How has the Democrats pushed their agenda? They passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill and it didn't pass. They tried to pass a bigger spending bill that was cut from 6 trillion to 1.7 trillion because most of the party is not on the far left. And that didn't even pass. So how is the far left taking over?

As far as the economy is going everyone harps on inflation but stays mum on high employment and higher wages. Leave the market alone. It will sort itself out.

Expand full comment

I'm happy in life now because I no longer have to worry how bad the Democrats screw up or how rotten the Republicans can get.

The whirlwind has finally come. A complete criminal scheme to defraud the American electorate. There are videos, tapes, signatures, documents and confessions. In completely admitted collusion are Trump, Pence (possibly), Grassley, Powell, Manafort, Eastman, Giuliani, Clark, a large group of sitting congressmen, and GOP functionaries at the highest levels in 7 states. All Republican. All completely guilty. Investigations are now ongoing at both the state and federal levels. One of the biggest crimes in American history and I get to watch it all unfold. I get to watch the end of the entire Republican party in my lifetime.

Expand full comment

I do admire the prescience of the first Weekly Standard cover. 100 years from now, historians will broadly agree that Newt Gingrich helped break America.

Expand full comment

The apparent paradox of pushing for "transformative" legislation despite razor-thin congressional margins is easily resolved. Precisely *because* the window is so narrow, progressives feel they need to move before it closes. The precedent is the ACA--a policy that helps a lot of people but had a short-term political cost when enacted. To progressives, winning elections isn't the point; it's what you do after you win. Just sitting there and hoping stuff that you have little control over (Covid, inflation) will go away so that you can win the next time isn't worth the bother. Address the issues that currently concern Americans? Most of those issues aren't easily addressable with policy. Inflation is global; supply-chain problems simply have to be worked through; all but the most anodyne efforts to address Covid elicit furious backlash. Simply prattling about "addressing the real issues" with no idea of what would work doesn't cut it.

Expand full comment

"Or maybe you do, because elements of the temporarily ruling party seem deeply invested in denial, excuses, and wish-casting."

And then...

"In part, this is understandable: The GOP is rife with cranks, bigots, conspiracy theorists, and clowns with flamethrowers. So, how could Democrats possibly be losing to these guys. And yet."

The lack of self-awareness here that the last statement demonstrates what is communicated in the first statement is all we need to see to understand why the Democrats are sinking. Keep talking about the other political side that way and inflate your own being and purpose... while you get smashed by that other political side.

Expand full comment

Is it ok if I keep deadnaming you, J?

Expand full comment

No problem.

Expand full comment

What made you do it? Going into hiding? Coming out of hiding?

Expand full comment

Frankly, I was adopted.

Expand full comment

Surely, you’re not being frank.

I should just concede defeat in a contest of puns now.

Expand full comment

I am sometimes a punny guy.

Expand full comment

I think the conversations with the average voter are going to be very fun in about 10 years. Asking how they traded "more common sense on COVID" and "not defunding the police" and "woke-dumb liberals" worked out after the authoritarians took over. Someone's gonna feel pretty dumb - or maybe not? Seems like a lot of people out there like that future.

Expand full comment

They won't feel dumb. 10 years from now, the authoritarianism won't have taken full hold yet in such a fashion that these people you are asking will be upset about it or even have actually noriced. They might even be fairly satisfied at that point. 10 years isn't really a long time.

20 years later, the story might be different--but by that point the authoritarianism will be embedded and it will have started to come down on things that these people value... of course, the political and economic corruption might have become so blatant at that point the the reaction might set in a bit earlier. It depends upon how openly greedy and corrupt the "leadership" is.

Remember that in a lot of these 3rd and 2nd world authoritarian sh*thole countries, a lot of the people were originally behind the whole thing--it is how it all got started ITFP.

Expand full comment

I'm not sure there is much choice at the moment. I scream messaging, but what I am really screaming is....attack the Trumpism brand. There was an article about liberals needing to push back on trolls sites that attack the Democratic brand. Democrats are a vast coalition now, made up of both liberals and conservatives. This wasn't strikingly apparent until after the election. Its as if all the people that use Inductive Reasoning moved to Dem and all those that use Deductive Reasoning moved Rep. They have a simpler thought pattern, a more cohesive group, and they are willing to burn it all down to be right over wine cooolers vs. whiskey, pepsi vs. coke, UA vs Nike. Except, I am a whiskey, coke drinking UA dressing liberal and I think you are a seditionist dupe who has never read a single page of James Madison's thoughts. Take my American flag off and put on the flag of your conspiracy theory confederates. We need to pass a national database for police officers, so bad apples cant move from one force to the next. We need to pass a child tax credit and supplement childcare instead of corporate welfare. We need a national medicine buyers club for over 60. Just focus on these 3 things, separately, it touches most demographics. And add the word seditionist to every chat room, every journal article, every broadcast....Seditionist Ted Cruz, Seditionist Taylor Greene, Seditionist Trump. Just do it for 3 months and see what happens.

