David Roberts Profile picture
Jul 5 25 tweets 5 min read Read on X
I haven't written much about politics since the debate, mainly because I'm so overwhelmed by disgust & contempt toward this country's media & commentariat that it has rendered me inarticulate with rage. Twitter probably doesn't need more rage. I do just wanna make one point tho.
To be clear up front: I don't give one tiny hot fuck who the Dem nominee is. I truly don't. Biden's fine. Harris is fine. A warm puddle of vomit is fine. *There is no conceivable resolution to the nomination fight that could change the basic calculus of this race.*
Preventing a fascist takeover of the US is my top priority--as a journalist, as a voter, as a human. If it isn't yours too, you should feel bad about yourself. If you haven't made the stakes of this election clear to everyone within the sound of your voice, you should feel bad.
But I'm not gonna rant. [breathes deeply] Just gonna make my one point, which is this: the idea that that the process of jettisoning Biden & choosing someone else will go well -- will be *allowed* to go well -- is a deeply deranged fantasy.
The idea that Dems will do this & will end up feeling unified, that Harris will come out popular, that "the dynamics of the race will shift," all of that ... fucking deranged. Deranged in such a perfectly characteristic Dem way.
"This person/policy/slogan/approach has been irredeemably slimed by Republicans & a hostile media -- let's throw it overboard!" That's the Dem way. Always with this starry-eyed hope that they can reset, start over, get it right this time.
Just as one example -- other people have aggregated these -- there have been "calls" for every Dem nominee of the last 30 years to step aside. Dems practically delight in abandoning their own people, policies, & principles in response to bad-faith pressure. They f'ing love it.
But, as I've been saying for, oh, 20 years now, the situation is structural. The current situation is an outcome of a particular incentive structure & that structure will remain exactly the same if Harris takes over the ticket.
For centrists, journalists, pundits, *even Dem electeds*, the way you prove you are a Reasonable, Serious Person in DC is by shitting on Dems. For the left, the way you prove you are a true radical is by shitting on Dems. For the right ... well, obviously.
Everyone's professional incentives are to shit on Dems. Dwelling on Trump & his fascist movement -- however justified by the objective facts -- just doesn't bring that juice, doesn't get the clicks & the high-fives, doesn't feel brave & iconoclastic. It's just ... no fun.
So, say Biden stepped aside in favor of Harris tomorrow. How long until the vapid gossips we call political reporters find something wrong with her, some alleged flaw they just have to write 192 stories about? How long until the hopped-up mediocrities we call pundits ...
...find some "counter-intuitive" reason that the new Dem ticket is flawed after all? How long until the irredentist left gets over the temporary thrill of its new Harris memes & remembers that she's a cop & turns on her? How long before the ambient racism & misogyny in the US...
... lead center-leftists to conclude that, sure, they'd support a black woman, just not *this* black woman? In other words: how long before everyone reverts to their comfortable, familiar identity & narratives?

About 30 f'ing seconds, is my guess.
Dems uniting, feeling good, telling a clear story, receiving credit for their accomplishments--all of that is *impossible* in the current environment. It won't be allowed. Dems can punch themselves in the face all they want, abandon whoever they want, apologize all they want...
... they simply will not be allowed to turn the page & start fresh, because everyone's incentives remain the same. If they did that, elites, including media elites, would have no choice but to openly & frankly grapple with Trump & what he represents & they *don't want to*.
Everyone feels comfortable shitting on Dems -- it's just a cozy professional space. You get to feel brave & independent (just like all the replacement-level pundits around you) with zero risk.

Yes, it's abysmal, contemptible cowardice on a genuinely embarrassing scale ...
... but it is what it is & we should have no illusions that it will change with a change in the top of the ticket.

As @whstancil has been trying to tell you people (good god how he tries), the information environment is thoroughly corrupted.
@whstancil For some reason, left pundits are pathologically averse to acknowledging that fact. And so they grasp at these straws -- if we could just get rid of Biden, we could have a reasonable conversation! Yeah, sure. You absurd summer children.
@whstancil This election is not a choice between two individuals, it's a choice between worldviews, between futures. Do we want to continue down the path to multiethnic democracy or do we want to impose a white patriarchal Christian autocracy?
@whstancil At stake is the entire federal civil service. The machinery of state built since WWII. Freedom & dignity for millions. Yes, democracy itself. That's not an exaggeration. Yet this country's elites have utterly failed to convey those stakes to the populace. A *grotesque* failure.
You can not look at this extraordinary media freakout this last week and not psychologize, not see all kinds of displacement. They can't or won't be serious about Trump & so they are fucking *giddy* at having permission to scold Dems again. Their safe place.
Anyway, my point is just: none of this will change if Harris replaces Biden at the top of the ticket. The idea that the media -- with these soulless careerist court gossips in charge -- will allow it is just fantasy. They *need* Dems in disarray & so they will engineer it.
The US is right on the precipice of falling into bona fide fascism & *the vast majority of the voting public doesn't even know it*. That speaks to a deeply diseased information environment. Until Dems do something about that, all their self-flagellation will buy them nothing.
Not knowing what else to do, Dems shit on their own

