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Analyst, generalist, rationalist. PhD, geography (world culture/politics), UCLA. Complete archive at
Trump rally, Orlando, 2016 March 5 (Jabin Botsford, The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Trumpism is new in its name and its details, but it is not a fundamentally-new phenomenon, in general or in the United States. The transformation of the Republican Party into a Trumpist organization is not a fundamental change, either. And the usual way of understanding Trump and his party, as expressions of conservative and reactionary sentiments, is not wrong; but it is also not the best way of understanding Trump, or understanding what we must do in response. Trump and his party are not quaintly indulging in nostalgia for a bygone era. They mean to rule.

We must recognize in…

2017 September 22

Our current social struggles over the actions of the police are a matter of justice, of course, but they are also rightly seen as an element of our larger cultural wars, with the police lining up against those who feel victimized by the police, many with good reason, and each side drawing passionate supporters. As a matter of justice, this dispute could be analyzed in the limited terms of public policy; but like other cultural clashes, its antagonists enter the dispute with very different, mutually-unintelligible perspectives, as though lacking a common language. What is unusual about the…

(Andrew Harnik, AP)

Donald Trump needs to be removed from office as soon as possible. He has always been and will continue to be a genuine threat to the entire world, not merely the United States, for as long as he remains in power. He is erratic, corrupt, impulsive, mentally impaired, uninformed, lazy, vindictive, and probably compromised by numerous foreign states. He is, in short, unfit for his responsibilities. …

Tecumseh and William Henry Harrison (W. Ridgway)

From 1952 to 1976, every presidential nominee from an incumbent party of two or more terms lost. This fact is the foundation, and the only foundation, for the two-term fatigue theory, which states that such nominees, all other things being equal, will lose. But this streak involved only four such nominees: Democrat Adlai Stevenson (1952), Republican Richard Nixon (1960), Democrat Hubert Humphrey (1968), and Republican Gerald Ford (1976). The two main parties alternated in power every eight years starting, supposedly, with the enactment of the 22nd Amendment, which prohibited third terms to individual presidents.

By contrast, from 1840 to 1960…

Trump and Putin in Helsinki, 2018 July 16

The gradual release and discovery of information in the Trump-Russia story, and the constant tactical retreat of Trump campaign and White House officials, has successfully moved the goalposts for many observers, such that the only Trump behavior they will recognize as bad is “collusion”, and the only evidence they will accept of collusion is a recording of a phone call between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in which Putin asks, “So, Donald Frederickovich, shall we collude?”, and Trump replies, “Da.” But if you assemble the facts that we already know, collusion is plain.

What we have, in Trump and Russia…

Sherrod Brown being sworn in, with wife Connie Schultz and Joe Biden (Getty)

There is already a large field of Democrats (or standoffish Democratic-leaning independent socialists) running for president, and it will get larger, perhaps much larger. While evaluations of them as candidates depend heavily on personal values, there are some hard facts that face Democrats in choosing among them from a partisan perspective. What is good for the party overall? Obviously, the goal is to capture the White House and the Senate in 2020, while holding the House, and winning as many additional governorships and state legislatures as possible — and then to use these offices to implement specific policies. …

(Chip Somodevilla, Getty)

If Beto O’Rourke is the Democratic nominee in 2020, I will vote for him, and not just with great reluctance. Donald Trump and the Republican Party must be soundly defeated, it goes without saying. Moreover, I like Beto, and I see him as a politician with great potential. But he will not be my choice in the Democratic primaries. The problem is not just that there are good reasons for nominating someone else. It’s that people are supporting Beto O’Rourke for bad reasons. They don’t want Beto to run the government. They want Beto to take us all to prom.

2016 presidential election by precinct (Ryne Rohla)

Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson has gotten a lot of attention, and from serious people, for an analysis of the US midterm election results, but what she has to say is either trivially true or obviously false, and in some cases self-contradictory. Soltis Anderson’s overarching theme is that we should stop thinking in red states and blue states. She is right about this; but she has not yet heeded her own advice.

The state is a terrible unit of analysis, other than for specific government-related matters — laws, of course, or public universities and their fandoms. The state has never been…

Women’s March, Washington, 2017 (Amanda Voisard, Washington Post)

In every election year, Democrats grow despondent over the outcome as the election nears. Sometimes it’s just because the stakes are so high, as they were in 2016, and in that case they were of course right to worry. Sometimes it’s because things clearly will go badly, as they did in 2010. This year, it’s because hopes have been high, but the polls appear to be softening. After much anticipation of a Blue Wave sweeping the Republicans from Congress, now there is doubt. Some degree of doubt is a good thing; the Democrats will not win anything this year if…

Consider the following claims, frequently made:

The Democrats have lost thousands of seats in the last decade. Corporate centrism is a failure. The Democrats need a new, progressive approach.

and its complement:

The Republican Party has been organizationally brilliant and tactically ruthless. The Democrats need to match them, not continue with their usual, hapless milquetoastery.

The versions you’ve seen may differ slightly, but this is my good-faith summary of the arguments. …

O.T. Ford

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