OTHERS AND US: Each of us has a citizen's duty!


What Joe Biden might have said: Is it possible that Donald J. Trump could get elected again?

As we've noted several times, everything is possible! 

Could Trumpism prevail in the absence of Trump, through the success of a different candidate? That possibility is possible too. Most possibilities are!

This morning, a bit of gloom emerges from the anti-Trump journalistic camp. In the New York Times, David Brooks says that current anti-Trump strategies have largely failed.

For the record, Brooks has been part of that camp all along. That said, tens of millions of his fellow citizens have had a different view about Donald J. Trump, as is their perfect right. 

Concerning those who have opposed Donald Trump, Brooks offers a gloomy conclusion. "My straightforward conclusion would be that most of what we are doing is not working," he says.

According to Brooks, the strategies of our own infallible tribe have failed. Here's the start of his analysis:

BROOKS (9/16/22): Those of us in this [anti-Trump] establishment correctly identified Trump as a grave threat to American democracy. The task before us was clear. We were never going to shake the hard-core MAGA folks. The job was to peel away independents and those Republicans offended by and exhausted by his antics.

Many strategies were deployed in order to discredit Trump. There was the immorality strategy: Thousands of articles were written detailing his lies and peccadilloes. There was the impeachment strategy: Investigations were launched into his various scandals and outrages. There was the exposure strategy: Scores of books were written exposing how shambolic and ineffective the Trump White House really was.

The net effect of these strategies has been to sell a lot of books and subscriptions and to make anti-Trumpists feel good. But this entire barrage of invective has not discredited Trump among the people who will very likely play the most determinant role...

The barrage has probably solidified Trump’s hold on his party. Republicans see themselves at war with the progressive coastal elites. If those elites are dumping on Trump, he must be their guy.

According to Brooks, a large "establishment" has tried to take Trump down. 

They've made lots of money selling their books. In selling their books and reciting on cable, they've made blue tribe members feel good.

This "establishment" has been extremely active—and their view of Trump is correct. But in the process of performing those tasks, they may have solidified Trump's hold on his party! 

According to Brooks, "Republicans see themselves at war with the progressive coastal elites." Here's where his portrait ends up:

BROOKS: [T]he straightforward conclusion would be that most of what we are doing is not working. The next conclusion might be that there’s a lot of self-indulgence here. We’re doing things that help those of us in the anti-Trump world bond with one another and that help people in the Trump world bond with one another. We’re locking in the political structures that benefit Trump.

My core conclusion is that attacking Trump personally doesn’t work. You have to rearrange the underlying situation...

In Brooks' view, the blue tribe has come to feel even more tribal—but the unity of the red tribe has been solidified too. We've left with two warring tribes, he says. In that way, the attacks on Trump just haven't worked.

The attacks on Trump haven't worked, Brooks says. We can't exactly tell you that's right, but we can't really tell you it's wrong.

We can support the columnist's view about the strain of self-indulgence afflicting our massively self-impressed blue tribe. We tend to be sure that we're brilliant and right, and that the Others are immoral and stupid and wrong.

As we noted yesterday, our nation is left with two warring tribes—the red tribe and the blue. As this forever war drags on, the Others are full of crazy belief—and they're constantly name-called by Us.

("You name it," the candidate said in 2016. She had run through a long list of denigrations, starting with "racist "of course.)

Plainly, such attitudes have long been part of blue tribe culture. Whatever one thinks of Brooks' overall thesis, we're inclined to suggest that these attitudes plainly don't work.

We'll note a fairly obvious point which Brooks makes in the passage above. For those of us in today's blue tribe, we're never going to change the minds of "hard-core MAGA folks." 

Instead, the job is to "peel away" independents who voted for Trump, along with Republicans who have rethought their position. As we put it yesterday, we need to go after the most persuadable Trump voters, not the "hard-core fanatics."

Do such people exist? Yesterday, we saw the way the Times' Charles Blow doesn't exactly seem sure. In Blow's peculiar calculation, if some Trump voters hold horrible views, we should "blame and shame" them all. 

