The case for moving to a red state

Update (Dec. 23): This post quickly attracted many of the most … colorful comments in this blog’s 15-year history. My moderation queue is overflowing right now with “gas the kikes,” “[f-word] [n-words],” “race war now,” “kikes deserve to burn in hell,” “a world without [n-words],” “the day of the rope approaches,” and countless similar contributions. One commenter focused on how hilarious he found my romantic difficulties earlier in life.

The puzzle, for me, is that I’d spent years denouncing Trump’s gleeful destruction of the country that I grew up believing in, using the strongest language I could muster. So why am I only now getting all the hate-spam?

Then a possible explanation hit me: namely, the sort of person who’d leave such comments is utterly impervious to moral condemnation. The only thing such a person cares about—indeed, as it turns out, feels a volcanic need to shout down—is someone articulating an actual plausible path to removing his resentment-fueled minority from power. If this is right, then I’m proud to have hit a nerve. –SA

  1. The US is now a failed democracy, with a president who’s considering declaring martial law to avoid conceding a lost election, and with the majority of his party eager to follow him arbitrarily far into the abyss. Even assuming, as I do, that the immediate putsch will fail, the Republic will not magically return to normal.
  2. The survival of Enlightenment values on Earth now depends, in large part, on the total electoral humiliation and defeat of the forces that enabled Trump—something that the last election failed to deliver.
  3. Alas, ever since it absorbed the Southern racists in the 1960s, the Republican Party has maintained a grip on power wholly out of proportion to its numbers through anti-democratic means. The most durable of these means are built into the Constitution itself: the Electoral College, the overrepresentation of sparsely-populated rural states in the Senate, and the gerrymandering of Congressional districts. Every effort to fix these anachronisms, whether by legislation or Constitutional amendment, has been blocked for generations. It’s fantasy to imagine the beneficiaries of these unjust advantages ever voluntarily giving them up.
  4. Accordingly, the survival of the nation might come down to whether enough Americans, in deep-blue areas like California and New York and Massachusetts, are willing to pick up and move to where their votes actually count.
  5. The pandemic has awoken tens of millions of people to the actual practical feasibility of working from home or in a different time zone from their employer. The culture has finally caught up to the abridgment of distance that the Internet, smartphones, and videoconferencing achieved well over a decade ago.
  6. Still, one doesn’t expect Brooklynites to settle by the thousands on remote mountaintops. And even if they did, there are many remote mountaintops, so the transplants’ power could be diluted to near nothing. Better for the transplants to concentrate themselves in a few Schelling points: ideally, cities where they could both swing the national electoral calculus and actually want to live.
  7. There’s been a spate of recent articles about the possible exodus of tech companies and professionals from the Bay Area, because of whatever combination of sky-high rents, NIMBYism, taxes, mismanagement, wildfires, blackouts, and the pandemic having removed the once-overwhelming reasons to be in the Bay. Oft-mentioned alternatives include Miami, Denver, and of course my own adopted hometown of Austin, TX, where Elon Musk and Oracle just announced they’re moving.
  8. If you were trying to optimize your environment for urban Blue-Tribeyness—indie music, craft beer, ironic tattoos, Bernie Sanders yard signs, etc. etc.—but subject to living in an important red or purple state, where your vote could plausibly contribute to a historic political realignment of the US—then you couldn’t do much better than Austin. Where else is in the running? Atlanta, Houston, San Antonio, Pittsburgh?
  9. It’s true that Texas is the state of Ken Paxton, the corrupt and unhinged Attorney General who unsuccessfully petitioned the US Supreme Court to overturn Trump’s election loss. But it’s also the state of MD Anderson, often considered the best oncology center on earth, and of Steven Weinberg, possibly the greatest living physicist. It’s where the spike proteins of both the Pfizer and Moderna covid vaccines were developed. It’s where Sheldon Cooper grew up—alright, he’s fictional, but I’ve worked with undergrads at UT Austin who almost could’ve been Sheldon. Like the US as a whole, the state has potential.
  10. Accelerating the mass migration of blue Americans to cities like Austin isn’t only good for the country and the world. The New Yorkers and San Franciscans left behind will thank the migrants for lower rents!
  11. But won’t climate change make Texas a living hell? Alas, as recent wildfires and hurricanes remind us, there aren’t many places on earth that climate change won’t soon make various shades of hell. At least Austin, like many red locales, is far inland. For the summers, there are lots of swimming pools and lakes.
  12. If Austin gets overrun by Silicon Valley refugees, won’t they recreate whatever dysfunctional conditions caused them to flee Silicon Valley in the first place? Maybe, eventually, but it would take quite a while. One problem at a time! And the “problems of Silicon Valley” are problems most places should desperately want.
  13. Is Texas winnable—or is a blue Texas like controlled nuclear fusion, forever a decade or two in the future? Well, Trump’s 6-point margin in Texas this November, 3 points less than his margin in 2016, amounted to 630,000 votes out of 11.3 million cast. Meanwhile, net migration to Texas over the past decade included 356,000 to Austin (growing its population by 20%), 687,000 to Dallas, 603,000 to Houston, 260,000 to San Antonio. Let’s say we want two million more transplants. The question is not whether they’re going to arrive but at what rate.
  14. Can the cities of Texas accommodate two million more people? Well, traffic will get worse, rents will get higher … but the answer is an unequivocal yes. Land, Texas has.
  15. Do the tech workers who I’d like to relocate even vote blue? Given the unremitting scorn that the woke press now heaps on “racist, sexist, greedy Silicon Valley techbros,” it can be easy to forget this, but the answer to the question is: yes, overwhelmingly, they do. Mountain View, CA, for example, went 83% Biden and only 15% Trump in November.
  16. Even if everything I’ve said is obvious, in order for the Great Red-State Tech-Worker Migration happen at the rate I want, it needs to become common knowledge that it’s happening—not merely known but known to be known, and so forth. Closely related, it needs to become a serious status symbol for any blue-triber to relocate to a contested state. (“You’re moving to Georgia to help save the Republic? And you’ll be able to afford a four-bedroom house? I’m so jealous!”)
  17. This has been the real purpose of this post: to make it clear that, if you help settle the wild frontier like my family did, then a tiny bit of the unattainable coolness of a stuttering quantum complexity theory blogger/professor could rub off on you.
  18. Think about it this way. Many of our grandparents gave their lives to save the world from fascism. Would you have done the same in their place? OK now, what if you didn’t have to lose your life: you only had to live in Austin or Miami?
  19. If this post plays a role in any like-minded reader’s decision to move to Austin, then once covid is over, they should tell me to redeem a personal welcome celebration from me and Dana. We’ll throw some extra brisket on the barbie.

159 Responses to “The case for moving to a red state”

  1. Jon Awbrey Says:

    Been There, Done That

  2. tas Says:

    Since I’m not a citizen (and won’t be eligible for a while), this doesn’t apply to me. 🙂
    But I was pleased to fill out the census in April and be counted towards apportionment in a deep blue state.

  3. Shlomo Says:

    Jews like you will no doubt destroy this country.

  4. Bertie Says:

    …as time passes, ur non-tech posts get cooler

  5. Prof. David A. Edwards Says:

    I moved from NYC to Athens, Ga. Athens is a lovely, very livable community. UGA has fine research faculty. (The less said about the undergraduates the better!)

  6. Chris Cooper Says:

    Wouldn’t it be faster and more effective to find ways to channel migrants (documented and undocumented) coming across the southern border to the best cities, electorally, in red states? This new electorate is largely going to waste at present.

  7. Nate Horton Says:

    If you wanted new neighbors who liked you so badly, you could have just said that and skipped the “the country is tearing apart at the seams!” hyperventilating.

  8. Scott Says:

    “Shlomo” #3: Thank you for the vote of confidence!

  9. Art Says:

    One thing that I dislike about the academic career path: you kinda just have to move wherever the jobs are. There are only so many places one can be paid for counting things, and comparably many people looking for them.

  10. Scott Says:

    Art #9: Right, the highest impact here is for founders and CEOs of companies deciding where to (re)locate. Second is employees of Apple, Google, etc. who can choose which office to work from, or tech workers who can decide where to seek a new job. Academics like me are a distant third.

  11. g Says:

    Chris Cooper #6: Undocumented migrants don’t vote in federal elections. Nor do documented ones until they become US citizens, which takes a long time. Their children will be eligible to vote, but that takes an even longer time.

    (Maybe I’m misunderstanding something, but to me your suggestion reads more like the sort of thing Republican talk-show hosts claim Those Awful Democrats are doing than like a serious proposal.)

  12. Dionizy Says:

    I hope you realise if people from blue states will go to the red ones then maybe they will make them blue, but their home states will become red in the result. It’s like yin and yang.

  13. Scott Says:

    Dionizy #12: No, do the numbers. Of the millions of “surplus Democratic voters” in CA, NY, etc., only a small proportion will realistically move to TX or GA or FL — but a small proportion is all it would take to swing the latter.

  14. JimV Says:

    I moved from NY to Ohio, a swing state, in order to vote against Bush in 2004. I’m back in western NY though, where I have relatives. It is a Republican county, however. (They recently elected a state representative on the Republican ticket who had just been convicted of embezzlement.)

    I know there are bad Democrat politicians also. I think politics as a whole is a failed profession in the USA and elsewhere. Every day now I get 20 emails asking for money (and here I thought the election was over.). Campaign contributions seem to have become an end in themselves. We really need those unbiased AI judges and administrators.

    Meanwhile, the few politicians left whom I still believe in, such as Elizabeth Warren, all happen to be on the Democrat side. (It wasn’t always the case, but there is no place for such people within the current Republican party.)

  15. Nate Says:

    I work in Texas – it’s an insanely good deal financially. In my field, TX salaries are similar to salaries in NY/CA, but with no state income tax and cheaper rent.

  16. lewikee Says:

    Dionizy #12:

    -State A has 11 blue chips and 6 red chips (blue majority)
    -State B has 5 blue chips and 6 red chips (red majority)

    If State A moves 2 blue chips to State B, here is the result:
    -State A has 9 blue chips and 6 red chips (blue majority)
    -State B has 7 blue chips and 6 red chips (blue majority)

  17. Scott Says:

    lewikee #16: Yes, thank you for making it more explicit. 🙂

  18. MCA Says:

    Two things I’d like to point out.

    First, I doubt 16 will ever be a big motivator; few people are that selfless. What will be is something you mention in 7: cost of living and housing. A faculty from UC Berkeley gave a seminar here recently and opened with the joke “It’s always great to visit a place where it looks like they left a zero off the house prices”. My freaking grad students buy houses (admittedly with parental help for closing costs). Yes, I have to drive more, but the cost of that, even including the car, is trivial compared to the lower housing costs.

    I’d also like to make a parallel but somewhat competing pitch: Ohio. We’re a traditional swing state in which the long-term trend (since the 80’s) is much more favorable than Texas (lots of swinging, while Texas hasn’t voted blue since Carter), much more favorable climate in the face of climate change, few/no major natural disasters, and a lot of good universities.

  19. Chris Harshaw Says:

    I was born and raised in Texas and I’m (close to?) finishing up a PhD program in the northeast. Although it’s nice here, I am yearning for the yees and haws of the homeland — and of course, turning it blue would be great. I don’t need any convincing to move back, but I will send this post to my girlfriend, who might 🙂

  20. Noah Snyder Says:

    Texas only has two senators. For this to actually work you need people moving to smaller red states. Move the US Capital to Kansas. Start a second MIT campus in Montana.

  21. Raoul Ohio Says:

    While a blue Texas would be great, it does not get the advantage of small state clout in the Senate and Electoral College. I have been hoping that spectacular scenery + low population states (say Idaho, Montana, Wyoming) will be a target of a lot of people who cannot afford to live in the Bay Area anymore.

  22. fred Says:

    Following this argument all the way, we should all move to China.

  23. Scott Says:

    Noah Snyder #20 and Raoul Ohio #21: Agreed! Flipping Texas would flip 39 electoral college votes, completely changing the presidential calculus. But to flip the Senate, we’d either want to create big new blue enclaves in Montana, Wyoming, etc., or else (more plausibly?) we’d want to hold the Senate just long enough to make DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands into states.

    Maybe I should add that, after what the Republicans did with Merrick Garland and Amy Coney Barrett, and their general torching of democratic norms, there are zero moral problems with any such bare-knuckled political tactic. There’s a moral problem with not using such tactics.

  24. Paul Topping Says:

    Although Austin would be my choice if that choice was restricted to Texas, I still don’t want to move there. (I live in Long Beach, CA.) How about if we start a fund to cover moving expenses for those who are willing to make the move? They would have to stay there long enough to vote in 2022 and 2024. If they can’t make it that long, they have to reimburse us. Deal?

  25. Scott Says:

    Paul Topping #24: I love the idea of a fund to help tech professionals relocate to Texas and other purple or red states! (Slightly reminiscent of the land that was often offered to entice western settlers in the 19th century.) Of course, one couldn’t buy a concrete promise about voting behavior without running afoul of the election laws. But while IANAL, I don’t see any legal problem with financially enticing (say) tech workers, or other blue-leaning populations, to move to where their votes will count more.

