Tim Kaine, and Other Faith-Based Politics


Christ on a stick, this is what I didn’t count on with the Kaine pick as VP.

The problem isn’t the pick itself: it is what it is (see #2 below). The problem is the ejaculations of joy it prompts among the pundit class and the Twitterati, who now have to sell it to us as the greatest choice of a second since Moses appointed Aaron.

And not because the pundits are on the Clinton payroll: I’d have a lot more respect for them if they were.

No, they do this shit for free. Out of love. Rapture. And bliss.


I’m not one of those people who cares much about a VP pick.

I don’t think it tells you much about Clinton one way or the other. Her agenda is what it is, and it’s not revealed or concealed by this choice. Do most people change their vote for a candidate based on the running mate? It’s hard to imagine it really matters all that much. So I’m neither heartened nor disheartened. Nor am I surprised.

But—you knew it was coming—can you imagine the howls of protest this VP choice would have provoked among Clinton supporters had it been made by Sanders? And not just howls for a few hours on a late Friday night that slowly morph into cheers by morning. No, I’m talking truly bitter howls of rage that last and last.

Howls of protest:

  • about how, out of 57 Democratic senators, Kaine had the 41st most liberal record, putting him far closer to the Max Baucus conservative end of the spectrum among Senate Democrats;
  • about his mixed record on abortion, about how he supported all those restrictions on a women’s right to choose;
  • about how, despite his opposition to the death penalty, Kaine sent eleven people to their death as governor. (That one, incidentally, made me think of Bill Clinton. When it comes to capital punishment, Kaine smokes, but doesn’t inhale; or inhales, but doesn’t smoke.)

Instead, we’re treated to a lot of happy talk about Kaine’s time in Honduras and how he fought housing discrimination in his younger days. Remember how they laughed whenever someone said Sanders had gotten arrested as part of the Civil Rights Movement? Suddenly, youth matters.

When I talked about the amnesia of the pundit class the other day, I was thinking they couldn’t remember what Nixon or Reagan said 40 years ago. But apparently they can’t even remember what they themselves said. Three months ago.


Speaking of Kaine and abortion, there’s an interesting historical parallel here to note.

As I understand it, Kaine’s record on abortion as governor of Virginia was much more conservative than his record on abortion as senator from Virginia. As a Catholic, Kaine has always been personally opposed to abortion. And early in his career, he took some pretty bad stands.

But since he’s gotten into the Senate, Kaine’s gotten 100% ratings from NARAL and Planned Parenthood, by co-sponsoring a bill, for example, that would prohibit states from putting restrictions on abortion and insisting that Obamacare include greater access to contraception. Whether he’s given up the earlier bad stands—for example, backing the odious parental consent law and the equally odious “informed consent” law or the partial birth abortion ban—I don’t know.)

Lurking in the background for him, at least since 2008 when Obama was considering him as a VP choice, was the possibility of a seat on the national ticket. As he came closer and closer to the national stage, in other words, he “evolved” on this issue (as they say).

Which brings to mind nobody so much as another VP candidate from yesteryear: George H.W. Bush.

For years, in the 1960s and 70s, Bush was a pro-choice politician, with close ties to Planned Parenthood. So committed was he to reproductive rights that his nickname in Texas was “Rubbers.” Then, in 1980, as a spot on the national ticket came into view, he too “evolved.” To the right.

Not sure what any of this means, but I’m struck by the parallel.

P.S. On Facebook, the head of NARAL says:

I believe she chose Tim Kaine because she trusts the guy, and I trust her.

When Republicans say this kind of thing, we call it faith-based politics. Democratic skepticism, it ain’t.


Whenever I pour a bit of cold water on the ahistorical commentary about Trump, I get charged with being indifferent to whether he wins or not. A commenter on this blog even compared me to people who yawned about Hitler. Which I found interesting, at the rhetorical level.

For decades, the Munich analogy was used by conservatives to say that liberals were soft on communism. Now it’s being used by liberals to say that leftists are soft on Trump.

