AS299: Let’s Get Into the Arguments

Alright the response for part 2 of the discussion that went bad was actually pretty overwhelming. Eyeballing it, I’d say it was at least 4 to 1 in favor. However, the people who didn’t want to hear part 2 had really good reasons… So I’ve sort of split the difference. I’m going to talk a bit about the conversation and give you some thoughts, and then I’m going to play a decent length of selected clips. They will roughly give an indication of what happened, but the full length will still be available at

In looking back, I think this discussion was actually pretty useful in some ways. I think I was hugely negative on it because of how it ended and how Eli reacted in the end to it.

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57 thoughts on “AS299: Let’s Get Into the Arguments”

    1. I’ve never listened to Eli’s other podcasts because he comes across to me as condescending, intolerant and judgemental whenever he’s been on Atheistically Speaking in the past. These last two episodes particularly show his true colours.

  1. Mike makes no sense. He claims to be a liberal, but his opinions of Hillary seem to mirror those of a right wing Fox news viewer who has been indoctrinated with Clinton hate for 20+ years.

    I have more respect for the right wing Clinton hater who at least share Trump’s positions on abortion, immigration, climate change etc.

    Even if you believe all the worst about Hillary, and call yourself a liberal, she’s still orders of magnitude better than Trump.

  2. Just listen to Sam Harris on Hillary or Hitchens. They are not positive about her and I think that was the problem with getting people excited. Every defence of her started with how much she sucked but then tried to contrast how bad Trump was. Some people just believed how bad she was and choose not to vote for her.

    1. Doesn’t help that camp Hillary and the DNC did everything in their power to disenfranchise Bernie supporters only to turn around and demand their vote using the “at least she’s not Trump” argument.

      You called male Bernie supporters sexists and female Bernie supporters sluts who belong in hell (irony abounds). You don’t get to act surprised when they don’t turn up to vote for you.

      “But Trump!”

      But nothing.

      You made enemies of the people you needed to support you because you thought “the lesser of two evils” argument was a trump card (pun intended). It wasn’t.

      1. “Doesn’t help that camp Hillary and the DNC did everything in their power to disenfranchise Bernie supporters”

        That’s a myth. No substance behind it whatsoever. Sanders lost fair and square because more people voted for Clinton. It was very democratic.

          1. It’s what the empirical evidence shows. Feel free to show otherwise.

            There’s a lot of mythology and ignorance among Sanders supporters about how the primary played out and about simply how the process works. Case in point: superdelegates. Many complained that superdelegates rigged the primary for Clinton because most announced they were supporting her early on. But a superdelegate isn’t bound to stick with their early announcement. They can switch, as they did in 2008 when it was clear Obama was going to wing the most votes. If Sanders were able to do what Obama did, they would have switched to him too. Superdelegates confirm the democratic choice of the electorate, barring anything extraordinary. This all made it the more hypocritical of Sanders when he asked for superdelegates to switch to him toward the end of the primaries, which would have made the result anti-democratic and “rigged.”

    2. I think one of the really fucked up parts of this is how often “I don’t like her either, but…” seemed to be a deliberate attempt to relate to people on the other side before making the case for Clinton. It feels like someone went to a 90 minute seminar on middle-management and then can’t stop telling you about how they use cutting edge psychology to hack people’s behavior. And, to whatever extent it might have peeled away some fair-weather Trump supporters, I think you’re right to imply that it screamed at everyone else that we weren’t thrilled about our candidate, and worse, that even her supporters acknowledge the validity of whatever objections someone might have. “I’m willing to accept that she evolved on ‘super predators'” becomes “I’m willing to overlook that she clearly wants to kill Mike’s sister in a self-interested war for oil.”

      Similarly, there is probably some aspect of virtue signalling and preventative rebuttal against accusations of blind partisanship. People acknowledge ambivalent feelings to show off that they’re an “independent thinker” and as such, their opinions shouldn’t be dismissed as parroting a party line.

      1. In years of following politics I have never heard so many people who support a candidate cut out their knees on a consistent basis. I never heard anyone say “I know ‘my candidate’ is not the best but he/she is better than X”

        In Ontario we have had a terrible Liberal government for 3 elections. Many broken promises, massive money wasted and huge provincial debt. Every PC candidate managed to do the same thing and run a campaign of “we are not them”, they all lost badly. People want to vote for something, not against something.

        Apathy played a big role in Hillary losing, especially in the important states. Dems just didn’t come out. Being against Trump should be enough, but it never is. You need to be for something.

        1. Hillary never pushed to hold the head bankers responsible for the Crash. (remember Occupy Wall Street) Hillary voted for the Iraq War. Hillary opposed the Iran deal. Hillary takes advice from the war criminal Henry Kissinger. Hillary did not give a shit for the %50 trump voters that were out of a job and not in the basket of deplorables.

