Once upon a time I would argue that your fears were overblown (last weekend), but those damn crazy mob insurrectionists went and proved me wrong.

On the optimistic side, I think there is a whole lot of people disowning Trump right now on the right. It will take a while, but I think this will filter down to the all but the craziest of crazy people.

The culture wars will continue unfortunately. Polarization will continue... I blame social media bubbles and the their amplification affect.

I am super happy that all the Social Media companies blocked Trump. I hope its a life time ban. I want to marginalize him as much as possible... deflate his dangerous rhetoric. Let him fade into obscurity or go to jail.

I personally am disgusted with Republicans, which sucks because I was reflexively conservative. It will be a long long time before I vote Republican (Actually, I have skipped voting for the last two Federal Elections).

I guess I am center left right now... I wish there was a party for me. I do own guns (yes, I own an AR and AK), but carrying them to rallies is just rude and asshole-ish. I keep them locked up unless target shooting or zombie apocalypses.

The problems with the Republicans are pretty obvious right now and on display, but I suspect the Democrats are going to have their hands full in the next couple of years.

If the Republicans really fade as a viable alternative, the divisions of the left will become more prominent. The educated suburban middle class and the defund police crowd aren't going to play nicely forever.

I actually think Biden is the best choice right now to get us through the next four to eight years.

I am just so worn out on the last four years. I just want to walk around without a mask, without MAGA hats, and without worrying about pronouns. I just want to be friendly with strangers, eat Tacos, and work on my cars.

On a side note... you need to do one of those prediction posts.

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Jan 8, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

Noah, good piece. You mention, but I think you underplay the significance of the fragmentation of the media, and the existence the coordinated, closed circle of right wing propaganda channels that create an alternate reality for 30-40% of the country. I don't see any way the division in our country crests and subsides with this in place, and I don't see any path for it to ameliorate or disappear either. Would love more thoughts on this...

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The Cold Civil War sounds a lot like the Years of Lead: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Years_of_Lead_(Italy)

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Jan 8, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

noah smith endorses r/liberalgunowners

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Jan 8, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

Great and insightful post, Noah, thanks for your thoughts! If I may, I’d like to add a bit of a different perspective as well.

One thing that’s often missed when being transfixed by a problem that just seems to get worse all the time is that the solution often comes from without the system itself. A couple of things can do the trick: rapid economic growth, a new international conflict (or Cold War) or big crisis that focuses minds and attention, fast technological change that’s seen as empowering rather than threatening and so on.

Now I know, all these things have their lighter and their darker version – rapid economic growth can also boost inequality, international conflict or crises (like the current pandemic) can also deepen internal strife, technological change can actually lead to teeth-gnashing and fear, as it arguably has over the last decade.

But it need not always be that way. You’ve written before about the '50s and '60s and why on the face of it, we obviously don’t want to return to these decades (society has fortunately changed a lot!). But what these times did do – in Europe even way more than in the US – is provide a framework for pacifying and unifying some of the most divided, scarred and resentful societies which just had had half a century of brutal war, civil strife, economic depression, pandemics, cultural and political division, let alone war crimes and genocide behind them.

It is now often taken for granted that these times led to a sort of healing, growth and growing together – it’s some sort of “they were all so exhausted so it had to come that way” argument, particularly for Europe. But I would strongly disagree with that. Most of the time, such a terrible history just led to more strife or at least deep antipathy and division later on, for many more decade. It was thus in the US after their own Civil War. It is absolutely extraordinary that Europe’s societies, to an extraordinary extent and for a multitude of reasons, “came together” the way they did after World War II. And it’s also quite extraordinary the US became the cohesive powerhouse it was economically, politically and militarily in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s – it rapidly forgot its own scars and divisions, at least for a while and to some extent.

So long story short, while we are not at the same juncture today, obviously, I think there’s a chance some things may fall into place again. The renewable energy revolution may provide plentiful jobs in rural areas that fell behind and drive inclusive and more equal growth. The new investment binge of many states following the pandemic may boost both technological and societal change for the better. We are already getting better at moderating social media, the first one-and-a-half decades were just wild – new platforms are way more wholesome.

There’s change in society afoot as well and often, an issue that seemed vexing to one generation becomes practically a non-issue for the next – we’ve seen that sort of rapid change with gay rights (even though trans rights are still an issue and I’m of course aware that LGBTQIA* discrimination is still a thing and will remain – but the support among younger people is overwhelming). Of course, racial divides and the left-right divide are different, they are even more deeply embedded in many ways.

Yet perceptions there can change remarkably fast as well. During the ’70s and ’80s, the divide between working class and bourgeoisie was still seen as “the” thing by most people, even in the West fearfully discussed. This has all but vanished in our political discourse. Even when it’s raised, like with the 99% and the 1%, it has nowhere near the angry or fearsome immediacy it had back then – and which race issues or left/right issues have today. And perceived religious divides, so much discussed after 9/11 in the US and still now in Europe (particularly when it comes to Islam), have also changed quickly.

So in conclusion, I do remain cautiously hopeful that after a decade of widening divides and trends we barely understood and barely had under control, we may enter an area with fairer winds after this pandemic, that may also help us to heal some of these divides in our society. Let’s do our best to contribute to that!

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Jan 8, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

Remember the D's offloaded the dixiecrats to the R's. The D's are still paying a price for that but the price is getting paid down.

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Jan 8, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

Two thoughts:

1. There was a huge amount of work done in the late 1970s on US Civil-Military relations and reforms. We've witnessed the fruits of that work over the last six months. We need to embark on the same types of reforms vis-a-vi the US Civil-Police relations. Someone should get McRaven on TV and ask him, "How can the Police, DHS, and US-AG be as loyal to the Constitution and the People as the US Military?" Because there's a big trust gap right now of the type the US Military healed long ago.

