Viva Las Vegas!

As we head into the final days of the election, some thoughts, observations, and provocations—by turns, cantankerous, narrow, and crabby, and, I hope, generous, capacious, and open to the future.


As the polls tighten, there’s a lot of left-blaming and left-fretting among Clinton supporters. That fits with a long-standing psycho-political syndrome among liberals of attacking the left—a syndrome in which the left often plays its own not so healthy part.

But there’s little basis for that syndrome in reality, at least in this election. Not that this particular reality has much impact on the self-styled reality-based community. But it’s important to register that reality nonetheless:

“The problems Hillary Clinton is having do not have to do with the left,” says Matt Grossmann, a political scientist at Michigan State, in an interview….”There is not much of any evidence of a drop-off in support for her from the left-wing of the ideological spectrum.”….Like Jill Stein or not, the drag she has been on Clinton basically amounts to a rounding error.


A story Jacob Levy reported on Facebook today leaves me with this embittered thought.

Liberals in the media, academia, political circles, and on social media who support Clinton act as if your one vote—out of the more than 100 million cast—determines the fate of the republic. If you vote for Stein (whether in a safe state or not), you are personally responsible for Trump’s inauguration.

These voices are often the very same people who, when challenged about Clinton’s voting record in the Senate or Obama’s policies, will say: Clinton was only one voice in a Senate, out of…a hundred voices. Obama was one lonely man arrayed against…three veto points.

Somewhere in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith has a passage about how we identify with the trials and travails of a king, giving him all of our sympathy and understanding, yet are so repelled by the tribulations of the lowly that we can scarce understand what they’re going through.

The difficulties and challenges of the most elite sectors of the political class are acutely felt by liberal journalists and commentators. And the calculations and concerns of the lowly citizen? Fuhgettaboutit.


Someone, please, please, write a parody soon of the latest fashion of white men tweeting and posting about those intuitively sensible women and black people voting for Hillary—without any need to be organized because “they just get it”—and thereby “saving our democracy one more time.” The whole genre, with its pandering assumptions about the unschooled, hardheaded good sense of these authentic, sturdy souls who are uncorrupted by fancy ideas of social change because they studied at the school of hard knocks, makes me want to puke. It’s pure Nixonism for liberals.


Aside from Chris Christie—who terrified me at a visceral level, in the same way Trump scares a lot of other folks; I think it was the way Christie went after schoolteachers—the GOP candidate I was made most nervous by was Rubio. Not because Rubio was an especially good candidate—he wasn’t—but because it always has seemed that the only way the GOP could ever reverse its downward fall would be to appeal to Latino voters.

But there was a reason that’s never really frightened me much either. Because I’ve been hearing this line of bullshit for years: once the Republicans start appealing to Latin@s, all will be well. People forget the ballyhoo around the fact that George W. Bush could say hello in Spanish. That was going to change everything forever. (Though it’s true, as Joe Lowndes reminded me last night, that Bush did get a bit more than 40% of the Latin@ vote in 2004.) Or remember Romney’s son Craig, who was fluent in Spanish? That was going to win him Nevada.

There are two reasons Latin@s haven’t become a reliable part of the Republican coalition.

The first, of course, is the racism and revanchism of a considerable part of the GOP base. Just look how they took to Bush’s compassionate conservatism.

(Little tangent: In 2000, Irving Kristol said to me, in disgust, look at those idiots, arguing on the convention floor about the prescription drug benefit; it’s not Athens, it’s not Rome; give them the goddam benefit and be done with it. Well, they did, and it nearly destroyed the party.)

The second reason, though, is this: what GOP fantasists imagine creating is a multicultural, identity-friendly party of capital. The problem is we already have such a party. Who needs two?


Untimely meditations:

…to present hitler as particularly incompetent, as an aberration, a perversion, humbug, a pecuilar pathological case, while setting up other bourgeois politicians as models, models of something he has failed to attain, seems to me no way to combat hitler.

—Brecht, Journals, February 28, 1942


Two nights ago, I had a terrible anxiety dream that Trump won the election (defying all my claims in my waking life that Clinton will win handily.)

There I was, the day after the election, in the streets, watching some kind of militia or band of street fucks marching by and declaring, Pinochet-style, that from now on women had to wear skirts. (I think I got this from a scene in the movie Missing.)

