Violence

To Curb Political Violence, Make Government Less Important

Dumping Trump isn't enough to make Americans battle less in a high-stakes political environment.

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"Political life and discourse in the United States is at a boiling point," Middlebury College Professor Allison Stanger wrote after she and political scientist Charles Murray were assaulted, and she injured, by protesters violently opposed to granting Murray any forum to discuss his research and opinions.

Stanger largely laid the blame for escalating tensions at the (tiny?) feet of President Trump and his confrontational manner. The implication is that dumping the current White House tenant would calm national disagreements. But Trump didn't elect himself to office—millions of Americans did the deed in a political environment that was already fraught with tension. So don't look for easy fixes; tempers are unlikely to simmer down when political tribes see each other as enemies in a high-stakes struggle for control of a government they venerate for its power to fulfill wishes and crush enemies.

Since Stanger penned her words, and certainly since I last wrote just months ago about lefty thugs living out Weimar fantasies, political violence has escalated and, inevitably, involved more participants as demonstrated in a litany of grim news stories. For the moment, the lethal stabbings of two people by a white supremacist on a Portland, Oregon train have overshadowed the election to Congress of Republican Greg Gianforte, who prevailed despite or because of a criminal charge for body-slamming a reporter the day before the vote. Almost lost in the mix was the near-simultaneous arrest of a sometimes college professor on four counts of assault with a deadly weapon for his attacks on Trump supporters during a political rally in Berkeley, California.

"As political passions and political polarization continue to rise, intimidation and physical violence seem to be becoming more common as a part of our political life," writes social psychologist Jonathan Haidt. He referred primarily to the conflict on college campuses, but also referenced the growing strife between ideological tribes in the world outside among "extremists on the right, as well as the left."

That strife now includes violent street clashes in places like Berkeley and Portland between ideological groups out to stomp each other.

"The metro area has witnessed at least six rallies or marches where some segment of the extreme right and militant leftists have confronted each other in public spaces," the Willamette Weekly reported last week.

A Boston protest earlier this month also turned nasty, with at least one violent incident between what the Boston Herald described as "conservative protesters" and "counter-demonstrators from local socialist and anti-fascist groups."

The political polarization to which Haidt refers plays a growing role in American life and politics, and lies at the heart of the nastiness. Lifestyle increasingly correlates to political views, meaning where we live and how we live are, for many Americans, closely connected to our policy preferences.

"Conservatives want to live overwhelmingly where houses are farther apart even if you have to drive to schools or stores," according to Bill Bishop, author of the The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart. "And liberals want to live in a place that's walkable even if the houses are smaller and you have a smaller lot."

"The separation here seeps into the micro level, down to the particular neighborhoods, schools, churches, restaurants and clubs that tend to attract one brand of partisan and repel the other," The Washington Post found last year. And, as people congregate with the like-minded, they reinforce their shared views "producing a stereotypical world of 'latte liberals' and 'bird-hunting conservatives'" according to a 2015 study.

That growing association between lifestyle and ideology even points to the possibility, according to recent research, that when people date and marry partners with whom they share common interests, they're likely to pick people with similar political beliefs. "This result suggests a pathway by which long-term couples come to share political preferences, which in turn could be fueling the widening ideological gap in the United States."

Forget Morlocks and Eloi—we're breeding Reds and Blues.

Distinctive associations between lifestyle and politics create a situation in which ideological opponents can be punished through the use of laws that aren't overtly partisan, but target values and activities favored more by one tribe than another. Is that proposed gun control law a public safety effort or a screw-you to conservatives? Does that bathroom bill represent real concerns about child-predation or a legislative middle finger to liberals?

It may not matter when polling finds that majorities of Americans actively dislike their countrymen who hold opposing political views. It's political combat no matter what, and every move is hostile.

Even when policy proposals aren't explicit exercises in political punishment, they're extremely high-stakes as government seeps into every facet of life. Laws, licenses, bans, and mandates can make or break careers, create or destroy fortunes, and send people to prison. That raises the temperature on political debates in which many people want very different, and incompatible, outcomes.

Do you want the state heavily involved in managing, mandating, and regulating healthcare? That's a deeply personal area of life, not to mention one on its way toward representing 20 percent of the economy. No wonder the debate over Obamacare turned nasty both before it was passed and when repeal was proposed. When government action has such wide-reaching and inescapable effects you can't afford to lose.

