Looking back at Nader and Stein

In 2000, starry-eyed Nader supporters rejected ardent environmentalist Al Gore and helped elect George W Bush, the worst (or second worst) president in American history. The Nader supporters thought Gore was the “lesser-of-two-evils.” Similarly, in 2016 starry-eyed Stein supporters refused to vote for centrist Democrat Hillary Clinton. Yes, she was a neocon. But Hillary was excellent on some issues (e.g., women’s rights) and decent on most others. Voting for Nader and Stein accomplished nothing useful at all. Refusing to vote for the left-of-center liberal (Gore) or centrist (Hillary) Dem didn’t “send a message” to the Democrats, in the swing states anyway, other than “We Nader and Stein supporters are fools. Ignore us.” Now we have Trump and a GOP Congress and will have to deal with a far right Supreme Court for a generation.

Of course there are dozens of reasons why Hillary lost — e.g., she had the hubris to forgo campaigning in the swing states.

Added on Nov 8: Ruth Nader Ginsburg (85) fell and broke her ribs. It looks like Trump will get to appoint a THIRD Supreme Court Justice. With the GOP gaining one or more seats in the Senate, it will be impossible to stop him.

You can thank the radical Hillary-bashers, Gore-bashers, and Dem-bashers who refused to vote for centrist Dems — e.g., for ardent environmentalist Al Gore in 2000. It wasn’t just their votes that made a difference. It was also their relentless propaganda (“lesser-of-two-evils”, “no better than the Republicans”, etc).

Repugs, Dumbs, and Dumbers: a rant

Repugs, Dumbs, and Dumbers: American politicians

If you have half a brain and half a conscience you know that most Republican politicians promote repugnant policies that increase inequality, bankrupt the economy, destroy the environment, and promote militarism. They lie, distort and resort to racism, xenophobia, dirty tricks and criminal activity.  They put children in cages. They antagonize our allies and cozy up to Putin. Still, tens of millions of Americans have been brainwashed to vote for them.

The mainstream Dems are far from perfect on policy — they’re often too hawkish and too compromised by corporate money — but they’re far better than the Repugs. Unfortunately, the Dems are usually dumb. Bill Clinton was dumb enough to ruin his presidency by having an affair with Monica Lewinsky, by getting caught, and by lying about it.  He also unnecessarily sold out — on NAFTA and on dismantling Glass-Stegall and welfare programs — thereby causing Nader and progressives to oppose him.

Hillary was so dumb she forgot to campaign in the swing states.

Obama had the chance to prosecute the Bush administration war criminals and the Wall Street crooks. Instead, he wanted to “look forward.” He should have looked forward to Trump. He prosecuted the whistle blowers, not the war criminals. He compromised early and often. He was a great orator and was much beloved by the people, who, in 2008 were disgusted with Republican criminality and stupidity. But Obama didn’t fight and didn’t lead. He allowed the Repugs to set the narrative and to Swift Boat both him and Hillary.

Here’s a particularly outrageous example of Obama’s dumb choices.  As reported in Politico (Biden: McConnell stopped Obama from calling out Russians), three weeks before the 2016 election, Obama and Biden wanted to inform the American people about Russian interference in the election. But they allowed Mitch McConnell to veto the announcement.

Biden said he and former President Barack Obama worried that without a united front of bipartisanship, speaking out before the election would undermine the legitimacy of the election and American institutions in a way that would play into the Russians’ larger ambitions. (source)

This is the same Joe Biden who, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that was holding hearings on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, decided against allowing women other than Anita Hill to offer testimony about Thomas’s sexual harassment.

Why don’t Democrats fight?

Republicans in Congress had opposed virtually every policy position of President Obama. The Senate threatened filibusters on numerous bills. In March of 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court; the Senate, under the leadership of Mitch McConnell, refused to hold hearings on the nomination. Yet three weeks before the 2016 election, Obama and Biden still wanted to be bipartisan and still deferred to Mitch McConnell?!

There are dozens of similar inexplicable cowardice or excessive moderation on the part of Obama. See this petition.

If Obama is a closet conservative, then some of his choices make sense. But from a purely political, strategic point of view, many of his choices were just dumb and naive.

As for Nader and Stein, their stubbornness, and that of their supporters, led to the election of Bush and Trump. They did not help the progressive cause at all. They’re now laughingstocks.

I might even include Bernie Sanders among the Dumb group. He unnecessarily calls himself a “Democratic Socialist” when, in fact, he’s really a social democrat.

