Their own worst enemy

This set of Matt Yglesias tweets caught my eye:

Yglesias is clearly right, but there’s an even more important point that needs to be emphasized. When left-liberals like Zack Beauchamp criticize their own side, they are helping their cause and hurting Trump. I suspect that many on the left believe exactly the opposite, that Baeuchamp is giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

The cancel culture promulgated by SJWs is one of the few things Trump has going for him this year, given that America is obviously not “great again” in 2020. SJWs believe that no one who voted for Trump should be allowed to have a job in academia, publishing, high tech, and many other industries, at least if their choose to honestly speak their minds. That’s almost half of the country! But it’s even worse than that; SJWs also believe that outspoken swing voters like me should not be allowed to have a job in any intellectual field. Only those who adhere to a radical left wing ideology should be able to work in those fields, unless they keep their mouths shut. Heck even Marxists like David Shor now get cancelled.

I hope I don’t need to explain that the cancel culture is extremely unpopular among the sort of swing voters who will determine the outcome of the election. Even many Democratic voters are opposed. So those left-liberals who try to get their own side to avoid the worst excesses of political correctness are actually helping the broader progressive cause.

I see modern conservatives as crafty villains, and modern leftists as well meaning fools. The left seems to think the best way to get white working class people to vote against Trump is to criticize Bernie Sanders for saying “all lives matter”. Seriously.

Trump’s operatives are privately gleeful watching the left commit political suicide.

A recent comment by PRC caught my eye:

Slightly offtopic, but fits into that note with Central Americans. There was a funny graph I saw awhile back where it showed that Trump was doing best (around 50+%) support with Central American(MesoAmerican Indigenous Hispanics) versus around 30% with the more “White” Hispanic groups(Venezuelans, Columbians, etc).

The most bizarre political phenomenon I have seen is that Trump does really well with non-Whites he routinely attacks(Indigenous people, Muslims), but he does bad with groups he doesn’t really overtly attack(East Asians, Jews, African Americans). I think he got 7x more Muslim support in 2016 and 2018 than McCain and Romney.

Obviously with TPS [i.e. deporting refugees], this is an extreme attack, but he tried to do it before and he was still relatively popular with those voters, what gives?

There’s a double irony here, which needs to be unpacked. Immigration restrictionists often argue that we don’t want to accept people from developing countries because they will bring along their illiberal cultural values. They may end up voting for socialists or authoritarian nationalist demagogues. One irony is that restrictionists were essentially warning that immigrants would vote for people like Trump. And the second irony is that maybe they will!

There is a very high rate of intermarriage among whites, Asians, and Hispanics. Thus I’ve always assumed that it’s only a matter of time until the white and Hispanic working classes voted in the same way. In the 1960s, that would have meant voting Democratic, in the 2040s it might mean voting Republican. Indeed that’s my prediction. And when the make up of political parties changes, their positions on the issues will also change.

I’m not sure if it’s true that Hispanics are trending toward Trump, but let’s consider why that might be the case. Further immigration could be seen as providing competition for Hispanic workers that are already in America. Yes, some Hispanics fear deportation, but I suspect that very few Hispanic voters fear deportation.

My own view is that immigration should be greatly expanded (one billion Americans!), and this view in no way depends on whether I happen agree with the political views of most potential immigrants. My view on immigration is based the the 64,000 foot high perspective, from which I have no reason to assume that my political views on the appropriate size of government are superior to Paul Krugman’s views. My political views shape my views on public policy, they do not shape my views on the appropriate ideology of immigrants.

In this blog, I probably appear overconfident in my beliefs. But I can assure you that I have enough self awareness to understand that I’m nobody special, and that there’s no objective reason to privilege my political views over anyone else’s.

As an analogy, I predict that Trump will win. But there is no objective reason to favor my prediction over the betting market’s current view that Biden will win.



25 Responses to “Their own worst enemy”

  1. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    18. September 2020 at 10:06

    It might take Trump winning again to cut the legs out from the extremes of SJW cancel culture. Then the moderates/regular Dems can say “shut the hell up, look what you did”.

    If Trump loses those idiots will be even more emboldened.

    And I say this as someone, like you, who abhors cancel/PC culture and also abhors Trump.