This is the (hard-wired) route our species takes on the way to its endless wars.

Is every Trump voter a slobbering racist? Our deeply unimpressive tribe love to say or suggest this. We refer to the assistant, associate and adjunct professors, and to the rest of flyweights as well.

That said, is every Trump voter a slobbering racist? Below, you see a nugget about some of those folks. It comes to us, live and direct, from the world's leading authority:

Obama-Trump voters

In the United States, Obama–Trump voters, sometimes referred to as Trump Democrats or Obama Republicans, are people who voted for Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama in the 2008 or 2012 presidential elections (or both), but later voted for Republican Party nominee Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. Data shows that in 2016, these voters comprised roughly 13% of Trump voters...

Various studies estimate the percentage of 2016 Trump voters, who had previously voted for Obama, at between 11 and 15 percent. The Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) found that 11% of 2016 Trump voters had voted for Obama in 2012, with the American National Election Study putting the number at 13%, and the University of Virginia Center for Politics estimating 15%. Expressed in total number of voters, these percentages indicate that between 7 and 9 million 2016 Trump voters voted for Obama in 2012. 

Why would you vote for Obama twice, then vote for Donald J. Trump? We don't have the slightest idea, but quite a few people did.

(To find out why, you'd have to ask them. But when journalists try to perform such tasks, our deeply unimpressive blue tribe screams out and insists that they stop. Whatever you do, don't speak to Others! That's what we say Over Here!)

As of November 2020, 74.2 million different people cast votes for Donald J. Trump. And no, these people are not all alike—except in one major respect.

Joe Biden made a blood-red speech about "the extreme MAGA Republicans." He didn't try especially hard to say who he was talking about, though he did say that these people are "committed to destroying America."

To Biden, we'd impolitely say this:

When you talk about people that way, you have to define who you mean. If you don't have the courage or smarts to say who you mean, you may trigger a very large backlash.

We thought Biden was reckless and wrong in the approach he took in that speech, and in the two which preceded it. Most specifically, we thought he should have drawn a clear distinction between the GOP leadership and the GOP rank and file—between the misleaders and the misled.

We even think he might have had enough courage to say that he was talking about many former Senate colleagues—to point to the people who refuse to say the things they plainly know. That would have had Biden kicking up, not seeming perhaps to kick down.

We think Biden should have distinguished between the leadership and the (mis)led. Along the way when he gave that speech, we think he could have done this:

He could have said he respects all American voters—regards them as neighbors and friends.

He could have said that he respects the people who voted for him—and the people who voted against him.

He could have said that he understands that various people hold various views concerning a wide range of topics. 

He could have said he respects the people who voted against him, and that he assumes, and respects the fact, that they're sincere in their views.

Most importantly, he could have said this:

He could have said that he understands that every single American voter—every one of his neighbors and friends—holds the very same ownership stake in the American project. 

That we all sit on the board of governors. That we all have an ownership stake.

Having said those things, he could have said this—and this would be very important:

Each of us has a citizen's duty to question the things we're told.

We Democrats frequently misstate too, he could (quite correctly) have said. Other people are right to challenge us when we do.

But those of you on the other side have a duty to fact-check your facts. You can't assume that something is true just because somebody said it.

I respect every single voter, this blood-red fellow might wisely have said. That said, you have a citizen's duty—and I have that same duty too.

Tomorrow: Something we saw as a college freshman (we'll try to tie up some loose ends)


  1. "Why would you vote for Obama twice, then vote for Donald J. Trump? We don't have the slightest idea, but quite a few people did."

    Yeah, not really the rocket science, dear Bob.

    Your tribe's Demigod Barry promised the moon and the stars, but in the end turned out to be a pathetic establishment puppet. No renegotiations of NAFTA, no card check, no public medical care, no closing the Gitmo, no ending the wars, no nothing. Plus a lot more more wars, and a lot more drone strikes, including American citizens.

    ...well, to be fair: not quite as catastrophic as your tribe's Brandon administration, in just two years...