Even when those leftists write whole books explaining to people that the reasonable, rational, prudential conservatives they think they know are in fact ultra-revanchist songstresses of domination and violence.


Along the same lines, another meme I frequently see among the Clinton people and their supporters in the media is that we on the left are somehow indifferent to the fate of poor people and people of color who will be victimized by Trump’s policies .

Yet these very same people are rather blithe about the prospect of sending the US military off to fight Putin or whomever it is we’re now supposed to be willing to fight over NATO.

Now, it goes without saying that none of these people who are working themselves up into a froth over Trump’s remarks will ever have to pick up a gun and fight these wars. We’ve seen that script before, right? We had a word for that during the Bush years.

But, I wonder, who do these people actually think is going to pick up a gun and fight these wars against Putin? Who do they think actually signs up for America’s “all-volunteer” army is disproportionately drawn from if not the poor, the working class, and people of color.



  1. mark July 24, 2016 at 10:27 am | #

    I heard Eliza Filby (of God and Mrs Thatcher: The Battle For Britain’s Soul) on BBC Radio 4 last week comparing Margaret Thatcher’s Methodism to Hillary Clinton’s, and that, in her view, the ‘coldness’ of both women could be traced to this source.

    • MightyMike July 25, 2016 at 10:08 am | #

      I’ve seen these hostile references to Hillary’s religion a few times in the past couple of years. In the name of equality, this ought to be considered to be as unreasonable as criticisms of Islam, Judaism and so forth. Certainly there are plenty of things about Secretary Clinton’s record that can be criticized without bringing her religion into it. It sounds like some sort of throwback to something that might have been big 200 years ago – hostility to Methodism.

      • zenner41 July 25, 2016 at 10:43 am | #

        Strong antipathy toward all religion has been a characteristic of a lot of Left thinking since Marx. This has its good points and bad points.

  2. Jim Bales July 24, 2016 at 11:21 am | #

    Please allow me to respond to your Point 5:

    If we grant that a Clinton administration will be willing to send our armed forces into unnecessary fights, and that this willingness contradicts Clinton’s stated concerns for the poor, working class, and people of color — it is still the case that (barring extraordinary circumstances) the next President will be either Trump or Clinton, and that a Trump administration would also cause substantial hardships for large portions of our nation’s population who are poor, working class, or people of color.

    Point 5 is, in other words, is an example of the Tu Quoque fallacy.

    Jim Bales

    PS: As a parent of a white, college-educated, child of professionals who volunteered to join the Armed Forces of the United States of America — a service member who will be deployed in a few months (likely to a conflict zone given their specialty) — let me assure you that not everyone who volunteers to serve our nation is poor, working class, or a person of color.

    FWIW, they chose to serve in uniform because of their experience spending a semester abroad in Putin’s Russia.

    Perhaps you meant to point out that our all-volunteer military is drawn disproportionately from our nation’s poor, working class, and people of color. As a skilled academic, you know how to say that, yet you chose not to.


    • Corey Robin July 24, 2016 at 11:41 am | #

      I’ve edited the post to respond to your PS. You’re right: I should have been more careful.

    • Anonymous Coward July 24, 2016 at 1:55 pm | #

      The more plausible and charitable interpretation of Corey’s argument is that, given Clinton’s neoconservative interventionist tendencies, utilitarian calculations do not clearly show that her presidency would be more harmful to working-class, minority Americans than a Trump presidency. This is not a tu quoque fallacy.

      • jonnybutter July 24, 2016 at 7:45 pm | #

        If I may pile on a little: it certainly is nothing like a ‘tu quoque’: fallacious because it admits of, rather than refutes, the proposition. I’m going to resist a ‘skilled academic’ crack here….

        There is nothing wrong with the original language. I think it’s great CR’s a nice guy – a critically underrated virtue these days. But that’s it IMHO.