Expand full comment

Here in California the Dems biggest problem is the attack on single-family neighborhoods. This is being instigated through mandated zoning changes that allow 10 or more housing units to be added to any single-family lot. These laws are promoted as making housing more affordable, yet the real and inevitable effect of upzoning is that it makes properties more expensive, which has the further effect of squeezing would-be homeowners out of the market in favor of investors who have the access to capital to redevelop these properties.

There is no more kitchen table issue than whether you have a right to own the kitchen in which that table rests. Unlike the building industry and big tech, homeowners don't have lobbyists to defend their interests before elected officials, but we should at least have the media examining whether progressive housing policies will really solve climate change, equity, and affordability, or it's just a ruse to give developers unfettered access to redevelop urban neighborhoods.

This issue shouldn't just be on the media's radar, it should be blinking in the middle of the screen.

Expand full comment

The question arises, with respect to Ruy's bill of particulars: who among the Democratic leadership is saying these things? Pelosi? Schumer? Hoyer? President Biden? Vice President Harris? DNC Chair Harrison? Any of the DNC vice chairs?

If not any of these people are spreading these unhelpful messages, what do you propose they do about it?

Is the problem really with the Democrats, or is it really a matter of the noise machine making up narratives and focusing laser-like on “the left” of the Democratic Party? I think we all know the answer.

Expand full comment

The problem for Biden is that, as the saying goes, you dance with the one that brung you to the dance and two different, opposing suitors are claiming the title. The gap is one of age: a younger, woke Obama cohort from 2018 and an older, moderate Jim Clyburn one from 2020.

I might personally identify more with the latter, but frankly, I get that we didn't deliver the same landslide margins as in 2018 to claim a mandate. That means the path to actual legislation runs through a dozen or so Senate Republicans looking for a Trump offramp (if they exist, and I say a dozen because none will want to be the 10th vote overriding a filibuster and ending their careers). That leaves Manchin, who has actually proposed plausible legislative solutions, driving the train.

If you're a progressive swept into the House or Senate in 2018, you've already gotten rolled by the establishment on BBB because there just weren't the votes or a clear path to passage and something - infrastructure - was clearly better than nothing. Still, leadership overpromised and then caved. Voting rights, meanwhile, is existential, prompting a further debate on blowing up the filibuster. The problem here is that voting rights is viewed and messaged through the lens of race in the midst of a rightwing coup.

We keep having the wrong debates over bloated bills ticking off the constituency boxes versus nothing. The right blend of ECA reform and John Lewis could address the most dire problems; the rest will take more votes and more seats in both houses in 2022, which at the moment is a long shot. Unfortunately each side has a claim on Biden; he needs the Clyburn side for the Senate and the Bernie/AOC side for the House.

The progressives are understandably tired of taking one for the team, but while the broader public is with them generally on Covid, the economy and the social safety net, it balks at the particulars and the cost. That was the 2020 vote; no on Trump, meh on Dems. The progressives have to blink and serious Republicans have to get off their asses and commit to a democratic future. Period, full stop.

Expand full comment

The problem with progressive governance is that when they manage to get a majority they usually try to push through these everything AND the kitchen sink bills that, as you say, check off all the boxes on their agenda.. because everything has to be done NOW, before they lose their majority (and they then wonder WHY they lost their majority).

There is no actual longer view. No understanding that getting a bit today and then a bit tomorrow is more effective than trying to get everything today (and actually getting little or nothing).

There is no understand of or attempt to build a lasting majority through gradual action and actual political LEADERSHIP.

There is no actual unified plan--which is why you get 6 plans that get collapsed into one "must pass" bill--that all Democrats won't vote for unless THEIR little group's thing is there and that other group's thing is not there (or so watered down as to be meaningless).

All of this usually turns into the dumpster fire that we have seen over the last year or so.

Pass functional bills that have necessary things--and make sure understand what necessary means... because apparently progressives have a rather lose definition of that word.

Build a sustained majority on the basis of those accomplishments--making sure that people understand and know about your accomplishments--and the benefits they are getting. make sure those benefits are actual benefits. Beat people over the head with them.

And stop it with the stupid slogans and tone deaf local legislation (like the CA voting law). take a look around you and see where a majority of Americans actually are on those things. If they are not with you, you need to do the groundwork necessary to get them there--and that is not always going to be possible and it is rarely going to be quick.

