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asahi View Post
America was founded on the ideas and ideals of a democratic republic that was white, Christian, and capitalist. It wasn't really even founded on the ideal of what we commonly understand as democracy. It's more of a capitalist and industrialist nation than a democratic and inclusive one.

On election night, I wrote that "White America took back its country tonight," and that's what's been happening these last few years. To be more specific, I should have written that white capitalist christian America took back its country, but regardless, what needs to be understood is that from their point of view they see absolutely nothing wrong with what they're doing. In fact, they view it as preserving America the way it was meant to be, and the way that it shall be going forward: a nation that opposes liberalism, multiculturalism, agnosticism, socialism, feminism, and other isms. For them, this is a war, a war for the survival of their nation and what it means to be "American." And they're willing to do a lot of unpleasant things to protect their America -a lot of very unpleasant things.
Well said and I agree. This is nothing new either. America has always seen a rise in right wing, anti democracy groups that promote domestic terrorism and white identity politics when America starts to become more multicultural, multiracial, egalitarian or inclusive. In a way at least it's better now. In the past these groups used the kkk to terrorize people and suspend the bill of rights in the south. Now they gerrymander and engage in voter suppression. Or they vote for a remorseless pedophile like Roy Moore because Roy Moore promises to treat immigrant, brown people and Muslims like garbage.

The end goal is the same though. Use terrorism and authoritarianism to push back against multiculturalism.

And things like this are why Joe bidens naive assumption that the gop will work in a bipartisan fashion are so unnerving. The gop think they are defending their homeland from inferior interlopers. They aren't going to work on a bipartisan fashion on infrastructure and telecommunications bills. They think their America is under attack by inferior interlopers and they want to undermine democracy because democracy empowers the interlopers. They want to return America to a time when white Christian men were the peak of the totem pole and everyone else knew their place and stayed in it. And the gop base know they can't do this in a free and fair democracy so they are assaulting democracy on every front.

The gop don't even consider democrats to have a legitimate claim to power when they win elections the same way saddam hussein never recognized the legitimacy of the court that tried him for war crimes.

My opinions on this issue may be extreme, but they are true at root. This mentality is common in the right.
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Last edited by Wesley Clark; 07-02-2019 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 07-02-2019, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
Well said and I agree. This is nothing new either. America has always seen a rise in right wing, anti democracy groups that promote domestic terrorism and white identity politics when America starts to become more multicultural, multiracial, egalitarian or inclusive.
The industrialists aren't necessarily outright racists; in fact, many will use cheap immigrant/migrant/minority labor to their advantage. They appeal to racists when the economic pressures mount on the backs of lower class whites. It's easy for them to turn around and say "Well I'd love to give you a job, but we got none to give ya, lad." <wink, wink, nudge, nudge in the direction of the immigrant/minority worker as you're looking for work>. I'd add that the notion of "scarcity" is also a common theme in these conflicts. "There's not enough to share. People will have to fight for what's theirs, and since we were born here, since we got here first, it's ours and migrants and minorities can go to hell."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
In a way at least it's better now. In the past these groups used the kkk to terrorize people and suspend the bill of rights in the south.
What a lot of people don't realize is that in the years following the Civil War and the post-Civil War amendments. There was optimism that things could and would change. Former Black slaves voted and held office. They negotiated labor contracts with their former masters, even under the constant threat of violence. Stopping short of calling it a sense of inevitability, there was actually a sense that America could radically reinvent itself and that it would with determination. The Reconstruction in some ways was America's second revolution.

But as Yale professor of history David Blight puts it, revolutions typically are followed by counter-revolutions from conservative forces. The White South was motivated by a palpable fear that Blacks wanted more than just equality; the fear was they wanted revenge for two centuries of slavery. In the eyes of Whites, Reconstruction was a clear and present danger. There could be no sharing of power. They wouldn't allow it. I'd say that while there is definitely *less* of this mentality in the South these days, it still persists in White circles and it's more pervasive than what is seen in the media. For a lot of people, Barack Obama's election was a revolution. Hillary Clinton's nomination and inevitable election was also a revolution. Trump represnts their counter-revolution. Now that they've got power, they intend to use it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
Now they gerrymander and engage in voter suppression. Or they vote for a remorseless pedophile like Roy Moore because Roy Moore promises to treat immigrant, brown people and Muslims like garbage.
That Roy Moore was nearly elected, just as the fact that Trump was actually elected, is a telling example. It exemplifies what I said earlier: they see absolutely nothing wrong with their tactics. They don't care how they win, or who fights on their behalf. What matters is winning. And winning means crushing their opposition. Winning means behaving in undemocratic ways because democracy for them is a losing proposition. In their view, democracy doesn't mean one person, one vote; it means the right people get to vote, the wrong ones don't, and the right people use their votes to dominate the wrong ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
And things like this are why Joe bidens naive assumption that the gop will work in a bipartisan fashion are so unnerving.
I think what Biden is trying to articulate is that we shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and I would agree with that. There are times when you have to work with shitheads because occasionally the interests of shitheads align with yours - and you seize that moment. I think Biden's also waxing nostalgic for a time when America had a less partisan tone, and in that sense, yeah, he's not being too realistic.