    Any billionaires reading this thread? 😀

  26. Doug K Says:

    This can work. We’ve been living in Denver CO since CO was red, through purple, now blue.. and that is entirely due to population growth in Denver and the Front Range generally. Denver has always been democratic in that time. Our congressional district went from Tom Tancredo (radical right winger) to Mike Coffman (career politician, R Trump supporter and birthist) to Jason Crow (first Democrat in history for the district).

    The problem is that Denver is now LA-by-the-Rockies, bad traffic and awful drivers, aggressive and reckless.. might have to move to Iowa.

  27. me Says:

    Re 24 and 25:

    It seems there should be a more cost effective to try to create conditions that will attractive for the people you want to move to red/purple states to do so.

    Just paying people directly, in addition to being potentially legally problematic, also will result in people who were going to move anyway trying to game your system.

  28. E. Harding Says:

    Scott, have you ever considered this will make Republicans become an even more anti-democratic party? Also, it makes more sense to move to midwestern states rather than to southern ones; Republicans will simply compensate any movement of White liberals into the South with nonwhite outreach.

  29. Jon Awbrey Says:

    Born in Japan during my Dad and Mom’s tour of occupation duty at the end of WW II and settled back in the Lone Star State when Dad took his Yankee bride and the first 3 of what would come to number 6 kids home.  So I grew up in Texas — well, nobody grows up in Texas if you catch my drift — until it was time to head off to college.  Had a small scholarship to UT for Fall entry and a larger one to Michigan State but starting Summer.  Still planned on heading to Austin but a fight with my Mom — by this time my Dad had been forced to follow the oil to Kuwait and so we saw him but once a year — and the next thing you know I was packing Dad’s old Army footlocker and on the bus North.  Texas was still what they now call a Blue State when I left … I do feel partly to blame for what happened after I deprived the State of my moderating influence, but what can a poor boy do?  Lived here and there in the Midwest until Regaonomics drove me and my bride South to Galveston and UTMB.  University towns are bearable in Texas and Galveston had that distinctive Island culture going for it … but if you wander into the badlands … well, lookout.  Better times, barely, brought us back to Mich Again so don’t look for my stone on the Lone Prairie.

  30. Scott Says:

    E. Harding #28: Of course one needs to consider the other side’s potential countermoves!


    (1) At this point, it’s hard for me to see how the Republicans become an “even more anti-democratic party” (!) short of retaking Fort Sumter, which they might do anyway. In any case, how far they choose to go down the authoritarian path evidently isn’t very responsive to what our side does, given that they’ve summoned the hounds of hell in response to the milquetoast Joe Biden.

    (2) The Republican countermoves are, at any rate, much less obvious than our move. They have no hope of turning New York or California red, as we do of turning Texas blue. Their voters are less mobile than our voters. Sure, they can try to suppress votes, spread conspiracy theories in the Spanish-language press, etc etc, but those are simply the things they would’ve done anyway! So my position is: let’s make our obvious move and then see what happens!

  31. Scott Says:

    fred #22:

      Following this argument all the way, we should all move to China.

    And get zero meaningful vote, unless we become high-ranking Party members? You’re making no sense whatsoever.

  32. Scott Says:

    Chris Harshaw #19:

      I don’t need any convincing to move back [to Texas], but I will send this post to my girlfriend, who might ????

    Good luck! This is exactly the sort of situation where I’d be thrilled if this post were able to make a small difference.

  33. Scott Says:

    MCA #18: Winning back Ohio would also be great! If you had to pick one place to concentrate an influx of new knowledge workers, where would it be: Cincinnati? Cleveland? Dayton? Columbus?

  34. Scott Says:

    Just wanted to report that my comment queue has now been spammed with thoughtful missives of the sort, “gas the kikes” and “[f-word] the [n-words].”

    Is this weak evidence that the proposal explored in this post must be on the right track? 😀

  35. fred Says:

    Scott #31

    my point is that the survival of Enlightenment values on Earth is equally threatened by the number one economic power on the planet.
    If one cares about truth and free speech, there’s no denying that American corporation and most of academia are totally bowing to the might of the CCP.
    That’s gonna be much harder to crack than moving to Texas.

  36. Richard Says:

    The percentages of people in Texas voting for a democratic president over the last few elections is: 37.98 (Gore, 2000); 38.22 (Kerry, 2004); 43.68 (Obama, 2008); 41.38 (Obama, 2012); 43.12 (Clinton, 2016); 46.2 (Biden 2020). If the trend continues, it looks like it will surpass 50% around 2028.

  37. Chris Peikert Says:

    All of these reasons and more apply about equally well or even better to Michigan, and the Ann Arbor area in particular! For example, Ann Arbor has been home to two “unicorns” in the past two years (Duo and Llamasoft).

    In addition, climate change is projected to make Michigan’s weather end up in the “sweet spot”, and it has virtually no natural disasters or extreme weather anyway (unless you count cold that’s no worse than what Boston or New York City get).

  38. Jason Says:

    One problem with any place in Texas: no marijuana!

  39. Vincent Waters Says:

    Even assuming, as I do, that the immediate putsch will fail, the Republic will not magically return to normal.

    Finally, somebody gets it. The powers-that-be seem convinced that if the media pretends everything is normal, it magically will be.

    Assuming Trump does not attempt a serious coup on January 6th with his most ardent supporters gathered in the capitol (a “storm the Bastille” moment is a remote but real possibility), the state of the Republic may resemble the time period in the Roman Republic between the dictatorship of the conservative Lucius Cornelius Sulla and the rise of the progressive Julius Caesar, a time period in which the institutions feigned a return to normal, yet were dysfunctional and fragile.

    It is unlikely that Biden will be able to rule effectively. Something like 30% of voters do not believe that he was elected legitimately. The MSM’s ability to manufacture consent has been largely spent, with most Republicans now viewing the media as a hostile cabal of ruling elites. Even most Progressives view Biden as milquetoast and impotent. Republican politicians have been uttering the word “nullification”—even if Biden were to attempt to implement a legitimately Progressive agenda, the red states would simply refuse to comply. Biden, a poor politician of low intelligence and low charisma, has essentially no chance of untying the Gordian knot.

    Perhaps Trump, like Sulla, will return after a brief hiatus—the lion is not home, but the den is not safe. Sulla did his worst damage not in his first rule, but his second, wherein he was appointed dictator rei publicae constituendae and killed thousands in the proscriptions.

    Yet while you comprehend that things will not magically return to normal, you still seem to expect a normal political solution. The Right is not talking about how to win future elections. The Right is even talking about losing the Georgia election on purpose in order to permanently destroy the GOP. No, the thing normal, every-day conservatives are talking about at BBQs is increasingly:

    There is no political solution.

    This is a good place to mention again that these same people are being encouraged by Trump to meet at the Capitol on January 6th, the day and location the electoral votes are being counted. Maybe nothing will come of it.

    The problem Biden and the left as a whole faces is: How can you convince the Right that they should continue engaging in civil politics? Your “solution” achieves exactly the opposite. “Haha, you think you can win by voting? Our loyal minions go where we tell them when we tell them, you will never win another election again!”

    If your movement receives wide-spread attention and awareness, the liberals moving to red states will be treated as hostile invaders. They will likely be subjected to violence. Their presence will further delegitimize the political system in the eyes of the Right. And in the event that the proscriptions return at some point, they will among be the easiest targets. If your going to encourage your readers to face violence and possibly death in order to achieve political ends, it is only responsible to put a disclaimer to make sure they know what they’re signing up for.

  40. Herman Says:

    “If Austin gets overrun by Silicon Valley refugees, won’t they recreate whatever dysfunctional conditions caused them to flee Silicon Valley in the first place? Maybe, eventually, but it would take quite a while.”

    This is an ideology of a parasite – how about you stay in your Blue areas and fix your problems thus convincing people in Red states that Blue policies won’t destroy their way of life and win elections that way?

  41. Michel Says:

    Scott 34: In more than one way weak evidence
    1. These people follow your blog, so your opinion matters to them
    2. You obviously scare them with this idea, so they react

    Now it is time a coin a new term for your ‘reverse gerrymandering’ proposal. Moving the populations instead of the lines. Merrygandering? Gendermarrying?

  42. Scott Says:

    Michel #41: I love your word “merrygandering” and might steal it!

  43. Scott Says:

    Herman #40:

      This is an ideology of a parasite – how about you stay in your Blue areas and fix your problems thus convincing people in Red states that Blue policies won’t destroy their way of life and win elections that way?

    Tell me, did Trump leave the blue areas alone, to recruit foreign students to their universities, set their own vehicle emission standards, decide and enforce their own election laws? Did he refrain from hitting them with a punitive double tax?

    More importantly, though: as I pointed out above, the “problems” of NYC or the Bay Area are largely problems whose root cause is hyper-mega-success. E.g. something world-changingly exciting is happening, ergo everyone wants to be there, ergo the rents are too damn high. So, while I don’t deny the reality of these problems, they’re problems that most cities should want to have.

    (Incidentally, I say exactly the same thing to the many left-leaning Austinites who want all the transplants to go back to California in order to “keep Austin weird.”)

  44. Joseph Hertzlinger Says:

    OTOH, Cruz beat O’Rourke among new Texans.

    Maybe Texas is assimilating them.

  45. Scott Says:

    Vincent Waters #39:

      If your movement receives wide-spread attention and awareness, the liberals moving to red states will be treated as hostile invaders. They will likely be subjected to violence. Their presence will further delegitimize the political system in the eyes of the Right. And in the event that the proscriptions return at some point, they will among be the easiest targets. If your going to encourage your readers to face violence and possibly death in order to achieve political ends, it is only responsible to put a disclaimer to make sure they know what they’re signing up for.

    Hundreds of transplants already arrive in Texas every day. Are the right-wingers going to inquire about the voting habits of each one? Will they find out which ones came entirely for personal reasons, and which ones also liked the idea of their votes helping to turn Texas blue?

    Of course, if right-wingers attempted violence against people in Austin, Houston, etc., then they’d be dealing with the police departments of those cities.

    And just to be clear: explaining to me that 30% of the country is planning to “nullify” the elected government of the country unless it gets what it wants, and that it will respond violently if the other side lawfully, peacefully works around its antidemocratic means of retaining control, is not a way to get me to back down! Rather, it will just further harden my resolve, and I can’t imagine that I’m alone in that.

  46. Herman Says:

    “Tell me, did Trump leave the blue areas alone, to recruit foreign students to their universities, set their own vehicle emission standards, decide and enforce their own election laws? Did he refrain from hitting them with a punitive double tax?”

    With the exception of getting rid of the SALT tax deduction (which is a good thing as it raises taxes on people who can afford it i.e. the wealthy) none of those things affect local politics or local living standards. (As an aside, considering that the watchword of today is that we don’t have enough Black and Hispanic students in STEM, perhaps it’s a good thing universities are forced to be recruiting closer to home!)

    It would be one thing if SF or NYC had Singapore level services but they don’t and that’s mostly a result of local policy failures not national ones (i.e. it’s not Donald Trump’s fault that SF Board of Supervisors spent two hours at a recent meeting reviewing the environmental impact of renovating a single home

    The fact that successful Blue cities like NYC and SF have not only failed to rise to the challenges of “hyper-success” by successfully changing rules to make housing affordable AND have instituted rules that have degraded living standards for middle class citizens by tolerating rising levels of crime and disorder is a good reason for people living in Red States to oppose this sort of politically motivated migration especially if the immigrants would vote for the same local policies once they arrived.

  47. Greg Kuperberg Says:

    Actually, this particular concern works best as an argument to move to one of the battleground swing states, more than the red states per se. It’s an argument to move to North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, or Pennsylvania. For instance, the presidential election in Arizona was decided by fewer than 10,500 votes, while in Texas it was more than 631,000 votes.

    Still, I’d be just as happy for academics to waste their swing vote and get hired at UC Davis. You can make up for it by donating to political causes.

  48. Jair Says:

    Art #9: You might be surprised. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘counting things’, but I’ve found enumerative combinatorics very useful in data science work.

  49. Scott Says:

    Greg Kuperberg #47: With Texas, of course, you need to look not only at the current margin but at the rapid demographic change and existing migration patterns, which all but guarantee swing-state status within the decade absent some shocking realignment. The question is one of accelerating it. Having said that, yes, maybe shoring up the blue margins in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, etc should be an even higher priority (at any rate, it’s one that fewer people can accomplish).

  50. David Lewis Says:

    I think the bigger point of leverage for an individual is to move to a sparsely populated red state with beautiful scenery. That already worked accidentally for Colorado, and there’s no reason to think it won’t work for Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, etc. That helps not just the Electoral College, but the Senate too.

  51. Vincent Waters Says:

    Scott #45:


    Anti-democratic is importing voters from other states for the sole purpose of subverting the will of the existing citizens. Of course, it’s not about Democracy, it’s about Progress. If a majority of voters in a state cannot be persuaded, bribed, or cajoled into giving their democratic consent, perhaps they just need a little outside nudge?

    But rest assured, it is well-understood that resolves on all sides are at maximum hardness, and all are ready to use any and all means at their disposal to stop the tyranny of the other side. The other side must be stopped at all costs, personal or otherwise. After all, look at the lengths they are willing to go to. “We” have no choice but to respond by any means necessary.