Can America's political tribes learn to live with each other? Perhaps. But it will take more than dumping one controversial political figure and replacing him with another who just infuriates a different set of people. To reduce political conflict and to head off violence, politics have to become lower-stakes. We have to stop treating policy choices as weapons against the opposition and zero-sum, I-win-you-lose contests.

As a libertarian, my preferred solution is always to defer to individual preferences—to make participation in various programs voluntary, and to minimize bans, restrictions, and mandates. People are unlikely to fight over politics when political contests matter much less.

But we could also breathe life back into the federalism that motivated the country's founding Constitution. If we can't devolve decision-making to individuals (and we should), at least do so to the state and local level. Impose policy choices on as few unwilling people as possible to keep conflict to a minimum. Localized decision-making also empowers dissenters to easily move to jurisdictions they find more amenable. People are highly unlikely to fight over laws that affect the lives of people only in the next state, or another town. They're even less likely to get upset when they can make their own choices without regard to the preferences of political opponents or government officials.

If we want to bring political life and discourse in the United States back from the boiling point, we have to make politics less important. When politics and policy matter less, the silly opinions of other Americans, or the rough conduct of a politician, will be far less likely to set us against each other in the streets.

But if we continue to pretend that the battle is only over putting "the right people" in charge, you should count on disagreements remaining very hot for a long time to come.

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  1. the lethal stabbings of two people by a white supremacist

    “Racist” doesn’t sell papers anymore?

    “Mentally ill” doesn’t even make interesting headlines.

    1. The progressive media has expended all their credibility with all but the progressive faithful, and the most incredibly ignorant people. I suspect they’re going to become ever more shrill and desperate as they see their meager influence continue to wane. I still have little expectation they will stop. The progressives are so committed to enslaving the rest of us that they will never stop.

      I think it’s going to have to get very ugly to make them stop.

      1. Very ugy….or very silly. The Progressive Left is one more self-selected elite in a history of western culture that is littered with them. Some out up really brutal fights to stay in power, but more simply gradually became caricatures of themselves (the British Aristocracy being a fine example). At this point it’s hard to say which way the Progressive Left will go, though I must admit I find them pretty goddamned risible as it is….

    2. I thought the guy was a Jewish / Bernie supporter…….guess today that makes him a “white supremacist”.

    3. Nah, everybody’s racist now. Not good enough. Seems like he probably was a white supremacist. But “fucking nuts” is probably the main thing.

      1. Seems like he probably was a white supremacist. But “fucking nuts” is probably the main thing.

        Yes.

      2. Seems like he probably was a white supremacist.

        Even the source of the claim doesn’t really substantiate it beyond, “he showed up at a ‘free speech’ rally and yelled crazy shit”

        Christian is a known right wing extremist and white supremacist. On April 29, Christian showed up to the right-wing “March for Free Speech” on 82nd Avenue in Montavilla with a baseball bat in an attempt to assault left-wing protesters. The bat was quickly confiscated by Portland police officers. He ranted how he was a nihilist.

        which is followed up by the more-authoritative, more-obvious conclusion =

        A few Portland police officers on April 29 appeared to be familiar with Christian, but not threatened by him. They claimed he had a head injury and was mentally ill.

        Still, run with “nazi”, because Nazi is tres du jour

        My point isn’t any attempt to defend the crazy racist bastard, its just a growing weariness with the bullshit of Journalistic-Narrative building. One paper decided to run with the claim that he’s a card-carrying Nazi, and all the other papers can now run that as thought its an objective, established fact.

        1. Well, I thought I was mostly agreeing with you. I didn’t exactly deeply research it, so perhaps the claims on his political views on race were BS.

          And white supremacist does not equal Nazi.

          I’ve just gone nearly three weeks without any news or contact with people I wasn’t with, so I’ve lost track of some of the obnoxious narrative-building. So give me a break, here.

          1. the line –

            till, run with “nazi”, because Nazi is tres du jour

            was pointing at the article, not you. we were mostly in agreement.

            white supremacist does not equal Nazi.

            oh, but why split hairs? in for a penny, in for a pound.

