Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Category: Pure Theory

The Electoral College is a Distraction

There are some people who feel that because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, Donald Trump’s victory in the electoral college is illegitimate. This is a very poor argument–there are many much more interesting grounds for challenging Trump’s legitimacy than the electoral college.

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Don’t Hate Trump Voters–Hate the System that Creates Them

I’ve been disappointed in my side over the last 48 hours. On social media aggressive posts are circulating personally blaming and shaming Trump supporters for Trump’s victory and for criminal acts motivated by hate. Columnists are lashing out, reductively attributing Trump’s victory to racism and sexism alone on the basis of exit polls which show the same kinds of gaps in support among the races and the sexes that we’ve long seen in previous races dating all the way back to the 70s and beyond. The last time women were more likely to vote for a Republican was 1960 (when they skewed slightly toward Nixon) and black voters haven’t gone for a Republican since before the New Deal. Too many people are doubling down on the same failed strategy that brought us to this pass. But just as importantly, by blaming the voters as individual agents, these people are contradicting fundamental left wing principles.

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The DNC Didn’t Screw Bernie–The Voters Did

The New York primary was an unmitigated disaster for Bernie Sanders. Polichart’s updated victory targets called for Sanders to win 54% of the vote and get 133 delegates. He got 42% and 108. This puts him 36 delegates behind schedule, and he still trails in the polls in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and California. Sanders failed to do better than the polling data in New York indicated he would do, damaging the comforting theory that polls in northern states underrate him. As regular readers know, I am very sympathetic to Sanders, but I cannot in good conscience mislead you about the realities of the political situation. In the last few days, many well-intentioned people have tried to make arguments that Sanders can still win or that Sanders would be winning if the DNC were not corrupt–I wish these arguments were true, but they’re not. Sanders is losing because most Democratic primary voters do not support him.

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This is Horrible, but it’s No Coup: Why the Greek Deal is Democratic

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has betrayed the people of Greece by agreeing to the troika’s austerity demands. The deal is terrible and will unnecessarily inflict additional mass suffering on Greece’s unemployed (25%), youth unemployed (50%), and children living in poverty (40%). Many well-intentioned people have participated in the hashtag #ThisisaCoup, accusing the EU of overriding democracy. While I share the frustration and anger, it’s very important that we understand that this is precisely the way European voters insisted that policymakers design the European Union to work. It is the voters of Europe who have inflicted this travesty of justice upon the continent.

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The 4 Strategies Available to the British Left

After getting thrashed in the election, Britain’s Labour Party is gearing up for a leadership contest. This provides us with an opportunity to talk about the different strategies open to the left and the potential consequences of each. There are four that stick out to me:

  1. The Miliband Strategy–concede that the Tories are right that austerity is needed, but accuse the Tories of being too cruel and indifferent to the welfare state to be trusted with it.
  2. The Blair Strategy–enthusiastically embrace the Tory position on economic issues to demonstrate economic competence and political seriousness to voters.
  3. The Corbyn Strategy–mount a vigorous intellectual attack on austerity presenting a clear ideological alternative to the Tories.
  4. The Brand Strategy–attack the structure of the political system itself for being unable to produce good political outcomes.

Let’s talk about each one.

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