  2. Gravatar of Gene Frenkle Gene Frenkle
    18. September 2020 at 10:24

    Prior progressive orthodoxy was that immigration needed to be restricted so the working class was united in common cause for higher wages and better benefits. So Chomsky’s daughter worked for UFW when Chavez vocally opposed illegal immigrants because they were working for lower wages and no benefits. Eventually Chavez softened with respect to illegals already in America but he still wanted illegal immigration stopped. So this new incarnation of progressivism is nonsensical because it promotes expanded welfare AND open borders…you simply can’t have both.

    Furthermore Congresswoman Tlaib is an American of Palestinian descent and she actually supports a one state solution for Israel/Palestine—which is essentially open borders for Israel in which Palestinians become citizens of Israel and then gain access to all the benefits of Israeli citizens which would almost double the size of Israel with nowhere near doubling its GDP. So progressives seem to believe the wealth of Israel and America is ill-gotten gains and foreigners are entitled to that wealth consequences be damned.

  3. Gravatar of sean sean
    18. September 2020 at 10:48

    The hispanic thing has already happened in America’s past. Italians weren’t considered American White 60 years ago. Now being Italian is considered as white as can be. So it makes sense that eventually hispanics go down a similar path and many of them are of European descent anyway.

  4. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    18. September 2020 at 12:27

    Ssumner: “My own view is that immigration should be greatly expanded (one billion Americans!), and this view in no way depends on whether I happen agree with the political views of most potential immigrants” – OMG. Sumner has never been outside the USA much, as I have (living in GR, TH, PH for more than a year),as Ben Cole has. What you will find out, if you do: by analogy, remember that lawsuit by a Indian untouchable working in Google, who was forced by his bosses, who were also from India but from a higher caste, to do demeaning work and/or act in a demeaning fashion? That’s what you’ll find if you let 1B Americans into the USA without vetting them. Burkinis. Stuff that Morgan Warstler (sic) SCREAMS ABOUT IN CAPS. Seriously. That said, and as a fellow inter-racial dating person (my girl is from the Philippines, I’m a Gr-American), I also firmly believe in 1B Americans, mostly coming from overseas, since we won’t have American Exceptionalism without such numbers. But I think we should be selective, and let only the smart people in.

  5. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    18. September 2020 at 12:49


    I think the opposite is true. If Trump wins, the extremists in the party will say the establishment blew it again, and demand heads. It will empower the extremists and the senseless race to liberal purity will pick up steam.

    That said, I don’t think Trump wins. He’s not doing as well in many key states as he did in 2016, he’s an unpopular incumbent with the country in bad shape, and he has no discipline with very little time left to try to gain ground. That total lack of discipline was displayed most absurdly in his choice to speak to Bob Woodward 18 times, with news about the interviews setting him back for at least a week or two with precious little time until the election.

  6. Gravatar of Raj Raj
    18. September 2020 at 12:52

    Ray Lopez says:

    But I think we should be selective, and let only the smart people in.

    Airlines have tried to board planes many different ways for efficiency – windows first, back seats first, passengers with luggage first, and so on. Turns out the best way is random boarding. Just let people board. Selective immigration will most likely achieve the same – nothing but a realization that we cannot predict what makes someone work hard or shoot for the moon.

  7. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    18. September 2020 at 13:57

    The center left needs a “Sista Soldier” moment again (a la Bill Clinton).

  8. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    18. September 2020 at 16:21

    California was a much nicer place to live when it had a smaller population.

    America doesn’t do government and planning very well. A low-capacity state?

    Japan is doing very well with a declining population.

    1 billion Americans? How about seven billion Americans, and let the rest of the planet green up.

    I agree entirely with Scott Sumner that the left-wing purges of the present are no better than the right-wing purges of the 1950s and 1960s, and in fact may be even worse.

  9. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    18. September 2020 at 18:09

    Add on:

    There are various forms of SJW-PC, btw.

    Suppose I say I dislike communism in practice, for its limitations on human expression and results for prosperity.

    Heads nod.

    Suppose I say I dislike Islam in practice, for its limitations on human expression and results for prosperity.

    I will be called a bigot, possibly lose employment.

    Yet after Islam came to control Iraq (under US tutelage, btw), the rights of women and religious minorities were radically diminished. Saddam’s socialism, even though crude, corrupt and perverted, had been a bulwark against Islamic sectarianism and sexism.

    BTW, the US spent several trillions of dollars, and who knows how much human carnage, to obtain modern-day Iraq.