While watching this thuggish display of misogynistic power, my heart pounding with fear, I found myself wondering, in the dream, what part of the Constitution the Trumpists would find most amenable to their purposes, and how they’d get around Article I, which in my dream, seemed like a major constraint on Congress.

I kept saying, in my dream, “enumerated powers, enumerated powers,” with that ghostly mantra “big boys don’t cry” from this classic 70s tune echoing throughout my head.


I once asked Steve Skowronek—who’s probably one of the four or five most fertile minds of the last quarter-century’s political science—what kind of role opposition parties play in toppling partisan/presidential regimes. What role did the 1932 Democrats play in overthrowing the Gilded Age regime? What role did the 1980 Republicans playing in overthrowing the New Deal regime?

Not much, he said, rather bleakly.

Regimes tend to collapse of their own weight, driven to destruction by the long-term consequences of the actions of their own elites and activists. While they ultimately need an opposition to topple them, the only reason the opposition can do that is that these regimes are already tipping over on their own. I think Skowronek ultimately got this from Skocpol’s (early Skocpol) theory of states and revolutions.

In any event, that’s how I see the GOP and conservatism today. When it goes, it won’t be because of the left; it’ll be, ultimately, because of George W. Bush, who more than anyone sowed the long-term seeds of the GOP’s decline, and whatever unlucky bastard—like Jimmy Carter or Herbert Hoover—happens to be the last guy or gal on the watch.


To paraphrase Hans Gruber: You asked for down-ballot evidence of the coming realignment. Theo, I give you the Silver State (see 11/5/16 update, 7 am).

Donald Trump will be in Reno on Saturday, but the Republicans almost certainly lost Nevada on Friday. Trump’s path was nearly impossible, as I have been telling you, before what happened in Clark County on Friday. But now he needs a Miracle in Vegas on Election Day — and a Buffalo Bills Super Bowl championship is more likely — to turn this around. The ripple effect down the ticket probably will cost the Republicans Harry Reid’s Senate seat, two GOP House seats and control of the Legislature.


Not only is Trump about to do on a national scale what Pete Wilson did in California—that is, drive up the Latin@ vote, consigning the GOP to a longterm decline—but Latin@s, who in many states gave Sanders the margin, or close to the margin, of victory, are set to play a similar role in the liberal/left coalition that southern and eastern European immigrants played during the New Deal years, reconstituting our sense of the working class, the middle class, and national identity.


One day, the story of the Culinary Union in Nevada will be told.

How a union whose membership is now 56% Latin@ was built from the bottom up, in Las Vegas, in a right-to-work state, and how that union is now poised to politically and economically transform this state in fundamental ways that go far beyond the election.

How this union was seeded back in the 1980s by organizers from New Haven, fresh from their victory in organizing women and people of color at Yale, organizers who had cut their teeth on the antiwar and civil rights struggles of the 1960s, organizers who had come to an understanding that the progressive future of this country lay in a reconstitution of organized labor as a multiracial and intersectional movement of men and women, rather than in the abandonment of organized labor as the alleged and archaic bastion of white working class men, which is what the neoliberal forces of the Democratic Party were coming to believe.

After Election Day, this will be the real question for liberals and the left: Will we settle for a corporate identity politics of symbols and circuses or will we create what the culinary workers in Nevada have created, a genuinely multiracial working class politics of justice and solidarity?


  1. Graham Clark November 5, 2016 at 10:50 pm | #

    “After Election Day, this will be the real question for liberals and the left: Will we settle for a corporate identity politics of symbols and circuses or will we create what the culinary workers in Nevada have created, a genuinely multiracial working class politics of justice and solidarity?”

    Liberal answer: Well we just won on corporate identity politics of symbols and circuses – looks good to me!

  2. Roquentin November 6, 2016 at 1:45 am | #

    The hardest part of this election for me, by far, has been how hard the liberals have turned on the left. What shocks me even more is that they’ve come at me with a ferocity my Republican relatives never dreamed of. If anything, they’re glad to see someone not repeating the tired cliches and talking points of the Clinton campaign, even if it is from the left. It was an unexpected source of optimism for me, that maybe, just maybe it was the hypocrisy of liberals that motivated them, that on theoretical grounds they weren’t even necessarily opposed to the left. They were just tired of a party which claimed to be working in their interests not even bothering to hide its contempt, of a hypocritical elite which pretended to give a shit about them but couldn’t stand them.

