17 votes

Biden accuses Trump and his allies of holding ‘a dagger at the throat of America’

26 comments

  1. [20]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [18]
      Jakobeha
      Link Parent
      I'm basically anti-Trump, pro-government, and anti-violence. But if the government is taken over by an evil power and violence is the only way to prevent mass murder -- this is not a good survey...

      About 1 in 3 Americans now believe that "violence against the government can at times be justified"

      I'm basically anti-Trump, pro-government, and anti-violence. But if the government is taken over by an evil power and violence is the only way to prevent mass murder -- this is not a good survey question.

      21 votes
      1. [15]
        PapaNachos
        Link Parent
        The United States was founded by violence against the government. Anyone who doesn't think it can be justified at times is essentially implying that the US should still be a colony. So yeah, bad...

        The United States was founded by violence against the government. Anyone who doesn't think it can be justified at times is essentially implying that the US should still be a colony.

        So yeah, bad question

        19 votes
        1. [7]
          skybrian
          Link Parent
          Well, yes, but then why did 2 of 3 say it can never be justified? Maybe because people can interpret survey questions however they like. The number of people thinking about the American Revolution...

          Well, yes, but then why did 2 of 3 say it can never be justified?

          Maybe because people can interpret survey questions however they like. The number of people thinking about the American Revolution is unknown. We can't ask "what did you mean by your answer?"

          8 votes
          1. [6]
            PapaNachos
            Link Parent
            That's basically my point about why it's a bad question, it doesn't hold up to scrutiny and is really just there to sound scary. I don't have data on it, but I would bet literally any amount of...

            That's basically my point about why it's a bad question, it doesn't hold up to scrutiny and is really just there to sound scary.

            I don't have data on it, but I would bet literally any amount of money that 2/3 of the country doesn't think the revolutionary war was some kind of moral failing.

            Which indicates the answer we're getting from the question is not in line with what people actually believe. So it shouldn't be taken at face value.

            Or I have horribly underestimated the number of US citizens that think we would be better off as British colonists. Technically that's possible.

            15 votes
            1. [5]
              meff
              Link Parent
              This feels pedantic to me. The American revolution that birthed the modern concept of Democracy produced a government centered around circumscribing the rights of the government against its people...

              This feels pedantic to me. The American revolution that birthed the modern concept of Democracy produced a government centered around circumscribing the rights of the government against its people and, importantly, allowing citizens to petition the government for redress. It is the ability for democracies to change with the input of its citizens (where more authoritarian systems cannot, say in the hybrid regime style of PAP's Singapore or the more classically authoritarian post-Soviet Turkmenistan) that makes them robust. Understandably, if you're living in a relatively democratic country and given this question, one can make the inference that political violence is using violence to sidestep democratic procedures in your country for a political cause. You're right that there's vagary in the question and that perhaps adding the qualifiers about the democratic process would help, but I think the question is fine as is.

              3 votes
              1. [4]
                HotPants
                Link Parent
                I am probably reading way to much into your comment, but you seem to imply there were no modern democracies prior to the American revolution. There were lots of democracies prior to the American...

                The American revolution that birthed the modern concept of Democracy produced a government centered around circumscribing the rights of the government against its people and, importantly, allowing citizens to petition the government for redress.

                I am probably reading way to much into your comment, but you seem to imply there were no modern democracies prior to the American revolution.

                There were lots of democracies prior to the American Revolution.

                Specifically, the right to petition the government for redress came from The English Bill of Rights.

                I think the major innovation America birthed was a democracy based on a written constitution.

                Which is still fairly unique. I think most other democracies rely more on conventions and laws that can more easily be overturned.

                It is the ability for democracies to change with the input of its citizens ... that makes them robust.

                Curiously, I think the written constitution makes it harder to make fundamental changes based on the input of citizens.

                Many democracies have moved to proportional voting, with a simple majority vote from their citizens.

                America does not allow citizens to have direct input on constitutional amendments. Due to a decision made by the ruling class in America in 1787.

                And while the American Constitution is delightfully succinct, it's open to interpretations that make the current system seem less robust than other democracies. Citizens United is an egregious example, as there used to be at least some transparency on who was buying American politicians.

                I think that is the whole point of the original article. Not that the American version of democracy is more modern and more robust. But that when the government stops representing the people, the people stand up and represent themselves. And that until recently, most Americans never thought that would ever be required again, because they had so much faith in the constitution.