    Liked many, you’ve chosen a side and hardened your resolve, and are now ready to ride or die. I certainly do not expect to change this.

    I’m just saying you’ve gotta get realistic, man. After many false starts, this is the true beginning of a new Fourth Turning. You’re not going to solve the problems of the New Era by appealing to the failed institutions and narrow solutions of the Old Era. The proposal laid out in this post is an anachronism. Have some vision, anything will soon be possible. All you can come up with is playing procedural games with state borders?


    All regimes require power and legitimacy to function. The “Biden” regime will certainly possess power, but will it have the legitimacy to match? Legitimacy is always in the eye of the beholder and changes with the era: Does Biden possess royal blood? How then can he claim to be the legitimate ruler? What happens when power and legitimacy are not in proportion to one another? Perhaps Kissinger would like to comment.

    What of the legitimacy of the 2017-2021 Trump regime? Who brought us the phrase “Not My President!” and looted McCarthy’s coffin for the phrase “Russian collusion”? What was Trump impeached for again? We can see at once that the office of the presidency itself is increasingly considered illegitimate, but why?

    It is a axiom of the modern era that the legitimacy of government rests with the consent of the governed. The belief that this consent is confirmed by a 50% + 1 vote is a more recent innovation. It is the latter facade that is crumbling. Two monkeys raping a third have achieved democratic consent, is this so much better than minority rule? Arguably it’s worse. If it’s one monkey ruling two, he had better be careful. If it’s two ruling one, the one has no recourse.

    That is not to say that 50%+1-ism (which in the modern vernacular is synonymous with “democracy”, though not historically) has no place, but its legitimacy breaks when the factions do not possess a broadly similar vision. Shiites living in an 80% Sunni state will never consider their rulers legitimate, no matter how many elections you hold. Even the Sunnis can see the farce. America has never comprehended this fact well, leading to many failed interventions and global suffering when 50%+1-ism was implemented in places where it was not well-suited. The 20% will not give their consent to the 80%.

    America is increasingly such a state. The 46.9% do not give their consent to the 51.4%, or vice versa, no matter the Electoral College math. A regime possessing the consent of a mere 51.4% of the governed is not stable. You can blissfully pretend this is not the case. You can play games to figure out how you can increase the power of the 51.4% and overcome the resistance of the 46.9% without actually convincing anyone to change sides. You can harden your resolve as much as you would like. But none of this will improve the stability of the regime. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Your strategy is to divide not only the house, but the rooms against themselves?


    There are really only 4 long-term outcomes from divided nation-states. The most “optimistic” is that the sides unite to defeat a common foe. If the coronavirus response is any indication, this outcome is unlikely. Maybe instead of fighting the China virus unification requires fighting China itself, or perhaps Russia. Maybe the foe is even non-material, such as the Great Depression, which forced the US to unite to create the expansive New Deal. WWII only unified us further.

    The second outcome is that the country, unified or not, fails to defeat the foe. Maybe the coronavirus mutates and brings Armageddon. Maybe a climate catastrophe renders the continent uninhabitable. Maybe the Axis wins. As much as it’s unimaginable, this ending happens sometimes. This is why the end of Game of Thrones was such a failure. The only logical archetypal ending was for Westeros to meet a bitter end. Any other ending was contrived. The fact that it did not reveals our level of denial. Nevertheless, no sufficient threat is on the horizon and this outcome seems unlikely.

    The third possible outcome is, of course, schism. Schisms are exceedingly common throughout history. The US itself was formed through schism. Schisms can involve varying levels of violence. They can also fail, as the US also knows first-hand. A schism in the US would likely look similar to the first Civil War (which would not have been called a Civil War if the South won, as the South wanted independence so it could continue its despicable institution of slavery). This time, the North would not be able to justify their intervention through the obvious evil of slavery, but would have to instead invoke more tenuous causes, such as transgender restrooms, if not purely ideological causes (say, if the “new Confederacy” were to choose an autocratic form of government). This topic brings us to…

    The fourth possible outcome is the complete domination of one side by another. The South submitted because it was thoroughly dominated by The North. Augustus Caesar finally ended the chaotic Republic-era of Roman history and ushered in the golden age of Pax Romana. Germany and Japan submitted because they were thoroughly dominated by the allies. Now Germany is a glowing beacon of Social Democracy, and the envy of the Social Democrats in the countries that conquered her. In some sense it doesn’t matter who wins. The winner gets to implement their program without resistance, and all will agree that the program is superior to the tumultuous period that preceded it. After conquering their foes, even the Nazis were quite popular among at least 50%+1 of the population. Fortunately, in an unforced error they fell victim to case 2.

    The pipe-dream outcome is that one side will spontaneously see the wisdom of the other sides point of view in the absence of any external pressure, and one side will simply dominate through the marketplace of ideas. I do not see this as any more possible than the Sunnis spontaneously realizing that Ali was the rightful caliph all along. True partisanship dictates that the class interests and material conditions of existence determine ideology. Individuals such as myself are nothing more than class traitors.


    Which outcome is for US? Who can say? Many still believe the pipe-dream. I wish the mere truth were powerful enough to convince you to give up your existing beliefs. Perhaps you feel the same about me. But in any case, it is clear that the truth is not changing anybody’s mind. Lenin is proven right again. Believing otherwise is putting your head in the sand.

    There’s no clear likelihood of Case 1 or Case 2. China, focused primarily on sovereignty and its own system of government, is simply not going to randomly attack. We could randomly attack but their is no casus belli. Russia isn’t even a really a threat, at most they can disrupt through cyberattacks, but they stand no chance in an all-out conflict (leaving aside MAD, in which case none of this analysis applies).

    I would say Case 3 is the most likely, except their is an X-factor, which is the ability to learn from history. The truth is the South could have won the Civil War early on, but they declined to attack Washington after repelling the initial Northern advance. They wanted secession, Case 3, not Case 4. This failure is indeed on the mind of the intellectuals of the New Right. The left likewise learned from the Civil War that domination simply works.

    So that leaves Case 4. Progressives will conquer the right and finally be able to implement the Progressive agenda unimpeded, or the reactionary right will win and attempt to restore the Republic, as Sulla did. Either way, there will be blood.

    The most peaceful and desirable solution is therefore Case 3.


    Is there a whitepill? Can all this be avoided? The deus ex machina could be to produce enough growth and prosperity to re-legitimize the regime. Standards of living and life expectancy in the US have been dropping. If these trends could be dramatically reverse, perhaps the discontent could be diffused. The most likely avenue for this is probably the continued development of AI and quantum computing. Perhaps the best thing you could do to help the political situation is to continue focusing on your professional work.

    This outcome would require stalling. Stalling means not doing anything to inflame tensions, not going for “total victories”, not treating every minor offense as unforgivable, and not seeking to dominate every state and the federal government.

    Your proposal is antithetical to this. Which, unfortunately, brings us back to Case 4. My proposal is to stop treating your fellow humans like animals to be managed and allow to them to govern themselves.

  52. Brooks Says:

    Vincent Waters #51: that was a whole lot of words to say “attempting to maximize the impact of one’s vote is undemocratic, and if the Baathists can dominate national politics with 35% of the population, it’s wrong to subvert that”.

    And you missed an important possible outcome: progress and education heal rifts by making future generations less racist, less religious, less tribal.

  53. Scott Says:

    Vincent Waters #51: Thank you for the long and exhaustive if unnecessary history lesson! 🙂

    (1) Yes, unabashedly, I am still interested in pursuing solutions within the Constitutional order of the United States that’s existed since the late 18th century. Your arguments, deployed in the 1950s, might suggest that there could be no purely “political” solution to Jim Crow … but in the end, there more-or-less was. So maybe there’s also a political solution to what, today, the rest of the world regards as an obvious case of the hijacking of democracy by a grievance-fueled minority. Even if you’re right, and there’s ultimately no solution but a schism or a second Civil War, it would still be essential to have pursued every less drastic form of recourse first.

    (2) Regarding your accusation that I “treat fellow humans like animals”: did you mean, by exercising my voting power, and by encouraging others who agree with me to do likewise? You agree, I’m assuming, that I have every right to vote for who I want? Even though I now live in the red state of Texas? You agree that I had every right to move to Texas, having been recruited here by UT Austin? You agree that other Americans also have the right to move to Texas, or to any other state? Do they forfeit that right if, in addition to jobs, housing, etc., one of their reasons for moving is the hope that their votes will count more? What proportion of their reason for moving needs to be political before it renders the move illegitimate in your eyes: 5%? 10%?

    (3) Knowing what I do about quantum computing, I wish I could believe that it offered any sort of help with any of this!

  54. Isaac Duarte Says:

    Ah, the USA… In the surface it seems to be a nice country to visit and even to live, but as a foreigner analyzing it with more care I conclude that there are some serious problems that won’t be solved in my generation:

    1) How come the so called “most powerful” democracy in the world still uses an outdated voting system with only two parties that disrespect the majority of voters and can’t even give the result in the same day (or even in the same week!!)?

    2) The richest nation in the world has a large number of homeless people, poverty, severe inequality and unnaceptable crime rate and people in prison. Racial segregation: don’t need to explain.

    3) Environment: numbers don’t lie. The world simply can’t afford two USAs. We are debating if one will lead us to our doom (seems likely)

    4) The most powerful nation couldn’t handle the 2020 pandemic situation in a decent manner, and even worse, it is the worst place in the world to be right now with millions of infected people and more than 300.000 deaths.

    5) Again, the richest nation can’t offer a decent public health system for their citizens. And the population is dangerously sick. Never saw more obeses and a public display of unhealthy food like in the USA.

    6) The educational system seems to work well. Except that Americans often have no clue of geography, foreign languages and are unable to enumerate a dozen of the countries in the world (but know a lot about their own states, celebrities and their own history). They even call themselves ‘Americans’ forgetting that mexicans, canadians, brazilians, argentinians and others share their name and continent.

    7) How come a large percentage of USA population believes in intelligent design and are against evolution; and movements like flat world, anti-vaxxers and other conspiracies have a lot of strength in (and usually starts at) the USA?

    8) English language is a mess. It’s a wild amalgam of Old French and a germanic language, with redundant vocabulary and a total illogical pronunciation. A reform would have helped in the past. Today it’s unlikely to happen. At least Spanish is going to take over soon…

    9) Imperial system. Really?

    This is not an empty rant and I really don’t want to offend anyone with it, In fact, it was fun to think about these problems and hope that one day a solution could emerge. There are great things in the USA, like the Silicon Valley, NASA and Tesla. I really would like to live in a better world with a better US, but unfotunately the nation with such power, economics and some of the most relevant minds in the world, is not going in a direction that could inspire others.

  55. murmur Says:

    Don’t worry Scott, this is already happening. The Democrats have ruined California due to their one party rule. So people are moving out to the better governed red States. But what will happen when the increasingly powerful Democrats will ruin these successful States as well? (Interestingly, do you see the fallacy in your argument? If the Republicans are so bad then how come the States they rule attract so many internal migrants?)

  56. Scott Says:

    Isaac Duarte #54: Maybe the best thing to be said for the USA is that, in its quarter-millennium of existence, it’s done enough for the human race that all the embarrassing failures you’ve listed actually matter! One can’t simply write the US off as a loss, as if it were Kodak after the invention of the digital camera. If the US collapses, it’ll look more like the fall of the Roman Empire.

    That’s why some of us here, who don’t have an outsider’s luxury of bemusement, are trying to do what little we can to mitigate the horrifying failures. An excellent start, of course, would be to prevent a ~30% minority of grievance-fueled conspiracy theorists from controlling all the main branches of our government. Reform of the English language is, I confess, further down the list, and maybe the UK should take the lead on that one. 🙂

  57. Raoul Ohio Says:

    Jason #38:

    Keep in mind that marijuana smoking is strongly correlated with forgetting to vote.

  58. Scott Says:

    murmur #55:

      Interestingly, do you see the fallacy in your argument? If the Republicans are so bad then how come the States they rule attract so many internal migrants?

    Most of them don’t! How many New Yorkers do you think are clamoring to settle in Arkansas, compared to the reverse?

    Texas is interesting as a rare exception—hence its relevance for this post. But note that the parts of Texas that so many Californians want to move to, are almost exclusively the liberal, blue-controlled parts!

    Let me grant you that many blue cities in the US seem badly mismanaged. But—and this crucial—the reason it even matters how well they’re managed, is that so many of these cities are otherwise vibrant, successful places where millions of people understandably want to live!

  59. Raoul Ohio Says:

    Isaac Duarte #54,

    The two party system: In most places it works a lot better than many party systems. Consider Israel, where a couple of tiny ultra orthodox parties push the entire country into right wing nut territory.

  60. Joshua Vogelstein Says:

    Scott – more people moving to Texas exacerbates a bigger problem: non representation of the electoral college and the senate:

    Your plan is democratic only if blue people move to small states I think.

  61. Jalex Stark Says:

    Thanks, Scott, for pushing important information closer to the common knowledge frontier.

    Your numbered list style reminds me of Neel Nanda’s blogging style, where he outlines articles in Dynalist and then just publishes the outline instead of stitching it into prose.