    The globalist foreign policy, manifest!

  10. Gravatar of Jens Jens
    18. September 2020 at 18:35

    Thank you Scott Sumner, fair and objective – as usual. Libertarianism is humanism in its clearest form.

  11. Gravatar of Lizard Man Lizard Man
    18. September 2020 at 18:44

    A Trump second term will see a presidency that is greatly expanded in its powers. It will also see an executive branch that is accustomed to using the regulatory state to punish enemies of the president and of the president’s political party, and to a lesser extent, enemies of his base. So far as I can tell, that is what the woke want the presidency to be, only controlled by them. So I am not sure that a Trump second term really is disastrous to their goals. Disastrous to the country, certainly. Disastrous to the things that they claim to care about, definitely, if the past record of “left wing” dictatorships is any indication. But not disastrous to their ability to nominally wield real power.

  12. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    18. September 2020 at 21:12

    The best microcosm that sums up the SJW v. Trump issue is this: A Syrian family in Allentown was separated by the Muslim ban in the first weeks of the Trump administration and set up a GoFundMe. It turns out they voted for Trump. Lots of people left comments on the GoFundMe to the effect of saying they got what they deserved and people shouldn’t donate. The moral of the story is that SJWs are kind of annoying and might do things like try to disrupt your online fundraiser. But Trump will actually use the power of the state to hurt you. Neither is good, but Trump is in a far bigger league of bad. I don’t know how this family will vote in 2020, but it seems like the rational thing to do is to suck up the mean things the SJWs said and vote against the guy that actually broke your family.

    Regarding immigration, the main reason American citizen Hispanics and Asians care probably has more to do with family separation than wages or fear of being deported themselves. Intermarriage is much more common than it used to be but the majority of marriages are still same-race. Extremely tight immigration restrictions can destroy the marriage opportunities for people who are already here (for example, the Chinese Exclusion Act caused the existing Chinese-American population to shrink by about half over the next few decades due to family separation and the resulting ultra-low fertility). But there’s an easy solution to increase immigration without building a political base for Trumpists—admit more high-education immigrants, who are more likely to vote like high-education whites when they assimilate.

  13. Gravatar of Cartesian Theatics Cartesian Theatics
    18. September 2020 at 22:39

    I think Glenn Greenwald pretty much hit the point about the left on the head during his recent interview on Useful Idiots:

    “Talking about Joe Biden like he is some kind of freakish deplorable is exactly the mistake they made in 2016, signaling to ordinary voters that we’re not like you and we don’t like you and we don’t give a shit about you. But also I think there was a media component to it too. It’s just like with Assange; Assange has broken more historically important stories than pretty much every major news outlet combined about the war on terror. And they don’t hate them despite that, they hate him because of that. They feel like he’s not really one of us and therefore he shouldn’t have that role, but he does so we hate him. Same with Joe Rogan, we went to journalism school, we know the in-and-out of journalism, why does he get 15 million viewers, when only 30 thousand watch my Youtube program? It’s jealousy and anger and insecure elite resentment… They are so aggressively protective of their entitlement.

    It gets back to there being no principles among liberals. It was amazing to watch that Burnie was really attacked … by even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were incredibly angry that he touted the endorsement of Joe Rogan. But then Michael Bloomberg comes out and endorses Joe Biden or Fucking Rick Snider who oversaw the poisoning of water in Flint, or Bill Crystal and David Frume and democrats cheer and celebrate these endorsements event tho Michael Bloomberg and Rich Snider and David Frum have dome infinitely more evil in the world than Joe Rogan could do in 10 thousand life times. So that I think goes back to Shawn’s point, which is it’s always culture first and politics last. So, Rick Snider was elected a governor, he kind of speaks like a Governor, Bill Crystal and David Frum who speak that language, but Joe Rogan is like a bald goes who tells politically incorrect jokes and goes hunting and is like a douchebag on Youtube … So he’s not one of us, and therefore has no right to occupy that role.

    It is amazing. If you were to pinpoint the most egregious and destructive act of actual systemic racism in the last decade, maybe sense the Bush administrations indifference about the drowning of New Orleans, you would look at the poisoning of the water in Finn, which people decided not to care about because Finn is primarily African American. By far the number one villain is Rick Snider who is now being embraced by the Biden campaign, who’s endorsement they are proud to have. It’s the reason why liberals are so repulsive. they don’t have any fixed beliefs, they weaponize everything cynically. They are so transparent about it and at the same time so sanctimonious about who they are.