Let’s hope the Dems stop being dumb. For now, they’re all that’s left to save us from the Repugs.

Socialism, even democratic socialism, is quite different from progressivism

Bernie Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist. So does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who recently won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district, defeating incumbent Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley in a major upset victory.

The odd thing is: are they really democratic socialists? Do they even know what democratic socialism is?

There is evidence that they aren’t and don’t.

Noam Chomsky and Cornel West say that Sanders is a social democrat, not a democratic socialist.   They call him a New Dealer. See Bernie Sanders is NEITHER a Socialist nor a Democratic Socialist and What does Sanders mean by ‘democratic socialism’?.

(Chomsky points out that Dwight Eisenhower — who said that anyone who questioned the New Deal doesn’t belong in the political system — would be called a raging leftist in the current extreme political climate.)

Professor Frances Fox Piven, the honorary chairperson of the official Democratic Socialists of America coalition, says Sanders “does not quite meet the definition of the term,” calling him a New Deal Democrat. Source: What does Sanders mean by ‘democratic socialism’?.

Marian Tupy, of the libertarian Cato Institute, writes in The Atlantic: “Bernie Sanders is not a socialist, but a social democrat.”
Bernie Is Not a Socialist and America Is Not Capitalist: Scandinavia is, by one measure, a freer market than the United States. Tupy writes:

Considering the negative connotations of “socialism” in America, it is a bit of a puzzle why Sanders insists on using that word. It would be much less contentious and more correct if he gave his worldview its proper name: not “democratic socialism,” which implies socialism brought about through a vote, but social democracy.

I wholeheartedly agree.

A New Yorker article on Ocasio-Cortez suggests that she calls herself a democratic socialist not because of any deep ideological commitment. Her self-appellation has “less to do with theory or ideology than with the simple fact that she kept seeing members at rallies for every cause she cares about, from the Hurricane Maria rescue effort to Black Lives Matter. She defines her politics as a struggle for ‘social, economic, and racial dignity.'”

That doesn’t sound like socialism to me.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, distorted with embossing via gimp

According to Wikipedia:

Democratic socialism is a political philosophy that advocates political democracy alongside social ownership of the means of production[1] with an emphasis on self-management and/or democratic management of economic institutions within market socialism or decentralized and participatory planned economy.[2] Democratic socialists hold that capitalism is inherently incompatible with the democratic values of liberty, equality and solidarity; and that these ideals can only be achieved through the realization of a socialist society. Democratic socialism can be supportive of either revolutionary or reformist politics as a means to establish socialism.[3]

So, democratic socialism is still a form of socialism. Adherents want social ownership of the means of production.  Such ideology is out of the mainstream in America, and adherents are susceptible to criticism and ridicule.

This NPR article paints a mostly radical (i.e., accurate) picture of democratic socialism: What You Need To Know About The Democratic Socialists Of America.

This webpage What is Democratic Socialism Q & A by the (Young) Democratic Socialists of America has clear explanations of what they believe.

Most progressives are social democrats: they are not completely opposed to private wealth and corporations. They just want private wealth to be adequately taxed, regulated, and counter-balanced by a robust social safety net, for the sake of the common good.   Think FDR, Robert Kennedy, and Dennis Kucinich, not Eugene Debs.   Think the mixed Nordic model, not democratic socialism.

Social democracy is apparently the goal of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, and, I’m sure it’s the goal of most of the millions of followers of Sanders.

Words matter.

Some supporters of democratic socialism describe it in a way that makes it seem compatible with private ownership and capitalism. For example, I saw this meme image on facebook:

Description of Democratic Socialism that makes it look compatible with capitalism

From what have gathered, the description in the image above is inaccurate. The image describes social democracy.  Democratic socialism is opposed to private ownership.

I have no problem with people who are really socialists calling themselves socialists. I do have a problem with sloppy language that can harm the Left.

For heaven’s sake, and for the sake of the progressive movement, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez should call themselves what they are: social democrats!


Choose your battles wisely

I saw a facebook post that was encouraging overturning of I-200 (the voter-approved initiative which prohibits affirmative action and similar racial preferences). I support over-turning I-200 but that’s not my highest priority. My highest priorities are economic inequality and environmental justice.

As I commented on the post, many people think the bill is of mixed benefit, all things considered. Specifically, overturning I-200 risks alienating some voters who progressives need on other issues. I know a Chinese lady who voted for Trump because, she said, her son was at a disadvantage getting into an Ivy League school because of affirmative action. I don’t think she is a racist.