Learn some effing patience. Yes, there is unjustness and bad things... but it actually takes time and a lot of effort to fix those things (if they ever even get fixed). Slavery existed in this country for almost a century And existed here before the actual country did) before we fought a war to end it. It took another century to get close to actual civil rights for non-whites... and we are still working on it... probably will be for quite some time.

Yes, it is an affront to justice and to morality. It is also simply the way the governance of large diverse groups of people works. People are often neither just nor moral, especially in large groups.

Oh and don't be self-righteous moral a-holes about it--because that won't help your cause much and will probably actually hurt it.

If you want stuff that requires a mandate maybe you should IDK, build an actual electoral mandate? More people would go along if you were smarter about it. Find some central principles and ideas that all "Democrats" are behind and work on THOSE. Keep it simple, direct, and short.

Try some actual salesmanship for a change, don't rely on being a tad less crappy and crazy (arguable at times) than your opponents--because we are already seeing how that is gonna work out.

Expand full comment

That was really well said, do you suppose anyone will listen? If there were a few in Congress who thought and acted that way some problems might actually get solved.

Expand full comment

The key to understanding why what happens, happens is that most of these politicians do not think much beyond the next election cycle and that they feel free (to a degree) to NOT actually accomplish much of anything, because there is always someone/thing to blame--either the other party (fill in name of scumbag GoP politician here) or other people on their own side (Manchin!!!!!)... or the horrible voters who won't vote for them (those damn deplorables!!!!).

We tried to do this but so-and-so blocked it. With more donations and support from you, dear voter, we could get this done. Please send your donation today!!

And no, no one is going to listen. American politics suffers from the same problem as American policy and American business--very short time frames in which to achieve and judge results before the plug gets pulled by either: the voters; a change in administrations/majority; or stockholders.

More and more I think we need to cut back on the number of required elections, but have a mechanism where you can replace a government if you want to bad enough.... it happens elsewhere, it is something called a parliamentary system.

Maybe we need to shift to a hybrid system (since ours is already a hybrid as it is) and run our legislature more like a parliament.. and cut election periods to like 60 days maximum instead of (essentially) continuously.

Expand full comment

If nothing else, at least we should do the last, the current cycle is unending and at least part of the reason many (most?) voters don't pay attention. I completely agree that lack of vision has become endemic in what are referred to as leaders throughout our society.

Expand full comment

Well done. Chances right now range between slim and none unless there's a lot going on far behind the public scene.

Expand full comment

O/T: Breyer to retire. https://www.aol.com/justice-stephen-breyer-retire-supreme-165900528.html

Looks like somebody's been reading tea leaves. Or maybe this newsletter.

Expand full comment

Well, I think we can safely infer that Roe is dead. I think a significant motivation for Breyer to remain on the Court the past few years was his belief--quite possibly misguided and unjustified--in his personal ability to sway members of the Court to a more middling consensus, an inflated sense in the amount of deference and persuasion he carried. But in the cases taken, the decisions already handed down, and the likely outcomes that will be announced this summer have exposed Breyer to the reality of how inconsequential he is within the chamber.

Expand full comment

It seems to me that if the GOP wants to make this a contest between Trump and Biden, I can't see Biden losing except by statehouse vote controls. If he was to lose a legit election, people have an appalling lack of recollection about the former administration.

Losing the congress is another matter. I see way more deep left influence than I want to see. While we may not be a center right country, we aren't a progressive left country either. Dumb stuff like "Defund the Police" or "free college" will not tug at America's heartstrings.

Expand full comment

I think that in the next few years, we are going to get the government we deserve. That is not to say that individuals will be getting the government they deserve or have worked for (as individuals), but that our society at large will--because this whole thing is a cooperative effort.

A large number of people and organizations have cooperated to bring us to this pass. There is more than enough blame to go around.

Most of that blame, rightly, belongs to the voters. They actually DO have the power to change things (at least for now). Why are politicians such pieces of excrement? because you incentivize them to be that way. You reward them for it. You elect and re-elect them.

Why does nothing happen in government? because that is the general consensus--you elect and re-elect people who work hard to make sure nothing much actually happens.

I could keep going, but you get the point.

The media owns a big chunk of that blame, as well. Their primary goal/interest is to make money. That shapes what news is reported and how it is reported. That means that most news is not very "serious," not very informative, and rather shallow. This goes not only for factual news but also for opinion writing. this extends to corporations, at large, whose only real interest is profit... and usually short term profit at best.

Even when it isn't, it is usually located somewhere that a lot of people never see or look ar and the people seeing and looking at it are, themselves, often not competent to make substantive judgments regarding it.

The politicians own some blame as well--mostly due to lack of courage, lack of principle, and lack of actual leadership.