I think the way you win the war against oligarchs is to avoid crippling the important alliances with frivolous and needless divisions which could fracture inter-group unity. This is what concerns me with the line of attack that Kamala Harris used against Biden in the debate. As I've said, Biden failed to prepare and responded terribly - that's on him. But that's beside the point. The Democrats cannot become fractured by identity. Polarizatiaon isn't just a consequence of racist politics; it's a political tactic. This is how minority, undemocratic rule is perpetuated. I think this is where I agree with the more moderate wing of the democratic party.

Where I tend to favor Bernie Sanders' approach is in his campaigning on economics. I think Sanders is spot on there. Try to navigate carefully the choppy mine-laden waters of identity politics and focus on issues that unity people, like healthcare, income inequality, fair taxation, economic stimulus programs. That doesn't mean we can't talk about outrageous assaults on human dignity - we absolutely should. But Democrats need to do that by standing together as a party and attacking the real racists in the GOP, not by attacking each other to see who's black, latino, gay, or woman enough to represent them. We lose if that happens.

Last edited by asahi; 07-02-2019 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 07-02-2019, 05:00 PM
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I agree, the industrialists are not racists. The conservative movement is an alliance between the business class and whites who subscribe to identity politics. The business class may use the forms of bigotry that the white voters subscribe to, but they don't believe it themselves.

In the 17th century in Virginia whites, blacks and Indians all got together and started rebellions over abuse and mistreatment by the aristocrats. The Virginia politicians passed the Virginia codes designed to divide whites vs blacks and dehumanize blacks. The goal was supposedly to make white people less willing to join any rebellion that blacks were a part of, and make whites identify with the white aristocrats over race and not identify with the black people over class.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin..._Codes_of_1705

Personally I wonder if this division will cause a civil war within the GOP. For one thing, the business class loves illegal immigration. Having a low wage, desperate labor force that can't/won't complain to the labor board or EPA is a business owner dream. But the white GOP voters hate and fear brown people and foreigners, so they want them rounded up and kicked out.

I'm guessing it'll go on business as usual. The business class gets what they want and the voters accept their fate, but who knows.

I do wonder what motivates counter-revolutions. Is it fear of revenge? Is it a desire to protect their prestige and status? Is it because they feel national unity requires everyone to look and act the same? I know some proponents of an ethnostate claim that things like welfare support go down as diversity goes up. People are less willing to help out or identify with their fellow citizens when they don't look, think or believe the same.

It seems like we've had at least 3 resurgences of fascism and domestic terrorism. Each one occurring during a time when 'out-groups' grew both in number and in power. The 1860s after the civil war when blacks gained rights. The 1920s after massive immigration from europe occurred as well as first wave feminism, and then the 50s and 60s when the civil rights movement, 2nd wave feminism happened and the gay rights movement started.

I'd guess we are in a fourth resurgence. The % of Americans who are non-white or immigrant has grown quite a bit. Women are rising in power. Christianity is declining while secularism is growing. Muslims are immigrating.

I agree democracy doesn't mean the same thing to those people as it does to most people. They may support 'democracy' but only one where the game is rigged and only they can vote. They don't support true democracy because true democracy makes them look bad and weakens their grip on power. So they suppress the vote of anyone who isn't likely to support them, rail against the free press that is honest about their crimes and other failings, they gerrymander so even when they lose they still win.

I'm fine with not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. The ACA wasn't perfect but it was better than nothing. However if Biden truly believes the GOP are going to negotiate in good faith then he has no idea what the modern GOP is or what they believe.

I agree divisions are a problem. And I'm guilty of contributing to that in my own way. I would much rather have a moderate democrat than a conservative republican in a conservative area like west virginia. I agreed with Paula Swearangin more than Manchin on the issues, but she would've lost the general election while Manchin won.

Race and class are used to divide people. And within the left there are divisions over purity and language. And it sucks. So do people who stay home if their preferred candidate doesn't win.

I'm hoping the left can build a coalition to change things. But we will see. Even if we build a coalition I don't trust politicians to do anything about it. On the state level in blue states where democrats are all but guaranteed a majority those states don't take on the oligarchs either. They may raise the minimum wage but the health care system is still broken in blue states, as is the criminal justice system. Telecommunications aren't necessarily better either. Nor is income inequality.
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Old 07-02-2019, 05:07 PM
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Missed the edit window, but also what counts as an 'in-group' keeps expanding as society becomes more multicultural.

It used to be you have to be a certain kind of white to be an in-group. You had to be anglo-saxon. So eastern Europeans, Germans, Italians, Russians, etc were out. Now you just have to be white.

You used to have to be the right kind of christian. A protestant. Now any christian is fine. You can be a catholic, mormon, etc as long as you're christian you're still an in-group.

So I'm guessing as America becomes more multi-racial and secular, the definition of in-group will expand too. Sean Hannity likes to talk about how his ancestors were mistreated for being Irish, but now he is part of the in-group despite being Irish.

I"m guessing in 50 years latinos will be accepted as an in-group, so we may have latino Sean Hannity types talking about how horrible multiculturalism is.
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