          2. “And white supremacist does not equal Nazi.”

            All insults from the Progressive Left ALL mean “Person who does not think the sun rises from our navel and sets in our asshole”

            1. I know I’m probably crazy for sticking to the assumption that words actually have specific meanings sometimes.

        2. Maybe it’s not just narrative. Maybe there is some basis to the claims.

          Here is a longer description of Christian.

          It seems as though the guy really is mentally ill, AND that he harbored Nazi fantasies. How would you describe a guy running around making Nazi salutes, making derogatory racial slurs, berating a woman because she’s wearing a hijab? I can’t peer into his soul and determine if he is really doing all this from a place of real animosity or if he’s doing it all for attention, but I think “white supremacist” is not too far off the mark, in addition to “mentally ill”.

          1. how would you describe a guy running around making Nazi salutes, making derogatory racial slurs, berating a woman because she’s wearing a hijab?

            a typical bernie voter?

            the whole point about “crazy” is that behavior isn’t rational. Attributing ideological motivations to crazy people is a fool’s errand. but then, that’s your playground.

          2. Sounds like DanO to me.

      3. And when you demonstrate that you’re not, they just say, ‘You are. You just don’t realize it.’

        In effect, your existence – when you think about it – is racist.

        1. If “racist” means someone who has ever made assumptions or said mean or off-color things about a person because of their race or ethnic background, then everyone probably is racist. But that’s a pretty pointless observation. And under that definition members of racial minority groups are certainly no less racist than anyone else (often more so, I would argue).

          1. Except under the Prog definition, minorities can’t be racists. The “logic” is that they can’t exercise any power based on their feelings. I guess those shootings of white people that take place regularly in urban areas aren’t considered an exercise of power by the race-baiters.

    4. “In a comment on his page Christian proclaimed, “I am White and a Nationalist for Vinland.””

      “In a post three days after the inauguration of Donald Trump, Christian posted, “If Donald Trump is the Next Hitler then I am joining his SS to put an end to Monotheist Question.””

      “I want a job in Norway cutting off the heads of people that circumcise babies.”

      At the Portland frees speech rally he walked around chanting, “nigger” and threw up the seig heil.

      Sounds like ‘white supremacist’ is not an uncalled for descriptor.

      1. Since your Nazi-radar is so sophisticated, explain the nexus between national-socialism and anti-circumcision.

        and re: ‘not an uncalled for’ = aside from the double-negative…. anything that can’t be ruled out 100% is therefore entirely acceptable? touche.

        more
        http://dailycaller.com/2017/05…..supporter/

        1. Wotanism or Odinism is where white supremacy, white nationalism, and paganism all converge. All Judeo/Christian religion is viewed as suspect. Sanders as an atheist who forsook his Jewish religion and spiritual but not religious Stein (far closer to animism and paganism than monotheism) were probably more acceptable to him than practicing Christians.

          1. Fascinating. So its “not uncalled for” to call him a Viking Berserker, then?

            1. I’d bet he wouldn’t complain about that descriptor.

              1. the difference between me and you is that i think slapping labels on people and lumping them into ideological categories is stupid, and extremely bad journalism

                What you describe as evidence of ideology is in most cases just as easily (if not better) explained by mental-illness.

                The compulsion to label people also requires minimizing any behavior that is inconsistent with the preferred categories. So no one in the media draws attention to the same person’s “radical environmentalist” comments (he wrote screeds opposing pipeline-building), or his “Radical leftist” comments (he was a stein/bernie supporter), but latch onto ‘race’ stuff, because Race-stuff sells papers.

                It also lets people like you pretend to play “Profiler”.

                1. Radical environmentalist wouldn’t pull him out of the Wotan or Nazi fold. The Nazis used environmental concerns to flame resentment against the Jews and pagans tend to be more animistic than monotheists.

                  Support for Stein and Sanders also feeds into the Wotanism framing by having rejected monotheism more than support for leftist dogma.

              2. In short = crazy guy stabs people.

                That’s the fucking story. Everything else is so much masturbatory bullshit that says more about the obsessions of observers like you than it says anything significant of “Crazy Guy”.

                1. For someone that doesn’t like to label people, you sure like the ‘crazy’ label.

                  1. because the question of whether someone is rational or nuts matters, whereas your hairsplitting about the nuances of Wotanism vs. plain old Racist doesn’t.