    Another thing that shocks me, how Democrats expect support from people they hate and make no secret of. It’s one thing to consider people “deporables,” to hate the crude whites who support Trump, but to act surprised when they don’t support you is really too much. It’s not all that different from how they treat the left, sadly. We hate you, we’ll actively work to make sure your preferred candidate lose, but you’re still obligated to support us.

    I’m voting Stein. I really don’t give a shit at this point. I’ve lost friends over the decision, but it’s only steeled my resolve.

  3. mark November 6, 2016 at 5:13 am | #

    I agree with your comments on Twitter about Glenda Jackson.

    When Parliamentary time was given off to reflect on the death of Margaret Thatcher, the journalist Dan Hodges (see Wikipedia) said he did not want any Labour MPs to be critical of Thatcher as that would be unbecoming.

    The only Labour MP to properly articulate in Parliament the disgust many felt and feel at that politician was Glenda Jackson – and Dan Hodges is her son.

  4. nihil obstet November 6, 2016 at 12:19 pm | #

    Sort of responsive to your #1. or #2 that’s a big pet peeve of mine: The liberals who refused to vote strategically in the primaries, ignoring or discounting poll after poll after poll that indicated that Clinton would lose to most of the possible Republican candidates and would at best have trouble against Trump now argue that only selfish, ignorant, self-righteous “Virtuecrats” would fail to vote strategically now for Clinton. It’s quite a level of vitriolic projection.

    • James Fillmore November 6, 2016 at 7:22 pm | #

      I always thought Bernie would drive more turnout. But the Clintons are master campaigners, knowing which hands to shake on the local level and that sort of thing. Which one would have been our best defense against a GOP victory? Tough to say. My beliefs are far more with Bernie, yet I’m sure the Clintons are by far the sharpest political operators around. When it comes to organizing volunteers and finding spaces for phone bank offices & such, they’re wizards.

  5. Xor (@CartoonDiablo) November 6, 2016 at 5:39 pm | #

    Not to rain on the parade but Nevada was never that conservative to begin with. Reno and Vegas make up about a third of the state while, for reference, Austin and Dallas are only 8% of Texas’s population.

  6. jonnybutter November 6, 2016 at 7:02 pm | #

    Not to rain on the parade but Nevada was never that conservative to begin with.

    It’s been a pretty reliable GOP state though. No more.

    I had an anxiety dream about Trump being pres too, though not as horrible as CR’s. It’s tick season where I live and I dreamed that there were swarms of ticks and Trump said, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll take care of them“, and I knew in the dream that he was full of shit and he was going to let the the ticks get out of control, along with everything else.

  7. fosforos November 7, 2016 at 3:18 pm | #

    “What role did the 1932 Democrats play in overthrowing the Gilded Age regime? What role did the 1980 Republicans playing in overthrowing the New Deal regime?” Both “regimes” had ended long, long before. And why would anyone imagine that it was Bernard Baruch and Jesse Jones and John Nance Carner who would end the “Gilded Age” regime (Mark Twain, however, who coined the term, would surely say it never ended since now the “American criminal class” that he identified as “the members of congress” has been joined by two other conspicuous groups of racketeers–the financial elite and the military-industrial complex)? As for the so-called “New Deal regime,” it’s brief life ended (as John L. Lewis realized) when FDR rusticated “Dr. New Deal” and called in “Dr. Win The War,” though it was not formally buried until FDR dumped Henry Agard Wallace for a dumb hack from the dominant machine of a Jim Crow state.

  8. Setty November 7, 2016 at 4:41 pm | #
  9. glinka21 November 8, 2016 at 12:34 am | #

    I’ve had anxiety attacks that either Trump or Clinton would win the election. Terrible though it is to contemplate, I’m sure one of them will.

  10. Democrat Inside November 9, 2016 at 11:05 am | #

    “a genuinely multiracial working class politics of justice and solidarity”

    This is not an ideal. This is not politic. This is not democratic.

    This is actually “liberal”.

    Because you’re liberal.

    But, please, Corey: A social democracy is another thing. It’s another way of thinking. It’s a different democratic culture.

    “Multiracial societies”, as teached by Madison, are built *against* democracies: divide et impera.

    Dear Americans: You need to “upgrade” your Constitution and rethinking the structural differences between liberal individualism and democratic socialism.

    Please, listen to Wolin.