  62. G Says:

    Vincent #52

    If the Republicans start to lose ground in the senate, isn’t the appropriate response for them to move slightly more liberal?

    I mean, 50/50 elections have been the norm for a long time for a reason; it’s the “efficient market” of political planks at play.

    For instance, I’ve been a single-issue voter on climate change for the past several elections. Pretty much none of the things the Republicans do makes me as nervous as their stance on CO2. If they flipped on just this one issue (perhaps to a nuclear energy decarbonization plan, just to save face / differentiate themselves), I’d actually have to start weighing the things I dislike about Democrats against the things I dislike about Republicans in deciding who to vote for. Trust me, especially this past year, there’ve been times I really wish this option were open to me.

    Alternatively, they could surprise and embrace some exciting new policies. Andrew Yang as a Republican would present many Democrats who care about wealth inequality with a real dilemma (and would be pretty much guaranteed my vote).

  63. Martin Says:

    Vincent #51 mentiones in II the problem of legitimacy when getting a majority. I have been making a similar case regarding referenda for some time: winning a referendum with 51%, or even 80%, does not constitute the “will of the people”. One of the problems is that the result is an unweighted mean and does not in any way reflect the distribution and the stakes involved.

    A consensus-based multi-party system might offer a way forward. The only example that comes to mind is Switzlerland, where the executive consists of seven members of the four largest parties. While by no means perfect, it may be a model for the US. Switzerland is also a federal system with a large degree of independence of their ‘states’ (cantons) and a very diverse population. Their raison d’être is similar to that of the US (as is their aversion to taxes). Such a move would probably require splitting the two parties: the Democrats into a left-populist, a social democratic, and a green party, and the Republicans into a right-populist, a conservative, and a libertarian party. I’m fully aware that this is just a pipe dream.

  64. Scott Says:

    Jason #38:

      One problem with any place in Texas: no marijuana!

    All the more reason for enough blue voters to come here to pass a referendum legalizing it 😀

  65. Commenter Says:

    Scott #23: You write,
    “But to flip the Senate, we’d either want to create big new blue enclaves in Montana, Wyoming, etc., or else (more plausibly?) we’d want to hold the Senate just long enough to make DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands into states.

    Maybe I should add that, after what the Republicans did with Merrick Garland and Amy Coney Barrett, and their general torching of democratic norms, there are zero moral problems with any such bare-knuckled political tactic. There’s a moral problem with not using such tactics.”

    If you’re willing to go this far, why not just ask your readers to use “bare-knuckled” political tactics to begin with? Why bother scheming about how to use the Electoral College, when you can just skip to anything from intimidating Republican voters to outright cheating?

  66. AnonymousOcelot Says:

    Isaac #54

    They even call themselves ‘Americans’ forgetting that mexicans, canadians, brazilians, argentinians and others share their name and continent.

    Hey now, are you saying you won’t use our preferred pronouns? ????

  67. Democracy Says:

    Democratic election values are very clear: it is a transparent and decentralized process. Democratic elections in democratic countries do not have accusations of fraud, because the process is decentralized enough, each polling location is very small and observers are dispersed and scattered, that it should take hundreds of different polling locations being compromised with hundreds of thousands of poll observers and watchers being a part of a conspiracy to change the results. They literally teach this in school in my democratic country.

    Democratic countries by design will never ever reach your position of hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots being counted in a handful of poll managers. Voting machines are undemocratic by design even if completely secure, by their very premise of allowing very few people to count thousands of ballots. Democratic countries will never get a single person the responsibility over a thousand ballots, both because he could commit fraud, and because it can be claimed he committed fraud.

    Please, for the love of all enlightenment values, please you have to wake up. This is bigger than Trump. Your country has been overtaken by deceivers and propagandists which have twisted and turned even the nature and meaning of democratic elections.

    They managed to convince you of an absurd notion that a process which the other side already calls unfair is a democratic process. Democracy stems from consensus over the process, not from propaganda lying about fake security of a process.

    A democratic country will never engage in an election process the opposition side deems unfair. You are being lied and deceived and fed propaganda about the very nature of democratic processes and you are listening to them. Please wake up. Please open your eyes. Evil has managed to twist and turn and deceive everyone about the very nature of democracy. This is bigger than COVID-19. This is pure evil. Democratic countries will never engage is a process even 1%, and in your case 40%, would think is unfair.

    Please wake up and realize the nature of the propaganda pulled over your eyes and deceiving you about the nature of a democratic processes.

    Please wake up and awaken everyone else. This isn’t about Trump anymore. Trump can go to hell for all I care, but your media is misrepresenting and corrupting the meaning and nature of democracy and I have never seen something so dangerous.

  68. Scott Says:

    Commenter #65:

      Why bother scheming about how to use the Electoral College, when you can just skip to anything from intimidating Republican voters to outright cheating?

    I’ll tell you exactly why: because I don’t expect our side ever, ever to be 10% as good at such tactics as the Republicans are. We won’t get away with them even where they would.

    That’s why I’ll only consider strategies here whose legality and ethics strike me as beyond dispute. Any free American can decide to move to any state for any reason. (And note that I never suggested misrepresenting one’s state of residence—I suggested actually moving!)

  69. Scott Says:

    Democracy #67:

      Democratic countries will never engage is a process even 1%, and in your case 40%, would think is unfair.

    Yeah, so, I have a game-theoretic question about the principle you’ve just announced. What if—and I’m speaking completely hypothetically here—30% of a country were to decide that any process where it loses is unfair for that very reason? If, according to your principle, it all just boils down to the thoughts and feelings of the aggrieved minority, then wouldn’t that minority be able to tyrannize the majority, effectively executing a denial-of-service attack against democracy? After all, the human capacity to generate conspiracy theories in support of any desired conclusion is legendary and near-limitless. Can democracy even still function in the presence of such a DoS attack by a sufficiently large and determined minority?

  70. G Says:

    Democracy #67

    They managed to convince you of an absurd notion that a process which the other side already calls unfair is a democratic process.

    Election procedures are decided by legislatures consisting of Republicans and Democrats (sometimes mostly Republicans, in some of the contested states). Both Republicans and Democrats crafted the current system. If a popular clamoring for a different system causes things to change because people don’t like the current system, then great! It’ll change. But don’t buy into the framing that Trump gives, of a Republican side screaming about bad processes and a Democrat side that keeps the processes the same … that makes no sense, given that it apparently affects Republican legislatures as well (not to mention: Trump-appointed judges have been among those throwing out these frail court cases, including the Republican-stacked supreme court).

    The reality is it’s just a (relatively small) Trump side vs bipartisan status quo side. Again, if this view gains wider traction, then processes will change to reflect the people’s will. I have a suggestion or two of my own for voting procedures, but I understand that no one solution is perfect nor can feasibly make everyone happy, and so I accept the best-effort solutions we’ll arrive at over not having elections at all.

  71. Omer Says:

    Out of curiosity: why are you allowed to spell “kikes”, but feel obligated to censor the N-word? (I’m following here your footstpes in the hope that this comment won’t be blocked).

    I’m sincerely curious, and I don’t mean to troll. I’m not American, and I’ve never understood the mystic apprach to spelling that Americans seem to embrace. As a Jewish person I can’t image why would I ever prefer reading “the K-world” over “kikes”.

  72. Democracy Says:

    But they didn’t.

    They literally asked for no changes. It can’t be fairer than no changes. They asked not to send mail in ballots to people who didn’t even ask. They asked to validate signature. Are all these things unreasonable? Why are you even going to hypotheticals, they literally asked no changes to be made.

    That isn’t DoS. You’re strawmanning Scott, I expected better.

  73. Democracy Says:

    G #80: you’re misinformed. There were many changes which weren’t approved by legislature. In PA the decision not to check signatures came directly from the governor, in GA they made a process so complicated to check signatures that none were checked in practice, in AZ court order for signature audit showed 9% were invalid according to the democratic expert.

    It’s already established the election was conducted differently in practice than as required by law. You don’t even have to believe me just look at signature rejection rates in published data.

    The democratic party trashed and corrupted the democratic process in every way possible. The ridiculous notion that it’s ok to conduct an election in a way half the country fears is open to fraud by Facebook and the media is ridiculous.

  74. Scott Says:

    “Democracy” #72, #73: Banned from this blog, in line with my stated comment policy.

  75. Scott Says:

    Omer #71: In the US, people have lost their jobs not merely for saying the n-word, but for saying things that inadvertently remind people of the n-word, like “niggardly” or the Chinese filler word “negeh.” I’m not going to risk my job if I can make my meaning clear without it.

    I’ve never heard of anything similar regarding “kike,” which I guess has less deep roots in American history.

    The other thing, though, is that I’m Jewish and not black.

  76. Ralf Says:

    > It’s where the spike proteins of both the Pfizer and Moderna covid vaccines were developed.

    Wasn’t the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine developed basically entirely in Germany? To my knowledge, Pfizer only contributed packaging and logistics. All the actual development was done by Biontech.

    See e.g.
    > “The technology behind this vaccine, the messenger RNA technology, and the vaccine candidates have been developed in Germany.”

    (2nd attempt with hopefully fixed link)

  77. Tamas V Says:

    This post quickly attracted many of the most … colorful comments in this blog’s 15-year history. My moderation queue is overflowing right now with …

    Scott, are these commenters (partially) the same who had insightful comments in other threads on the continuum hypothesis and complexity theory? 🙂

  78. Scott Says:

    Tamas V #77: Among the commenters who’ve contributed meaningfully to the math/CS threads here, some have also expressed left-wing views, a smaller number have expressed right-wing views, and I have yet to encounter the first one who indulged in hateful slurs (unless you count Lubos, who’s sort of a category to himself).

  79. pete Says:

    This is a good idea, particularly the idea of companies migrating.

    I moved from Houston to Oregon several years ago 1 month before Harvey (wrong way!) but I have been considering a move to a purple state – currently thinking about Wisconsin and Michigan (another Trump type could easily win these states). I am not considering moving back to Texas – Houston will have further catastrophic hurricanes (and even worse spring floods) and the non-coastal parts of the state will suffer drought but that’s just my opinion – Texas may end up being fine.

    My sympathies for all of the disgusting anti semitic comments.

  80. fred Says:

    Maybe this thread got linked on reddit or twitter?!
    That would explain the sudden influx of racist troll (which is common everywhere).

  81. Scott Says:

    pete #79: Oh, right-wing trolls saying to send all the kikes to the gas chambers don’t bother me one bit! For I know that they’ve utterly discredited themselves, and anything else they might say, in the eyes of anyone who could ever conceivably matter to me. It’s only when the other side calls me a misogynist that I lose sleep! 🙂

  82. JimV Says:

    “Anti-democratic is importing voters from other states for the sole purpose of subverting the will of the existing citizens.”

    That is one of the most Orwellian ( as in “1984”, as in “war is peace”) things I have ever seen in a comment section. But then I don’t read right-wing blogs.

    Democracy means rule by the majority. Anti-democracy is winning the popular vote and losing the election. I’m an existing citizen and my will has been subverted by Republican anti-democratic tactics most of my life. Have you at long last no sense of fairness?

  83. Commenter Says:

    Scott #68:
    “I’ll tell you exactly why: because I don’t expect our side ever, ever to be 10% as good at such tactics as the Republicans are. We won’t get away with them even where they would.

    That’s why I’ll only consider strategies here whose legality and ethics strike me as beyond dispute.”

    Your proposal in this post seems ethical (and personally appealing), unlike the tactics that Republicans excel in. But adding four more states at the next opportunity seems as ethically-dubious-yet-legal as appointing Garland and Barrett, while dramatically escalating and pushing off whatever fraction of Republicans remains committed to a republic.

  84. Scott Says:

    Commenter #83: Adding more states, packing the Supreme Court, and so on are entirely ethical, verging even on ethically obligatory (if you believe like I do that the Republicans are destroying the country and the planet), in a world where the Republicans did what they did with Garland and Barrett, and laughed about it.

    We’re not the ones who decided that there are no longer any unwritten norms, but only formal rules and procedures!

  85. Scott Says:

    Ralf #76: I don’t really know the details, but see here.

  86. Scott Says:

    Something that just occurred to me: the people who denounce this post paint a picture of locust-like busybodies swarming into Texas from NYC and San Francisco, to tell the peaceful Texan Republicans how to lead their lives. But this picture writes out of existence the 47% of Texans who already voted for Biden! (Which would’ve been more if not for voter suppression tactics.) As usual, the Trumpian axiom that Republicans are the “real, authentic” Americans and Democrats are “interlopers,” even when their numbers are roughly equal, is snuck in without ever being explicitly defended.

  87. Red Pill Says:

    I’ll try to frame my views of elections in similar terms to computer science proof-verifier problems.

    For a long time, the media has lied to the people about the purpose of democratic elections. Their purpose, as the media describes, is to simply “represent” people with their representatives.

    But that was not the original purpose of democratic elections. The real and original purpose of elections is for the government to convince the little person they are not tyrants and they are legitimate and accountable for by the people.

    Think of elections as an interactive proof system between you and the all-powerful government, just like in computer science.