Do we fight about identity politics? Or do we fight about economic and environmental justice? Or both?

Our resources and political capital are limited. So, yes, I support overturning I-200. Given a choice between spending political capital on that bill and spending it on other issues, what’s the best choice?

We have legalized marijuana and gay marriage — which are good to have. But Washington State have the most regressive tax system in the nation, and I want our legislators to tackle that issue, which is a foundation for so much more that we want: education, public transit, an adequate social safety net, housing, environmental stewardship, and guaranteed health care for all.

Origins and purpose of some progressive advocacy groups

When presidential campaigns have done strong issue advocacy, they have often continued on after the campaigns themselves are over. Pick a few to get involved with now.

Rainbow Coalition
The granddaddy of them all, the Rainbow Coalition grew out of the 1984 Jesse Jackson presidential campaign, back when your only organizing tools were direct mail and making expensive long distance phone calls. In 1996, Jackson merged the coalition with Operation PUSH, the social justice coalition which he had founded in 1971.

Progressive Democrats of America
PDA grew our of the 2004 presidential campaign of Dennis Kucinich. The organization endorses candidates as well as working on the main issues of healthcare as a human right, passing the Equal Rights Amendment, ending corporate rule, stopping climate change, election integrity, ending wars and occupations, stopping the Trans Pacific Partnership pro-corporate agenda, and general economic and social justice issues.

Democracy for America
DFA grew out of the 2004 presidential campaign of Howard Dean–originally Dean For America. Howard has not actually been involved–the organization is run by his brother, Jim Dean.

Organizing for American/Organizing for Action
Originally known as Obama for America, Organizing for America, then Organizing for Action, (OFA) is a currently community organizing project of the Democratic National Committee. Initially founded after the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, OFA sought to mobilize supporters in favor of Obama’s legislative priorities, particularly health care reform. After 2010, it became the grassroots arm of Obama for America. After Obama’s second inauguration, it was reorganized again as Organizing for Action and returned to its previous mission of organizing around the President’s agenda. It has since turned into a hub of the Democratic protest movement.

Our Revolution
Our Revolution grew out of the 2016 presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. It backs local candidates as well as doing issue organizing.

Sanders Institute
The Sanders Institute was founded by Jane O’Meara Sanders, and works on economic, environmental, racial, and social justice issues.

Onward together
Hillary Clinton co-founded the organization in May of 2017 with Howard Dean and is the CEO. In August 2017 they had hired Emmy Ruiz and Adam Parkhomenko as consultants. Both Ruiz and Parkhomenko were members of Clinton’s 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns. They don’t yet have an issues page.

In 2016, we have seen something new–organizations devoted to contesting local and congressional elections.

This group did not grow out of a campaign, but was founded by a group of former congressional staffers with the purpose of putting pressure in individual members of Congress to fight Trump’s agenda and advocate for progressive issues. There are thousands of local chapters.

Brand New Congress
Brand New Congress was originally started by a group of volunteers and staffers from the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. The group is non-partisan, and will back Republicans who agree with its agenda, as well as Democrats and third party candidates.

Justice Democrats
Justice Democrats was created by Cenk Uygur, CEO of The Young Turks, Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk and Zack Exley and Saikat Chakrabarti. Zack and Saikat are former Bernie Sanders campaign staffers.
Justice Democrats all pledge to:
• Create a universal, Medicare-for-all health care system
• Raise the minimum wage to $15 / hour and tie it to inflation
• Make public colleges and trade schools free
• Call for a constitutional amendment to get rid of money in politics once and for all
• Take no corporate PAC money or corporate lobbyist money

Also, urge your progressive state legislators to get involved with State Innovation Exchange
SiX supports state legislators who seek to strengthen democracy, fight for working families, defend civil rights and liberties, and protect the environment. We do this through training, emphasizing leadership development, amplifying legislators’ voices, and forging strategic alliances between our legislative network and grassroots movements.

Review of Martin Nowak's Super Cooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed

How can cooperation emerge in a world of selfish individuals ruled by a Darwinian competition for survival?

This is the question that Martin Nowak, Professor of Mathematics and Biology at Harvard University, discusses in Super Cooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed.

Nowak and his collaborators have published a series of articles in major scientific journals that give partial answers to this question. The book provides a gentle overview of the technical results, with frequent comments about the implications for politics and economics. For example, Nowak repeatedly mentions climate change as an example of something requiring cooperation among humans.