  11. willandermann November 9, 2016 at 5:56 pm | #

    “I think Skowronek ultimately got this from Skocpol’s (early Skocpol) theory of states and revolutions.”
    And I think Skocpol was at least strongly informed by Katherine Chorley’s “Armies in the Art of Revolution.” A Trotskyist, she wasn’t inclined to dismiss the political, but she argued that unless the regime’s armed forces break down, revolutionaries will not succeed.

    • LFC November 16, 2016 at 9:02 pm | #

      This reminds me of something I wrote a few years ago (referencing Skocpol) about the Egyptian popular uprising that toppled Mubarak (see link below). However one classifies or labels that, it left the army’s power undiminished, so Sisi was able to stage his coup against Morsi in the summer of 2013. And for all Morsi’s flaws, Sisi’s regime has been worse in terms, e.g., of the scale of domestic repression and his attempted strangulation of Gaza; cf. Steven Cook, “Egypt’s Nightmare,” Foreign Affairs, Nov/Dec 2016. Btw the IMF has just given Sisi a major loan in return for certain austerity measures.

  12. jonnybutter November 9, 2016 at 9:43 pm | #

    While they ultimately need an opposition to topple them, the only reason the opposition can do that is that these regimes are already tipping over on their own.

    What’s extraordinary to me about our recent US situation is how little effective opposition from Dems there has really been. Liberals fall for the same sort of rope a dope cons again and again (including last night), the rovian laughter peels, and voila, the unthinkable: term 2 of GWB, or now, president Trump. Republicans keep winning and winning when they ought to be losing. You’d expect so much winning would break them, but there’s almost no effective pushback from their opposition. So whether the argument CR cites actually demands it, discounting the political doesn’t make sense anway.

    Maybe US politics is a big grinding war of attrition. Turns out it’s the Dems who have to die and be reborn first. If the election had gone the way the had polls suggested they would, perhaps it would have been the GOP doing that first.

  13. Rich Puchalsky November 10, 2016 at 6:40 am | #

    Here’s my comment on the election. This was a Brexit situation for America: in other words, Trump was right in his assessment of the politics and the people predicting a Clinton win were wrong. The lesson that we take from this is, I hope, not going to be the typical elite response to Brexit of how the hoi poloi have finally gone too far (I can’t be bothered to look up what Chris Bertram wrote, but it was pitch-perfect as an example) or the Boxer-from-Animal-Farm “I will work harder”. These events are happening because the state is not getting better no matter who is in charge.

    • LFC November 16, 2016 at 12:17 am | #

      So 20 million people having health insurance who did not have it before is part of Obama’s “presidential failure”? Pulling the economy back from the brink of complete collapse in his first year is a failure? The clean power rules and restrictions on CO2 emissions and the Paris climate plan a failure? His record is mixed, not the complete failure R. Puchalsky writes of in the linked post.

      How anarchism is supposed to work in a country w an enormous, complicated economy, regional divisions, bitter political cleavages, and more than 300 million people is left unspecified. ‘Abolish the state and good things will happen’ sounds like a leap of faith more than of reason.

  14. Pat November 12, 2016 at 5:13 am | #

    A small and not consoling note: Democrats have now won six of the past seven popular vote totals.

    • Roquentin November 12, 2016 at 2:51 pm | #

      And yet, there was not so much as a single peep from liberals demanding the Electoral College be reformed or abolished before they lost. I can guarantee you, with total certainty, that if it were reversed and Trump had won the popular vote but lost the election you’d see the same people writing long, hypocritical screeds about how great the Electoral College was and the brilliance of our founding fathers in coming up with it. Who do they think they’re fooling? No, they oppose it now because they lost, and more than that I would bet the house that even if these calls for reforming it were sincere people don’t have the time or the energy to see that fight through.

      • LFC November 16, 2016 at 12:18 am | #

        there was not so much as a single peep from liberals demanding the Electoral College be reformed or abolished before they lost.

        Wrong. People have been complaining about the Electoral College for years.

        • Roquentin November 16, 2016 at 8:58 am | #

          How many of them complained when Hillary was winning the primaries based on “superdelegates,” who answer to a popular vote in no way, shape or form? How many of them had a problem with the system then? How many of them are asking that the primary system in the Democratic party be reformed now?

          I restate, they don’t give a shit. They’re mad that they lost, plain and simple.

          • Tom November 16, 2016 at 4:25 pm | #

            So, Roquentin, “…plain and simple…” is it?