                    You are trying to ascribe some coherent and consistent ideological rationale for behavior that isn’t even remotely rational.

                    Its fucking stupid, and doesn’t serve any purpose other than to satisfy bullshit public demand that everything fit into an “ism” box.

                    1. I think that recognizing a obscure subset of the set of white supremacists for what it is matters. Do I think that some of his beliefs are irrational? Sure, but then I also think that a lot of the beliefs of Christians are pretty irrational too. I mean there are people that actually believe that some bread and wine literally turn into the body and blood of Christ and then they engage in an act of cannibalism and devour their Man/God. Or how about the irrationality of suicide jihadis that are actively making their situation worse? Should we just lazily label them all crazy and ignore them? It would certainly be the easiest thing to do.

                    2. While I agree that putting someone in a box for the sake of political or ideological expediency is lazy, so too is ignoring the box they put up around themselves that might conflict with our other boxes. I think that by recognizing the apparent Wotanism of his statements we can learn that our understanding of ‘white supremacy’ is limited by our experience being mainly with Christian white supremacists. By recognizing that Christian White Supremacists hate Jews because Jews killed their Messiah (among other reasons) and that other white supremacists that are not Christian may not hold the same vitriol for Jews but distribute their hate to all of the Abrahamic religions including Islam and Christianity, we gain greater insight into the seemingly incongruent actions of this particularly violent person. Hopefully this would lead us to being better fortified against the simplistic rhetorical diversions of, “he can’t be a white supremacist because he liked Sanders,” or, “there’s no explaining crazy.” But then I guess that would take some actual effort.

                    3. Considering what the Moslems & Xtians did to the pagans, is it any wonder there’d be resentment?

          2. Also, you seem to have skipped past the part where you explained his passion for foreskins.

            1. Wotanists view the circumcision to be a rite of Jewish blood magic.

          3. I know from my own associations that there are a lot of white separatists among Odinists/Asatru/Heathens. But there are plenty of Odinists/Asatru/Heathens who are race-indifferent too.

            1. I’m sure there are peaceful practioners. It seems like the violent wing is intellectually comprised around a couple small splinter groups started by guys that were disappointed by the general pacifism of the religion.

      2. Sounds more like he’s insane, possibly neo-pagan, pissed off about circumcision and maybe, down the list somewhere, a bit white supremacist. But from the comments you quote, I can’t rule out that he thinks he’s being clever or funny.

        1. Sounds like a Wotanist.

        2. He’s pissed off about circumcision? Maybe he’s an Onanist.

  2. I’m too sleepy to look up the exact quote, but there’s something to the effect of “when your opponents are bent on destroying each other, do not interrupt them.”

    Maybe the two warring camps of authoritarian statists will start dropping each other like flies, and when the dust settles we libertarians who stayed away from the conflict will be left in a large majority.

    1. Not sure this is how it works. Most of the time as the stupidity becomes too great the average person will support the guy who ends the chaos…..normally ends the chaos at the barrel of a gun.

      1. While this is true… the other possibility is that those who don’t pick sides get “put” on the “other” side during the fight depending on who is in front of you. Thus… we may get caught up with the rest of the flies that are getting dropped.

        “What? You don’s support full confiscation of wealth? DEATH TO TRAITORS!”

        “What? You don’t support a full scale crackdown on “foreign invaders from the south”? DEATH TO TRAITORS!!”

    2. Maybe the two warring camps of authoritarian statists will start dropping each other like flies, and when the dust settles we libertarians who stayed away from the conflict will be left in a large majority.

      Keep dreaming. Caught in the crossfire or lumped in with one side’s enemies* is the more likely outcome.

      * kind of like how any “military aged male” who happens to be attending a Pakistani wedding that gets droned is counted as an “enemy combatant.”

      1. Keep dreaming. Caught in the crossfire or lumped in with one side’s enemies* is the more likely outcome.

        No kidding. Tuccille wrote a good article here, but he of all people should be aware that a small minority of dedicated individuals can wreak havoc on a stable society, and more so when they’re trying to form that society in their image.

        The Culture Wars are still going on, but it’s increasingly looking as if we’re about to enter another “hot” period like the late 60s-early 70s.