        The subject above is not ‘who will/should win this election’ – an agonizing question which ought to be asked negatively (‘who should lose more?’). The subject is whatever the author wants it to be, in this case, liberal ideology. What’s interesting about the election itself is that, on military policy and many other things, we more or less know what Clinton will be, but Trump is a true wildcard. I’m sure Team HRC wishes he wasn’t, but he is. Being completely full of shit is a *strength* in this decadent environment. He has no real ideology and is not even interested in politics! Is he a clown? Yes. Racist and sexist? Yes. Authoritarian? Yup. Is he unqualified to be president? Undoubtedly! But anyone who thinks Trump makes a fool of *only* (or even mainly!) himself ought to squint and look again. Cluck about the GOP all you want – the giant, blood-draining, humiliating failure here is liberalism’s.

    • Edward July 24, 2016 at 2:15 pm | #

      The problem with this argument is that there isn’t even a discussion about who would be worse. Maybe on balance Trump would be worse then Clinton. But the lack of even a discussion betrays an indifference to people in Honduras, Syria, Russia, or elsewhere. They do not exist in the American media-controlled discussion.

  3. Roqeuntin July 24, 2016 at 11:33 am | #

    I spitefully savored this pick. I’m not going to lie. After months of Sanders supporters being slandered as “bros” and “misogynists,” Clinton picks a VP who opposes both abortion and gay marriage. I’d like to say I’m surprised at how cynically her supporters are being used, but I’m not. To me, this is shaping up to be another watershed moment for the left. Either you mean what you say about a “revolution,” you stick to your guns, or you go down the road of Clinton/DNC apologia, while they betray everything you claim to support. Those are the options.

    If I wasn’t sure I was voting for Jill Stein before, I certainly am now. The Clinton supporters have gotten so smug its unbearable. I can’t with this shit anymore. I just can’t. They deserve what they get.

    I’m also taking perverse enjoyment in watching the mainstream liberal/Clinton types regress into Alex Jones style conspiracy theories about the emails on Wikileaks. According to them, it just has to be a combined Putin/Trump conspiracy. They practically never address the actual content of the emails. It’s not like anyone with his or her head on straight didn’t know the DNC brass was actively colluding against Sanders from square one. Floating the idea of using Sanders’ Jewishness/atheism against him was just the icing on the cake.

    This has gone on too long already, but the most important thing to understand about Clinton is that she isn’t incompetent, she’s doing exactly what the people behind her want her to. The big money behind the Democrats finds Sanders ideas unacceptable. They won’t accept Clinton running on those issues, much less implementing them, so going after the Sanders voters is verboten. Instead, she is to go down the well of disaffected Republicans who are too disgusted with Trump to vote for the GOP. These voters will raise no troubling questions about single payer healthcare, college tuition, minimum wage, breaking up the banks, etc. They would sooner see Clinton lose than embrace those policies. If Trump won because of it, so be it. The GOP is in their pocket too, and they’d learn to live with his clownish behavior.

    • Glenn July 24, 2016 at 2:53 pm | #


      I always look forward to your posts, R.

    • Will G-R July 25, 2016 at 10:03 am | #

      “Using Sanders’ Jewishness/atheism against him” is also a roundabout way to say “blowing on the dirty-stinkin’-godless-Commie dogwhistle hard enough to solve all our energy problems with wind power”. As if we needed another reminder that liberals’ sanctimonious high-horsemanship toward McCarthy is transparent BS and always was.

  4. SocraticGadfly July 24, 2016 at 12:46 pm | #

    Corey, I find it … “interesting” that a compassionate missionary to Honduras has nothing to say about a coup in Honduras. https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipNyEhYtblnbdre1nYTW9pvxeri8AW-A_s7JEBAI0ZSS_enpcDGqthfKTGNmwbWhpQ?key=RWJQQUtBQ0NGOFZvMHJfblJ0T1E1SW1oWjNFc2R3

  5. zenner41 July 24, 2016 at 1:12 pm | #

    Nevertheless, I firmly believe that if Trump wins we’re in a shitload of trouble. If Hillary wins, we’re in less than a shitload of trouble. In any case, this is capitalism, folks. A lot of Bernie fans seem to have talked themselves into the idea that he was going to bring the New Jerusalem or something just by making some speeches in front of crowds.