                5 votes
                1. [3]
                  meff
                  Link Parent
                  That's what I meant by "modern Democracy". I probably am letting the word "modern" here do too much work, but I couldn't really find a more succinct way to make that concept come across. I'll be a...

                  I think the major innovation America birthed was a democracy based on a written constitution.

                  Which is still fairly unique. I think most other democracies rely more on conventions and laws that can more easily be overturned.

                  That's what I meant by "modern Democracy". I probably am letting the word "modern" here do too much work, but I couldn't really find a more succinct way to make that concept come across. I'll be a bit more careful next time (and thanks for the feedback for sure.) I understand that the British Bill of Rights, and its intellectual predecssor the Magna Carta, did introduce the concept of circumscribing the government. I also don't mean to imply at all that America was the sole author of Democracy and even if America produced a Constitutional Democracy, like anything in the Great Conversation these ideas came from other Enlightenment-era thinkers as well (most of whom were not in the Americas or not even British). I don't mean to imply in some American Exceptionalist way that this was a solely American invention.

                  I think that is the whole point of the original article. Not that the American version of democracy is more modern and more robust. But that when the government stops representing the people, the people stand up and represent themselves. And that until recently, most Americans never thought that would ever be required again, because they had so much faith in the constitution.

                  Most definitely. I just meant to clarify that, in America and in the context of the survey question, that political violence was used to indicate a lack of faith in the Constitution and thus the American democratic project as a whole. I felt that the question, while somewhat vague, was definitely good enough to get reasonable responses from the polled polity.

                  3 votes
                  1. [2]
                    HotPants
                    Link Parent
                    You know, even four years ago I would have said the American version of democracy with a written constitution was more modern and robust. My thinking is rapidly evolving, especially in the context...

                    I'll be a bit more careful next time

                    You know, even four years ago I would have said the American version of democracy with a written constitution was more modern and robust.

                    My thinking is rapidly evolving, especially in the context of these threads, so I didn't mean to nit pick on a few words.

                    Those few words made me realize how weird it is that two-thirds of the ruling class in 1788 can bind the general population so effectively. And how easy it is for life time judicial appointees to interpret those words however they see fit. And how life time judicial appointees are largely determined not by a popular vote, but votes by states. Which is unlike any other democracy, where a simple majority can rewrite the rules.

                    So thank you for your comment.

                    5 votes
                    1. meff
                      Link Parent
                      I try to remember that the American Founding Fathers were really just winging it. Today we have mathematical frameworks which show that First-Past-the-Post elections degenerate into the balkanized...

                      Those few words made me realize how weird it is that two-thirds of the ruling class in 1788 can bind the general population so effectively. And how easy it is for life time judicial appointees to interpret those words however they see fit. And how life time judicial appointees are largely determined not by a popular vote, but votes by states. Which is unlike any other democracy, where a simple majority can rewrite the rules.

                      I try to remember that the American Founding Fathers were really just winging it. Today we have mathematical frameworks which show that First-Past-the-Post elections degenerate into the balkanized two-party system that we are stuck with today. We know that using electors to separate citizens from their votes creates a torrid set of byzantine politics around seat allocation. The founders were working within the limitations of their times and knowledge and biases.

                      (Which is why I've never been a traditionalist when it comes to the Constitution. The state of knowledge changes all the time. Abiding by the Constitution as was created 300 years ago seems silly.)

                      5 votes
        2. [5]
          hungariantoast
          Link Parent
          I don't think "disagreeing with the American Revolutionary War" implies that someone thinks "the United States should still be a colony", simply because every other major colony of the British...

          I don't think "disagreeing with the American Revolutionary War" implies that someone thinks "the United States should still be a colony", simply because every other major colony of the British Empire is and has been an independent state for several decades now. It's a very basic thing to fathom that, without the American Revolutionary War, the United States still could have gained independence and ended up vastly similar to what it is today.[1]

          It's an almost absurd idea for most Americans to consider, given the degree of gaslighting and revisionism the average person is subjected to every single day of their miserable lives, but maybe the American Revolutionary War wasn't justified? Maybe the "tyranny" the colonies faced at the hands of the British government (not King George) actually was not that bad for the average person? Perhaps it was really a major issue only for a specific caste of citizen?