    In the version of the problem the media describes, the following interaction is enough: you give an input, your vote. They, in turn, tell you how the totals of everyone’s votes were. If you suspect fraud, you give them an input. In return, the government asks you to prove that they committed fraud. You, as a little person, cannot prove that. You therefore assume the government committed no fraud. You see envelops coming and you just assume they come from other voters like you.

    In the original version of the problem, in democratic elections, which go as they should, you go in to vote, and give your vote. The government, as an output, allows you to see every single part of the process. They need to convince you that they counted the votes accurately – and black-box voting machines do not do that. They also need to convince you every single vote cast belonged to a real person. Just mail-in voting, having a mail go out to a government controlled address and return in the mail, after being on a government database, is not a proof. You did not see the person existed.

    You did not see he voted as they claim. And because you, as a person, can only be in one room at a time, the government needs to split the counting and the process and have as many people as possible present, so that then, the government can say – don’t trust us, trust most of those people. And the more people who needed to lie about the process in order to change the result, the more you trust the process.

    Think about democratic elections from this point of view Scott. The last elections were a failure to prove legitimacy, because the whole process of mail-in voting is not a democratic election from the proof-of-vote point of view. The media is lying to you about who is the adversary against which elections should be secure: against the government’s own meddling, not against the hypothetical single voter committing fraud. Not against Russia.

    If an envelope showing up at an election center proves to you the government doesn’t lie and a person voted, I have an NP-complete problem solver I want to sell you :P. If a squiggly line on that envelop that’s the same as in a government controlled database convinces you, that’s wrong too. At least in person voting requires a real person to waste time travelling to different polling locations, and can’t be mass-produced like envelops and database entries.

    They have been lying to you about the nature of democratic elections. Wake up. Trump finally opened America’s eyes.

  88. Chris Says:

    > As usual, the Trumpian axiom that Republicans are the “real, authentic” Americans and Democrats are “interlopers,” even when their numbers are roughly equal, is snuck in without ever being explicitly defended.

    The OP absolutely sneaks in the assumption that Democrates are the only real authentic Americans.

  89. Aaron Says:

    Your wife wishes you castrated yourself.

  90. Scott Says:

    Aaron #89: I just checked with her, and she likes our kids too much!

  91. Sniffnoy Says:

    Scott OP — this isn’t quite true:

    Every effort to fix these anachronisms, whether by legislation or Constitutional amendment, has been blocked for generations.

    Some states have instituted anti-gerrymandering matters, via non-partisan redistricting commissions. I’m not certain how much of an improvement these are, but they are an improvement. Also, let’s not forget about the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. So, there has been some progress, even if not a lot.

    As for the update… I am quite doubtful of this hypothesis. More likely the increase in attention is just random — if it even is a real increase in attention rather than just one person attempting to evade a ban. This sort of “aha, they hate this, so I must be on to something!” reasoning is the sort of thing I don’t really leads anywhere good. Like, to put it bluntly, this is the sort of self-righteousness I would be careful of.

    Scott #23:

    So, I want to push back against this. I think there is in fact an alternative to pure destructive escalation. And that’s making the retaliation explicit.

    Have you read David Friedman’s Legal Systems Very Different From Ours? Well, there’s a lot there, but I want to point out the section on what he terms “feud law”. Basically, in places where law has to be privately enforced by threat of private force, this does not lead to cycles of revenge as so many people believe, because the private enforcement is understood as legitimate, so things stop there.

    Like if you were just to fight back without saying anything, that can cause a cycle of escalation; but that’s not how feud law works. If you are explicit about what you are retaliating for, what that retaliation will consist of and when it will end, and what your demands are if applicable, then things can go differently. The key elements here, that are so often missing these days, are explicitness and clarity.

    The problem, I suppose, is that having that sort of explicitness and clarity requires some sort of coodinated decision making, rather than just lots of people individually. Notionally I suppose that’s what a political party is, but I hardly see the Democratic party as about to pull something like that…

    See also: This old post by Sarah Constantin. The key notion here is that you have to introduce this (necessarily self-referential, note) construct of when it is “legitimate” to defect. Which I guess brings us to the other problem, which is that people have to agree on this idea of legitimacy, so such things might not work.

    Still, I’m hoping that explicitness and clarity of threats and demands — in effect saying, we are not seeking your annihilation, merely redress for a legitimate grievance and this is what it will take to satisfy us — could go a bit of a ways to establishing that legitimacy. Again, the problem is getting big organizations to actually do that…

  92. Art Says:

    Jair #48: You’re right, though that will usually involve leaving academia. Not such a bad thing, just a different one than I’m looking toward at the moment.

  93. Scott Says:

    Sniffnoy #91: Of course I’m aware of various anti-gerrymandering efforts and the national popular vote interstate compact. The trouble is that, perhaps unsurprisingly, these worthy initiatives have mostly made headway in the states for which they were never needed in the first place!

    You’re completely right that, as a general rule, “it enrages the other side” is an extremely poor indicator of an idea’s soundness. On the other hand, if there were any situations where such a heuristic was useful, surely they’d be situations where the other side consisted of masters at the unjust wielding of power, and your idea was about how to deprive them of that power?

  94. TM Says:

    @ Scott

    murmur #55 stated:

    Interestingly, do you see the fallacy in your argument? If the Republicans are so bad then how come the States they rule attract so many internal migrants?

    and you replied in #58:

    Most of them don’t! How many New Yorkers do you think are clamoring to settle in Arkansas, compared to the reverse?”

    But if you look at net domestic migration numbers for 2018 at Wikipedia:

    it appears that NY and CA have large numbers of people departing for other states, while Arkansas has a (small) net gain.

    In fact, many red states seem to be net positive, while the top 5 negative all seem to be blue states.

    Regarding the South in particular, since I know you hold them in such high esteem, it has net gains according to:

    “Net Migration. The South continued a pattern of net population gains from domestic migration. The region experienced statistically significant net gains from domestic migration most years since 1981.”

    How does this square with your claims/beliefs? I think murmur has it right, but I’m interested to see why you disagree.

  95. Rob Says:

    You’re pushing for Austin but 10 years ago we were saying inside Google that if we opened a new engineering office in Wyoming we could swing the state by ourselves.

  96. Jelmer Renema Says:

    @ Sniffnoy 91: I think you’re being way too optimistic about the feud system. The issue here is the notion of honour: that you have to retaliate, otherwise the next time there’s an confontation, your neighbours will think you are weak. As this paper puts it:

    ‘If retribution were the real aim, then only those personally responsible for the original crime or insult would be potential targets; but instead, honor is cleansed by killing any male member of the family of the original offender, and the spilt blood of that victim then cries out to its own family for purification’

    I think the popular perception of feuding as something that can give rise to never-ending cycles of violence is essentially correct. If you look at feuding codes, for example the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini, the law code of the Albanian clans of the northern mountains, then they more or less implicitly assume feuds will escalate, and so the largest part of the code is about restrictions on feuding while the feud is going on, with reconciliation only an afterthought.

    The purpose of these codes is therefore not primarily reconciliation, it is to make sure a feud doesn’t collapse all of society. This is why they have rules like ‘no feuding on the highway’, and ‘no feuding in the presence of women’ (whose job it was to collect the harvest), ‘no feuding with a family from another clan without permission from both clans’ elders’ (to prevent escalation to the larger kin group), and ‘no injuring cattle during a feud’. All of this is to say: even if you make the rules explicit, a feud can still go on forever.

    The idea that feuds do escalate is born out by numbers: for the Albanian case, the ethnographer Baron Nopcsa investigated causes of death and found 23-42% of all male deaths to be murders ( If there’s anything that limits feuds, it’s the presence of an external threat (either natural or human). It’s either ‘let’s stop killing each other, otherwise the next village over will steal our cows’ or it’s ‘let’s stop killing each other, otherwise we won’t have enough people to bring in the harvest’.

    What you typically see is that the scarcer the resources are in a community, the more the system leans towards reconciliation. This is why the Icelandic system, where you have perhaps a few dozen farmsteads and a few hundred people on a godforsaken island in the North Atlantic, leans so heavily towards reconciliation: they really couldn’t miss anyone. The same is true for tribal Germanic law, which we have in Carolingian codifications. This is in contract to the Albanian example mentioned above, where there were more people than land, and so people could be missed.

    Where does America fit in all of this? There is no external power to pose enough of a threat, and the prize to be won is very large. So I think escalation is the likely route no matter what.

  97. Chris Says:

    Jews will pay for their jewish tricks

  98. Scott Says:

    Chris #97: What, the Holocaust wasn’t payment enough? (No need to answer, I already know.)

  99. Guan Says:

    how comes a former stuttering,shy,depressive nerd became the brave persuasive person today? Enlighten me, is it your love of philosophy, habit of read information on the internet to add more arguments to support and practicing debate on your blog, or support from family?
    If this is a talk show or TV Debate today,50-100 people argue with you together, with a host to keep the order (only function as the level of your moderation queue)
    some of your opponents don’t play fair even attack you viciously, cruelly
    Also being nice and do not talk publicly about their political or ethnic view I is quite optimal for most scientists (less enemies, career needs to be neural) but you don’t follow the conventions, just be yourself, even get bullied badly 6 years ago, it never changed you into a more agreeable hypocrite or shut down your blog to avoid disturbing(has it ever occurred to you during your darkness time? why not)
    it not related to your discussion but I just find it fascinating and wondering why.

  100. pete Says:

    Scott #81

    The trolls have indeed discredited themselves.
    But they are still dangerous. Perhaps an example is in order:

    70’s, 80’s: He took over a real estate empire with slumlord/racist overtones

    He publicly demanded the death penalty for the central park 5, including interviews and a big newspaper ad.

    He went bankrupt several times due to incompetence

    He was a big mover behind the “birther” movement

    He led a discussion on penis length in a national republican debate (although perhaps I just imagined that)

    He was taped bragging about his romance strategy involving “grabbing pussy”

    He was a major proponent of the virus-fighting strategies such as bleach and “herd mentality(sic)”

    and much, much more

    If anybody was ever discredited, it was this guy, yet he recently got 71 million votes and posed a credible threat to the idea of appointing leaders by voting. The important trait is not how ridiculous he is. It’s his ability to influence and degrade our public institutions.

  101. Michel Says:

    Since the discussion has since gone a bit off towards ‘ethnicity’ , I would like to add a small hope:
    I am waiting for the time that every child instinctively knows the answer to the following question: “How do you call a person that thinks that people of a different color or ethnic group are less than others? The answer starts with an ‘r’ ”
    And then the child, after only a short time answers: ‘retarded?’

  102. Scott Says:

    Guan #99: I dunno, it seems incredibly difficult to try to be anything other than what I am! And the more I’ve gotten attacked for being what I am, the more my instinct has been to double down, become even more that way, and explain myself better and more openly and more carefully. Obviously, there are some people (whether SneerClubbers, right-wing fanatics, or just general trolls) for whom this approach doesn’t work, to put it mildly. I owe whatever success I’ve had with this blog, and probably with my life more generally, to the fortuitous existence of a large number of people for whom it has worked.

    (Was that just a longwinded way to say “h8rs gonna h8”? 🙂 )

  103. Scott Says:

    pete #100: Indeed, thugs like the one who you described demand a two-pronged response. In the intellectual arena, laugh at them, dismiss them, and treat them with the utter contempt they’ve earned. But in the arena of actual power, take them deadly seriously and oppose them with all your might.

  104. Guan Says:

    You are so inspiring, for the less loved, unconventional kids to live bravely, honestly,kindly.
    That they do not to be fixed hardly to be a “mature beloved adult” to adapt the society or this crazy world, let alone to be succeeded in social conventions.
    I deeply moved and honor this.
    Marry Christmas ^^

  105. Boaz Barak Says:

    Scott – if us in Cambridge are forced to live in a community with less than 90% Democrats I’ll hold you personally responsible ????

    I’m not sure people should move based on their votes, but there are other reasons Austin is very nice. I still remember fondly the beer and BBQ from my visit!

  106. Scott Says:

    Boaz #105: You’ll have to come for another visit once covid is over! Beer and BBQ will be on me.

    To clarify: I don’t expect people to move solely because of their votes. But I really, genuinely do think that it should start to tip the scales, in the otherwise-close decisions people constantly face about where and whether to move.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

  107. Raphael Segal Says:

    As someone who grew up in a deeply blue state but currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA, I can say it was deeply satisfying to watch Pittsburgh’s results come in. Growing up I voted merely because it was my civic duty; here, it makes a difference.

    Pittsburgh really is an island in the middle of Pennsyltucky, and that’s never been more visible than driving in 2020; the solid block of Biden signs turns into a solid block of Trump signs not terribly far from the city. But we have an outpost for all the big name tech companies, America’s lunar landing program, and some brilliant colleges.

    Individual coronavirus compliance has the memory of goldfish, though, and every year is the first time they’ve seen snow. But the drivers are all sweet; I’ve only ever been heckled on the road was by a driver concerned that my bike wasn’t sufficiently lit up!

    East Liberty, The Strip, and Lawrenceville were all happening places back when things happened, and presumably will be again soon. Or Squirrel Hill if walking to synagogue is an important constraint for you.

  108. Gadi Says:

    Scott, can I ask you a simple question?