    Changing this system is a whole lot harder than that, I’m afraid. We have years and years ahead of us. Might as well take a few deep breaths, have a nice cold beer in this weather, and get back to work.

  6. stevenjohnson July 24, 2016 at 1:41 pm | #

    1. Not being a dedicated student of the Twitterati and the pundit class, I can say the main reaction at large to Kaine is indifference. Perhaps punditry etc. is an arcane part of elite policy formation than a real discussion? Perhaps the owners coming to one mind is a bizarrely complex process like tapeworms mating?

    2. When VPs aren’t chosen as pale carbon copies of the candidate as a form of self-flattery (Bush/Quayle, Clinton/Gore,) they are symbolic courtships of hostile camps. The question then is who Clinton might be trying to appease with Kaine? The military comes to mind rather quickly. Given the article of faith among many that Clinton is the preferred candidate of the military, rather than Trump, the Republicans in general, no doubt this idea would be mystifying.

    3. Epistemological skepticism is always conservative. Perhaps the two most prominent skeptical thinkers currently are David Hume, the Tory historian and amateur philosopher, and Friedrich von Hayek. As for “skepticism” in the sense of asking for evidence? Well, believing that Trump will keep his word about not plunging into military adventures is disturbingly homologous to the people who explained that Barack Obama didn’t vote for the Iraq War, and that meant a vote against Hilary in the 2008 campaign was a vote for a peace-loving America. “Skepticism,” Democratic or not, in the mouths of political thinkers who are not clear whether the difficulty with Clinton or Trump is that they will keep their word, or that they won’t, is meaningless buzz, I think.

    4. Criticizing Clinton from the right contributes to the right. Giving Trump a pass on his rejection of democratic politics (in the sense of working with elected representatives and following the laws,) in favor of Trump the Boss contributes to the right. It is a moot question whether criticizing his attitudes from the “left” makes up for that. Implicitly debating who to vote against contributes to mass confusion, which always favors the powers that be. There is no voting against, because it is indistinguishable from voting for. An unmeasurable property does not exist. Think of that as a political uncertainty principle.

    5. Sadly, the military, including the rank and file, partakes both of a mercenary force and a rather committed reactionary apparatus. Trying to appeal to the welfare of soldiers is yet another criticism from the right. Aren’t there enough right criticisms in politics?

    • ron bruno July 24, 2016 at 6:47 pm | #

      You make an interesting point about epistemological skepticism being conservative but it raises a question. What is the epistemological outlook of the left? Is it faith-based as Corey suggests the choice of Kaine would indicate? Man is an irrational creature. We thrive on mystery and paradox. As mortal beings, we stand in awe of an infinite universe and immortality. Skepticism is an unsettling response, the root of existentialist dread. Belief in the supremacy of reason and rationality is a faith of sorts, as Hume suggested. Left leaning politics are every bit as faith-based as the conservative faith, which does seem to be in disarray based on GOP dysfunction. Color me skeptical, but I believe the American political process is beyond reform. I also very much enjoyed your characterization of the pundit class and twitter as two tapeworms coming together in a mindless mating ritual. That analogy pretty much sums up the political process.

      • willandermann July 25, 2016 at 9:24 am | #

        “Man is an irrational creature. We thrive on mystery and paradox. ”

        Agh, I’m so tired of these one-sided, Dostoyevskian assertions. If you thrived on mystery and paradox you wouldn’t be writing here. The good new is that you are not alone.

        “We” thrive on indoor plumbing, adequate food and shelter, and cooperative relationships. We attain those conditions because we are capable of rational thought and appreciate what we need to live a good life. Sure, we can yield to all sorts of fantasies to embellish that good life with omnipotence, all the way to the ultimate hedonism of believing we’ll live forever if we suspend reality testing in a bargain with a fantasied being. But we don’t “thrive” on these fantasies. We can come to believe they are essential, but we can also see they are not.