    3. Sure, that ‘first they came for….’ shtick always works out great.

  3. …we’re breeding Reds and Blues.

    +1 RvB shout out.

    On a serious note, wrt fighting between political camps, it certainly does seem that history is repeating itself.

    1. If only we could dump all the insufferable partisans into a box canyon.

  4. :::cough cough::: “The Law” by Bastiat :::cough cough:::

    Otherwise… actually a good article.

  5. Please remember that fascism is a system of state control of the economy, often initiated by, and enforced at times by street violence. The National Socialist German Workers’ Party was only ‘right wing’ in that it opposed communists. It opposed them as political enemies, not philosophical enemies.
    The only fascists I see in current USA politics are left-wing, calling themselves ‘anti-fascists’ in honor of Gobbels.

    1. And, true to their leftist origins, the fascists were staunchly anti-capitalist.

      IOW, they too had drunk deep from the Marxist koolaid.

    2. Explaining what NDSAP (Nazi) means to lefties is so much fun. I can usually see foam starting to form at the corner of their mouths. Either that or blank stares because they either know and try hard to twist words or they don’t know but fight the socialist cause anyway.

      They of course say that the Nazis were not socialists because the Nazis hated the Communists in the the USSR. They also love to say that the Nazis didn’t mean to have the word socialist in their name.

      The biased media has so contaminated the historical narrative that even the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact has been labelled as fascism vs socialism, when the Nazis and USSR had much in common with socialism.

      1. They also love to say that the Nazis didn’t mean to have the word socialist in their name.

        I’ve actually see progressives try to claim that the Nazis included “socialist” in their name only because they were a social movement, as opposed to actually meaning it in the common usage of the day as having to do with Marxist philosophy.

        Either they’re stupid enough to believe that horseshit or they think the rest of us are. Or both… probably both.

    3. It’s also important to remember that “right wing” doesn’t mean the same thing in Europe as it does in the US. In Europe, they are pretty much all socialists of one kind or another. The main argument is between nationalist socialists and international/multicultural socialists.

    4. That’s only one aspect of fascism. Two other necessary traits before you start handing out membership badges are:

      * Fealty and quasi-worship of the Leader, who is often an outright dictator and autocrat.

      * Overt militarism and use of military symbols, often including the wearing of uniforms by the Leader and party members.

      Mere state control of an economy is not enough to be a fascist, as the same can be said of nearly every non-capitalist system, including socialism and feudal manorialism and even good old fashioned mercantilism.

      1. Fealty and quasi-worship of the Leader, who is often an outright dictator and autocrat.

        Sadly, we’re getting closer and closer to that. Two presidents in a row now have developed full-on “cults of personality” during their respective campaigns. I highly doubt Trump could ever become “American Hitler” even if he wanted to, but the way these cults have developed it’s only a matter of time until someone does.

      2. Something like stuffing him and having pilgrimages to view his corpse? Venerating the Leader like that? Or just worshipping his image? Or going full DPRNK and worshipping the leader like a god.

        And creating uniforms for everyday work–or big gold festooned uniforms for events/

        Like every communist leader in every communist country ever?

  6. As a libertarian, my preferred solution is always to defer to individual preferences?to make participation in various programs voluntary, and to minimize bans, restrictions, and mandates.

    The problem is, Reason Staff, your primary readers get this, but the progressive left (consciously chooses to) see this outlook as just one more flavor of conservatism, whereas the conservatives see us a just a bunch of pot smoking libertines. The trick is going to be to convince them, or at least those of good will, that MYOB isn’t just a schoolyard retort, but an excellent way of getting along in a crowded world.

  7. So just to understand, your thesis is that the bus stabbing in Portland is the direct result of Obamacare?

    1. The stabber assumed their wounds woild be paid for.

    2. It’s obvious, when you think about it.

    3. That’s the obvious conclusion they _want_ you to reach, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll see that it’s really Bush’s fault.

  8. That growing association between lifestyle and ideology even points to the possibility, according to recent research, that when people date and marry partners with whom they share common interests, they’re likely to pick people with similar political beliefs. “This result suggests a pathway by which long-term couples come to share political preferences, which in turn could be fueling the widening ideological gap in the United States.”