  3. The false equivalency in the media has been a problem for a long time. It’s done for ratings. If that was the goal of this conversation there was no indication that was the goal in episode 1. That would have been a good conversation to attempt.

    Maybe avoid two dudes from Facebook as guests on the show.

  4. The far left and the far right are equally terrifying. That is just a fact, both are authoritarian nightmares.

    But in this discussion you are talking about a far right conservative in Trump and a center right democrat in Hillary. The far left has very little influence on Democrats. When the far left does try to influence policy they hurt the democrats because they push away the centrists. It was the centrists that stayed home.

    You set up a false equivalency by talking about the far left and far right in the same context of Hillary and Trump.

    1. Yes, my guests did. I pointed out this exact thing. The question we faced for the election was Clinton vs Trump and what the left would accomplish under Clinton vs what the right would accomplish under Trump. The whole point of that was to show that it would be absurd to vote Trump for fear of the far left for just the reasons you stated. However, the far left and far right are still not equal. That’s absurd. One side wants to police your language, the other is racist hate groups…

      1. “That’s absurd. One side wants to police your language, the other is racist hate groups…”

        Where they see equivalency though is they see the far left as radical feminists, and minorities and their supporters who hate white men. So in that sense they see both ends of the spectrum as consisting of hate groups. I bet many of them would argue there are as many if not more on the left who are the equivalent of the KKK, but instead of hating black people, they hate white people.

          1. “Oh yeah all those white hating KKK equivalent groups! Nonsense.”

            I agree it’s nonsense, but it’s what they believe. You heard Mike himself in your show talk about the kill white people sentiment. These idiots are convinced, or at least are at least pretending to be convinced that if the far left had the political capital men, particularly white men, would be in danger.

          2. Mike, please don’t decide what “those” people think and don’t strawman everyone into that tiny definition. Deal with individuals and what they actually believe.

            When I think of the far left I think of USSR, total control of everything. This is the far left I don’t want to ever take power. Hillary was no where near that and only the most extreme SJW type would want that level of control.

            Trump is far closer to Fascism than the current SJW crowd is to Communionism.

            But the question of which side is worse without defining exactly who we are talking about is answered as they are equally bad. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were equally bad. The political spectrum is a horseshoe not a line.

          3. “Mike, please don’t decide what “those” people think and don’t strawman everyone into that tiny definition.”

            What the hell are you talking about? When I say those people I’m talking about the people I described who think the left is as bad as the right because they see them as just more bigoted towards men, and white people then the right is towards black people, and women. Who am I strawmanning? By definition the people I’m referring to think that way. (people like Thomas’ guests) I see them on youtube every day, or did until I could no longer stand listening to them.

          4. Mike, if the extreme far left had power white men would be in danger. Thankfully they are such a small group that would never happen. My fear of the far left is more about the limits that would be placed on freedom. Extremists hate freedom.

          5. Dan, I’d love you to explain how white men would be in danger should the far left you’re referring to be in power. Perhaps you could specify a person or group you’re thinking of who would implement dangerous anti-white-male policies?

          6. cheomit – Tariq Nasheed would be one. Like I said, the group is very small, but there are people with those views in the extreme far left.

          7. Hi Dan,

            Thanks for the name. I’m sorry, though – I’ve never heard of him (I’m not US based, which may be part of the problem!), and an admittedly quick-ish search failed to turn up anything (other than infowars…) that seemed particularly objectionable.

            I genuinely want to understand your point (because at face value, I agree that *any* extreme ideology is likely to be dangerous in power, but I can’t think of any examples of current far-left ideology that would rise to the level you’re suggesting), so if you could point to something specific, I’d be more than happy to read further.

    2. I tapped out 20 minutes into this one. Mike and Dustin are idiots. They are not wrong, but their arguments to justify their position is terrible.

      The far left has no power, even in 2009-2011, with majorities in both houses the far left was powerless. Eli was talking like the Democrats are the far left, they are not.

      They brought up the ACA, which is a perfect example of how little power the left had. If the far left were in power in 2009, the US would have had single payer healthcare because there was nothing the right could have done to prevent it. The house would have passed it with a simple majority and the Senate through reconciliation like they did anyway. What actually happened was the Blue Dogs blocked the Public Option, which was already the compromise position within the Democratic Party. Single Payer was the party platform but Obama knew it wouldn’t get through the Blue Dogs, so Public Option and that became the horrible middle ground of Obamacare which is straight out of the Heritage Foundation.

      So to say the far left was in power under Obama is either disingenuous or completely dishonest.

      The two guys you had on just weren’t informed about anything and Eli used that to beat them with when his points were just dishonest to start with.

