“Mr. Open Source Software”, Eric S. Raymond, penned this must-read open letter to the D party to please get its act together , lest they consign themselves to complete irrelevance.
I’m starting to be seriously concerned about the possibility that the U.S. might become a one-party democracy.
Therefore this is an open letter to Democrats; the country needs you to get your act together. Yes, ideally I personally would prefer your place in the two-party Duverger equilibrium to be taken by the Libertarian Party, but there are practical reasons this is extremely unlikely to happen. The other minor parties are even more doomed. If the Republicans are going to have a counterpoise, it has to be you Democrats.
Donald Trump’s victory reads to me like a realignment election, a historic break with the way interest and demographic groups have behaved in the U.S. in my lifetime. Yet, Democrats, you so far seem to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.
The whole long essay is a must-read that I cannot do justice by selective quoting. Unfortunately it will fall on deaf ears among those who need it most.
In passing, ESR coins a new term:
Speaking of virtue signaling, another thing you need to give up is focusing on peacock issues […] while ignoring pocketbook problems like the hollowing out of middle-class employment.
Again, this advice has nothing to do with the rights or wrongs of individual peacock issues and more with a general sense that the elites are fiddling while Rome burns. For the first time since records have been kept, U.S. life expectancy went down during the Obama years, led by a disturbing rise in suicides and opiate addiction among discouraged unemployed in flyover country. A Democratic Party that fails to address that while it screws around with bathroom-law boycotts is willfully consigning itself to irrelevance.
“Peacock issues” are related to Thomas Sowell’s use of the term “mascots” and to “virtue signaling“, as ell as to the psychological concept of a proxy. They are issues that affect only a very small number of people (and that could be addressed ad hoc with fairly little effort) but are priceless as feathers to preen, and flags to wave to ‘rally the troops’ and instead push a sweeping agenda. Any actual benefit to the people involved in the peacock issues is secondary, if not outright irrelevant.
The use of “peacock issues” is of course not limited to the Brahmandarin political left — they have just become egregiously addicted to the tactic in recent years.