    People date and marry people with similar interests and values to their own? What craziness! What bigotry!

    It’s not breeding that’s widening the ideological gap 2chilly. It’s the constant painting the other side as evil. This breeds resentment, and destroys any desire for discourse. Which we can see in the Berkeley situation. It’s not that these kids had liberal parents. It’s that they are being told that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is literally Hitler, and so they are doing to their political enemies what they think should have been done with Hitler. Reacting violently.

    Look at your own article. Emphasis on the “white supremacist” to attempt to link this guy to Trump supporters, when he was a Bernie Bro that stated he was out to kill Trump and Clinton voters. This contributes to the problem. Why would anyone on the Trump side even listen to anyone else, when even the libertarian rag does this.

    This is how echo chambers are formed. And what causes people to not leave them. Not “breeding”.

    1. Emphasis on the “white supremacist” to attempt to link this guy to Trump supporters

      It’s so bad, that in your comment you assume the narrative that Trump supporters are significantly white supremacists.

      I’m not trying to pick on you. I think you’ve got it pretty much right here.

      1. I make no such assumption, and my post is pretty clear about that, but I recognize what most of the major news stations are and have been running. You’d have to be blind to miss it.

        The “Trump supporters are white supremacists” lie has been running in the MSM since before Clinton’s “Deplorables” speech.

        I like how you take my comment completely out of context. Shows you have little to stand on Zeb. All you can do is be disingenuous. I’m a lot more disappointed in 2chilly though, because he tends to be one of Reason’s best contributors.

        1. Well, you completely missed the point. I make a humorous observation and complement you and you act like an asshole. Thanks.

          1. and complement you

            No, you leftist snowflake you, you complimented him before he acted like an asshole.

          2. Humorous but DEVASTATING observation.

          3. You’re right, I was being an ass.

            Thanks for the compliment Zeb.

    2. There can be more than one cause. And “painting the other side as evil” does not sound like a very deep diagnosis. Why are people talking like this? Segregation may be part of the answer.

      And who associated the train stabber with Trump? I guess people here are eager to talk about it, because JD only mentioned it to highlight how other overtly political violence is now being sidelined. But of course he used the wrong word, so that’s the real issue here.

    3. Suggesting he was simply a Bernie Bro because of a single statement of support is wrong too. He also made statements in support of Trump if he went full Hitler. The ‘white supremacist’ = Trump supporter is intellectually lazy and this case seems to be a little more complicated than that which I think can be very instructive. Wotanists are white supremacists and white nationalsts. They are also pagans that hate all of the Abrahamic religions. So Sanders that is an atheist that is of Jewish descent is less bad than a practicing Christian. Jill Stein is only spiritual not religious and has an atheist husband which would be less bad than a practicing Christian. This is in stark contrast to a Christian White Supremacist that would see Sanders as both an atheist and a Jew. I’m not sure which at that point they would consider worse, the apostasy of atheism or being descended from Messiah killers.

      So let’s discard both “white supremacists = trumpers” and the “Berners = progtards” echo chambers and look at his specific brand of ideology.

  9. It’s especially sad for someone of my age to see political discourse fall to this level. I recall the intellectual debates that took place in Chicago in ’68 and spilled over into thoughtful round-table discussions at universities like Berkeley and Kent State.

  10. “[…] tempers are unlikely to simmer down when political tribes see each other as enemies in a high-stakes struggle for control of a government they venerate for its power to fulfill wishes and crush enemies.”

    The greater the number of snouts at the trough, the greater the number of bites among the swines.

    There can be no civility possible between those who benefit from wholesale despoilation.

  11. From the Willamette Week article:

    Niiya told antifa protesters that for police to make an arrest, the victim would need to provide his name. After some chatter in the group, the word came back via the human megaphone: “No victim!” The police decamped a second time from the park.

    What an easily exploitable weakness. Yeah, if you want to register a complaint, you have to give your name so the police can do follow-up. Kind of hard for the fascist stormtroopers to get theirs if you consider the Sixth Amendment to be a construct of the capitalist patriarchy.

  12. re: the larger point of this article (and apologies for derailing it with the first-comment)

    The term i think that has fallen out of favor is “Pluralism” = the idea that we should welcome a multiplicity of views, and that a variety of views are normal and healthy. There seems to be very little appreciation of the merits of living in a pluralistic society.