  5. Just in case someone didn’t get that far, let it be said here: there’s a Jill Stein voter from Florida (Florida) in this podcast with the reasoning that this would send women a message that they can be presidents too.

    In unrelated news, we have to look at the new numbers for the popular vote: actually Hillary got very similar numbers as Obama ’12. Not a big electoral college whine.. (Although I generally agree with those whines.) I am just saying that the narrative of “Hillary was rejected by liberals! Trump got typical Republican numbers but HRC couldn’t get Obama’s.” is false. Which means that pretty much all the narratives I’ve heard are wrong. Anyone with a good one that isn’t questionable?

  6. Thomas: To be honest, the description of part 1 looked like a total trainwreck, so I skipped it, even though I love you and Eli, it looked like a complete waste of my precious podtime. Monday came around, and part 2 appeared in the feed, so I gave it a listen. I feel that emotions overwhelmed politeness to the detriment of both sides. I left with my biases confirmed, and yet, I still learned a thing or two about how dumbshits rationalize their defacto votes for Trump. I’m sure I’ll find the experience useful, even though I try to resist the nice, soft, sexy allure of confirmed biases.

  7. Thomas, you really need to stop letting people interrupt each other on your multi-person discussion episodes. It happened in the SJW interview, the Smalley interview, it happened here, and those are just the three most recent ones. It never ends well, and the only result is enflamed emotions, tangents, and people leaving with their initial biases and opinions reinforced. It’s the same problem that the presidential debate had where the issues don’t get addressed because interruptions take up too much time.

  8. This is pretty painful listening. Maybe Michael’s reasons for voting 3rd party don’t stand up to scrutiny but he has the right to vote how his conscience tells him. What I’m hearing here is a guy being insulted and bullied for considering the options and coming to a different conclusions than Eli. I think Eli is a great podcaster on Game and Scathing Atheist but he’s not come across well in this conversation. Condescending and bullying, I’m afraid.

    1. “Maybe Michael’s reasons for voting 3rd party don’t stand up to scrutiny but he has the right to vote how his conscience tells him.”

      And people who disagree have the right to insult ridicule, and question his intelligence. If he’s secure in his decision it shouldn’t bother him. In the same way that if every theist on the planet laughed at, and ridiculed me for being an atheist, all I’d be thinking about them is “what idiots I feel sorry for them”, I certainly wouldn’t be bothered by it because I’m convinced they’re wrong, and I’m right.

  9. Allow me to apologize in advance for what is destined to be a long reply, but there are several points I’d like to address here concerning parts one and two.

    1. Both Thomas and Andrew have frequently discussed the inefficacy of using the ballot box to lodge protest. No message was sent to women at large by voting for Jill Stein. The fact that another woman was an option makes this argument laughable.

    2. The escalation between Russia and the United States is serious cause for concern. The United States and NATO are conducted military exercises mere miles from the Russian border in Lithuania. There are United States military bases in Turkey as well missile defense systems in Poland and Czech Republic. Russia sees NATO as an outdated alliance of nations whose sole purpose was to combat the now defunct Warsaw Pact. Let us consider, in a thought experiment, the reverse. In a world where the cold war was won by the Soviets, and the Warsaw Pact now included most of Western Europe, and the Soviets were conducting military exercises in Canada or Mexico, would Americans not have cause for concern? I do not see Russia’s involvement in the Syria conflict as a cynical measure to counter some Clinton plan to secure oil pipelines. Syria is very close to Russia’s southern border, and instability there is naturally alarming. I am in no way trying to defend Putin’s actions, he’s an autocratic tyrant in the mold of the old Soviets, just trying to offer the worldview as most, if not all, Russians view it. A deescalation of tensions with Russia may be the ONLY good thing to come of a Trump presidency; that said, everyone he has so far appointed to his cabinet are incredibly hawkish regarding Iran… so escalation would simply shift from Moscow to Tehran in my opinion.

    3. There is no “far left” in the United States. I’ll type it again a la David Smalley to try and be dramatic. There is no “far left” in the United States. The entire political spectrum in the United States has shifted far to the right. What people call far left today would have been center left in the 1960’s and ’70’s; the far right, back then, would today be called the center right. The current manifestation of the far right is off the scale entirely. The Republicans en masse have essentially abandoned parliamentary politics, refused to compromise on any meaningful legislation, brought the government to the brink of not functioning and then pointed at the mess they’ve made and told their constituents, “see, government doesn’t work”, all the while marrying themselves to protecting social “norms” and “traditional” values, whatever that may mean. The juxtaposition that exists is between the far right and the center. The most progressive elements in American government, the Sanders and Warrens of the House, are really center left. They under any real and serious examination “radical leftists”. There are none left. There is no serious challenge by an American Communist Party; America’s history of cold war with the Soviets has left a band taste in her mouth for anything that seems remotely “socialist.” So the answer to the question “on a scale of 1-10 what would the far right or left achieve if the moderates on their side were in power?” is not a fair one. The far right will achieve what it can, anywhere from 1-10, the far left, not existing, achieves nothing by default.

