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An Open Letter From Ben Sasse, US Senator

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Ben Sasse is a senator from Nebraska. I saw this open letter, and some of the reactions to it, and thought I would pass it along and see what folks here think of it. It contains a whole lot of the angst we are seeing right now with Trump as the GOP nominee. https://www.facebook.com/sassefornebraska/posts/593031420862025

In part, he says:

1.
Washington isn’t fooling anyone -- Neither political party works. They bicker like children about tiny things, and yet they can’t even identify the biggest issues we face. They’re like a couple arguing about what color to paint the living room, and meanwhile, their house is on fire. They resort to character attacks as step one because they think voters are too dumb for a real debate. They very often prioritize the agendas of lobbyists (for whom many of them will eventually work) over the urgent needs of Main Street America. I signed up for the Party of Abraham Lincoln -- and I will work to reform and restore the GOP -- but let’s tell the plain truth that right now both parties lack vision.

2.
As a result, normal Americans don’t like either party. If you ask Americans if they identify as Democrat or Republican, almost half of the nation interrupts to say: “Neither.”

3.
Young people despise the two parties even more than the general electorate. And why shouldn’t they? The main thing that unites most Democrats is being anti-Republican; the main thing that unites most Republicans is being anti-Democrat. No one knows what either party is for -- but almost everyone knows neither party has any solutions for our problems. “Unproductive” doesn’t begin to summarize how messed up this is.

4.
Our problems are huge right now, but one of the most obvious is that we’ve not passed along the meaning of America to the next generation. If we don’t get them to re-engage -- thinking about how we defend a free society in the face of global jihadis, or how we balance our budgets after baby boomers have dishonestly over-promised for decades, or how we protect First Amendment values in the face of the safe-space movement – then all will indeed have been lost. One of the bright spots with the rising generation, though, is that they really would like to rethink the often knee-jerk partisanship of their parents and grandparents. We should encourage this rethinking.

He goes on at some length. Some of his points are good and interesting, some are really stupid(complaining that politicians think voters are too dumb for policy discussion when the candidates that discussed policy washed out early). I find myself torn between irritation at his cynical use of the angst many are feeling over this election to push his agenda, and agreeing with the idea of less bickering, more solutions, combined with amusement of his reasoning for not having ideological purity tests.
 

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Honestly, if I were a Democrat, I'd be annoyed with Republicans trying to tell me what to think of my party.
 

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Honestly, if I were a Democrat, I'd be annoyed with Republicans trying to tell me what to think of my party.

I am not following your point, which may be entirely my own fault, but could you elaborate on what you are talking about please.
 

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Honestly, if I were a Democrat, I'd be annoyed with Republicans trying to tell me what to think of my party.

Sen. Sasse is a conservative Republican.
 

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Ben Sasse is a senator from Nebraska. I saw this open letter, and some of the reactions to it, and thought I would pass it along and see what folks here think of it. It contains a whole lot of the angst we are seeing right now with Trump as the GOP nominee. https://www.facebook.com/sassefornebraska/posts/593031420862025

In part, he says:

He goes on at some length. Some of his points are good and interesting, some are really stupid(complaining that politicians think voters are too dumb for policy discussion when the candidates that discussed policy washed out early). I find myself torn between irritation at his cynical use of the angst many are feeling over this election to push his agenda, and agreeing with the idea of less bickering, more solutions, combined with amusement of his reasoning for not having ideological purity tests.

First - let me start off by saying that I'm a fan of Ben Sasse. So I'll agree that I approach this with bias, but

Second - however, I think you are wrongfully attributing cynical manipulation to his actual beliefs and opinions.



I agree with you that Sasse is overestimating the intelligence and attention span of the typical voter, but one of the things he argues is that it's not that voters are brilliant so much as it is that politicians aren't - that DC isn't the center of the country, and politics aren't the center of America, etc. So I see how he comes to that conclusion - I'm just still pretty convinced that a Poll Test based on the Citizenship Exam would A) sharply reduce the voter rolls and B) be extremely healthy for the country. I think he is additionally wrong in overestimating the percentage of Americans who want honest accounting of our entitlement programs - that would force us to make hard and complex decisions, and we don't like hard and complex, we like simple, shiny, solutions that screw over the [insert outgroup].



On twitter Sasse threw out Coburn as an option for the role he was discussing, but then also stated he'd be fine with pretty much anyone in the Competent/Moderate/Decent Venn Diagram overlap. I have no idea who would stand up in that role, myself, nor do I think they would actually have a prayer of winning, absent multiple exogenous crises in the two campaigns.
 