        • ron bruno July 25, 2016 at 11:18 am | #

          Yeah, we’ve got the food, shelter and indoor plumbing part down, but the cooperative relationship part eludes us. Man simply resists being reduced to an automaton. We have a need to believe in something, whether it’s an ideology or a more traditional version of faith, and I say this as a devout atheist. No matter how much technology progresses, science will never be able to formulate love, and love is life’s ultimate mystery, as anyone who has been married for a while can attest.

    • LFC July 25, 2016 at 2:14 pm | #

      There is no voting against, because it is indistinguishable from voting for. An unmeasurable property does not exist. Think of that as a political uncertainty principle.

      What tripe. Motives and reasons don’t exist. Only actions. StevenJohnson, revolutionary behaviorist.

  7. Rob July 24, 2016 at 3:51 pm | #

    Professor Robin, I think you have to take this up with the founders. They bequeathed us a pretty stupid political system. Why do we even have a vice president? I am quite happy about the choice of Kaine. I am glad Warren wasn’t chosen. Clinton takes the 41st most liberal senator and, hopefully, moves him into a position with no actual independent power. We will see if his successor is more liberal. LIkely this a net shift to the left in the Senate.

    • logic_is_best July 25, 2016 at 5:02 am | #

      unless she has a medical emergency, then what?

  8. Heliopause July 24, 2016 at 4:11 pm | #

    “I don’t think it tells you much about Clinton one way or the other.”

    I think it does. That she would pick someone who is basically a male version of herself — a soulless centrist who totters a bit from center right to center left as circumstances dictate — tells you that she doesn’t want even slightly challenging people on her team (she can prove me wrong with subsequent appointments if she is elected). That she would pick someone who is beloved, as you note, by the centrist pundit class but despised by a good chunk of her own party tells you who she thinks her constituency is.

  9. Jim Bales July 24, 2016 at 10:08 pm | #

    From Merriam-Webster:

    “a retort charging an adversary with being or doing what he criticizes in others”

    I believe that Prof. Robin’s Point 5 can be fairly summarized as follows:

    “I frequently see … Clinton people and their supporters in the media [assert] that we on the left are somehow indifferent to the fate of poor people and people of color who will be victimized by Trump’s policies

    But, says Prof. Robin, “Yet these very same people [i.e., Clinton people and their supporters] are rather blithe about the prospect of sending the US military off to fight Putin … [which will harm our service members who are] disproportionately drawn from if not the poor, the working class, and people of color.

    To paraphrase: ”The adversary (“Clinton people and their supporters”) accuse “the left” of “indifference to the fate of poor people”, but they also show “indifference to the fate of poor people”.’

    (Note the use of single quotes for my paraphrasing — if you feel that my paraphrase distorts Prof. Robin’s meaning, please extend to all of us reading here the courtesy of explaining how it mischaracterizes Prof. Robin’s meaning.)

    Is this “a retort charging an adversary with being or doing what he criticizes in others”? Sure looks like it to me.

    Other portions of the post may not be examples the Tu Quoque fallacy, but Point 5 (the only portion I considered) certainly fits the definition of the Tu Quoque fallacy.

    Jim Bales

  10. jonnybutter July 25, 2016 at 12:35 am | #

    Hey Jim,

    As you no doubt know, tu quoque is not merely a latin name for hypocrisy or projection, as Webster’s definition suggests, but a logical fallacy, as you called it in your original comment.

    For those of you new to this fallacy, an illustration: If I accuse you of stealing, and your retort is that I’m a thief too, this is not only no defense (b/c whether I stole has no bearing on whether *you* did), but is even a possible tacit admission that you *are* a thief (‘yes I stole, but so did you’). Rather than refuting the charge, it’s an admission to the charge. I don’t see where Corey defended himself or anyone by saying ‘You too’ (tu quoque).