    4. Last there is a certain cynical world view evident in Mike’s arguments. We are to discern hidden motives, conspiracies and secret agendas in Hilary’s proposals (a no-fly zone over Syria), yet we are to discern nothing from Trump’s bragging about sexual assault. We cynically dismiss Hilary’s claims that the reason she proposes a no-fly zone would save thousands of lives and help to ease the conflict and infer she must have an ulterior motive, and then try and produce one. Meanwhile Trump’s rhetoric is seen as nothing but empty pronouncements, perhaps said to impress those around him.

    Cheers to all four of you for trying to have this discussion. I found a lot in it and look forward to more!

  10. As someone who doesn’t live in the US and is able to view the whole US election, and post-election meltdown, without having a horse in the race, all I can say is: “What a mess”.

    The comments and criticism made by Eli and Thomas regarding Mike and Dustin’s points of view demonstrate an inability to consider views that are contrary to their own. Jill Stein is an idiot, the clammer for a recount is demonstrable proof of that, but people have the right to vote for the candidate of their choice regardless of what others may individually believe is right or correct. This is the basis for all Western democracies. Thomas and Eli’s assertion that Mike cast his vote in a way that was – to put it politely – irresponsible, is a patronising and condescending stance. In part one Eli stated the need to demonstrate empathy for others, yet could not be bothered to attempt it, let alone demonstrate it, when it came to Mike’s reason for voting. (Yes, I am using the broader definition of empathy here).

    Thomas has been critical of (and rightly so) Dave Rubin’s interview approach; that is, not pushing back on the unpleasant views of his various guests. However, at the end of the interview you at least know what their views are, and therefore had the ability to dissect and counter their arguments.

    I’d have more respect for both the hosts if they could demonstrate the values that they criticise what others lack.

    One last comment: if the Republican party and Trump’s cronies are the far right, then the regressive left is the equivalent far left. These are defined by attitude and approach. Richard Spencer and his ilk are clearly fascists, while the SJWs and the idiot college students are the modern equivalent of the Chinese Red Guards. If you expect the extremes of political dogma to neatly fit into the forms demonstrated by the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin and Stalin, then your knowledge of political nut jobs is deficient.

    1. I’m having trouble inferring from your comment how you would rather Thomas and Eli have responded to Mike’s claims (e.g., Clinton and Trump are equally bad, Clinton wants to start a war for oil that would endanger his sister, Trump won’t do anything terrible to anyone, et al.) without challenging him to support the things he says that are not “just his opinion,” but rather assertions about facts.

      I think we disagree about your claim that the basis of democracy is the right to discuss your vote without having your ideas challenged. I agree that there is something fundamental and pseudo-sacred in a democracy about each individual’s right to vote freely and without coercion, however I think it is a tremendous mistake to conflate the respect we have for that right with a demand to respectfully engage ideas that are absurd, unfounded, and lead to demonstrably harmful outcomes (e.g., claiming that you’re voting “to support women” by voting for someone with no chance of beating a self-admitted serial sexual predator who has promised to appoint pro-life judges to the supreme court).

      In some ways, I think I get what you’re saying about engaging with empathy, stepping back from the conversation, and letting the interviewee more fully articulate their stance. I agree that there is value to this approach, but don’t know that it’s inherently better than a challenging conversation, and in this specific instance, I’m not sure how worthwhile that would have been. Mike seemed more than willing to make grandiose claims and satisfied with his own conclusions, by which I mean to say I don’t know how much gold there was to be mined from a quieter discussion.

      To your last comment, I think it’s important to remember that political ideology correlates not just to the de facto spectrum of those in power, but to theory and philosophy. The left-most member of congress in America is not by any means “far-left,” whereas there is considerable representation of the “far-right.” To imply that there is a balance when one side is nowhere near equally represented in government is absurd.

      Moreover, while it may seem clever to find metaphorical correlates between college students asking to have their gender identity respected and a paramilitary social movement backed by Mao Zedong, you have to recognize that there’s something at least slightly dishonest in that, right? It’s not unlike arguing that Hitler was Germany’s Martin Luther King, because they both motivated social movements around strong ideas about racial equality. It’s important, when making comparisons, that we not lose sight of who it is that has access to power, and who it is that’s actually committing the violence — and here’s a hint, the trans kid who wants to their professor to respect their gender identity has more likely been beaten up by the pissed off conservative kid who feels oppressed by trigger warnings.