          Just to be clear, I'm not really picking a side here on the question of "was the American Revolutionary War justified". On one hand violence is generally just really shitty, because after violence is initiated it can be very difficult to be unaffected by, regardless of your role in it.

          At the same time, I also think populations have the right to determine their own governance, at least as far as those populations are the "right people". So, conservatives in Oregon wanting to secede and join a neighboring state, or form their own state, for their own typically awful reasons, can get fucked. Regular people wanting to, for instance, secede El Paso Country from Texas to New Mexico for the medical right of abortion? I'm down for that. I don't believe in treating "both sides" equally.

          So I don't know, I think it's an interesting thing to think about, whether the American Revolutionary War was actually justified, but I think it's something the average American has an extremely difficult time engaging with, because as an idea it is utterly antithetical to the founding mythology of the state, the root of everything that supposedly makes the country what it is.


          1. I'd personally bet "amicable independence" comes during or immediately after the Napoleonic Wars, and the territorial gains of the Louisiana Purchase are basically secured through warfare rather than trade. Territorial gains in Florida, and those at the expense of Mexico, probably end up the same. The only things I think might turn out very differently are the border with Canada, the states of Alaska and Hawaii, and gains made at the expense of the Spanish at the end of the nineteenth century. I'm not even going to speculate about the Civil War.
          4 votes
          1. [4]
            PapaNachos
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            It's not disagreeing with the revolutionary war that I think implies that the US should still be a colony, so much as believing that violence against the government is never justified. I don't see...

            It's not disagreeing with the revolutionary war that I think implies that the US should still be a colony, so much as believing that violence against the government is never justified. I don't see how someone can say violence is never justified while simultaneously thinking a violent revolution was a good thing. It seems hypocritical to me.

            And to be clear I'm coming from the perspective of someone who thinks that violence is sometimes justified as a means of creating political change. It comes with a high price, because it can cause a lot of collateral damage and potentially make things a whole lot worse. But historically it's one of the prime ways that governments rise and fall. It's efficacy can't really be disputed.

            I think a lot of people have a knee-jerk reaction to denounce violence in all forms. And that's probably a good thing. But my point was that I don't think those beliefs actually hold up to even casual scrutiny. And I don't think the question being asked really engages with that nuance.

            As far as my personal views on whether the revolutionary war was justified, you're right that it was complicated. On one hand the promise of equality and freedom that the founding fathers laid out was a lie from the beginning. But on the other hand both monarchy and imperialism can go die in a fire. Like you said, people have the right to self determination.

            Edit: The question doesn't distinguish between "There is a point where eventually violence is necessary to ensure the government represents the will of the people" and "IMMA GET MAH GUNN AN SHOOT SUM LIBS". Which uh... seems like an important distinction.

            2 votes
            1. [3]
              hungariantoast
              Link Parent
              I feel like there is some confusion here because the way I was approaching this, "disagreeing with the American Revolutionary War" and "believing that violence against the government is never...

              It's not disagreeing with the revolutionary war that I think implies that the US should still be a colony, so much as believing that violence against the government is never justified

              I feel like there is some confusion here because the way I was approaching this, "disagreeing with the American Revolutionary War" and "believing that violence against the government is never justified", are basically the same thing. One belief being the logical extension of another. But yeah other than that I generally agree with you.

              Also, if I can just indulge in a bit of alternate history for a second, what would a non-violent, successful American Revolution looked like? The American Revolution and the American Revolutionary War were two different things, and I think it'd be really fascinating to read a book that explores an alternate timeline where independence was achieved peacefully.

              1. [2]
                Gaywallet
                Link Parent
                I've had this thought kicking around in my head for a few years now. If California, as a whole, decided to stop paying federal taxes, what could be done? Well the first logical step for the...

                Also, if I can just indulge in a bit of alternate history for a second, what would a non-violent, successful American Revolution looked like? The American Revolution and the American Revolutionary War were two different things, and I think it'd be really fascinating to read a book that explores an alternate timeline where independence was achieved peacefully.