            Reading blog comments has produced a new hobby for me: spot the troll. Most are not subtle, some are. Their goal is to waste time with long posts that lead, finally to some right wing or nihilistic end. It is, in my view a type of propaganda or psychological warfare.

            As the election season dragged on, the message always seemed to be: don’t bother voting, Trump and HRC are of equal but opposite value, but HRC is really worse, stay home or vote Stein— that sort of thing.

            So along comes Roquentin, after his many thoughtful, nuanced posts. A devotee of Sartre, one might think from his name. A man, to guess by character in the novel, accustomed to thinking about politics and the gradations of feelings stirred up by various political writers and situations. Well, of course he hates HRC and has “steeled” himself, against all that liberal hatefulness to vote Stein. Well, a vote for Stein can of course be as honest as any vote for anyone. But I have never experienced any of that liberal disdain the R. is so worked up about. Soul searching conversations with friends, yes.

            But, now post-election, returns Roquentin with a bunch of splenetic snark. While the rest of us on the left, pretty much every one of us, is regarding in fear and sadness the likelihood of great tragedy unfolding for years, here comes Roquentin, but lacking his usual thoughtful mien. LFC has already dispelled R’s lack of knowledge regarding concerns with the Electoral College.

            Well I can hardly wait, his ideas, he says, are “guarante[ed] … with total certainty…” Where now all that thoughtful attention to nuance? And his diagnosis is, “they don’t give a shit. They’re mad that they lost, plain and simple.”

            In politics, seldom do you find plain simplicity. In one’s emotional life, almost nothing is plain and simple. So the Roquentin of such subtle understandings is revealed to be just another nihilist troll.

    • Roquentin November 16, 2016 at 7:14 pm | #

      Why, for pointing out the obvious? To see the same people who completely ignored the actions of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the same people who ignored everything revealed about the DNC in Wikileaks, turn around and start complaining about how “they won the popular vote?” The chutzpah, the hypocrisy was too much for me to take. It still kind of is. You don’t get to treat democracy with open contempt for a year and then turn around and blame the archaic political system when the things didn’t land the way you want them to. The thing is, almost every person I know who wasn’t in the small bubble of the all-in-for-Hillary crowd sees it this way, and rightfully so.

      Write me off as a nihilistic troll if you like, but I call it like I see it.

      • Glenn November 20, 2016 at 5:28 pm | #

        Take Tom’s long negative criticism of you as a form of compliment Roquentin.

        You must be doing something right to unbalance the troll who calls you troll, so don’t stop doing it.

  15. medgeek November 16, 2016 at 6:49 pm | #

    Corey, come on back. We desperately need some poli sci wisdom.

    I’m not a political scientist and I don’t play one on TV, but let me start be denouncing the electoral college. It’s an 18th century anachronism that needs to be abolished. As currently constituted, it doesn’t even fulfill the founders’ notion that wise men (yes, women need not apply) gather and make an independent judgement about who should be our leader. I’m not a johnny-come-lately to this view. I thought the electoral college was ridiculous when I learned about it in high school social studies 40+ years ago. Just to take one instance that others have pointed out, California has 60 times the population of Wyoming, but only 18 times its weight in the electoral college. This is completely indefensible.

    Don’t even get me started on the totally unrepresentative (pun intended) senate that some have called the greatest deliberative body in history. NOT!

    • Rich Puchalsky November 16, 2016 at 7:34 pm | #

      There is nothing as useless, right now, as complaining about the Electoral College.

    • Bert Rubash November 19, 2016 at 3:19 pm | #

      I think Cory has moved to Twitter. I fear that everybody’s public discussion will be forced into private, commercial media, mine included, but I am not going there yet.

    • James Fillmore November 25, 2016 at 9:16 pm | #

      You’re quite right about the EC not serving one of its original intended purposes. However the other purpose was making sure slave states had equal weight in choosing the presidency despite their far lower numbers of eligible voters. In a way, that part still works quite well, unfortunately.

  16. Dan November 22, 2016 at 10:15 am | #

    I think Corey is either writing an epic (self) examination of the situation or has given up public comment for a while.

  17. Stephen December 2, 2016 at 3:44 pm | #

    I hope you’re ok, Professor Robin.

  18. kinton December 6, 2016 at 3:46 pm | #

    I don’t think that Adam Smith says that. Sidney and Rousseau say similar things. Possibly Hume. I may be wrong, but it’s telling that you had to go the “somewhere” route instead of actually quoting it. Hard to believe that you’d ever be wrong though.

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