      1. Some Guy,

        Let me start by saying that if I could have voted in the US election I would have voted for Clinton: she was clearly the best of a bad bunch. If you want my reasons, than all I can do is refer you to the comments made by Sam Harris regarding Clinton.

        1. How should have Thomas and Eli have dealt with Mike’s view? Easy, they could have started by listening to him and having a genuine conversation with him about ‘why’ he voted that way. What they did, Eli in particular, was roundly abuse and scream at him, and wanted him to ‘prove’ his views through the provision of sources to back his reasons. How is this helpful? The election is over and the votes have being cast. Those who voted did so for reasons unique to them, why not ask those who didn’t vote why they didn’t.

        2. You state ‘I think we disagree about your claim that the basis of democracy is the right to discuss your vote without having your ideas challenged’. I said nothing like this, nor implied it. My comment was ‘people have the right to vote for the candidate of their choice regardless of what others may individually believe is right or correct’. People can criticise the ideas of others, my take on Thomas and Eli’s behaviour is that it was more akin to abuse than criticism.

        3. A robust and challenging discussion can be had when having empathy for another. Empathy does not necessarily mean that you have to support and agree with another’s point of view. I use empathy to assist in determine why someone holds a particular point of view, identify the roots of their argument and to attack these points.

        4. I like your comment ‘political ideology correlates not just to the de facto spectrum of those in power, but to theory and philosophy’, since this supports my comment that the far left and right are ‘defined by attitude and approach’. I was not referring to the various members of government, rather the two distinct power blocks that are clearly forming within the US on a general level. This doesn’t have to be related to the views of individual members of the two US houses.

        5. There is nothing metaphorical or dishonest about saying that the SJWs and college students are the modern equivalent of the Chinese Red Guards, than it is claiming that Trump is an American Hitler. If you can draw parallels between Trump and the Nazis, but cannot between certain college students and the Red Guard, then all I can do is ask that you review your knowledge and investigate it some more.

        6. You’re comparing my example as being the same as comparing Hitler to Martin Luther King, and accuse me of making dishonest statements?! That one is on you.

        1. Thanks for numbering your points. That’s helpful.

          I don’t disagree with most of what you wrote in points 1 and 3. I still think that this was a different kind of conversation than an interview, and while I see your point about using the conversation as a sort of autopsy of a particular kind of voter, I can also see benefit to publically challenging unfounded and harmful ideas.

          I’m glad we agree on point 4, but to reiterate, I think it’s necessary to recognize who has governmental power and authority and how that power is expressed differently than academic or cultural power.

          As to 5 and 6, we still disagree. If you can tell me who the SJW Red Guard has killed, who they’ve physically attacked, and who they’ve genuinely silenced (and not just spoken out against, not just protested, and not just interrupted), I’d be more open to this analogy. As Thomas noted in a previous episode, and as has been written in a link I posted in another response on this episode, these stories fall apart with modest fact-checking. If you can find the examples of SJWs assaulting conservatives for walking down the street, holding hands with their heterosexual partner, I can try to be more open to your claim of equivocation.

          I agree that my last point was extreme hyperbole, but I don’t see how you can say that while still defending your assertion that SJWs are the Red Guard because they are students and they want people to stop saying racist/sexist/homophobic shit.

          1. Some Guy,

            Your comment regarding the difference between governmental, education and social power is incorrect. Each is able to apply a different form of power and exert a different influence. Each can influence, and be influenced by, the other two.

            Likewise your ‘trans-kid’ strawman and the claims for proof that college students and SJWs are as violent as the far right is an attempt to misdirect from the point I was making. I made no reference to their desire to their views or actions regarding racist/sexist/homophobic behaviour, you have made a hasty generalisation based on what you think I was referring to.

            The Red Guard was an informal non-governmental movement. It was able to assert it’s influence predominately through fear and intimidation, and yes, through violence. The comparison with the college students and SJWs is easy to make because they are using fear and intimidation to achieve their aims regardless of whether it is in support of your trans-kid strawman, or against ideas and views they dislike. In a world of ‘micro-agressions’, their actions are violent; it may not have reached the stage of physical violence, but it meets their own definition of aggression and violence. But then, my original comment was one of equivalence rather than stated fact.

            I have a fundamental disrespect for their views because they, through their actions and desire for trigger warnings and safe spaces, create an environment where critical thought and independent thinking are to be rejected. Does this criticism apply to far-right groups? Of course it does. It is a trait common to all totalitarian groups.

            The Western world, despite all its historical faults, has been responsible for the increase in the standard of living for all of the planet, and development of critical thinking forms the basis of general advancement in well being.