    Do you trust your government with your elections?

    (Also a question to everyone else in this forum)

  109. Greg Kuperberg Says:

    Gadi – Yes, from “Keep government out of my Medicare!” to “Government stay out of elections!”

  110. Scott Says:

    Gadi #108: I trust most of the individuals involved in the process—indeed, we saw in this election how even most Republican election officials resisted enormous pressure to falsify what had happened. But that’s different from trusting the process, especially if it could be corrupted by a small number of bad actors. I’ve been strongly in favor of strengthening election security, for example with paper trails — indeed, I’ve blogged about the topic for 15 years, mostly in the context of my childhood best friend and now election security expert J. Alex Halderman.

    What gets me is the shameless selectivity. Some experts believd that voting machine tampering in Volusia County, Florida was probably responsible for George W Bush becoming president in 2000. Since the whole election hinged on 538 votes, that’s actually plausible, yet even after that, the Republicans blocked any movement toward paper trails. Now all of a sudden they’re interested.

    But there’s no evidence — none, zero — that this election was any less secure than any other election in the US. Indeed, the less close the election, the harder it would be to commit fraud, and this election was not close. And the Democrats got slaughtered in the down ballot races, which involved exactly the same ballots, again wildly inconsistent with a rigged election.

    Furthermore — and this is crucial — Trump telegraphed even before the election that he would declare any result fraudulent except victory for himself.. And we know he has a gangster mentality, and has peddled hundreds of other ludicrous lies. So from a Bayesian standpoint, the fact that Trump’s people are screaming about fraud provides no evidence — none whatsoever — that there was any actual fraud, any more than Trump saying so provided any evidence in the direction of Obama being born in Kenya. If there was actual fraud, it would be purely a coincidence, totally unrelated to the current loud claims of fraud. At least, that’s what I see when I try to think about this like a Bayesian.

  111. Gadi Says:

    Scott, here’s the thing: you are right about florida, and it goes even further.

    Both sides, Republican and Democrats, have been playing a sick game of sham elections. Voting machines and absentee ballots are both a form of elections intentionally designed to be easily cheatable if you’re the government. From the moment these things were allowed to happen, your elections were wide open to abuse from people in your government, and corruption took root. Your elections are already designed in a bad way where the loser votes are nullified completely, so just a small push from the government is enough to give the government corruption sponsored candidate an edge that nullifies all the other votes.

    Your media plays a sick game of convincing you it’s other voters who might want to cheat – while it is the government itself. The real reason the supreme court stopped the recount is to avoid shattering your illusion of elections.

    The corruption in your system is extremely deep, to the extent that the rule of law does not apply anymore to the people who rule you. These corrupt people have nominated and infiltrated your system and both of your parties.

    They set you off hating the corrupt politicians of the other side while your side is equally corrupt, and if a hint of non-corruptible person attempts to be elected to congress, they collaborate against him, turn their propaganda machine on him, and finally overcome him with absentee ballots and voting machine shenanigans.

    It’s no wonder you have people 30 years in Congress, with extremely low approval rate. They have never worked for you because they already corrupted your voting so that they will always be reelected. Every single Republican you hate is probably also one of them.

  112. Gadi Says:

    Greg #109: Here’s the thing about letting government control your elections: you have created a circular trust problem. The government then abused that circular trust to elect itself without oversight from you. They also bought your media to pump propaganda about how your elections are secure to blind you to the fact they are not.

    In democratic elections, citizens oversee the election to make sure the government doesn’t reelect itself. In sham elections, the government lets people vote and oversees the process, which just leads to the government abusing the process to stay in power.

  113. Scott Says:

    Gadi #111: Suppose I told you that, when I shook Obama’s hand at the White House in 2009 on receiving the Presidential Early Career Award, I looked deeply into his eyes and saw that he‘s fundamentally an honest man. Would that be completely ridiculous? Of course. Your story, that Trump, McConnell Biden, Sanders, etc. all yuk it up together behind closed doors, laughing at the plebians who buy into their kabuki-theater staged conflicts, is equally ridiculous. If Democratic and Republican politicians, some of whom (if you haven’t noticed) are now on the verge of civil war, are consciously in on a big conspiracy together, then why not the Russians, Chinese, Israelis, and Iranians as well? Why not my wife and kids, who’ve just been pretending to like me the whole time? While we’re at it, why not the results of all quantum measurement outcomes? At what point do I no longer need an investigative journalist, historian, or philosopher, but a psychiatrist?

  114. william e emba Says:

    The quickest way to achieve a deep blue shift would be to legalize as many currently illegal immigrants (and asylum seekers!) as possible. Reagan legalized 3M, then Bush an extra .5M. So Biden should do the same level of numbers.

  115. Proud Nashvillian Says:

    You forgot to mention my adopted home town of Nashville TN — a great blue city with lots of amenities but in a red state. Come on down, y’all!

  116. Gadi Says:

    Scott #113: They don’t collaborate on anything except one thing: to keep your elections a sham. It’s not a grand conspiracy of everything. It’s only one thing they all agree to do. Keep your elections a complete clusterfuck and keep the simple American out of control, and keep elections being controlled by sham games of fraud and political power instead of the will of the voter.

    Everything else, they can fight and push America each one to his own ends, everyone to his own competing interests. It doesn’t need collaboration or communication, it’s a silent agreement – lie that elections are secure, use your powers to cheat to the extreme, both sides look the other way and the loser concedes a peaceful transition of power.

    Just look at your own “covid relief” bill and tell me this looks like the result of a government accountable to its people.

    Have you seen videos of your own election counting? It’s immediately obvious. A single person counting alone thousands of ballots is not democratic. They made sure you never know what elections should look like.

  117. Scott Says:

    Gadi #116: Thanks for your participation in this thread. I’ve alerted the men with black suits, earpieces, and sunglasses, who will be headed your way shortly.

  118. Gadi Says:

    Scott, the beauty is that they trained you to think cheating in elections is a conspiracy. All it takes is just writing some pieces of paper. This is coming from a government you already know was spying on you. Out of all the extraordinary things your government can do, you think sending some pieces of paper in the mail is a conspiracy? What is stopping them? It’s not even a “them”, it probably only takes a single government employee to leak voter registrations, and then some small group of people just to write mails. They even tell you signatures weren’t verified.

    Conspiracy is creating a virus, or using 5G, or other ridiculous shit that is actually hard to do undetected. QAnon is a conspiracy.

    They don’t need to do this undetected. They tell you those votes in the mail are coming for Biden. They tell you it’s secure and you just believe that. It takes tremendous pressure to even get someone to look at what is going on and think critically for a second about what it takes to cheat, and people are trained to immediately dismiss this as a conspiracy so this idea doesn’t spread.

  119. Anon93 Says:

    Perhaps another good thing about moving to a red state is that in a red state the likes of Amanda Marcotte and Arthur Chu have much less political influence. SJWism is a far bigger problem in deep blue areas. Ilhan Omar’s district is one of the bluest in the nation.

  120. Raoul Ohio Says:

    Potentially useful definitions:

    1. (Scott #78): I wonder if “Lubos Wing” encapsulates a syndrome?

    2. (Everyone. About order like relations on sets.): A Partial Order (= Reflexive + Antisymmetric + Transitive) is a very well known and useful concept. A Pre Order (= Reflexive + Transitive) might be useful, but is a very unfortunate term, because it has nothing to do with being an order (i.e, Equivalence Relations are pre orders). A more useful generalization (Antisymmetric + Transitive) does not seem to have a name. I am looking for a name for this combination that is easy to understand and not in conflict (with anything Google finds). After some time with, I have decided to try to sell “nigh order” as the name. Anyone buying? Or other suggestions?

    BTW, Googling on “nigh order” has lot of hits, all misspellings of “high order”.

  121. Michel Says:

    I personally think thei Gadi is a troll.

  122. Deepa Says:

    It was very upsetting to read comments such as Shlomo #3 and Chris #97. No matter the severity of your disagreement with an idea, why on earth does an identity need to be brought in as a slur? It is very ugly.

    Please exercise restraint and change the way you disagree. You are attacking a decent and thoughtful human being, although you should not do this to anyone. It only reveals something about you. Why not engage with the idea, instead of attack an identity? That’s so bizarre. For what it’s worth, I had to say something about this here.

    Happy holidays to everyone.

  123. JimV Says:

    Gadi: requests for absentee ballots come from registered voters, or they aren’t accepted. When a vote is accepted, that registered voter’s name is marked as voted. Another attempted vote under the same name would be detected and referred to the police.

    Trump’s own hand-picked AG has declared there is no evidence of significant fraud, nothing which would call the election into question. News organizations who claimed voting machines were fixed are being sued for libel by the voting machine companies and have quickly walked back their claims, knowing they would lose in court for lack of evidence.

    Knowing what Trump was going to do and how many people like you would believe him, despite all his known lies (do you also believe that Mexico paid for his wall?), I made sure to vote in person despite being in the Covid-19 high-risk category.

  124. Jr Says:

    I think your post makes good points, and would like it if internal migration in the US were to help defeat Trupism. At the same time I think it makes the point that immigration is often damaging to the native population.

    As a side note, I don’t see anything wrong with rejecting Garland and confirming Barrett. Democrats had long voted against judges on political grounds, you can hardly expect Republicans to not do the same.

  125. Scott Says:

    Jr #124: But they said the grounds were that it was a year before an election, and “the people should decide.” They then rammed through a vastly more partisan justice a few weeks before an election (!!), not oblivious to the hypocrisy but gleeful at what they were getting away with (McConnell smirked when talking about it). It was an act of pure nihilism that presaged the total rejection of democracy and embrace of conspiracy theories that we’re contending with now. And anyone who can’t see that inhabits a parallel universe.

  126. bertgoz Says:

    Wouldn’t such tactic be quickly made illegal by for example mandating that people should vote in their birthplace or in the place they have been living in the last 10 years? This is common practise in other countries

  127. Scott Says:

    bertgoz #126: I think that would require a constitutional amendment. It’s a travesty that we can’t replace the dysfunctional Electoral College system with something better, but it would also be hard to replace it with something even worse!

  128. Jr Says:

    Well, some Republicans were hypocritical, I don’t dispute that. I don’t accept that they have been any more more hypocritical than Democrats on the topic of judicial nominations however.

    I have been very influenced by Jonathan Adler’s writings on the topic, and his pointing out of
    Democratic hypocrisy, such as here

  129. Deepa Says:

    I loved Guan #99’s question and your answer! I wonder about this too.

    I try to be intellectually honest and self-aware but try to only share my true questions and opinions with very few people (those who I consider intellectually honest as well as friends).

    If I shared them publicly, random people without a certain basic goodness, might misinterpret them and then I’d have to go to great lengths explaining myself, or get canceled. No one would care if I got canceled (with me basically being an unknown person whose cancelation wouldn’t cost the world anything…).

    I think in America now (certainly in other countries) intellectually open and honest debates such as this one, are safer in private!

    I’d not even know exactly what was politically incorrect, as I don’t get many nuances about America. I appreciate people who are more courageous! Specially people like you and Dr. Pinker, whose voices are heard by many. Thank you!

  130. John Says:

    This won’t work.

    The difference between rural and urban culture is what most greatly divides the left from the right. And this difference is NOT a product of identity. It is a product of the environment itself. If people who are left leaning move to rural areas, they themselves may remain left. But their children will either go right or move back to an urban area.

    So your strategy has no long term weight to it.

    Also, moving out of cities is EXACTLY what Republicans want. So go ahead. Democrats love nothing more than an condensed base of power that can be easily controlled. Republicans have support from those who appreciate independence, the kind of independence that is most useful in rural areas.

  131. G Says:

    John #130

    I actually think this is a reason why Red state republicans don’t have much to fear from Blue migrants: it’s mainly moderate migrants who will be able to bring themselves to do it. This is just based on my intuition, but I think extreme liberals have such a cartoonishly evil vision of Red state america that it will actually keep them away.

    Just a guess .. but though this migration idea would cause more Blue presidents and senators to exist, I don’t think it will create a Portland 2.0 anytime soon.

    Sincerely, a Blue moderate who currently doesn’t want to live in Portland or SF.

  132. Art Says:

    John #130: I’ve done a bit of light googling, and it seems that the data suggest people keep their parents beliefs, and people have historically been moving to places that are more in line with their identity. So it’s not a given. Perhaps, for Scott’s plan long term, we should add:

    talk with your children about politics from time to time, be honest about your priorities and values, and encourage active participation.

  133. fred Says:

    Man, things would be sooooo much simpler if the election was based on the national popular vote.

  134. Scott Says:

    fred #133: You don’t say? 🙂

  135. S Says:

    > So why am I only now getting all the hate-spam? Then a possible explanation hit me: namely

    IMO the first explanation to look for should be selection effects. Maybe this article got shared in some particular circles, and so the pool of readers from which comments arise is very different for this article than earlier articles. (One way it may be possible to tell: if your blog stats show that this post has a lot more views than earlier posts, then clearly any explanation should focus primarily on all the “extra” views as they constitute the majority of readers, and any comparison to earlier posts is irrelevant…)

    (Of course, “someone shared this post but not earlier ones” may also support your conclusion, but it could also be random…)

  136. Sniffnoy Says:

    Jelmer #96:

    Well, I’d hardly call myself optimistic! Indeed a substantial comment was about how the preconditions don’t seem to be met for this to work very well here. And obviously you do point out substantial disadvantages of such a system… one must be prepared to actually retaliate, as you say. And, eegh, honor culture… honor culture is… really freaking bad, yeah, as you point out.