    1. Shouldn’t you be forcing 12-year olds to carry their rapists babies, instead of posting nonsense?

  2. “Republicans see themselves at war with the progressive coastal elites. If those elites are dumping on Trump, he must be their guy.”

    Whoa, David! Since nothing has changed in the Democratic Party for a decade, perhaps Republicans can nominate a candidate Coastal Elites won’t dump on!

    What would we do without you?!

  3. Great post by Bob today. Great critique of that strange, divisive speech.

  4. If Democrats are so against divisiveness, why do they tell the truth about the Right’s love of bigotry?

  5. I’m sure Brooks works pro bono for the Times.
    You get what you pay for anyway.
    Pure crap from Bob today, as usual.

  6. Both Somerby and Brooks frame the opposition to Trump as partisan and political. The impeachments and investigations are bipartisan and part of the accountability required by our system of government. Trump is not just a member of a different political party from the Democrats, he has committed criminal acts, neglected his duty and broken his oath of office. That requires those who exercise oversight to hold him accountability for his wrongdoing. That is not politics as usual, nor is it aimed at vote-getting. It should occur even if Trump were in his last term in office, ineligible to run again. Because office holders are responsible to the people of this country. Somerby and Brooks ignore this duty and instead characterize these activities as "attacks".

    Brooks and Trump also refer to these so-called attacks as "not working." If these were considered partisan attacks, in what sense are they not working, given that Trump did not win in 2020 and has been decreasing in power and influence, even within the Republican party? Even in 2016, Trump lost the popular vote. He and his staff believed they had lost, made no preparations for transition and were stunned to discover they had won the election. They did so not because of Trump's strength but because of foreign interference in the election coupled with Comey's meddling. Many on the left believe this was done with Russian help, although a non-partisan investigation remains to be done on that issue. Clearly, efforts to defeat Trump would have worked had there not been such meddling and Hillary would have been elected.

    The main argument made by Brooks and seconded by Somerby is that the MAGA supporters do not waver in their enthusiasm for Trump, not matter what is discovered about him. But Brooks and Somerby are both incorrect that the Democrats needs to peel off Independent voters or even Obama voters who went for Trump. There are sufficient Democratic voters to defeat Trump, should he run again, especially given the larger numbers of women who have newly registered in order to defend Roe v Wade, a Democratic issue. We need to bring our own voters to the polls to vote. That will not happen as effectively if the Democrats shift toward the center, frustrating both liberals and progressives and turning off the new voters with weak support for choice.

    David Brooks is a conservative. It should be a cold day in hell before Democrats take political advice from conservatives. He is also a bothsiderist. Somerby has been sounding like a conservative since 2015, when he had nothing good to say about Hillary. He too is a major bothsiderist, always ready to criticize the left but with nothing bad to say about the right, except for Trump being to be pitied because he is crazy. That isn't going to inspire any Democrats to support Democratic candidates in 2024, but he had nothing good to say about the last batch, including Biden. So it is difficult to see any desire on his part to support Democratic issues and candidates going forward. That may be why these guys are both telling us that our current tactics "don't work" despite Biden's success, and that whatever we are doing to win the Senate and House is wrong. These are the last people Democrats should listen to about such matters.

  7. Biden did say that he respects all people in this country and that he is the president of all of us, not red states and not blue states, but all states.

    Somerby isn't listening. Further, Somerby keeps framing Biden's speech as a political, partisan campaign speech, not a speech to all citizens on a matter of national importance about the damage being done by those who do not support the constitution and who have been using violence to achieve political goals, and who are undermining democracy. Biden issued a call to action out of bipartisan concern about Trump and the MAGA Republicans. Somerby has reacted by telling us that this isn't the way to win elections -- as if Biden were making a campaign speech (in a non-presidential election year when there haven't even been nominations held yet). Somerby appears to be the one who cannot hear anything except through a red/blue filter, not Biden, who addressed everyone in a tone of respect and unity.