            “But! But the conservative kid beating up the trans kid”, I hear you cry, “he shouldn’t be able to do that!”. Correct, he shouldn’t, and physical violence has been a criminal offence for a long, long time. Physical violence against any individual should be prosecuted regardless of who instigated it, or who it was against.

  11. Hi Thomas, I initial thought I would not enjoy hearing part two of this conversation but didn’t express that in the comments. How wrong I was. I found it incredibly enjoyable.

    I think what you have done is with this podcast is to create a case study on cognitive dissonance (great podcast lol) in supposed skeptics. Mike twists himself into pretzels to take one person at their word while inventing a narrative for the other.

    I wanted one of you to yell “HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS”!? When everyone does a small insignificant action it snowballs into a big problem. His justification for not voting Clinton was garbage. Will he personally go hold the hands of women and minorities that get disenfranchised and tell them “don’t worry one of you could be president one day, I voted for Jill Stein”.

  12. OK, I can see why everyone wants to pile on Mike, but the larger problem here was Thomas and especially Eli. The fact is millions of people felt like Mike and it would be good to figure out why and how to stop it from happening next time. Crapping all over Mike because he can’t articulate his views very well isn’t going to help. He (and maybe Dustin, but he got drowned out) thought that Hillary was just as bad as Trump. Is it because a) Mike can’t deal with a woman in power (Thomas’ view), or b) he’s just a piece of garbage (Eli’s view), or c) he was horribly misinformed. Discussing where his information came from could have been a useful conversation. It sounded like Thomas was trying to do that some of the time but Eli was purely interested in “taking away his humanity” (as he likes to say). I supported Hillary from day 1, but listening to Eli for a few minutes makes me want to vote for Trump.

    More than figuring out the 1% of the country who voted for Jill Stein I’m interested in the much larger groups that ended up giving Trump the win: conservatives who were very uncomfortable with Trump personally but ended up coming home (Trump did better among evangelicals than Romney), and uneducated white voters (went Trump by ~40 points). I think the theme of terrible information is going to be strong for these groups as well. When I talk to my Trump voting friends (educated whites) they give this same message that Hillary is pure evil and Obama is destroying the country. Where do these ideas come from? Millions of people think Fox News really is “fair and balanced” and Breitbart is legitimate journalism. How can these people be reached (and not just by Russian operatives).

    You want to minimize both the legitimate concerns about PC and the way that PC can be used to illegitimately foster fear and resentment, but at least you are coming around to the idea (that you dismissed so categorically on election day) that some part of Trump’s win is a backlash against political correctness.

    1. Can you say a little more about how “listening to Eli for a few minutes makes you want to vote for Trump”? I don’t understand what you mean by this.

      Also, here’s an article published by the Guardian on the right’s co-opting and manipulation of the term “politically correct” to create the false impression of a tyrannical enemy. It’s long, but it gives a pretty thorough history of this tactic.

      I posted it in response to a comment on the last episode (I think), but I wanted to post it again, because I think you’re right to say that “PC can be used to illegitimately foster fear and resentment.” I’m not sure from your comment, but I suspect we may disagree as to who it is that’s misusing the term, and how we should change our behavior to respond to that.

  13. You and I may very well disagree on what is a legitimate fear and what is a drummed up fear, but then again we might not. My point about Eli is that he is making the illegitimate fears sound a lot more reasonable by embodying the PC-police stereotype. Hold some traditional view? Well, the right response is to scream obscenities at you, accuse you of subhuman emotional intelligence, spin some story about how you’re destroying lives, and then make up a bunch of evidence on the spot against your view. If that’s the alternative suddenly Trump doesn’t look so bad.

    1. Nathan, I love Eli generally. I disagree with him often enough, but I still think he generally thinks through his arguments and usually tries to engage honestly. And in this discussion, I think he went rather far off the rails (I did hear the conversation he referenced at the beginning, though, and I can rather imagine his frustration. Doesn’t at all excuse the way he approached this one, but it does somewhat explain it!).

      That said, are you serious? If we grant for the sake of argument that Eli’s attitude here represents the *least* concerning example of the PC-police type person that everyone seems so worked up about, what you’re saying is that Trump – and everything he stands for – is better than people shouting at you because they disagree with your politics? Even being charitable towards what one hopes is hyperbole on your part, you’re saying that those two options *are in the same ballpark*?

      I get it, nobody likes to be screamed at. And screaming at people does tend to turn them off. But the bad behaviour of a few people does not seem like a good reason to embrace the polar opposite of what those people support!

      1. Hmmm. Let me be clear. I was happy to vote for Hillary, and I am horrified that we are looking at a Trump presidency. So, no Eli has not driven me into the arms of Trump. What he has done is make me understand a little bit better that the feeling that the United States has become “us” against “them” where “we” are good Christian whites in flyover land sounds pretty plausible if you are listening to the wrong people. Trump and Eli are giving the same message here.