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Ben Sasse is a senator from Nebraska. I saw this open letter, and some of the reactions to it, and thought I would pass it along and see what folks here think of it. It contains a whole lot of the angst we are seeing right now with Trump as the GOP nominee. https://www.facebook.com/sassefornebraska/posts/593031420862025

In part, he says:



He goes on at some length. Some of his points are good and interesting, some are really stupid(complaining that politicians think voters are too dumb for policy discussion when the candidates that discussed policy washed out early). I find myself torn between irritation at his cynical use of the angst many are feeling over this election to push his agenda, and agreeing with the idea of less bickering, more solutions, combined with amusement of his reasoning for not having ideological purity tests.

the democrats put up 3 basic candidates (two remaining)
the republicans put up what? 17?

and this is the best two or three? lmao

this is the same ****, just a different year

the good candidates wont run for national races....why would they subject themselves and their families to that merrygoround for two freaking years

they stay local or at most state...and stay mostly away from the limelight

would you want to be a politician in today's world? would you want to put up with all the crap they have to go through?

no way in hell i would ever contemplate it.....

and that my friends is the problem....

and what we get left with are the elite power brokers, and the ego maniacs....

and to hell with what is best for america, or best for middle america

my daughter is contemplating a run for city council in a small town in texas because of the crap going on down there, and the stupidity coming out of the mouths of the people currently on the council....but even for that....for a town of less than 50k, she will NEED to raise money to run to have any chance to win

how ludicrous is THAT....raising money for a city council spot?
 

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I am not following your point, which may be entirely my own fault, but could you elaborate on what you are talking about please.

I think a lot of Repubs try to soothe their ruffled feelings at the complete mess the GOP is in now by saying the Dem party is just the same way. Shoot, I think I've done that, but Repubs really have zero to say about how Dems feel or should feel about their party or their candidates.
 

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First - let me start off by saying that I'm a fan of Ben Sasse. So I'll agree that I approach this with bias, but

Bias is fine. I make no bones about my own.

Second - however, I think you are wrongfully attributing cynical manipulation to his actual beliefs and opinions.

I am not suggesting he does not believe what he says, only that he is engaging in using that angst to push his personal agenda.

I agree with you that Sasse is overestimating the intelligence and attention span of the typical voter, but one of the things he argues is that it's not that voters are brilliant so much as it is that politicians aren't - that DC isn't the center of the country, and politics aren't the center of America, etc. So I see how he comes to that conclusion - I'm just still pretty convinced that a Poll Test based on the Citizenship Exam would A) sharply reduce the voter rolls and B) be extremely healthy for the country. I think he is additionally wrong in overestimating the percentage of Americans who want honest accounting of our entitlement programs - that would force us to make hard and complex decisions, and we don't like hard and complex, we like simple, shiny, solutions that screw over the [insert outgroup].

I do not think that the issue is the intelligence of voters. Attacks work on smart voters too. It is simply easier to create a caricature of others than it is to define your own complex stances. So in a world of limited resources available to candidates, especially time, and the knowledge that if you do not get elected, you have no chance to do the good you think your policies would do, what else are candidates going to do? If it works, of course they use it, and character attacks work.

And I would stand against you in any attempt to enact any kind of poll test.

On twitter Sasse threw out Coburn as an option for the role he was discussing, but then also stated he'd be fine with pretty much anyone in the Competent/Moderate/Decent Venn Diagram overlap. I have no idea who would stand up in that role, myself, nor do I think they would actually have a prayer of winning, absent multiple exogenous crises in the two campaigns.

Tom Coburn?
 

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I think a lot of Repubs try to soothe their ruffled feelings at the complete mess the GOP is in now by saying the Dem party is just the same way. Shoot, I think I've done that, but Repubs really have zero to say about how Dems feel or should feel about their party or their candidates.

I really do not have a problem with republicans stating their opinions on what democrats should do. I take it with the appropriate grain of salt, just as I expect any one to take any comments I make about the republican party. In addition, his comments where aimed at both parties.
 

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I think a lot of Repubs try to soothe their ruffled feelings at the complete mess the GOP is in now by saying the Dem party is just the same way. Shoot, I think I've done that, but Repubs really have zero to say about how Dems feel or should feel about their party or their candidates.

Over the last few decades, the Democrats never got close to the various nutty fringe groups in the way that the Republicans did. Even if neither party is loved, the GOP is certainly paying a higher price for the company they've kept.
 

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Bias is fine. I make no bones about my own.
I am not suggesting he does not believe what he says, only that he is engaging in using that angst to push his personal agenda.