    I am a little unclear as to whether there might be a confusion of terminology — like, yeah, these sorts of escalating feuds happen, but I’m not sure whether they fall under what Friedman calls “feud law”, of which Medieval Iceland is his primary example? (He has several others, but — as he describes them anyway! — they all sound fundamentally similar.) Like yes he calls it “feud law” but that might be a misleading name given that his point is that it typically doesn’t actually lead to escalating feuds, so it’s not clear to me that cases like Albania are really an instance of the same thing. I mean, maybe one could argue that there’s not actually any natural way to draw a line between the Iceland case and the Albania case? I don’t really know enough about this, I have to admit. But that seems unlikely to me, it seems to me there’s generally a fairly clear line between a general norm of simple retaliation (which seems to be the Albania case if I understand correctly?) and a norm of threatening retaliation unless they pay up or agree to arbitration. I really think the Albania case just falls outside what he’s discussing. Yes, the need to be prepared to do violence, and to demonstrate that preparedness, means you will get a number of the same pathologies — including honor culture, eegh — but it does seem to me that, despite the common badnesses there, there is still an actual distinction?

    So yes my point was not an optimistic one! Rather it was about A. choosing the better of two bad options, and B. cutting off a bad pattern of thought. Like, given that you’ve decided that the time for cooperation is over, how do you go about it? Do you just simply retaliate without explanation, or do you make explicit threats and demands first? I think the latter has the potential to be less destructive than the former — even if, in the current context, not by a lot. Like I said, not optimistic, just trying to encourage taking the less destructive of two options. Nudging things slightly towards Iceland and away from Albania, basically…

    But the second point, as I said above, is about trying to cut off a bad pattern of thought. “The enemy is so bad that anything we do is justified!” is… well, it’s a dangerous pattern of thought, you know? It’s part of the whole tribalism / echo-chamber pattern. It’s the sort of thought you need to flag when you notice yourself thinking it — because a person who keeps thinking like that is a person who’s likely to stop doing much thinking, you know? So I was trying to flag it from the outside, and in particular point out one way that it might be mistaken. But in a sense the particular mistake is less important than the flag. A person who said that sort of thing with appropriate qualifiers about why that is a scary thing to say might not need the flag. But Scott didn’t put such qualifiers, so I think it’s necessary.

    What’s the old Yudkowsky essay…? This one, I think. One has to consider oneself as running on hostile hardware. You notice any tribalistic patterns, you have to flag it and do something to stop it or isolate it. This stuff goes leads to bad places fast, no matter how correct the actual statement made may seem.

  137. Andrew Foland Says:


    To the original point of this post, one potential mechanism for blue-to-red movement is blue-state high school students looking at schools like UT Austin or, say, Rice, for college. However, I can tell you that these schools won’t accept them!

    We had my daughter look at UT Austin and Rice. From her high school’s guidance data, from over a hundred applicants for UT-Austin over the past decade, not a single one has ever gotten in from her high school! Same for Rice. The same applicant pool has significantly above-average acceptance rates at Ivies, etc.

    I’m sure these admissions offices figure no Boston suburbanite is going to come to Texas. But they really shouldn’t figure that–especially for somewhere like Austin.

  138. JimV Says:

    About confirmation of Supreme Court Justices, I remember the Thurman Thomas/Anita Hill controversy. There was a lot of liberal outrage against Thomas, but he was treated fairly by the Democrat-controlled Judiciary Committee and Senate, and confirmed by a vote of 55-45. The Democrats could have prevented that confirmation from coming to a vote, and not only did they not do so, but several of them voted for Thomas, on the grounds that an elected President should get the nominees of his (or her) choice. In the Prisoner’s Dilemma that is R/D politics, the Republicans have much more often chosen betrayal as their strategy. The only rational response for the Democrats is tit for tat, but a society in which there is no cooperation is doomed to fail.

  139. Discrid Says:

    Here’s another relevant Yudkowsky essay. If we assume his main point that our enemies see us rather than themselves as the villains, it seems likely that many (though not all) Trump supporters imagine that the “so-called ‘Democrats'” are the ones trying to destroy America. This is why much of their rhetoric focuses on patriotism, “saving America”, and “not losing the culture war” (which demographic trends will cause them to).
    Select examples: arguing that the “Russiagate hoax” shows the left refuses to concede elections as well, that they tacitly and explicitly support the recent BLM protests, the right’s focus being obviously on the violent ones, the “anarchist zones”, the use of the slogan “silence is violence”, and that time some jerk put fake Trump signs outside of supporters’ houses saying “racism lives here” as proof the left is trying to undermine law and order (both through defunding the police and being violent) and intimidate the “rascists” as the next stage of a leftist coup (I even saw it argued that one of the Michigan plotters was a BLM supporter and that leftist media had purposefully ignored that fact). If some right-wing blogger gets ahold of this post, you’ll see headlines like “Austin professor promotes leftist immigration to red states” (as yet another “proof” that academia has been corrupted by the far left). We might even see a counter-migration of rightists (including some of the hardliners) from blue and deep-red states to swing states.
    It is my belief that although many Trump supporters are anti-democrats or single issue Roe v. Wade voters, most of them held their noses because they feared the left more than the right. (and don’t forget about the people who didn’t vote for either candidate because they viewed both sides as equally corrupt). Plans like this will only steer them further towards Trump. Nazi parallel: many of Hitler’s power grabs were justified, some retroactively, by the threat from the Communists or as an attempt to “restore law and order”. Honestly, your idea also appears to have a bit too much of “temporarily seize power to stop the enemy” (I am not comparing you to a Nazi).
    I think a better solution would be to make some sort of compromise—but not fully give in to their demands. In the comments of an earlier post, I heard mentioned the idea of a “Republicans win” bill that would try to show the sane right that the sane left still wants to find a solution. Another thing that could be useful would be for Biden to make some similar speech, maybe talk about “the need to transition from the Trump years” and a “new era of cooperation and unity”, the importance of “respecting the rule of law”, how “democracy was never about doing what (50+ε)% of the people wanted to do”, his intention to represent “the American people, not just the Democrats”, and pledging not to use some of his Presidential powers in the effort to “set a future precedent of non-power-hunger”: all things the vice President of Barack Obama could believe and say. This might not help (or may even result in the far left accusing him of “selling out”), but it has a better chance at solving our problems than your proposal, which would only leave the resentment and conflict simmering under the surface (like the original Birth of a Nation, which is racist garbage, but conveys the important sentiment shared by many racist Americans then of “unjust” leftist laws forced upon them by a higher power)

    Too often, it seems both sides have gotten stuck in an “us versus them” mindset, which is ultimately detrimental. If we attempt to listen to the other side and not dismiss them as racist or crazy or whatever, then maybe we could sort this out. If that doesn’t work, the system was probably doomed anyway.
    The most obvious counterargument I can think of is that the left has cooperated and the right has defected too much already, so another round would just give them more of what they want. This is fair, however as JimV pointed out, defecting now will just cause both sides to defect harder and harder and cause even more damage to the system.

  140. GMcK Says:

    Okay, off-topic by now, but allow me to put in a word for Houston. While Austin is still an overgrown college town, Houston is fighting with DFW for the title of fourth largest city in the country. At this size, any short description of Houston is guaranteed to omit something that somebody here considers essential to its character. Then again, Austin and San Antonio are growing together to become their own metroplex, too.

    Like San Francisco, Houston is a “city by the bay” with a couple of big bridges that should be iconic, cable-stayed instead of suspension like the Golden Gate, and a monument to Texas independence at San Jacinto that is taller than the Washington Monument. Culturally, it has been called the most diverse city in the country, despite an undercurrent of good-ol’-boy-ism. It has two chinatowns, for instance. Its food scene is grounded in barbecue and burgers, unlike Austin’s taco culture, but extends to an upper end with multiple James Beard award-winning chefs. No molecular gastronomy here though, thank goodness.

    The landscape isn’t Texas plains or the scrubby Hill Country forests where Austin is located, but is on the edge of the Piney Woods, with the Sam Houston National Forest nearby. It is terribly flat, though. I live 100 miles from the Gulf Coast, and 150 feet above sea level, i.e. an average grade of 18 inches per mile. If you are planning to move here, be sure you learn how to read a flood plain map, and stay away from any place that’s less that 3 feet above the “500 year flood” level, because with Houston’s continual rapid developement, those maps are obsolete the day they are released. Not counting the 0.1% annual probability flooding from Hurricane Harvey, we’ve had three “100 year” floods in the past 15 years.

    Politically, Houston has had gay and black mayors in recent years (but not both at once); its core is deep blue but we don’t make a big thing about it. The suburbs are equally conservative. Living just outside the city limits, I have neighbors who have integrated Trump/Pence signs into their Christmas lighting displays. My Congressman also represents parts of Austin, and everywhere in between – yay, gerrymandering! In one of the more pathetic cases of party misjudgement of their constituencies, he was opposed this year by an Austin civil rights lawyer. You run with the candidates you have, not the candidates you want, I suppose. By moving here, you could help fix this.

    Houston’s tech environment is more diverse than people elsewhere imagine. It’s the Oil Capital, of course, and has a refinery row along the Ship Channel that puts New Jersey’s to shame, but it also has the largest medical complex in the country, with the best oncology anywhere. It has NASA’s Human Spaceflight center in Clear Lake with many ancillary companies including Axiom, who built the first private, commercial module for the ISS. And after being flooded out of their former Compaq facilities, Hewlett Packard Enterprise decided rebuild a few miles north, and move their HQ from Palo Alto to here. I guess I could say that if you want to create a startup, you start it in Austin, but if you want to grow really big, Houston is the place to be.

  141. G Says:

    Discrid #139

    I’m confused … why should Democrats, who have been winning the presidential popular vote in every election since 2008, need to “compromise” with Republicans, who are preferred by fewer people? Shouldn’t it be the Republicans who will need to start compromising, in order to gain more support? (Maybe you’re thinking of the extreme left … that’s different from the Democrats, and I also disagree with the extreme left; frankly, I think if some of their more counterproductive ideas become incorporated into Democrat planks, they’ll be doing the Republicans’ work for them).

    By the way, Biden did say he will be a president for all Americans in his acceptance speech. I expect (and hope for) him to continue this messaging as president.

  142. Deepa Says:

    Fred #133:
    If you think long term, say 200 years into the future, doesn’t choosing president by popular vote from the entire country, rather than electoral college, pose all sorts of dangers to democracy? For example, candidates might offer favors to people in the most populous areas in exchange for votes.

  143. Hauke Says:

    ‘Nazi parallel: many of Hitler’s power grabs were justified, some retroactively, by the threat from the Communists or as an attempt to “restore law and order”.’

    No, and no.

    There was no relevant “communist threat” in 1933, the KPD had no power, and its base had eroded. “Law and order” had been mostly put in danger by the NSDAP militia, to the point that the SA was made illegal for some time in the early 30s. The surge of SA violence against their adversaries after coming to power was everything but “an attempt to restore law and order”.

    Please bring substantial examples for your claim, walk it back, or be called a revisionist.

  144. Igor Says:

    > If you had to pick one place to concentrate an influx of new knowledge workers, where would it be: Cincinnati? Cleveland? Dayton? Columbus?

    Columbus hands down. I moved to Columbus from the Bay Area six years ago, and it’s been wonderful. The tech economy is nascent but growing rapidly – Columbus has minted three venture-backed “unicorns” since I’ve moved here. There’s a large and prominent university, charming historical neighborhoods, lots of knowledge workers and immigrants, fancy restaurants, and an overall high quality of life.

    Plus, the Great Lakes are the world’s largest source of fresh water, so when the water wars start, we Buckeyes are gonna be sitting pretty.

  145. ThirteenthLetter Says:

    Jeez, Scott, you hate the people of Texas so much that you want to inflict blue state governance on them? What did they ever do to you?

    More seriously: a while ago, you were rushing to join hands with people who _literally tried to harass you into committing suicide_ because getting rid of Orange Man was so important. Okay, fine. Well, Orange Man is going to be gone in twenty days, no doubt still whining that he didn’t really lose… and yet you _still_ aren’t willing to start working in your own interests instead of the interests of people who hate you and want you dead? Get some damn self-respect, man. No one else is going to stand up for you but you.

  146. Scott Says:

    ThirteenthLetter #145: Blue state governance actually brings a lot of benefits, not the least of which is legal marijuana.

    More broadly, though, what I want is extremely simple: governance that prizes competence, science, facts, and liberal democratic norms. Alas, that currently rules out both the woke left and the entire Republican Party.

  147. amy Says:

    Greetings from a red state. I’ve lived here now for longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, and I vote like a maniac.