        If I’m the only one who feels this way, then no biggie. But I’ve been listening to some conservative podcasts after the election, and they all site a backlash against liberal snobbery as a key reason for their victory. There’s a reason why the conservative channels love the Trump protesters and black lives matter and occupy wall street. So I don’t think that I’m the only one.

        1. A lot of people are citing a lot of reasons for the Trump win/Clinton loss (depending on which way they happen to be looking at it). Unfortunately, it seems that the most reliable predictor of the content of such a pronouncement is not polling data, but the pre-election biases of the people making them. Most of the people I’ve seen (which to be fair is a limited number) who are blaming/crediting anti-PC sentiment were going after that sentiment long before the election, so it’s not surprising that they’re still on about it now.

          I’m not saying it didn’t happen – just that nobody seems to have actually come up with a convincing evidence-backed picture to show that it did. And also, I’d readily believe that there are people – particularly when we look at swing voters, rather than the more rusted-on ones – who would happily vote against their best interests, even their ideals, over something like this. I’d *definitely* believe that some less-than-committed voters would stay home on the basis of some sort of false equivalency between badly behaved lefties and superficially noble support for “freedom of speech”.

          But really, I suspect (without solid evidence!) that most of the anti-PC, “I voted Trump because I’m sick of being called a racist” sentiment is more rationalisation than anything else. Because I don’t believe that any significant number of people even nominally on the left would so radically abandon their principles as to support Trump just because people further to the left sometimes act like massive tools. I’d happily (???) be proven wrong, but I would find it extremely odd.

          1. We can agree that it would be nice to have better evidence and we can agree that there are multiple forces at work

            There’s some reason why people who really didn’t like Trump as a candidate ended up voting for him, and people who have supported Democrats in the past turned away from Hillary. If you don’t think backlash is significant, what’s your theory on why Trump won?

          2. The simple popular vote – 2.6 million in favour of Clinton, and only 500k behind Obama in 2012 – is a reasonably solid argument against a generic backlash. Turnout was middling – spot on average for a post-1900 election, and also precisely the same as Obama 2012.

            As a non-expert, know-nothing hand-waver, I’d propose two factors:
            1) A simple distribution problem. The margin was small enough that plain bad luck in where votes were cast could probably explain the electoral college.
            2) Slightly increased Republican turnout. Trump seems to have garnered more votes than Romney (by 2 million) or McCain (by 3 million), and that might have been enough, in those swing states, to flip the result.

            I recognise some issues with my ideas there, and would like to get time to do some (layperson!) state-by-state data analysis, because I think there might be different factors at play in different places. But I just can’t see any way to make a good argument for any broad-based backlash – let alone one focused on a specific issue like PC.

          3. Not to harp but that’s what happened, but not why. If Trump boosters (e.g. Fox), Trump campaign, and many Trump voters all love to talk about PC then that must be motivating for them and likely de-motivating for Democrats.

          4. Let me put this one more way: if you were advising the campaigns which one would you have advised to bring up Trans access to bathrooms? Yale Halloween protests? You would have advised Hillary to talk about this during the debates or Trump?

          5. You’re absolutely right that I would recommend Trump bring them up and Clinton avoid them, because they are hot-button issues. But they’re also highly polarised in a way which fits in well with Trump’s narrative.

            Let me ask you – why do you think that PC culture would have a significant impact on swinging voters *from* Democrat *to* Republican? I can understand it might have inspired some number of swing voters to get off their backsides, and I can *also* understand that some people might use the issue to rationalise their decision, but I struggle to believe that a liberal voter would be convinced to support Trump on that basis. I also struggle to believe that it would have demotivated liberal-leaning non-voters to any great extent. At best (in the absence of good evidence) I could accept an argument that it pushed a few people from Clinton into Johnson’s camp, but I don’t believe that the PC issue was as big as the already anti-PC crowd is making it out to be.

          6. There are a number of ways that PC could have helped Trump and changing voters from Hillary to Trump is only one:

            1. Motivated marginal Trump voters to get to the polls
            2. Convinced marginal Hillary voters to stay home or vote 3rd party
            3. Acted as a cover or a distractor for Trump
            4. Because people don’t like to hold nuanced views, it helps people believe other negative things about Hillary
            5. Allows people to rationalize a choice for Trump

            It would be good to have more data and not be driven by our own pet theories.

          7. Do you realize you could take your comment and replace PC with anti-PC and switch Hillary and Trump and it makes exactly the same amount of sense?

