David Atkins Profile picture
Contributor @monthly. Bylines @theprospect & elsewhere. Elected DNC Member from CA. Progressive reformist. Dad of two. I run a qualitative research firm.
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May 29 13 tweets 3 min read
People are being deliberately obtuse about Will Stancil's points.

Since Democrats are structurally disadvantaged by a rigged system, when we DO get majorities we HAVE to use our power to unrig the system. Our legislators have to stop putting norms and comity over fixing things. The point isn't to "not vote." The point is that we WILL lose elections. It's baked into the system, especially in a rigged system.


Dem legislators have to be bold about fixing systems.
May 12 13 tweets 3 min read
The biggest mistake moderate Democrats are making is that they are governing to preserve institutional credibility while hoping that Trumpism will blow over, rather than preparing with grim fortitude for a society-wide confrontation with a fascist movement playing for keeps. /1 What does this look like? Let's take some examples. Democrats are trying to preserve the comity of the Senate so it keeps "working" after Trumpism dissipates, failing to get that the Senate is the barricade the fascists are fortifying to prevent us from stopping their coup. /2
May 10 9 tweets 2 min read
Going after junior staffers is wrong and inappropriate.

But the problem is that we're in a situation with NO accountability mechanism. The legislator cannot be contacted or pressured. There is no relief valve.

The only possible avenue is exposure by someone on the inside./1 The incentives for staff are also perverse. Exposing the situation potentially destroys their careers. Continuing it basically gives the senior staffers the power of a Senator and keeps their jobs.

I feel for all of them, but someone has to step forward and do the right thing./2
May 9 5 tweets 2 min read
True Blue Dems wasting tens of millions of dollars on doomed vanity campaigns against MTG will do far, far more to damage to Democrats in 2024 than Marianne Williamson running a silly primary campaign that won't actually hurt Biden in the general. You know why no one frets that a Trump vs DeSantis brawl will hurt the GOP in the general election? Because it won't.

Primaries are good. If Bernie hadn't given voice to millions of frustrated young progressive voters in 2016, Clinton might have straight-up lost the pop vote.
Apr 26 16 tweets 4 min read
Almost every major error and meltdown in Dem/left politics, from post-left fash apologism to popularist left-punching cringe, comes from fatally flawed attempts to solve what I call the Upper Left Quadrant problem.

Here is the chart, and the fundamental problem: /1 Image This chart explains *so much* about modern American politics. What it says, simply, is that almost all the actual persuadable voters in the electorate aren't "moderates."

They're cross-pressured extremists and...kinda fashy. They're socially bigoted and economically leftist. /2
Apr 25 8 tweets 2 min read
Biden is running again because his team is (wrongly) convinced he's the only candidate who could have beaten Trump, and the only one who can do it again.

And because there aren't a lot of great alternatives. A short thread. /1 Way too many Bernielanders proved they hate liberals more than fascists. It's hard to trust anyone who, for instance, is against helping Ukraine.

They're also replete with "left" NIMBYs who won't accept any solutions short of "ending capitalism" whatever that means. /2
Apr 16 4 tweets 1 min read
I keep banging this drum, but Republicans don't oppose grooming. They love grooming, as long as it's powerful religious men doing it to young girls.

When they say "grooming" they mean LGBT people existing, bc they don't believe anyone is actually LGBT absent social conditioning. Republicans want their boys to be as cruel and abusive as possible, and they want their girls to be transferred as possessions from fathers to husbands, preferably as young as possible, with no threats to their sexual "purity" or exposure to feminist ideas. /2
Apr 4 14 tweets 3 min read
The idea in some faux-left spaces that home prices are high because landlords are colluding to artificially raise prices is mind-numbingly stupid. Landlords can charge what they do because for every decent living space there are 50 people who want it. /1 Apartment rents are high for the same reason mortgage prices are high: NIMBYs who spent decades preventing anyone from building new housing in desirable urban areas. Too few spaces for the need. /2
Mar 16 12 tweets 2 min read
If you would not be able to afford your current home at its current price at your top annual income, you aren't a diligent investor. You're a squatter.

It may not be directly your fault, but you benefit unjustly and it's your obligation to help fix it for future generations. Taking advantage of cheap abundant housing, and then using regulations to prevent any more housing from being built in order to increase the value of what you bought, is cornering the market.

Perversely, it's cornering the market against your own kids and grandkids. /2
Mar 8 4 tweets 1 min read
If white conservatives are gonna have racist conversations about ethnicity and Western Civilization, it's worth noting that none of the slavers' diaspora that ended up colonizing the American South did a goddamn thing to build, create or defend Western Civilization. None of you or great-great-great-grandpas going back invented philosophy or codified law. None of your "heritage" were involved in the Renaissance or have paintings hanging in the Louvre. You put up fake Roman colonnades you appropriated on your shitty slavers' plantations.
Feb 27 5 tweets 1 min read
We still don't know whether COVID was a natural occurrence or from a lab leak.