2. On the idea that "This never ends" I recommend "The Cousins War" an integrated history of the English Civil War, US Revolution, and US Civil War written by Kevin Phillips. Fascinatingly, Kevin Phillips also wrote "The Emerging Republican Majority" in 1969 before breaking with the Republican party in the 1990s and becoming a critic.

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«the failed coup attempt of 1/6 caused most Republican leaders to denounce violent insurrection»

I am unaware that the Pentagon, the Treasury, the Fed (which would be the first targets of a real coup) were surrounded by the tanks of the insurgents, and that the special forces took over and closed the NYT, the WaPo, the MSNBC and the CNN. Perhaps TDS, or perhaps not having TDS, causes severe hallucinations. :-)

I have heard instead that a mob of sad losers were allowed to stage a pantomime at the capitol (resembling the assault by a mob of protesters on the Hong Kong Legislative Council in July 2019, which nobody called a failed coup or insurrection).

This event will most likely "justify" a further turn of the screw on civil liberties, and that is not likely to benefit in any way the exiting president.

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I think Noah Smith is tremendous but I also think we should try much harder to avoid any evolution of the current crisis that goes down the path of settling disputes by force.

1) Didn't the murder rate increase by around 20-30% Y/Y in 2020? I am personally concerned by the idea of encouraging anyone to be more confrontational with firearms. African Americans in particular are already the largest per capita victims of gun violence.

2) Didn't we just see in the 2020 election a substantial number of Hispanic, Indian, and Asian voters shift Republican? Further promotion of BLM-style confrontation seems like it strains the Democratic party coalition.

3) We are over-indexing on a loser rightwing movement that doesn't have sophisticated people leading it. A sophisticated movement isn't going to try to fight the police or the military, it is going to try to recruit or co-opt them. Mussolini was not opposed by the police or military (actual historians, please kindly suggest a better example if one exists).

I'm a big fan of Noah's writing and am certainly supportive of publishing risky, difficult pieces, but I am seeing a lot of liberals that are not taking their own beliefs about Trump's incompetence seriously. Please believe your own narrative. Trump is not effective. This country can produce much scarier people than Trump. Let's not make a lot of decisions now that we can't take back because we are captivated by the belief that the worst the country has to deal with is Trump or Josh Hawley.

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Hi Noah. What's the difference between the paid and the free version of your newsletter? And will you be offering any kind of discount, perhaps, for educators?

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one problem is that the Left likes to only count "Right wing" violence as violence and then never mention things like https://twitter.com/a_centrism/status/1258995471630172161

and https://twitter.com/a_centrism/status/1328807773690277889

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Great article. Doesnt the right believe the military will side with them?

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So your endgame is that Whitey should just accept his dispossession and diminishment in the country he founded and built. The flaw in your beautiful end game is that the idea of a functioning multiracial society is a pipe dream for stupid people. America's doom was sealed with the 1965 Immigration Act. America will splinter and fall in the long run because liberals felt guilty over slavery and the innate inability of our sub-Saharan "citizens" to achieve parity with Whites.

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Excellent post. Thanks.

There is just one thing on which I would disagree: calling the Democratic party the Left. Yes, the protesters (BLM, Antifa, etc.) are the Left. Not the DEM. I am Italian. In Italy, the party closer to the Democratic party is Forza Italia, the one led by Berlusconi, which is a center-right party.

The Left, in the USA, is not represented. The problem is the bi-party system, which impedes any third political force to have a real voice. As long as it will work this way, the USA will remain a right-wing country — any comparison with countries in Europe can easily show it.

Look at the BLM protests. The protesters obtained so little, despite months of protests, because the GOP ignored them, and the DEM barely considered them. Look at what changed: almost nothing.

I think that to see what happens in the USA, first of all, we must understand the current situation. There is a Right and, let's say, a Center. The Left is represented by very few people. It is growing, sure, but it is still very little and has little or no power.

My personal hope is that Trump will decide to run independently from the Republicans, under his own party. If this happens, people like Sanders could try to run as a Social-Democratic. That would be the real transition to a representative democracy — which the USA is not, now.

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Anyone who looks at the FBI crime statistics knows the left has plenty of guns. And what's with acting like Democrats favoring immigration to gain votes is a conspiracy theory? They boast of this. Stacey Abrams even posted on twitter that it was key to a permanent Democrat majority.

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Existential fears are existential fears, and frankly, they only go away when the people holding them give them up or go away themselves. The latter could happen through death or even emigration. There is no placating it. There is certainly no placating cults, and I'm much more disturbed by the distress being expressed about the need to "unify" and "heal our divisions" with fascist/supremacist cultists.

The thing is, it would be pretty okay if the center-right party in the US attracted traditionalist/entrepreneurial non-white folks who are turned off by social liberalism/economic leftism. That would help the Democratic Party change! But this really isn't going to happen at scale without a rejection of white supremacy, because it's not movement conservatism if it doesn't base itself on white supremacy, it's just sparkling traditionalist Toryism. As long as there are WASP evangelicals, there is no movement on that. White evangelicals do not want to be in political coalition with traditionalist POC.

And as long as there are vast rural areas in the US filled with reactionary white people, there is also no incentive to change. Likewise, the illiberal/anti-American left will continue to exist as long as urbanism is deprecated, as long as pro-rural bias and white supremacist patriarchy hold power..

Finally, I do continue to believe that the left and even social liberalism is best understood as an insurgent force in the US -- the problem is that it thinks it has won, when it hasn't. In the UK there is an actual public deprecation of capitalism, which is a markedly different culture than the US. The UK (let alone Scandinavia!) has a pro-worker, social cohesion element that we just lack, *because* the US right has won.

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