    I remember like Lee Atwater who of course is like a scumbag political operative kind of like revelled in the fact that that’s what he was. Roger Stone is sort of the same way. They are totally immoral scumbags but they kind of admit it. Liberals are exactly the same. They weaponize everything against their enemies, and then ignore and give license to whoever is on their side, but at the same time are so self-righteous about who that are. And that’s what makes them uniquely repulsive.”

  14. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    18. September 2020 at 23:47

    @raj – I’m a fan of random, I use it in my programming all the time, but I think even you’ll agree that vetting is useful, for example, don’t let criminals into the USA even though criminals may be innocent and/or creative people.

    @Mark- your narrative about low birth rates and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 is incomplete. Go here: (you’ll see that interracial marriage was prohibited, most immigrants were male, and they were afraid to go back home to visit their wives since they might be deported when they returned to the USA. Hence the low birthrates.)

    @Cartesian Theatics -quoting GG, who comes across as a malding sort of guy with hate sputtering out of his mouth and dripping down his pants, hardly makes any case at all about strawperson liberals. GG.

  15. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    19. September 2020 at 02:53


    Exactly. The idea that the government will best decide who gets to legally come and stay is laughable on it’s face. This nationalistic nonsense, which includes trade and industrial policy is no more respectful of freedom or free markets than the Bernie Sanders approach.

  16. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    19. September 2020 at 04:18


    Exactly. What a great analogy and example you have given. You could have hardly picked a more selective, privileged and expensive way of travelling (and entering a country) than by plane. Incredible.

    You realize that there is an incredibly intensive, oftentimes even absurd, selection process before boarding, right? Have you ever travelled by plane to another country, especially the US?

    Okay, I agree, let’s compare immigration with air travel: You need a legal passport, you need a valid entry permit, you need a certain level of intelligence, you need a relatively large amount of money and you actually have to pay, you cannot have certain diseases, you cannot have certain criminal records, you have to make sure that you leave the country again, you have to go through a number of security hurdles and tests. Et cetera.

    Okay, this highly selected privileged group may then carry out your “random” boarding. Great stuff. Keep it coming.


    Boarding is only about two things: speed and passenger satisfaction. I haven’t googled all the literature, but the papers I found say random boarding is good for speed, but it is not the fastest way and many customers are dissatisfied. For best speed, it’s better to let the slowest and weakest board first, and then everyone else, but here again passengers aren’t always most happy. You gave a nice method of how people could be stuffed into the “plane” USA as speedy as possible (while being unhappy), but nobody has ever asked this question and no one ever will.

  17. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. September 2020 at 07:05

    Sean, Exactly.

  18. Gravatar of Theodore Ehrenborg Theodore Ehrenborg
    19. September 2020 at 07:29

    > But there is no objective reason to favor my prediction over the betting market’s current view that Biden will win. has Biden at 53% to Trump’s 44%. It’s almost a coin toss.

  19. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    19. September 2020 at 07:48

    I see modern conservatives as crafty villains, and modern leftists as well meaning fools.

    That’s a surprisingly one sided take. It seems lately that the well meaning fools are doing a lot of smashing of the crafty villains’ property.
    I think you put your finger on an important part of the dynamic in American politics right now when you said that banana republics devolve into authoritarian nationalists against socialists. I don’t agree with your take that we have already become a banana republic but I think we are in a vicious cycle where each side becomes more of what the other side fears as it tries to prevent the other side from gaining power.

  20. Gravatar of Skeptical Skeptical
    19. September 2020 at 08:51

    …..aaaand now the election will (mostly?) be about abortion and trans rights.

  21. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    19. September 2020 at 09:17

    I remember in 2016 saying something to the effect of that Trump would do no worse among minorities (maybe hispanics specifically) than prior Republican nominees, because pretty much any not firmly in Trump’s camp for other reasons and impervious to being offended by him were already voting for the Democratic nominee regardless. I believe you said this was ‘idiotic.’ Now here we are marveling at Trump’s support from hispanics.

    “SJWs are kind of annoying and might do things like try to disrupt your online fundraiser. But Trump will actually use the power of the state to hurt you/”

    Are you kidding? Did the last few months not happen? Have you read Ibram Kendi? Won’t try to use the state to hurt you? Please.