                I've had this thought kicking around in my head for a few years now. If California, as a whole, decided to stop paying federal taxes, what could be done? Well the first logical step for the government would be to pursue alternative means for those taxes - they might fine or sue companies if they paid workers without also subjecting that income to federal taxes. Suddenly the federal government has to sue tens of thousands of companies and increase their bookkeeping potential many-fold. For a state like California the potential wealth they'd be losing out on would make sense to potentially pursue, but would the republican states be willing to scale up the number of accountants and lawyers to sue California for this money? And what happens if the federal court finds in favor of the federal government, but some of the companies house their money in California? I think things get a lot more complicated. Furthermore, if a state such as California doesn't actively push the federal government out of the state and allows it to continue to operate buildings, a non-violent approach so to speak, what recourse does the federal government have? Do they send troops in to physically carry money out of the banks? Who's to say the banks even have any significant sum of physical money there and whether the bank would cooperate in letting the federal government know what accounts belong to their companies? Also what would happen if a state such as California immediately appealed to NATO or the EU or other transnational organizations for protection? What if they chose to be non-violent but other nations saw it as an opportunity to be violent against a country they hate with relative impunity?

                I have literally no idea how this would play out, but it's a very interesting theoretical play-space to me.

                3 votes
                1. vord
                  Link Parent
                  Basically a rent strike, but for taxes. I'd wager they'd send in the military to remove the politicians and call for special elections that will absolutely not be rigged. Maybe make some hefty...

                  If California, as a whole, decided to stop paying federal taxes, what could be done?

                  Basically a rent strike, but for taxes. I'd wager they'd send in the military to remove the politicians and call for special elections that will absolutely not be rigged.

                  Maybe make some hefty examples of some liberal hollywood types.

                  This is a fun thought experiment though.

                  3 votes
        3. NaraVara
          Link Parent
          Not really. The United States was the local governments of the colonies banding together to rebel against the imperial government of the British crown. The Continental Army was put together by a...

          Not really. The United States was the local governments of the colonies banding together to rebel against the imperial government of the British crown. The Continental Army was put together by a Continental Congress of elected officials acting as trustees of the constituencies they represented. It was emphatically not just a mob of armed yahoos revolting against the concept of there being a government.

          That also, incidentally, is what the well regulated militia qualifier in the second amendment is referring to. Again, not just having any yahoo be armed to the teeth and imposing his will by force if the political process doesn’t suit him.

          2 votes
        4. noble_pleb
          Link Parent
          Not necessary. There are Gandhians and followers of MLK (Martin Luther King) who hold the position that violence can never be justified against anyone (Govt. or otherwise), and that all protests...

          Not necessary. There are Gandhians and followers of MLK (Martin Luther King) who hold the position that violence can never be justified against anyone (Govt. or otherwise), and that all protests should be of non-violent and diplomatic means.

      2. [2]
        dubteedub
        Link Parent
        Yeah, I agree it is a pretty poorly worded question. I did find the breakdown from the Washington Post on it more interesting though to dig into the specific reasonsings. No real surprises here....
        • Exemplary

        Yeah, I agree it is a pretty poorly worded question. I did find the breakdown from the Washington Post on it more interesting though to dig into the specific reasonsings.

        Acceptance of violence against the government was higher among men, younger adults and those with college degrees. There was also a racial gap, with 40 percent of White Americans saying such violence can be justified, compared with 18 percent of Black Americans.

        No real surprises here. White men have absolutely been the ones on the cutting edge of political violence in the United States over the last several years.

        People’s reasoning for what they considered acceptable violence against the government varied, from what they considered to be overreaching coronavirus restrictions, to the disenfranchisement of minority voters, to the oppression of Americans. Responses to an open-ended question on the survey about hypothetical justifications included repeated mentions of “autocracy,” “tyranny,” “corruption” and a loss of freedoms.

        I would certainly be interested in a more thorough breakdown for the differences and volume of opinions here that lean more far-right vs. left. I would imagine the anti-covid lockdown/qanon/J6/domestic terrorism crowd make up more of this group than others. The disenfranchisement of minority angle here feels like a throwaway whataboutism to make this a "both sides bad" thing.

        6 votes
        1. HotPants
          Link Parent
          That is a great article! The question is open to interpretation, but was worded clearly enough for most Americans to agree on the same answer back in 1995. Only ten percent of Americans who...

          That is a great article!

          The question is open to interpretation, but was worded clearly enough for most Americans to agree on the same answer back in 1995.

          Only ten percent of Americans who answered yes to the question back in 1995 interpreted it to mean "can you think of any justification for citizens to take violent action against any government"?

          Most people probably still interpret the question the same way. "Is it ever possible for the institutions of democracy break down enough in America to justify violence by citizens against the American Government?"

          Since 1995, the answer has become increasingly yes.