The hope is that if we understand, mathematically, how cooperation emerges, we can better design policies and structures to promote cooperation and deter selfishness.

I propose that “natural cooperation” be included as a fundamental principle to bolster those laid down by Darwin. Cooperation can draw living matter upwards to higher levels of organization… Cooperation makes evolution constructive and open-ended.

Super Cooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed

The book has a few simple mathematical formulas, but the educated layman should be able to understand the gist of the arguments, thanks to generous use of example, analogy and simplification. Indeed, the book’s readability benefits from the aid of Roger Highfield, an author of popular science books, who helped Nowak with the writing.

Darwinian evolution is based on competition for survival, for resources, and for mates. Winners reproduce, losers leave few offspring. Due to mutations, individuals vary in their fitness. Over many generations, fitter (configurations of) genes proliferate, while weaker ones disappear.

In fact, fitness is defined in terms of ability to reproduce, so the fact that fitter individuals reproduce is something of a tautology.

Similarly to evolution, in an economy, people often act selfishly, trying to get paid as much as possible for what they sell, whether goods or their services, and trying to pay as little as possible for what they buy.

It would appear that cooperation is difficult to explain in a pure, evolution-based model or in a selfish profit-based economy. You’d expect that selfishness would always win out. But it’s clear that cooperation is common, both among non-human animals and among humans.

The basic reason is that, in the long run being nice pays off, for you or for your children, kin, or neighbors.

In the context of this book, cooperation basically means: an individual is willing to sacrifice some short-term benefit in exchange for a longer-term reward, either for itself or for related individuals (e.g., children or kin or members of the same group). In other words, cooperation is a form of reciprocity, or reciprocal altruism. This sense of cooperation isn’t as pristine or as self-sacrificing as some religious traditions’ ideals of pure selfless love. But even Christianity relies on a promise of reward and punishment in the afterlife to motivate moral behavior.

Albert Einstein once said, “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”

Unfortunately, from the point of view of biology, all we seem to have is punishment and reward, where reward means reproductive fitness: produce descendants who survive and who likewise reproduce. (It is not sufficient to have children: if your kids are too weak to survive, or if they don’t reproduce, your reproductive fitness isn’t really high.)

Yet the bearer of fitness (the entity getting the reward or punishment and that gets to reproduce) isn’t necessarily the individual of a species. Richard Dawkins famously suggests that the unit of competition and survival may be the gene: animals exist to promote the interests of their genes, not the other way around. Moreover, genes, as well as gene networks, span individuals and species.

There are also theories which say the unit of the reward is the group: related kin, or cooperating subgroups, or (at a higher level) cooperating species who live in symbiosis with one another.

Indeed, group-based reciprocity seems to be the essence of cooperation.

We are all in it together.

We are interdependent.

Nowak thinks cooperation, and not just competition, is a fundamental force in evolution.

I have argued that evolution “needs” cooperation if she is to construct new levels of organization, driving genes to collaborate in chromosomes, chromosomes to collaborate in genomes, genomes to collaborate in cells, cells to collaborate in more complex cells, complex cells to collaborate in bodies, and bodies to collaborate in societies.

A set of genes working together is an example of cooperation. And in the primordial soup, sets of cooperating chemical reactions led to the origins of life.

Within biology, there have been attempts to explain cooperation in terms of kin selection (in which an individual is willing to sacrifice itself to aid close relatives who share many genes with it). The social insects are prime examples of cooperators; the worker ants who build and defend the nest are closely related to the queen.

A related notion is group selection (aka multi-level selection), according to which groups which are more fit (e.g., due to being better cooperators) out-compete groups which are less fit.

The idea of group selection seems intuitively correct, and Darwin was aware of the role of cooperation in evolution and of the apparent presence of group selection, both in biology and in culture (where ideas or what are now called “memes” reproduce).

But there are heated disagreements among professional biologists about whether the phenomenon of group selection really occurs and about the extent to which it occurs. Richard Dawkins has famously ridiculed both the idea and the biologists who support it. Nowak seems to be among the latter group.

Examples of cooperation among humans include: lending a cup of sugar to a neighbor, taking the bus instead of driving the car, paying taxes instead of cheating, contributing to the donation plate, bringing in your neighbors’ and garbage bins from the curb, as well as more dramatic examples such as risking your life to safe someone who has fallen onto train tracks. Most parents would instinctively risk their lives to save the lives of their (small) children.