    The problem with many is that they’ve become accustomed to something like Robby’s “Okay/Not-Okay” method of perpetual value-judgement

    Not everything is either/or. Most things are neither. It is not necessary for every individual to constantly measure the ‘acceptability’ of other people’s beliefs.

    the other thing i think that needs better understanding is the difference between ‘tolerance’ and ‘affirmation’.

    Pluralism requires tolerance, but tolerance doesn’t require affirmation. You don’t have to love or even respect the people you disagree with. but you have to be willing to leave them alone and accept that they exist in the same world you do.

    i think 2 of Scott Alexander’s pieces also bear mentioning –

    1 – “I can tolerate anything except the outgroup
    and
    2) “Still crying wolf

    Both make important points about contemporary political polarization (as well as the journalistic habit of seeing neo-nazis everywhere)

  13. Breaking news from CNN: Sources say Trump is “emotionally withdrawing” and “gaining weight”, entering into a “dangerous place”.

    My sources tell me CNN is “bat-shit insane” with “more than one” CNN on-air personality “chewing their lips off” in impotent rage.

    1. I caught a couple of minutes of CNN on one of those embedded wall televisions while waiting for an elevator over the weekend (because apparently people can no longer stand still for upwards of a minute without exposure to a screen anymore). It was a lot of hyperventilating about Jared Kushner and his evil plots with the Russkies.

      Four hours later and I’m waiting for the elevator again…. same thing on CNN.

      1. Obviously, you need to take the stairs more.

  14. It’s the same old story. When there’s only monopolistic coercive government, it cannot fail, it has no competitors to compare with, it has no investors who will lose their shirts if they don’t set it right. It must choose sides, rightly or wrongly, and the bigger it gets, the more often it makes sense for its subjects to try to influence it to stomp competitors instead of literally minding their own businesses.

    Coercive monopolistic government is the evil. Nothing else matters. Everything else could be dealt with by markets in its absence.

  15. I just want to know who to blame, so I can blame them.

  16. If we want to bring political life and discourse in the United States back from the boiling point, we have to make politics less important. When politics and policy matter less, the silly opinions of other Americans, or the rough conduct of a politician, will be far less likely to set us against each other in the streets.

    But I want my team to win.

    1. I don’t really care who wins, I just want it to be an interesting game. Preferably with lots of fouls.

  17. Localized decision-making also empowers dissenters to easily move to jurisdictions they find more amenable. People are highly unlikely to fight over laws that affect the lives of people only in the next state, or another town.

    A temporary patch at best. The problem is that every locality is moving in the direction of more government.

    1. Yeah, local control has its merits. But local government also provides the most opportunities for busy-bodies to “get involved” in ways that really mess with people’s lives, property and finances. And, as you observe, it’s hard to find a local government that isn’t trying to do more. Even outside of densely populated areas.

      1. If there’s going to be coercive monopolistic government, it’s best to split it up, splinter it into many, so foot-voting has some impact. It’s also good to have a hierarchy of sorts so different levels can keep watch on the others. Federalism is a very limited start, and the trend, naturally, has been to decrease the differences, but it’s a start.

    2. People tend to ignore local government the most-unless they happen to have kids in the public school, and even there, its only the school committee meetings they attend. Its very easy and cheap for outside interest groups to push their agendas through local governments because hardly anyone will notice, and it will be too late to roll them back once they do.

    3. In theory, federalism should incentivize local governments to restrain themselves as there tends to be net migration from overregulated, overtaxed places to less regulated and less taxed places. In practice though, states like Michigan and Ohio, even after half a century of failed attempts at economic planning, still persist in their abysmal policies and refuse to compete for people.

  18. Great piece of writing Too-Chilly!

  19. Sure, but this is like saying, to reduce terrorism, stop attracting crowds.

    Political violence is a tiny nuisance compared to the consequences of the stakes they’re contending over. People willingly make themselves targets of assassination by assuming high, powerful office. Same with campaign spending.

  20. As a libertarian, my preferred solution is always to defer to individual preferences?

    Is that realistic in a society of more than 300 million individuals?