    It’s telling about the demographics here that the word “abortion” turns up nowhere except, now, in this post. Neither does “gay”. I see a few instances of “Black”. Why does it matter? One of my responsibilities at work involves recruiting students. The moment abortion becomes illegal or unavailable in this state, though, I stop recruiting. I cannot reasonably try to persuade people capable of getting pregnant to commit to spending years here: what if they get pregnant and don’t want to be? It’s not just a matter of expense and inconvenience, traveling for abortion; it’s dangerous. You have no idea who you’re working with, and if something goes wrong you may be in a place you don’t know, with no one around to help. So: definitely not. For the same reason, I’m glad my daughter is making every effort to leave.

    I stopped inviting visible-minority friends to come visit me here years ago. It’s not just unpleasant for them here now; it can be dangerous. Because I’m Local Non-Local Jew, straddling the line between white and not, I’ve spent decades listening to horrific stories of local maltreatment of Black, Asian, Arab, and Latinx students and faculty. The most depressing stories came from a school principal about the differences between how she was treated in her office and at the grocery story, though a close second is a Black grad student and dad of three trying to get a reasonable education for his kids in a district with one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation (the kids are now homeschooled by his wife on their grad-student stipend). There is a firm local commitment to the view that We Are Not Racist, and yet we routinely shell out millions on founded discrimination charges. I’ve sat arguing with administration here who drag their feet about training student employees on discrimination and bias; their excuse is that the kids are small-town, so what can you do. All of this gives cover to actual violence. So: no, I wouldn’t ask people who are visible minorities to move here. Braver than brave are the immigrants who make teaching here worthwhile, and they get punished daily for existing. They also have communities to help them absorb the blows. As for employment, there are good reasons why Black employees recruited at great effort keep fleeing the place. I wouldn’t stay either, and actually if I do, it’ll only be because I can’t afford to leave.

    As for anything but straight…it’s a mixed bag. If non-cis-het people show up in this state and plan never to leave this town, they might be okay. They’ll hear plenty of slurs from the students, but there’s less of that than there once was.

    Anyone from any of those groups planning to have children here: good luck. I have to say, I wasn’t anticipating how difficult it’d be for my kid to grow up Jewish here. It’s not the kind of place where people tell you you’re going to hell, but it’s a very isolated position. The hurt went deep for her almost right away, and I realized something I hadn’t before — I’d thought I’d grown up in a pretty non-Jewish place, but that was true only in relation to NYC. My public-school classes were about one-quarter Jewish, there was a big JCC, a Schecter day school, multiple synagogues. Here, my daughter was usually the only Jew in her grade, sometimes in the school. And we had trouble with the district over it every single year. For many years nearly all her friends were the other outsiders: immigrants, kids of immigrants, Muslims, Black kids — something I didn’t notice till I went to a school function and saw the kids in their friend groups. The result’s been that she’s got a much more intense Jewish identity than I ever had (and managed a reasonably cosmopolitan childhood here), but she’s also firmly committed to getting the hell out of here. Her biggest fear is that she’ll have to go to college here, which might happen: salaries are also low in most red places, and that puts a lot of universities out of reach. Culturally, a red state doesn’t support the hyperventilating college-prep resume that, say, New Jersey or Connecticut does, and the public schools can be frankly iffy on the notion of college. How many kids from Tulsa are going anywhere but to Oklahoma state universities and community colleges, I don’t know, but I bet it’s a pretty tiny proportion.

    There’s also the matter of the moribund state of Democratic Party organizations in these states. Texas may be different, but I suspect most are like mine: barely breathing. Which means that unless you’ve got the time to start running it yourself (nobody will stop you), there’s not much to support. You get obviously unqualified candidates who don’t know how to run, and if a race is nationally important you’ll get DNC people parachuting in, but they don’t know the territory and tend to be ineffectual. If you want to martyr yourself to a life in the statehouse, you might (might) be able to get something done if only because so many of your honorable colleagues are remarkably (and publicly!) stupid, inexperienced, criminal, and lazy.

    Finally, unless you’re going to get your company to pay you the kind of money you’d get in a more populous, expensive place, you’re still likely to be in trouble if you’re under, say, 40, because you won’t have money to pay your loans. Minimum wage here is still $7.25/hr, as it’s been for years and years; $60K is a pretty snappy salary.

    As for me…you know, it’s exhausting, living here*. On the upside, it’s cheap, and I’m well set up, just had the solar panels installed, good garden, it’s quiet, etc. The university does specialize in the thing I do. People here have known me for 30 years. And there are aggravations anywhere. It occurred to me a few months ago, though, that this idea I had about just riding it out here left out something important: nearly all my friends are likely to move away. People retire. The Jews follow their children, or go west, and other people go where there’s something to look at. The international people go wherever they want. It’s only the multi-generation natives who stay. So if I do stay, it’s likely I’ll be increasingly isolated and, when I need help, invisible. My expectation is that I’ll stay here several more years, then get a granny flat in a place where I can take the train to the symphony, sit in the park, have a good doctor, see a lot of people, have help when I need it, and let the super take care of the place.

    *not to mention dangerous. My governor has been actively trying to kill people since this pandemic started, and we don’t have a functioning state government anymore. The population is poorly educated and big on Jesus as their doctor, and for all his merits, Jesus isn’t accredited for a reason. I’m far more fortunate than most when it comes to ability to stay employed from home, and to send my kid to school virtually, but it’s been hellish and occasionally terrifying trying to negotiate all this with the kid’s covidiot dad. In no way do state regs support my “hey, let’s not get this thing and risk death or long-term disability” position.

    So — yeah. If all you’re doing is reasoning from the position of “not enough people voting Dem in these places, obvs solution, move there”, it makes sense. Once you start looking at it on the level of individual lives lived, you see that it’s largely an act of masochism.

  148. Scott Says:

    amy #147: Nice to have you here as always!

    I feel bad that you’re so unhappy with where you live, and given what you write, I certainly wouldn’t blame you for moving if the opportunity arose. I realize, of course, that it’s absurd to expect any significant number of blue-staters to move to places they’d hate purely for electoral reasons, and that it would be presumptuous to ask. That’s why, in this post, I put an explicit emphasis on quality of life, and particularly on things that would matter to blue-staters!

    Austin is not perfect, but I definitely don’t feel like moving here was some sort of act of masochism. The city is considerably more liberal than (for example) Bucks County, PA, where I grew up. Bernie Sanders signs greatly outnumber Trump signs, although if you wanted to see Trump signs you could just drive out of the city north, south, east, or west. While no one would mistake Austin for Crown Heights, it has at least 20,000 Jews, including the mayor, Democrat Steve Adler. My daughter has several other Jewish kids in her grade, as well as an African-American teacher and classmates. As for antisemitism, I guess I’m lucky to have encountered it firsthand in only two places: (1) the Internet, and (2) Berkeley, CA, where (e.g.) anti-Israel activists smashed up the Hillel building, beat up a couple students wearing kippot, and shouted down a Yom HaShoah service while I was a student there. So far, I’ve witnessed nothing of the kind in Texas.

    I agree that, if Roe v. Wade were overturned, then the whole calculus would change. But I feel like the overturning of Roe v. Wade is one of the events that could precipitate a second dissolution of the country and/or civil war! And I hope that even Amy Coney Barrett, who’s not a fool, realizes as much.

    Happy New Year, everyone! 😀

  149. ThirteenthLetter Says:

    >”Blue state governance actually brings a lot of benefits, not the least of which is legal marijuana.”

    Except they don’t stop with the legal weed. In my bright blue city they came within inches of simply legalizing _crime_ and only backed off because someone noticed it being slipped into a budget bill — but they’re going to do it legitimately later this month anyway. The place is already full of civic disorder, inadequate infrastructure, massive homeless camps, skyrocketing crime rates, hard-left government-endorsed street militias, and a turbo-woke government that sees its most important role as advocating for explicit racism. It _sucks_, man, it’s depressing as hell, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone — not even the dumb-dumbs who voted it into office.

    How much of a functioning society are you willing to give up as long as the people taking it away say the right things about pronouns?

    >More broadly, though, what I want is extremely simple: governance that prizes competence, science, facts, and liberal democratic norms. Alas, that currently rules out both the woke left and the entire Republican Party.

    Tell me with a straight face that the rest of the Democratic Party isn’t going to give the woke left everything they demand — at least, everything that doesn’t cut into corporate profits.

  150. Scott Says:

    ThirteenthLetter #149:

      How much of a functioning society are you willing to give up as long as the people taking it away say the right things about pronouns?

    Shouldn’t that question be directed to someone else? I don’t care about pronouns; I care about competent and fact-responsive governance.

      Tell me with a straight face that the rest of the Democratic Party isn’t going to give the woke left everything they demand — at least, everything that doesn’t cut into corporate profits.

    See, but I have to weigh the possibility that mainstream Democrats will give the wokeists everything they demand, against the now-demonstrated fact that many “mainstream” Republicans will give armed messianic QAnon cultists everything they demand!

  151. cmk Says:

    Thank you very much for this post! I’ve had similar thoughts for a while but hadn’t heard them voiced so succinctly before.

    Perhaps the time is ripe for growing an OL community dedicated to the topic. Is there nothing already out there? A quick bit of searching reveals some breathless articles in the mainstream press about the (not yet federally political) migration currently occurring, and two Reddit threads on the topic (one from 11 years ago that reads almost quaintly w/ my 2020 eyes). This seems like the kind of topic that someone in the effective altruism community might have picked up. If there is something better out there that anyone’s seen please lmk.

    Anyhow, this idea will be niche before it is mainstream, and it would be useful to have a place for like-minded folks to gather that provides some of the following:

    (1) A definition of what kind of federal political power we’re trying to amass (e.g. EC, Senate, House, etc), a basic strategy for amassing it, and a definition of done. Core items to help focus the movement.

    (2) Data and high-level discussion informing (1). For example ratios of annual net migration to some measure of EC or Senate vote power per capita. Some of the obvious ‘Schelling cities’ (e.g. Austin, Atlanta), while useful for the EC, are not very useful for the Senate. Jackson Hole anyone?

    (3) Most importantly forum(s) for people to coordinate, ask about local details, find potential roommates, accrue fake internet points for their good deeds etc.

  152. Nilima Nigam Says:

    First, a happy 2021 to the author and the readers of this blog.

    Next – some of the comments on this post are truly hateful, and it sounds like there is much more dreck where this came from. Hopefully the good stuff is far, far more prevalent than the crap.

    But what you propose is, at least in the abstract, not so different from the (very sensible and pragmatic) sentiments expressed in long-standing American programs, which rely on the premise that moving elsewhere, living amist different cultures and civilly communicating with those that aren’t like us, changes all involved, and usually for the better. (Doesn’t work if one is writing dreck on a keyboard.)

    “The Fulbright Program’s mission is to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship”. (Swap ‘nations’ for ‘party partisans’. )

    And of course, the Peace Corp:

    “To promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:
    To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
    To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
    To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.”

    Swap ‘world peace’ for ‘American democracy’, ‘countries’ for ‘red states’, and ‘other peoples’ for ‘Americans’.

    So yeah, a little bit of internal migration and intermingling could be just the ticket.

  153. ThirteenthLetter Says:

    >Shouldn’t that question be directed to someone else? I don’t care about pronouns; I care about competent and fact-responsive governance.

    And what I’m saying is you may care about B and not A, but the blue state model delivers A and not B. Look at California: is that really a model of competent and fact-responsive governance to you? There’s a reason people have been fleeing it for years.

  154. Steve Says:

    Short of moving to a red state, how about encouraging Democrats to register as Republicans? Then we could block Trump 2024 in the primary stages instead of worrying about the general election.

  155. Sniffnoy Says:

    Btw, for anyone who is looking to move to a swing state, Ann Arbor’s a great place to live. 🙂 (I mean, I’m out in New York now, but…)

  156. Boaz Barak Says:

    Apparently the biggest recent contribution to the gap between electoral college and popular vote has not been red states but rather midwestern swing states

  157. John Baez Says:

    I just saw a different but vaguely similar proposal:

    • Charles M. Blow, We need a second Great Migration, New York Times, January 8, 2021.

    He writes: “Simply put, my proposition [is] this: that Black people reverse the Great Migration — the mass migration of millions of African-Americans largely from the rural South to cities primarily in the North and West that spanned from 1916 to 1970.” He’s doing it himself.

  158. Tim McCormack Says:

    I like this argument, and I’ve considered this at times.

    And then I see articles like this one about an ethanol plant in Nebraska that is effectively concentrating and dumping pesticides into the groundwater, poisoning people and ecosystems for miles around:

    « Blayne Glissman, [a Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy] waste permits specialist, offered a defense for the ethanol operation, saying he believed AltEn officials were just “hard-working people trying to make a living”. »

    Hard-working! Just trying to make a living! Those are valid excuses for killing people and rendering their land barren, yes.

    I don’t think I *want* to die in a third-rate hospital of five different cancers before I’m even 40.

  159. Charles Alexander Says:

    Vincent Waters #51 : “The fourth possible outcome is the complete domination of one side by another. The South submitted because it was thoroughly dominated by The North. ”

    This seems wrong on its face. Slaves and free blacks made up over 40% of the population of the confederacy. The south likely would have remained in the union if it was put to a simple majority vote, especially one including women as well.