    What I get out of #5 is this: the liberal charge that ppl on the left don’t care about people of color or poor people is odd, since it is liberal, and not left, politics which shows obvious and long standing disregard for said people of color and poor ppl. To put it nicely, it’s a steaming truckload of horseshit. It’s not tu quoque because I don’t think Corey is trying to defend the left against this charge by pointing out hypocrisy. I would hope, in fact, that he is definitely NOT so defending, since to do so would validate (and possibly even admit to) a really empty, baseless charge – one that the chargers likely don’t even believe themselves. To me this is the crucial bit. Pointing out the hypocrisy and bad faith of a charge doesn’t imply any acceptance of that charge, whereas a true tu quoque does imply acceptance.

    The liberals’ charge is not only preposterously empty, but also scapegoating, since American leftists, like, well, poor people, people of color, and new or undocumented immigrants, have virtually no power in this country, while liberals like Kaine and HRC have tremendous power and influence. That mediocrities like HRC and assholes on the GOP side can convince voters to sustain the idea that people with virtually no social or political power are nonetheless able to ruin the country, is, in the old fashioned sense of the word, wonderful.

    • Jim Bales July 26, 2016 at 12:34 am | #

      jonnybutter writes:
      it’s a steaming truckload of horseshit. It’s not tu quoque because I don’t think Corey is trying to defend the left against this charge by pointing out hypocrisy.

      Perhaps. Perhaps this was not an attempt to defend the left against this charge by pointing out hypocrisy. However, if this is not an attempt to deflect attention away from the charge, then it was an attempt to point out the hypocrisy while ignoring the substantive charge.

      I’m not the only one who considers the charge substantive. In his speech tonight, Sen. Bernie Sanders supported the charge Prof. Robin attributed to the Clinton Camp, saying:

      ”By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that – based on her ideas and her leadership – Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close.”

      “This election is about a single mom I saw in Nevada who, with tears in her eyes, told me that she was scared to death about the future because she and her young daughter were not making it on the $10.45 an hour she was earning. This election is about that woman and the millions of other workers in this country who are struggling to survive on totally inadequate wages.”

      “Hillary Clinton understands that if someone in America works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty. She understands that we must raise the minimum wage to a living wage. And she is determined to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure – our roads, bridges, water systems and wastewater plants.”

      “But her opponent – Donald Trump – well, he has a very different view. He does not support raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour – a starvation wage. While Donald Trump believes in huge tax breaks for billionaires, he believes that states should actually have the right to lower the minimum wage below $7.25. What an outrage!”

      I get that Clinton is less than many people wanted in the Democratic nominee. It sucks to have to accept, yet again, the second (or third or fourth) best solution when we know what the best solution looks like.

      But, of the two people we can realistically consider as having a shot at the Oval Office, well, as Senator Sanders said, “The choice is not even close.”

      Jim Bales

  11. ronp July 25, 2016 at 3:51 am | #

    I think you should temporarily tone down criticism of Clinton and forcefully endorse her and all her policies during the election then once she is in power turn on her like a rabid dog.

    We need a more liberal supreme court, etc.

    Your tweet about the Sanders supports chanting jail hillary was appalling.

    • Roqeuntin July 25, 2016 at 7:47 am | #

      Doesn’t Hillary’s pick of Tim Kaine as a VP make you doubt that she would nominate someone solidly liberal to the supreme court? Wouldn’t this indicate that she is so averse of rocking the boat that when push comes to shove, with what will likely remain a GOP controlled congress, she will pick someone from the center-right? And really, it’ll be hard to nominate someone worse than Scalia, regardless of who the nominate. I don’t think they could pick a more reactionary justice if they tried.

      I’m so sick of hearing this Supreme Court argument from Clinton apologists.

  12. Raven Onthill July 25, 2016 at 4:27 am | #

    The motivation seems simple to me: people are talking themselves into it, just as they do every election. I wonder what the German Communists said in 1932. Perhaps that the Nazis were sure to lose and Communist opposition didn’t matter.

    This seems to be the part where history repeats itself as tragedy.

    It seems to me that even as the demons emerge from the gates of hell you cannot see them, or at least very much do not want to.

    This whole business of acknowledging history is a matter of personal integrity and courage, virtues that are always in short supply and never more so than among pundits whose jobs, after all, are telling other people’s stories. The simple ability to admit error is rare.