I would say that he probably thinks that agenda is - as he put it - a 70% agenda, not his "personal" one, and that you are probably reacting because it is not yours. :shrug:

I do not think that the issue is the intelligence of voters.

Um. How many of them, outside of this place, do you talk to?

Attacks work on smart voters too. It is simply easier to create a caricature of others than it is to define your own complex stances. So in a world of limited resources available to candidates, especially time, and the knowledge that if you do not get elected, you have no chance to do the good you think your policies would do, what else are candidates going to do? If it works, of course they use it, and character attacks work.

Character attacks do work. But they work best with those of lower intelligence who are less policy-oriented. We need a way to begin to filter them out.

And I would stand against you in any attempt to enact any kind of poll test.

:shrug: as most folks will. It's a lonely hill to stand on :)

Tom Coburn?

Yup. He's beaten the Cancer that he retired to fight, I understand, and has a reputation both of being fiscally conservative (he used to put out those "giant books of wasteful spending your government did this year" products), but also a decent human being.


Or, at least, he doesn't think that it's funny that he can get child-rapists off the hook, nor is he likely to stand on stage and brag about the size of his penis, which, apparently, is the new standard.
 

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I really do not have a problem with republicans stating their opinions on what democrats should do. I take it with the appropriate grain of salt, just as I expect any one to take any comments I make about the republican party. In addition, his comments where aimed at both parties.

Yeah, are we really to believe someone of the other party really has our party's best interest at heart? I know I don't buy it when I see it and there's no reason Dems should either.
 

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Over the last few decades, the Democrats never got close to the various nutty fringe groups in the way that the Republicans did. Even if neither party is loved, the GOP is certainly paying a higher price for the company they've kept.

Right. No "nutty fringe" groups on the left.
 

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Ben Sasse is a senator from Nebraska. I saw this open letter, and some of the reactions to it, and thought I would pass it along and see what folks here think of it. It contains a whole lot of the angst we are seeing right now with Trump as the GOP nominee. https://www.facebook.com/sassefornebraska/posts/593031420862025

In part, he says:



He goes on at some length. Some of his points are good and interesting, some are really stupid(complaining that politicians think voters are too dumb for policy discussion when the candidates that discussed policy washed out early). I find myself torn between irritation at his cynical use of the angst many are feeling over this election to push his agenda, and agreeing with the idea of less bickering, more solutions, combined with amusement of his reasoning for not having ideological purity tests.

Thanks for posting this.

His comments are pretty similar to what I heard from various clients this past year. Most folks seem to be looking for a less invasive government. Liberals and Conservatives have different issues they'd like government to be less invasive with but a general scaling back should be pretty popular. On the whole folks are content to fend for themselves and most even prefer to do so. They know that if they push the government to limit one right that just gives the other side a reason to have government limit another right. It all turns into a silly pissing contest and the end result is that we get absurdly partisan candidates running for president.

In another thread someone asked what the definition of Conservatism is and my take is that it's a general focus on using the least political force necessary to achieve the greatest results. It's a matter of understanding that the concerns of one individual are no less significant than the concerns of another and because of that we really shouldn't push grand ideas on the public. It's much better if we allow the public to enjoy their own grand ideas.
 

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I would say that he probably thinks that agenda is - as he put it - a 70% agenda, not his "personal" one, and that you are probably reacting because it is not yours. :shrug:

Possible, but I also think that if he thinks his agenda is a "70 % agenda", he is incredibly wrong.

Um. How many of them, outside of this place, do you talk to?

What, you mean real people...that **** is scary, I avoid it.

Character attacks do work. But they work best with those of lower intelligence who are less policy-oriented. We need a way to begin to filter them out.

They may work best with low intelligence voters, but they do work on all voters to some extent.

:shrug: as most folks will. It's a lonely hill to stand on :)

I know that feeling. One example is that I support mandatory national service for all 18 year olds(military or civilian).

Yup. He's beaten the Cancer that he retired to fight, I understand, and has a reputation both of being fiscally conservative (he used to put out those "giant books of wasteful spending your government did this year" products), but also a decent human being.

I can think of alot of words to describe Tom Coburn, and some are complimentary, but moderate would in no way be one of them.
 

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It is nice to see finally some of the DC ELITE coming to understand that Washington is broken. What we need to see is the DC ELITE working on Americas problems rather than spending 90%+ of their time raising money and playing their palace intrigue games. Long term though we need to get better people, and the American people are going to have to demand better service as we treat good politicians better. There were in the last two decades a LOT of good people who were thrown out of office because they were not radical enough (on both sides), at the end of the day that is a huge problem. Why would any capable and observant person sigh up for service given how we treat those who serve?
 