When I give it due consideration, I am actually amazed that things have gone as well as they have for as long as they have.

I am not so bold as to go on record as to what that government will be or how (exactly) it will function. I will be so bold as to say that, at first, it will seem like pretty much any other government (on the surface) and that a lot of people will find it acceptable for a variety of reasons.

It will slowly get worse. It will slowly get more noticeable. More openly authoritarian and corrupt.

But as long as it is someone else getting the shaft it will remain acceptable... at least to those not getting the shaft (and how would they really know, anyway).

In the end, I think we need a true and extreme excrement extravaganza to drive a lot of things home to people. Obviously the last round wasn't extreme enough or excrement-y enough.

Don't worry, we will get there. It is hard to overcome raw emotion, unenlightened self-interest, ambition and greed.

Then we might straighten our act out for a bit, only to return to the same cycle again. We happen to be unlucky enough to (as the Chinese curse goes) live in interesting times.

I am currently reading a book (fiction) titled "Isolate." It is speculative fiction, set in a world that is similar to ours but with some clear differences (one of which is that there are people who are empaths, who can sense emotion, manipulate people, and even use emotion to kill). The author is L E Modesitt, who specializes in this kind of stuff. The book is mostly about politics and political structures and human interaction in those contexts. It is clearly informed and shaped by the American experience of the last several years/decades.

Some interesting ideas in there. The story isn't action filled and exciting... but that isn't its purpose. It would be a horrible movie or TV show LOL.

Expand full comment

I and a few others have been asking Charlie to have more left of center guests on his show. Charlie, thanks for following through on the letter of our request but not so much on the spirit of our request. Instead you went and found a liberal that just agrees with you.

When Amanda and Tim fill in for you periodically they bring on guests that don't necessarily agree with them and they have fascinating conversations with lots of give and take.

I wish you would follow their example. It'd be nice to hear you have a conversation with liberals who don't necessarily agree with your takes and listen to you both hash it out. We complain about echo chambers all of the time and it looks to me like you've set up the Daily Bulwark podcast to be it's own echo chamber about how stupid and hapless the Democrats are and then complain when some fail to immediately join the Grand Coalition to Save Democracy(TM).

Expand full comment
Jan 26, 2022·edited Jan 26, 2022

It also isn't the case that he hadn't had Texeira a few times previously over the past year+, usually after Texeira had written something that Charlie agreed with as a means to "hippie punch" (to quote JVL) the Left with. Never let a chance go to smugly intone against your putative allies, or something I guess.

I used to be an everyday listener of Charlie's podcast, then it became most days, then once or twice a week. But I finally hit my breaking point when he had Tom Nichols on a couple weeks ago for Tom to discuss his Advice for Liberals/Advice for Conservatives article. Charlie was more than happy to pile on Tom's admonishments of the Left, and add more than a few of his own, but then simply hijacked and diverted the conversation when Tom tried to begin his Advice for Conservatives aspect. After 10 minutes of unfocused conversation, much of it Charlie simply repeating his Dem criticisms for the umpteenth time, Tom finally managed to get back to his criticisms/admonishments of conservatives. Which Charlie immediately disagreed with and basically would not give a fair hearing to. It crystallized for me a growing disinterest I had in hearing Charlie's telling the Democrats that they need to "get real" and take their medicine, yet have no willingness to do so himself.

Virtue and self-denial for thee, but indulgence for me just wears on you after a point. Which is sad, because for a solid 3 years I was an everyday listener of Charlie, even when I would disagree. I'd even gone so far as to defend him to my more liberal friends, many of whom are still in the Midwest and far, far more familiar with his pre-2016 body of work. I'm not sure they were as wrong as I thought them to be in their opinions.

Expand full comment

I understand your journey Ethan. I mostly listen now to JVL, Sarah and Tim. If Bill Kristol is on I'll listen to him as well and even some of Sonny Bunch's shows.

I am going to continue supporting The Bulwark because there's a lot of good being done here imo. I used to listen to Charlie every night on the way home as well and now I'm down to a couple of times a week. I look at the guest and most times I know it's going to be just another 45 minutes or so of Democrat bashing. Does my party needs reality checks? It sure does. Does it need them every single day while they are the ones that have to be the ones to "save Democracy"? I don't think so. At some point if you say you are in a coalition to protect Democracy with them maybe act like it?

Expand full comment

If you are taking requests for podcasts, ruth ben ghiat (CAVEAT - I am a Lucid substack subscriber) or Timothy Snyder (CAVEAT - Thinking About substack subsriber). His book On Tyranny is a great book and written for this very moment.

You know, if you are taking requests, these are my two!

Expand full comment

Oh yea, no way to know that Newt was a POS...keep telling yourself that

Expand full comment