  22. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    19. September 2020 at 09:24

    mbka, I think it’s the opposite. Democrats nominated a moderate and lost in 2016; nominate a moderate and lose again in 2020, it’ll probably inflame the left still more. This happened with Republicans when their moderates McCain and Romney lost. A Biden win would, I expect, take some wind out of the sails of SJW types, at least temporarily.

  23. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. September 2020 at 09:26

    Everyone, Trumpistas have a hard time understanding that Trump is not running against a SJW, he’s running against Biden. In contrast, Biden really is running against a corrupt dishonest authoritarian nationalist demagogue. Come on people, let’s not make this more complicated than it is.

    Mark Z, You said:

    “I believe you said this was ‘idiotic.’ ”

    Commenters generally have very poor memories as to what they said years ago, and exactly how I responded. I suspect I did not claim it was idiotic to suggest that Trump would do about as poorly among minorities as did previous GOP candidates. Perhaps I called one of your other claims idiotic, or your reasoning process.

  24. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    20. September 2020 at 05:44

    Excellent and well expressed. Some random comments

    1) Matt Y’s moderate comment on those who criticize him: we have all read comments on various social media. While Scott may think some of us are idiots——it does not compare to most. If I do what Matt Y does on conservative sites—I am called a troll, a fake Trump voter etc. —-but remember the ave IQ is 100—that is the average. I have no problem with low measured IQs—-as I know many who are quite smart. The problem is when you mix low IQ with “asshole”. Matt Y should ignore them

    2) I dislike the term Hispanic—-a govt term of course—-as if a white Cuban is the same as an indigenous Paraguayan (their language is both Guarani and Spanish) or a Black Dominican. Having said that, I too look forward to the day when intermarriage dominates—-the problem, of course, is the Govt will take decades before they give up “what race do you identify with”

    3) while there is much to criticize about humanity, America too!, I do want more immigrants. Why? Because I am pro American and we will become stronger. I do strongly believe in the ideal of the melting pot (hence my pro-intermarriage position) and identifying as American. How would I choose? I have mentioned this before. We create a list ——in fact proactively seek a list—-worldwide of those who want to become American. Every Country. How many a year? No idea. But a lot more than now. I am not for “let’s get all the engineers” and programmers. I am an efficient market kind of guy. I lean toward random choosing. However——I admit to a bias toward literate young families——our expectation should be they have a less probability (not zero) of ending up on welfare etc. than our current population.

    4)Scott dislikes both our parties and believes we are getting worse as a nation. He might be right—-but we are all somehow “victims of the present” . We magnify the bad. That does not mean we are not getting worse. It also does not mean we “used to be good” and now we are not. I am a dopey fan of all the Star Treks. They are an interesting contradiction. Roddenberry believed history of earth had a direction toward the ever increasing good. Yet the Federation was constantly at war——-because he assumed we could make the entire universe good. I tend to believe it is safest to assume mankind morally never improves——-and it is best to create incentives as a system of government to lesson violence. Perhaps I am more Utilitarian than I thought.

    5) Finally, just for fun, and because I think it is true. Trump’s bad is overrated and his good is underrated. My words are meant literally.

  25. Gravatar of B King B King
    21. September 2020 at 07:59

    I think the PRC comment has the Trump vote by country of origin backwards. Trump/GOP senate candidates polls worst among Latinos in more mexican-american areas (AZ, CA, and NM – he got about 25-30% of the Latino vote in those states in 2016 and 2018, and is polling similarly today) while he got more like 35% in FL and TX with more Cuban and Venezuelan immigrants (although tx is still predominantly mx, and trump did better in az than ca; and clinton did worse in nm than this analysis would expect). Anecdotally (I cannot find polling by country of origin) Venezuelan and Cuban americans are more pro-trump because the immigrants here are likely more anti-communist than say Mexican immigrants.

    I cannot find data to really make a lot of sense of this comment, frankly, but it runs somewhat counter to everything I know about the latino vote (something I have paid attention to over the last 15 years, as a former political staffer of mexican american ancestry). I might be wrong but also since I cannot find the data the comment was referencing, it might just be a poorly informed comment. For example, I think puerto ricans are ‘whiter’ than venezuelans or columbians, and the NY latino vote was 25% trump in 2016 (vs. the 35% in FL).

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