    As for how Clinton will govern, we have some signposts but we really don’t know. I am fairly appalled that so many on the left have bought in to the conservative accounts of her (I do not mean you.)

    And all of us ought to fear the unraveling of the peace of Europe, imperfect though it be.

  13. Gregory Harris July 25, 2016 at 10:03 am | #

    As this Politico article (http://www.politico.eu/article/lights-out-in-paris-future-shock-terrorism-isil-society-culture/) (memoir?) about Paris in 2025 demonstrates, the Clintonite elite would rather pretend that the left doesn’t exist than deal with the fact that we hold the only viable solutions to the crises that are throwing up right populism. What if we are not in the ’32 German federal election, but rather 1930, when President Hindenburg used emergency powers to continue deflationary policies over the strong objections of the labor movement? Perhaps trying to dig in and hold the line is the most effective means for ceding the initiative to the right populists (which Corey’s book clearly points out are always a rhetorical gaffe away from revealing their blood and iron troglodytism)?

    • zenner41 July 25, 2016 at 10:40 am | #

      I think we have to strongly resist all these attempts to relate the present time and place (2016 in the U.S.) with Germany in the 1920s and 30s. People need to actually put in some time studying what the Weimar Constitution was and what the social and political situation in Germany was at the time. It was a vastly different world from the one we’re in now.

      • Raven Onthill July 25, 2016 at 11:16 am | #

        Could you expand on your thesis? To me they seem similar in broad outline but different in detail. Different enough in detail? I wish I knew.

        I suspect the rationalizations deployed in both times were similar, however.

        • zenner41 July 25, 2016 at 9:47 pm | #

          Well, you know what an old German philosopher said: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”

          The Weimar Constitution, which made it possible for Hitler to get into power through its emergency provisions, was very unlike the U.S. Constitution. (Check out the Wikipedia article on it, for example.) Germany in the 1920s was in terrible economic misery, much worse than we have seen since the 1930s. There was no tradition of democratic culture in German like the tradition in this country. (Take a few months or years off from your job and study the details of German history.)

          There are quite a few other differences, but I will only mention the relationship between Hitler and Trump, which many people have been talking about lately. Hitler had a powerful street-fighting movement behind him, the Sturmabteilung or SA (look that up on Wikipedia, also). He took over the Nazi Party when it was a bunch of powerless political amateurs and organized them into something that the Republican Party and Trump can only dream about. Trump, clearly, couldn’t organize his way out of a paper bag.

          Right-wingers are very similar in many ways in all times and places. Right-wingers in early 20th-century Germany and in 21st-century U.S. do have some similarities, but even though Trump might well win, he’s not going to be a rebirth of Hitler.

  14. Gregory Harris July 25, 2016 at 12:52 pm | #

    I would also point out the parliamentarians who didn’t see Hitler coming and assumed liberal democracy would prevent the rise of fascism *literally* had Rosa Luxembourg (leader of the anti-WW1, socialist Spartacist League) executed to prevent the rise of a socialist state in 1919 Germany. It is the liberal parliamentarians, and not the socialists, who have the blood of Nazi Germany on their hands. Obviously the details are different, but refusing that we can draw lessons from their fault lines implies that we should all stop studying history, become psychologists or economists and just start making stuff up.

    • Raven Onthill July 25, 2016 at 2:38 pm | #

      And how many more did Hitler kill?

      Yes, I know that history. But the point was saving the republic and the peace, not settling scores, however great the injustices.

      Did not both Gandhi and King die for their causes?

  15. PatinIowa July 25, 2016 at 9:22 pm | #

    Just to be picky about this, “The liberals’ charge is not only preposterously empty, but also scapegoating, since American leftists, like, well, poor people, people of color, and new or undocumented immigrants, have virtually no power in this country, while liberals like Kaine and HRC have tremendous power and influence.”

    A lot of American leftists ARE poor people, people of colour and new immigrants. The erasure of everyone but white males from the opposition to Secretary Clinton is, to my mind, purposeful.

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