          3 votes
    2. AugustusFerdinand
      Link Parent
      For those curious, the three states that have no arrests (so far) related to the attempted coup are Vermont, Wyoming, and North Dakota. Source. Arrests by state, behind spoiler because long State...

      The Justice Department has arrested 725 people in connection to the riots in nearly all 50 states

      For those curious, the three states that have no arrests (so far) related to the attempted coup are Vermont, Wyoming, and North Dakota. Source.

      Arrests by state, behind spoiler because long
      State Total Arrests
      Florida 79
      Pennsylvania 64
      Texas 63
      New York 50
      California 49
      Ohio 37
      Virginia 32
      Illinois 21
      New Jersey 20
      Missouri 18
      Georgia 18
      Kentucky 17
      Tennessee 17
      Maryland 16
      Michigan 15
      North Carolina 14
      Colorado 12
      Alabama 12
      South Carolina 10
      Washington 9
      Minnesota 8
      Indiana 8
      Utah 8
      Kansas 8
      Arizona 7
      Oklahoma 7
      Iowa 6
      Idaho 6
      West Virginia 5
      Massachusetts 5
      Montana 5
      Oregon 5
      Connecticut 5
      Wisconsin 5
      New Mexico 4
      Nevada 4
      Mississippi 3
      Arkansas 3
      Louisiana 2
      Maine 2
      Delaware 2
      New Hampshire 2
      Rhode Island 1
      Nebraska 1
      Hawaii 1
      South Dakota 1
      Alaska 1
      DC 1
      4 votes
  2. [7]
    gkmcd
    Link
    trump is not holding the dagger. trump is the dagger, being wielded by capital.

    trump is not holding the dagger. trump is the dagger, being wielded by capital.

    4 votes
    1. [5]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      It's a terrible metaphor, but this "wielded by capital" thing doesn't make much sense. Most big corporations were either neutral or against him, and he rarely did what they wanted. (The tax cut...

      It's a terrible metaphor, but this "wielded by capital" thing doesn't make much sense. Most big corporations were either neutral or against him, and he rarely did what they wanted. (The tax cut being a major exception, but any Republican would have done that.)

      17 votes
      1. [4]
        vord
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I would like to remind everyone that almost nothing Trump did is at odds against the broader Republican platform. And that many small businesses were very pro-Trump (I can't eat at my favorite...

        he rarely did what they wanted

        I would like to remind everyone that almost nothing Trump did is at odds against the broader Republican platform. And that many small businesses were very pro-Trump (I can't eat at my favorite donut place anymore). I'd wager most big corps didn't really care about Trump outside the trade wars, and that most denouncement were probably lip service.

        He was just far less elegant about it. A sampling from Politico

        • Defunding ACA
        • Shrinking the food safety net
        • Bringing more religion into schools
        • Weaking overtime pay for "salaried" workers
        • Rolling back climate change improvements
        • Gigantic tax cuts
        • Rescinding sexual harrassment policies
        • Weakening racial discrimination policies
        • Making immigration harder
        • Loosened banking regulation
        • Stacking courts

        These have been the Republican platform for over 20 years. Probably longer, but I've witnessed that much of it personally.

        Here are some things big businesses/owners probably didn't like:

        • Making it harder to remain anonymous through shell companies
        • Getting tougher on monopolization (probably by accident)
        7 votes
        1. [3]
          skybrian
          Link Parent
          Making immigration harder is something many businesses don't like. Immigration restrictions (like a shortage of H1B's) get in the way of hiring talented workers from other countries.

          Making immigration harder is something many businesses don't like. Immigration restrictions (like a shortage of H1B's) get in the way of hiring talented workers from other countries.

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            vord
            Link Parent
            Maybe, but the main point was that Trump is not some anonomly against the broader Republican platform.

            Maybe, but the main point was that Trump is not some anonomly against the broader Republican platform.

            2 votes
            1. skybrian
              Link Parent
              Not anymore he isn't, after pushing non-Trump Republicans out for the most part.

              Not anymore he isn't, after pushing non-Trump Republicans out for the most part.

              1 vote
    2. Thrabalen
      Link Parent
      I'd say he's the hand holding the dagger (the dagger being his followers.) He wields the blade, but is in turn only a part of that which controls him.

      I'd say he's the hand holding the dagger (the dagger being his followers.) He wields the blade, but is in turn only a part of that which controls him.

      4 votes