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He's simply trying to keep his own position with his own state alive. If Trump wins his state he's one of those on the list of establishment gadflies. He's young and has upward political aspirations. He doesn't know enough yet to hold his water and so he mouthed off thinking Trump would go away. Now he's stuck and doubling down because that's the only course he has left.
 

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Possible, but I also think that if he thinks his agenda is a "70 % agenda", he is incredibly wrong.

I would concur. The American people have almost no interest whatsoever in honest accounting, or making difficult decisions.

What, you mean real people...that **** is scary, I avoid it.

Those are the people voting - those are the people who get to control the decisions of the most powerful nation in the history of humankind, with the power to unilaterally wipe out the species.

I don't see how people can remain atheists. If anything could prove that not only is God real, but that He has a messed up sense of humor - it's that.

They may work best with low intelligence voters, but they do work on all voters to some extent.

Sure. So let's degrade their effectiveness.

I know that feeling. One example is that I support mandatory national service for all 18 year olds(military or civilian).

Yup. I'd almost take the flip side, and say that I wouldn't mind a Starship Troopers model, where anyone was allowed to serve, no matter what, but that you had to serve in order to vote (and you couldn't vote until after you were out).

I can think of alot of words to describe Tom Coburn, and some are complimentary, but moderate would in no way be one of them.

Not at all - he's quite conservative. Which is why Sasse followed up that suggestion by saying he would be willing to accept someone who was a moderate as well.
 

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Thanks for posting this.

His comments are pretty similar to what I heard from various clients this past year. Most folks seem to be looking for a less invasive government. Liberals and Conservatives have different issues they'd like government to be less invasive with but a general scaling back should be pretty popular. On the whole folks are content to fend for themselves and most even prefer to do so. They know that if they push the government to limit one right that just gives the other side a reason to have government limit another right. It all turns into a silly pissing contest and the end result is that we get absurdly partisan candidates running for president.

In another thread someone asked what the definition of Conservatism is and my take is that it's a general focus on using the least political force necessary to achieve the greatest results. It's a matter of understanding that the concerns of one individual are no less significant than the concerns of another and because of that we really shouldn't push grand ideas on the public. It's much better if we allow the public to enjoy their own grand ideas.

Interesting comments. Not sure how much I agree with alot of it, but definitely food for thought. One thought that springs to mind is your opening with a similarity between liberals and conservatives, and I want to expand on that quickly.

One of my biggest pet peeves, and a point I think is important, is that one of the biggest mistakes we tend to make is to demonize the other side. The reality is, both liberals and conservatives do essentially want the same thing: an America(or whatever country the people live in) that is the best it can be. I think if we focused more on that similarity, the tone would be different in politics. I agreed with almost nothing that the republican candidates stood for politically, but I do respect that they think those stances are what they honestly believe is best for the US. I think if we showed that kind of respect to each other, maybe we could move forward a little faster kinda thing. We are almost at a point politically where we spend our efforts making sure the other guy does not get what he wants, instead of trying to get what we want, even if that means giving the other guy some of what he wants.
 

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He's simply trying to keep his own position with his own state alive. If Trump wins his state he's one of those on the list of establishment gadflies. He's young and has upward political aspirations. He doesn't know enough yet to hold his water and so he mouthed off thinking Trump would go away. Now he's stuck and doubling down because that's the only course he has left.

I like how the Trump folks blithely assume that, because they do not hold to political principles or core beliefs, that no one else does as well.
 

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I would concur. The American people have almost no interest whatsoever in honest accounting, or making difficult decisions.

And Trump is not the fix for this. He says often "the American people want all the candy that the government provides (often provided by taking more debt), so we need to find a way to provide it" (paraphrase). Trump is not the guy to teach the American people that we can't have it all, especially if we refuse to work for it.
 

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I like how the Trump folks blithely assume that, because they do not hold to political principles or core beliefs, that no one else does as well.

I like how conservatives expect to be believed when they keep talking about principles and core beliefs that they claim to hold, when well over a decade of history shows that they dont act like they do.
 

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I like how the Trump folks blithely assume that, because they do not hold to political principles or core beliefs, that no one else does as well.

I love how the anti-Trumpeteers, having lost any legs to stand upon, default to assuming if you're not with them you have no political principles or core beliefs. It'd be cute if it weren't such a whiny calculation on their part.
 
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