    MAGA Republicans of course heard Biden's speech as an attack on them -- as it was. Their reaction was to frame this as a Democratic attack on Republicans, just as Somerby has done. Why would someone who claims to be liberal (as Somerby has done), keep repeating Republican talking points? Why would he lock arms with David Brooks and criticize the Democrats for calling Trump out on his crimes, as if we were just campaigning (ineffectively, he says) and not defending our nation from Trump's wrongdoing? Why would Somerby characterize every book about Trump's failures in office as political, self-serving, pleasurable bonding for partisans, and not a whistleblowing revelation of Trump's incompetence? Somerby has this wrong. Trump will not be elected again, and we, as a nation, need to protect our institutions against his followers, the MAGA Extremists who commit crimes in Trump's names. And these people need to go to jail, so that our nation understands the difference between crimes and politics (and no, they are not the same).

  8. "We Democrats frequently misstate too, he could (quite correctly) have said."

    No, not correctly, and especially not when you consider that Somerby considers Trump's lies to be misstatements and not deliberate falsehoods.

    We Democrats take care to get things right and do not engage in the dishonesty that is commonplace on the right. If you doubt this, look at the fact checking organizations.

    Biden should not have to lie himself and grovel before Republicans to be regarded as bipartisan. That is demeaning and wouldn't work any better than anything else has to lure any Trump supporter to vote Democratic. But remember that Biden's pleas was not to vote for Democrats. It was to clean up their own act on the right and stop supporting the MAGA miscreants that populate their party. It was not ask Republicans to hold their own party accountable for the success of our mutual democracy. Democrats would not mind if they did that by electing Republicans who respect the constitution and honor their oaths of office, and simply stopped electing unqualified con artists and extremists who think their job is to pull stunts like Ron DeSantis did and own the libs.

    That shouldn't be too much to ask. Somerby sounds like someone practicing to work in a Chinese reeducation camp.

  9. It was to ask Republicans to hold their own party accountable. ("not" doesn't belong in that sentence)

  10. "In Blow's peculiar calculation, if some Trump voters hold horrible views, we should "blame and shame" them all. "

    No, Blow said that if some Trump voters hold horrible views, the other Republicans should hold them accountable for their actions. How would Republicans do that? They can either vote them out of office or require them to clean up their acts via peer pressure and censure and by withholding status within the party. They started to do that with MTG and Boebert, but lost their nerve. That is why neither of them has any committee assignments. But Trump likes them, so they get away with their destructiveness, because the rest of the Republican party has no backbone. That is why Blow thinks that ALL Republicans are to blame for what the MAGAs do.

  11. Impeachment and the Jan 6 investigation and now the “raid” at Mar-a-Lago were not “strategies” to “discredit” Trump.

    They were necessary responses to his malfeasance and criminality.

    Brooks cannot see this, nor can Somerby, apparently.

  12. Brooks helped create Trump by embracing GOP crackpot ideas. For decades.

    1. Yep, and now he demands that the Democrats do something to fix the thing he enabled, do that he can go back to demonizing them.

  13. Trump is insulated by a countless pundits who actually do a
    great deal of the misleading. So we should note that while Bob, supposedly a media critic, totally ignores these people. He is a very sad fraud.

  14. Biden defined the subjects of his criticism quite well as Bobby plainly states. These are the people with Brandon signs on their lawns and f**k Biden stickers on their bumpers, and just because Bobby doesn't habitate among them, as I do, doesn't mean they don't exist. And we are f**king tired of them and their antics, which are dangerous. Roughly 35% of the country approved of Trump before he left office, and what is left of that group is a bunch of hateful dead enders who have zero interest in being cajoled into taking a different perspective. As Trump migrates further and further into QANON territory and threatens the rest of us with their propensity towards violence, your admonishment to identify and empathize with the trash that calls out "dembots" rings a little hollow here, Bobby, and your identification with David Brooks is understandable, although he is a considerably more thoughtful and polished phoney.

  15. I've been waiting a long time for people to answer this question: How do you have an intelligent conversation with people who believe, despite all evidence to the contrary that the sun comes up in the west?

  16. I've never met anybody who says the sun rises in the west, but there really are people who believe it moves east to west across the northern sky. I've watched it carefully many times, and it's always in the southern sky.