In the mathematical and computer models of cooperation, various individuals interact with other individuals, either in a well-mixed pool; in a network of connections such as on social networks; in various sets of interests groups; or on a grid. Whenever you interact with another individual, each of you decides whether to cooperate or whether you will defect (be selfish). You are rewarded or punished accordingly.

Mathematically, cooperation is formalized in the form of such a two person game. The standard game of this sort is is called The Prisoner’s Dilemma.  It models the situation where two prisoners who have been arrested by the police and are being interrogated separately. Each prisoner gets to choose, independently, whether to cooperate (keep his mouth shut and deny the crime) or defect (accuse his partner of the crime). If they both cooperate they each get only one year in prison on a lesser charge, because the police have insufficient evidence. If they both defect, they each get two years in prison. If one person cooperates with his partner and the other person defects, then the first person (the cooperator) gets three years in prison and the second person (the defector) gets off free.

From the point of view of each prisoner, it seems the smartest thing to do is defect.

Suppose the other person cooperates and stays mum. Then you should defect, because you get off free.

On the other hand, suppose the other person defects and accuses you of the crime, then you better defect too. For if you cooperate with your partner, you get three years in prison, whereas if you defect you get just two years in prison.

What could prevent defection is loyalty, or the knowledge that in the future, after you’re both out of prison, the other person could punish you. Likewise, in a future similar situation, where cooperation might help he will remember your betrayal.

The tragedy of the commons is a similar scenario.

In the more general game, where rewards and punishments can take the form of money or some other outcome, there are likewise four possible outcomes: Cooperate-Cooperate, Cooperate-Defect, Defect-Cooperate, and Defect-Defect. Each outcome has a (possibly different) payoff for each of you. If you both cooperate, you both get the same reward R for cooperating. If one person cooperates but the other person defects, the first person is punished (S for Sucker) bad but the other person wins a big reward (T for Temptation) If you both defect, you’re both punished slightly (P). Depending on the relative values of P,R, S, and T, and on the structure of interactions — specifically, whether you can learn about the reputation of the person you’re interacting with — cooperation may or may not emerge.The standard Prisoner’s Dilemma game has

T > R > P > S.

Yet cooperation can emerge. This result is non-intuitive, because given the inequalities above, the values P, R, S, and T guarantee that in the short-term the smartest thing to do is to defect. Here’s why. Your opponent is either going to cooperate or defect (and you won’t know which he does til after you make your move).

Assume he cooperates. Then you can win big by defecting. Here’s why. If you cooperate, you get only R. But if you defect, you get T and T>R. So, it seems you should defect.

Likewise assume he defects. Then you better defect too, because if you cooperate, then you’ll get only S, but if you defect you’ll get P, and P>S.

So in either case, the best thing to do, in the short run, is to defect.

But in a community of people playing the game repeatedly, there are benefits from cooperation. A group of cooperating individuals will have a higher fitness (reward) than a group of turncoat defectors, because R>P.

If the last time I interacted with you, you cooperated, and if I remember that, I can try cooperating again, in the hopes that you will reciprocate.

So in the presence of repeated interactions, and memory, cooperation can emerge.

Cooperators are rewarded with help from other cooperators. Defectors are punished by future defection. If cooperators gain a benefit as a group that is unavailable to defectors, then cooperation can flourish. But cooperation is always susceptible to exploitation by defectors: a population of trusting cooperators can be taken advantage of by a few defectors.  Such invasions by defectors are visible in computer simulations.

Cancerous cells can be modeled as defectors.  So can tax dodgers and alleged welfare moms who drive Mercedes.

Using the formalization of Prisoner’s Dilemma, Nowak was able to prove mathematical theorems, and run computer simulations, that show under what conditions cooperation can flourish.

He showed that cooperation emerges if you meet the other person often enough in the future and can remember the previous interactions, so you can punish or reward him. It also helps if people have a reputation that is is public knowledge or that is shared between individuals (indirect reciprocity). Furthermore, it helps if people are organized into small groups; this allows cooperators to shield themselves from being taken of advantage of by nasty defectors; large groups are difficult to police. Finally, it helps if it’s possible to move between groups, to escape defectors.

Even if we can explain cooperation biologically, in terms of kin selection, or group selection, there is still a problem: how inclusive is the in-group?  Does it include people of a different race or nationality? How about individuals of a different species?

As indicated above, the biologically inspired notion of cooperation is somewhat unsatisfying, because it still relies on a form of reciprocity, albeit at the group level. If someone chooses not to identify with the group, then why should they cooperate?

