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Small-Scale Question Sunday for May 19, 2024

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

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How many votes will Robert Kennedy Jr receive in the Presidental election? For the most part, this is treated as silly or just a footnote, but he keeps polling at around 10%. This also isn't even that weird - we all know Perot got a ton of votes, but did you know that in 2016 Gary Johnson got 3.28% of the vote? Looking at state-by-state totals, there's a pretty good chance that Johnson flipped Maine, New Hampshire, and Minnesota to Clinton and almost did the same in Michigan and Wisconsin. At no point do I recall him polling anywhere near as high as RFK and he certainly didn't have the name recognition, which makes it entirely plausible to me that something like 10 million people are going to vote for RFK.

Who is his audience? Covid warriors?

I predict less success than Johnson. The libertarian bloc surely benefited from running against a populist and a Clinton. A protest vote against the current choices isn’t going to look like RFK.

Seriously, I don’t know anyone IRL who supports him. That’s not true for the libertarians, who apparently adopt streets (?!) near me.

I've seriously considered voting for him, should he be on the ballot in my state. (Is he going to be on all the ballots or just some of them?)

His voice is bizarre. And the brain worms thing is genuinely concerning. But I feel like we're at a point where the big two options in this election are so clearly and obviously not good for the job that I'm desperate for something I can do to signal my total displeasure at the direction of my country.

I'm a pretty conservative guy, and have become more conservative over the past few years. But I've also never voted for Trump. I have seriously, seriously considered it, not because I think Trump has magically become a better candidate, but because the ways in which lawfare has been invoked in an attempt to limit his influence is totally shameful, an insult to the democratic process, an obvious refusal to follow democratic norms on behalf of a party which continually claims its opposition has abandoned democratic norms.

It's the fact that this hasn't worked, and even backfired, that has made me back off from my initial intention to vote for Trump. Even him winning 45% -- which I think he's likely to do -- would be a solid and profound rebuke of the attempts to use weird lawsuits and criminal trials to bring down a major political candidate. But I am still much more incensed by the Democratic party's use of overblown criminal trials, especially the "hush money" one that seems like nonsense upon stilts, than I am by anything Trump has ever done. The Democratic party is the real threat to democracy in this country, as far as I'm concerned.

I'm also angry about the OSHA vaccine mandate, and Biden's general inability -- especially before the election year -- to actually assert control over the executive branch. He promised he wouldn't mandate the vaccine and he did it. People I know were forced to receive a medical procedure of limited benefit to them, on the basis of shoddy (or outright nonexistent) evidence, pursued by an authority that had no true right to make such a sweeping regulation, and required to continually present evidence of receiving this procedure, which has had utterly no value for at least the past couple of years, in order to maintain employment.

It's clear to me that Biden doesn't control his party, his party controls him. And I'm certain that has always been the case, even before he became senile. And however moderate Biden may have presented himself, his party is anything but moderate or restrained.

And what's worse is they're not even radical in the areas where the country desperately needs radical change. I agree with the tankies: the Democratic party is a party of woke capitalists. They'll talk every single day about "equity" and "diversity" and "racial justice" and "sexism," but when it comes to making real change in the real country, and doing things that help real people on the ground instead of boosting the status of various NGO officials -- they're a fucking joke. When's the last time you heard mainstream Democrats actually taking about real healthcare reform? Or making changes to employee benefits? Or consumer protection? Probably just a few times in the past few months, as the Biden administration has rushed to do a few things at the administrative level in an election year. But it's too little, too late. They burned their political capital on woke signalling and not actual policy, and the country has suffered for it.

Say whatever you will about him. But RFK seems to actually care about the direction of the country. I watched a speech he gave about our lack of direction, how medical debt and economic disparity has damaged our country. I heard him talk about how our young people lack direction and our society gives them no reason to have any. His message resonated with me. He's probably farther left than me, but I don't care -- he's passionate, he seems to my eyes to care about ordinary Americans regardless of their spot in the oppression olympics. He looks like the adult in the room to me, the guy who looks at the state of the country and cries out in the wilderness: something needs to change. I look at all the candidates, and the one who actually seems to care about Making America Great Again is RFK.

I think some of the extremes of his vaccine skepticism are kooky. But I admire the fact that he still seems to care about the crazy stuff we did during the pandemic. He hasn't allowed the mainstream to let him forget about all of our grave moral errors during COVID. I myself was infuriated that the red wave never materialized in 2022, after two years of injustice based on false facts. And I'm infuriated that our politics has devolved into culture warring, or whining on both sides about foreign wars, or paranoia about China, when it's clear to me that this country is facing a demographic implosion, a massive and unprecedented loss of meaning, and a rapid, unstoppable loss of national identity and values. We're re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic and pointing to explosions on far-off iceburgs, when the ship is sinking, taking on the water of anomie, while our young men and young women are sharpening their knives ready to maime each other. We need transformational leadership, and a positive identity.

And I'm not sure RFK will give us that. But I'm damn sure Trump or Biden won't.

Even him winning 45% -- which I think he's likely to do -- would be a solid and profound rebuke of the attempts to use weird lawsuits and criminal trials to bring down a major political candidate.

Can you explain this logic to me? Surely the point of underhanded maneuvers is no more than winning the election, which only necessitates winning the marginal voter without losing your base. Successfully accomplishing your goal by a comfortable margin does not seem like a rebuke at all, it seems like a strong validation of the strategy.

I think he means that Trump winning is a rebuke of the Democrat's lawfare against him, because then they didn't accomplish their goal.

Or consumer protection?

Consumer protection is one of the few things Biden has at least tried to deliver.