Addendum: you can see it starting already. They're probing, pushing, seeing what gets bites. Will this (utter horseshit about a coverup) be the "but her emails" for Harris? Who knows. What's certain is: they'll find something.

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More from @drvolts

Jul 13
One of the most shocking things you discover when you start covering US politics closely -- at least naive young me found it shocking -- is that most political journalists don't seem to give even a tiny shit about policy.
My take on politics, though I'm not sure I could have articulated it, is "I want good results -- increased welfare -- for my fellow citizens, and to get it, I have to figure out how this stuff works." I kind of assumed that's why anyone would pay attention to politics.
But I've spent a *lot* of time over the years talking to or working alongside political journalists & it is just wild how little it comes up & how little curiosity they evince about it, except insofar as it represents some sort of power play in the Great Game.
Read 4 tweets
Jul 11
🧵The main thing Americans do not understand/appreciate about presidential elections is that you are not voting for a person, you are voting for an *administration* -- cabinet members, appointees, military leaders, advisers & analysts, the whole civil service, etc. etc.
You're voting for an executive branch -- that's an *enormous* organization. The president himself makes only a tiny fraction of the decisions in the day-to-day management of that org. It's a whole apparatus, vastly larger than one individual.
Yet people instinctively think -- and the media reinforces this misperception at every term -- that the president, this one person, is "in charge" of the US & responsible for everything that happens, that their unique personal capabilities determine the country's fate.
Read 17 tweets
Jul 8
Hey, remember climate change? We kinda stopped talking about it here in the US, but ... it's still happening. A tour. 🧵

Massive, heavy rains & flooding in Bangladesh:

Heavy rains, flooding, & landslides in Nepal.

"Japan’s meteorological agency has issued a heatstroke alert for 26 of the country’s 47 prefectures, urging people not to go outside unless absolutely necessary, to use their air conditioners during the day and at night, and to drink plenty of water."

Read 10 tweets
Jun 26
All right I've been tweeting too much today, but one more quick 🧵 before I log off this hellsite.

Here @Noahpinion makes the argument that crime is, in fact, down. He does so by citing all sorts of official statistics from FBI etc.

Now, there are, of course, many in the MAGA base who will simply refuse to believe official statistics. ("You get to believe whatever you feel" is one of the benefits of membership.) But official statistics still carry weight with most media & most people. In other words ...
... the question of whether crime is down can -- perhaps not to the extent we'd like, but still to a substantial extent -- *be settled*. There's something approximating an official, objective answer. There's a fact of the matter.
Read 13 tweets
Jun 22
To me one thing that the Hochul congestion-pricing fiasco illustrates is the importance of epistemic circles. She is practically drowning in empirical evidence and modeling, rigorous work done over years & years by professionals, but in the end ...
... what really *reached & moved* her was the testimony of the people around her. All that objective evidence ultimately could not overcome vibes. The people she hangs out with, the people she talks to, don't like it, and that's what mattered.
You can say -- as I do! -- that this is a dereliction of her duty, a total failure to approach the issue in a rigorous way. She deserves plenty of condemnation & contempt for the ridiculous way she made this decision. Nonetheless ...
Read 9 tweets
Jun 8
Y'all, I just got back from a car dealership. Holy shit. I thought, "maybe my stereotypes are outdated, maybe it's not so bad any more."

It's ... so much worse. I couldn't believe it. I have to rant a bit.
We're thinking about leasing a RAV4 Prime -- the PHEV. We thought we should at least test drive one. Dealer didn't have a Prime, but they had a normal hybrid, fine. But of course, after the test drive, they drag us inside to talk about leasing.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that the guy we were forced to talk to knew *nothing*. "What's the difference between the trims?" "I don't know, let me go check." (He's gone for 10 minutes, during which time we look up the difference in trims online and read all about them.)
Read 13 tweets

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