          8. I’m not sure what you mean by “anti-PC”. If you mean that literally then I disagree. I think that anti-PC is a very popular message right now. If you just mean “offensiveness” then that was absolutley a liability for Trump in the same way. If the impact of PC was big enough to counteract Trump’s offensiveness, then that would make it a huge factor in the final result.

  14. Dear: Thomas and Andrew I understand why you would freak out when a Florida voter would vote for Stein. There is a difference between the two evils. One was STD-free used douche and the other was Ebola leaden turd sandwich. But I don’t understand what in non-battle-states 3rd party is a bad thing? If your state favored Dem by 9% in last 4 elections or favored Rep by 5%. Then a 2 party vote meant shit. I live in Texas 2008 Rep +11% 2012 +15%. No way in hell would a Clinton vote add any benefit. If I lived in Fla I would bring a vomit bag and pull the lever for HRC. But in Texas I voted Stein for Pres and Dem for US congress. I think the 2 party system is crap and will be the death of democracy. That is not subject of this podcast, but I believe it.

    I was deeply disappointed that greens did not get more votes on Red states. After the Nader effect in 2000, I switched to if you live in a purple state vote blue. It looks there is no political-will to disregard 1st past voting that leaders to 2 party due-opoly shit parties. even that is a significant 3rd party pull would lead strategist to thing maybe we should look into why many people are unsatisfied with 2-party system.

    1. Not to be blunt, Leonard, but remind me how that worked out in Pennsylvania? Democrats won in 2012 by 5.38%; 2008 by 10.31; 2004 by 2.50; 2000 by 4.17; 1996 by 9.20; 1992 by 9.02; then finally a Republican by 2.32% in 1988.

      How about Michigan? 2012 – 9.47; 2008 – 16.44; 2004 – 3.42; 2000 – 5.13; 1996 – 13.21; 1992 – 7.40; and again, Republican by 7.90% in 1988.

      Even Wisconsin: 2012 – 6.94; 2008 – 13.90; 2004 – 0.38; 2000 – 0.22; 1996 – 10.33; 1992 – 4.35; 1988 – 3.62; and the Republicans last won in 1984 by 9.18%. It was tight in 2000/2004, but still strongly Democrat for most of the last 30 years.

      There’s no such thing as a safe state. Heck, there was decent polling showing *Texas* is trending toward purple – didn’t pan out, of course, but I think many commentators think it’s still a real consideration over the next decade or so.

      I know I’m going to mangle this, but I really liked Andrew’s comments on the matter. It’s ridiculous for a third party to just shoot for President, instead of putting in the groundwork, building up representation in local and state legislatures, obtaining a few governorships, eventually congressional seats and so forth, before aiming for President. The culture of “throwing your vote away” is too strong for a basically unknown candidate to have any real hope in the Presidential election.Let me just highlight how strong it is – the idea is lifted directly from US sources by a huge proportion of the *Australian* population, who firmly believe that voting for a minor party *here* is throwing your vote away, despite the fact that we have preferential (“ranked”) voting!

  15. The insanity of the false equivalency argument was on perfect display here.

    Trump said something dangerous and horrible? – That’s ok, he probably doesn’t really mean it, or understand, or is incapable of following through.

    Hillary said something reasonable and well supported? – Yeah but her REAL motivations are a conspiaracy to cause death and destruction for personal gain.

    Trump and Pence have specific, actioinable plans to discriminate, disenfranchise, and otherwise destroy progress from the last half centrury? – It’s ok we’ll survive. And look on college campuses, sometimes liberals try to stop conservative voices from having a platform, so really it’s bad either way.

  16. I’m from the UK and we have a different attitude to voting over here. The idea of tactical voting goes against the principals of democracy imho. We have viable third and fourth party options because we are encouraged to vote for who we believe in rather than voting tactically in order to prevent someone else from getting in. The US has a bipolar political system where no viable third or fourth party can gain a toehold because of this tactical voting behaviour. I couldn’t believe how Mike was hounded and called an idiot for “wasting” his vote. He was lambasted and called a fraud by Thomas and Eli in their criticism of his feminist principles. Yes, maybe the majority of the public won’t remember how many votes the third party got but the candidate will. This will give them the encouragement to continue and campaign the next time and the next. Only this way will you get a realistic alternative to the two party system you have at the moment. Mike is not short sited, he is not an idiot. He is thinking of the future. More people should have the courage to vote as he did for the sake of democracy. A presidential term is short in the long run and having a truly awful president may be just what the USA needs to get back on track to being great again. Don’t be short sited, vote for what you believe in, even if they have no chance of winning. The outsiders need to know they have a groundswell of support among the voters in order to keep doing what they do and know that they can count on their supporters to vote for them when the time comes. Otherwise you will be forever faced with only the two choices and that’s not very democratic.

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