Indeed, conservatives are the consummate defectors: individualists who detest and ridicule cooperation and community endeavors, at least by governments. Conservatives detest the United Nations. They detest the International Court of Law.  Conservatives avoid paying taxes,  but typically like spending money on wars, both domestic (e.g., the wasteful and disastrous war on drugs) and foreign.  Conservatives oppose laws and regulatory agencies that deter their antisocial behavior. They under-fund the IRS, encouraging tax cheats. And they under-fund Congressional staff, so that lawmakers are dependent on lobbyists and outside groups for information.

Like parasites, conservatives destroy the body politic, all in the name of “freedom.”

Conservatives and their ideology can be defeated only when enough people wake up to the lies and the half-truths behind their movement,  and when enough people realize that we’d be better off in the long run by cooperating on building a government that works for everyone, that makes sound environmental, health, and safety policies, and that makes sure tax cheats pay their fair share.

The Three Splits on the Left

There are three splits on the left: 1. The Democrats are split from the Socialists, Greens,Anarchists and others on the far left, and (2) Within the Democratic Party, the progressive Dems and Berniecrats are split from the mainstream, corporate Dems, and (3) Within the far left, the various factions rarely agree and often have weird rules about needing consensus.

Why can’t groups on the left cooperate and horse trade on various issues?

Highly educated people are liberal

Pew Research reports:

A Wider Ideological Gap Between More and Less Educated Adults

Political polarization update

Two years ago, Pew Research Center found that Republicans and Democrats were more divided along ideological lines than at any point in the previous two decades. But growing ideological distance is not confined to partisanship. There are also growing ideological divisions along educational and generational lines.

4-22-2016_01Highly educated adults – particularly those who have attended graduate school – are far more likely than those with less education to take predominantly liberal positions across a range of political values. And these differences have increased over the past two decades.

More than half of those with postgraduate experience (54%) have either consistently liberal political values (31%) or mostly liberal values (23%), based on an analysis of their opinions about the role and performance of government, social issues, the environment and other topics. Fewer than half as many postgrads – roughly 12% of the public in 2015– have either consistently conservative (10%) or mostly conservative (14%) values. About one-in-five (22%) express a mix of liberal and conservative opinions.

Among adults who have completed college but have not attended graduate school (approximately 16% of the public), 44% have consistently or mostly liberal political values, while 29% have at least mostly conservative values; 27% have mixed ideological views.

By contrast, among the majority of adults who do not have a college degree (72% of the public in 2015), far fewer express liberal opinions. About a third of those who have some college experience but do not have a bachelor’s degree (36%) have consistently liberal or mostly liberal political values, as do just 26% of those with no more than a high school degree. Roughly a quarter in each of these groups (28% of those with some college experience, 26% of those with no more than a high school education) have consistently conservative or mostly conservative values.

….. See http://www.people-press.org/2016/04/26/a-wider-ideological-gap-between-more-and-less-educated-adults/

Do liberals suffer more than conservatives?

I finished Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom.

All the relationships in the novel (between lovers, between parents and kids, between siblings, and between friends) were screwed up. People fought, competed, and betrayed each other. People yearned to be free of dysfunctional relationships.

Franzen showed how dysfunction was passed down through generations. He described the struggles and mistakes of the parents and grandparents of the main characters.

People made stupid choices when young (about school, about roommates, and about lovers) and had to live with the consequences for years afterwards.

Everyone was neurotic, selfish and greedy.

Just like real life, I thought.

I mentioned the open-eyed cynicism/realism of the novel to some coworkers. One coworker said, “Yeah, this world is fallen.” Another said, “I’m sick of my husband.” I responded, “Too much information!”

For many people, work is the sanest part of their lives. But some workplaces are war zones too, and many managers make bad decisions.

To some extent, the novel was a glorified soap opera. I cringed at the mistakes the characters made in their lives. But the central characters changed over time, and in the end love and friendship triumphed — sortof. The characters were imperfect but they weren’t sadistic and they did have some tender feelings.

A common theme in the novel is the differences in outlook between conservatives and liberals: how political views affect personal lives. Franzen — like the main characters in the novel — is clearly a liberal, but it seems that the liberals suffer more than the conservatives.

This leads me to suggest a research topic: do liberals suffer more than conservatives?

Perhaps liberals suffer more than conservatives because (1) liberals have a conscience; (2) Liberals live in reality, unlike conservatives who live in a fantasy land, and (3) liberals typically lack religious faith, which can be a solace. Perhaps liberals are more neurotic. Are they more often single?