    Also, as a Libertarian, it’s important to realize that social movements, like bureaucracies, have a kind of impulse to grow. The pro- and anti-abortion movements both want to grow and won’t content themselves with activism confined to the local level. They both want attention at the highest level.

  21. The real contest is the individual vs the collective. The collective gives you dictators and oppression, individual rights brings you peace and prosperity. A real tough choice for some.

  22. If we do away with speed limits no one will be arrested for speeding either. No, getting rid of the minority president won’t fix the deep divisions in the country but they won’t be fed additional fodder either. Mr. Trump thrives on victimization and to be a victim one must have a victimizer- in his case, the press, everyone who voted for Sec. Clinton, democrats and most of Europe. He plays these themes in tweets and speeches with no nuance. It is no wonder that these rantings inspire violence which, in turn, inspires revenge and the cycle continues. It is past time that our politicians began to value civility. Until they do and criticize the violence on both sides- nothing will change. Weakening the government won’t erradicate these deep differences; only politicians willing to tell the truth to their constituents and not label anyone who disagrees with them -evil or traitors. They could begin by refusing to seat the newly elected congressman who body slammed a reporter and is facing a charge of assault.

  23. While it’s interesting that progressives always blame “the right” after a beating from liberals, there was no consideration for the helicoptering government in our daily lives as a source of this “polarization.” Bathroom privileges, transgenderism, gay marriage, health insurance, etc. should not be centrally mandated. There is only one ideology that comes close to pursuing that goal. States handle those issues better because they more effectively and accurately respond to the wishes of the governed.

  24. Welcome to the club. Some of us have been singing this song for the better part of 40-years.

  25. As long as one man has no self-control, we will all have to be subject to the external control of government.

    As long as government exists, it will perpetuate itself by increasing its control over individuals.

    Resistance to government is seen as justification for more control by government.

    The only way to reduce or eliminate government is to increase individual self-control. At man’s present stage of social development, this scenario does not seem likely.

    Liberal Conclusion: more government is necessary to control individuals, because they are unable to control themselves.

    Conservative Conclusion: less government is necessary to control individuals, because they need to develop the skills necessary for self-control.

    Clearly, Conservatives are the true proponents of progressive social evolution and development of mankind—REAL “Hope and Change” through the development of the individual’s self-control and self-determination.
    Liberals are pessimistic about Man’s capacity for development, and are thus proponents of regressive social devolution into the collectivism which has governed Man since Civilization began.

  26. From the Willamette Week article:

    Niiya told antifa protesters that for police to make an arrest, the victim would need to provide his name. After some chatter in the group, the word came back via the human megaphone: “No victim!” The police decamped a second time from the park.
    What an easily exploitable weakness. Yeah, if you want to register a complaint, you have to give your name so the police can do follow-up. Kind of hard for the fascist stormtroopers to get theirs if you consider the Sixth Amendment to be a construct of the capitalist patriarchy.

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  27. In theory, federalism should incentivize local governments to restrain themselves as there tends to be net migration from overregulated, overtaxed places to less regulated and less taxed places. In practice though, states like Michigan and Ohio, even after half a century of failed attempts at economic planning, still persist in their abysmal policies and refuse to compete for people.
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  28. H. Rap Brown said violence is as American as apple pie. The violence of the state has always been wielded almost exclusively against non-conformists and minorities. Just after 8 years where that substantially changed, we see it taken back with a vengeance.
    Putting the right people in charge is all it’s about. Anarcho- and Oligarcho- and Opportunist-dreams aside.

  29. Uh no on the marriage part, I refuse to marry a libtard, she can be conservative but I much prefer a libertarian. If I married a libtard, no matter how hot, the marriage wouldn’t last one month.

  30. The problem comes from government control over education. Far too often, education has become teaching WHAT to think, rather than HOW to think.

    So students grow up thinking WHAT they think is right, and anything else is wrong, rather than just a different contradictory viewpoint where the other person also thinks what they think is right. Basically, many people don’t actually know how to think for themselves.

    The solution is competition in education, just as most things. This is what the founders foresaw in the Constitution with States and people’s rights.

    So Trump’s push on less Federal involvement in education is an outstanding example of his foresight, on which he deserves to be commended. But how many slam him instead – mostly those who don’t know how to think…

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