But let's be clear: almost no one involved in promoting lab leak theory was concerned with international lab security.

It was designed to encourage xenophobia, racism & conspiracy theories. /1 No matter what happened, we should have conversations about global lab security. China has been uncooperative in helping determine what happened.

But that conversation is impossible to have with people using it to push xenophobia, racism and anti-science conspiracies./2
Feb 24 13 tweets 3 min read
It's hilarious that conservatives think the Good Old Days were the 1950s, and that leftists see capitalism as a defining event requiring dialectical response, when in reality humanity still hasn't solved the problems caused by agriculture, much less the Industrial Revolution. /1 Agriculture did good things, but it also caused enormous human misery and rampant inequality. Because people are fundamentally terrible and greedy, everywhere agriculture developed so did a rapacious elite. We still haven't figured out how to deal with that. /2
Feb 12 4 tweets 1 min read
There was a Dem candidate who did exactly this in 2016, & the establishment centrists called his supporters racists & sexists who didn't care enough about culture issues.

Now that progressives have embraced intersectionality, we're derided as overly woke. It's tiresome. In the end, establishment centrists use whatever arguments of convenience they can to marginalize progressives, especially young progressives.

First it's "breaking up the banks won't solve racism." Then it's "stop focusing on racism and do kitchen table issues."
Feb 10 4 tweets 1 min read
For the last 160 years the Left has been making footnotes to Marx--everyone from Gramsci to Crenshaw.

But it's wrong. It misunderstands human nature and social relations.

There are no classes. There is only power. People with power will almost always abuse people without it./1 People are generally terrible to each other. A cursory review of any history anywhere, from simple to complex societies, makes that pretty obvious. *Especially* in complex societies of any kind, no matter what kind of government or culture. /2
Jan 26 4 tweets 1 min read
Democrats in leadership are, generally, *far* too concerned about looking "divisive" and not nearly concerned enough about legitimately hearing out and addressing concerns from every corner of the Dem base. It's OK to hash things out. It's OK to do in public. It's OK for it to be a little messy.

When the self-appointed "adults in the room" ramrod stuff through and make everyone sing in unison or else, nobody is fooled by that and it actually *decreases* engagement and trust.
Jan 23 5 tweets 2 min read
The lesson of the McCarthy and Hochul battles is that unity is overrated. Healthy internal debates are good if they lead to better, more left-leaning policy.

My latest @monthly:

washingtonmonthly.com/2023/01/23/the… Democrats mocked Republicans over the leadership fight, but the fact is that Boebert and Gaetz won. MTG is now one of the most powerful members of the House.

This is only bad for the GOP because the far-right is unpopular--not because of the fractiousness itself.
Jan 8 5 tweets 1 min read
Jimmy Dore is wrong because liberal pundits and Dem leadership would heavily punish anyone who used hardline tactics. Mod Dems would make deals with GOPs to elect a Speaker well to the right of Pelosi/Jeffries. The Squad would be frozen out.

So Dore is wrong. But that's bad! /1 It would actually be a much better and much healthier thing to spend three days electing a speaker because a block of Dems who didn't care about Pharma money getting spent against the caucus in the next election, stood their ground and didn't get punished for it. /2
Jan 4 6 tweets 2 min read
It's all very amusing, but none of this chaos will have any effect on voters next November. Nobody will care or remember.

The test of whether the Chaos Caucus succeeds in its objectives will be if it extracts concessions with minimal punishment from GOP party honchos. /1 If House progressives did anything close to this, cable news hosts would excoriate them, and leadership would make sure no one involved ever got a committee spot or job or any position in politics ever again. Any dirty laundry would be exposed. It would be scorched earth. /2
Dec 25, 2022 16 tweets 3 min read
I've been thinking a lot about the pervasive and disturbing Occupy-to-MAGA pipeline. There are many things to blame for it, and many lessons to be learned among both leftists and centrists if we want to avoid similar radicalization in the future. A thread: /1 There are three main culprits for it: 1) griftet flirtation with libertarianism; 2) the utter ideological failure of materialist Marxist models of revoltion; and 3) the breathtaking cynicism of centrists in deploying social justice as a weapon against economic populism. /2
Dec 19, 2022 10 tweets 3 min read
Elon Musk has said a lot of dumb and inflammatory things.
But his ridiculous belief that a right-wing Twitter can simply replace journalism is one of the most bizarre and dangerous--and it hasn't gotten nearly enough attention.

My latest @monthly:
washingtonmonthly.com/2022/12/19/elo… "Musk sees all human communication as a networked hive mind and thinks that deplatforming anti-vaxxers & coup plotters from the public square is like cutting off crucial synapses of society’s collective brain."

He wildly misunderstands neural networks as applied to societies./2
Dec 16, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
I told you this would start happening. I just didn't expect it to happen so soon. for reference: