Dave Barry on the Ephemeral Nature of the "Deeply Held Beliefs" Of the Coke and Pepsi Party

Via his end of year roundup, about the election:

In Washington, Democrats who believed in a strong president wielding power via executive orders instantly exchange these deeply held convictions with Republicans who until Election Day at roughly 10 p.m. Eastern time believed fervently in filibusters and limited government.

The two parties' attitudes about Russia are another great example.  Through Russian invasions of its neighbors and a variety of hacking episodes on US government infrastructure, Republicans wanted Russian blood and the Democrats were in forgive and forget mode (remember also the "reset" and Obama's poo-pooing of Romney's claim that Russia was our #1 geopolitical adversary).  But as soon as Russia is accused of stealing and releasing private emails from (non-government) Democratic Party servers that made some party officials look bad, suddenly everything changes.  Republican President-elect Trump wants to forgive and forget and Obama is suddenly, and for the first time that I can remember, putting (mild) sanctions on Russia.  And the attitudes of the rank and file have shifted on a dime:

Even more surprising, however, is the change in Republican attitudes toward Putin. He is still viewed unfavorably, but much, much less so. Putin’s current net favorability among Republican voters is now -10, meaning that Putin’s net favorability among Republican voters has improved an astonishing 56 points in the last two years.

Among Democratic voters, meanwhile, Wikileaks and Putin have remained relatively unpopular. Wikileaks’ net favorability among Democrats was -3 as of June 2013, and it has fallen today to -28. Putin’s net favorability among Democrats in July 2014 was -54, according to YouGov; it has now fallen slightly to -62.

I am more convinced than ever that our political parties are two tribes who are just going to take the opposite side of any issue from the other tribe, without any need for intellectual consistency either across positions or over time.


  1. enjayboy:

    I prefer to think of the two parties as the Crips and Bloods. They both want to rape and pillage the neighborhood, but want it to be their gang that does it.

  2. johnmoore:

    That's only true in a transient sense. Longer term, the parties are more consistent, which is why I always vote Republican.

    I think a major cause of what you are seeing right now is a complete loss of credibility in the news, as seen by the right. Hence if the news says "the Russians did it," there is a reflexive rejection of the idea.

  3. morganovich:


    have a look at this one. 15 minutes ago, shumer was arguing we need a 9th justice immediately and the court cannot function with 8.

    now he wants to keep the seat open for 4 years.

    these guys do not even try to look principled anymore. prison gangs have more class than team donkey and team elephant.

  4. Eric Wilner:

    Yup. Definitely putting tribal identity first. Loyalty to one's tribe and opposition to the other tribe are the top priorities.
    From where I sit (in the depths of sunniest California), the Democrats seem to be considerably more tribal than the Republicans; I surmise (on little evidence) that this is related to Republicans typically having a church to go to, but maybe it's just because the California GOP is less than a joke.

  5. slocum:

    It'll be really a confirmation of the thesis if, in response to Trump's protectionism, the Democrats suddenly become the party of 'principled' free trade.

  6. ErikTheRed:

    Nail. Hit on head.

  7. Magua1952:

    The ancient Romans had two factions called the Blues and the Greens. These factions, or parties, existed from nearly the beginning of Rome up until nearly the end of the empire. The factions battled in the streets from time to time occasionally with great loss of lives. If your father was a Blue you were a Blue. In one generation the Blues were fierce advocates for resurection of the Republic. In the next generation the Greens defended the Republic and the Blues were champions of the emperor. When James Madison and others warned of the dangers of factions they were thinking of the Blues and Greens.

    Remember when the Democrats were the party of the common man? Today they are the pajama boys and urban government class--disdaining the unwashed "deplorables". Republicans started as champions of high tariff walls. They changed after WW II but seem to be moving back to their origins. Parties are tribal and probably unavoidable.

  8. ErikTheRed:

    Ah yes, the deeply and eternally-held principles of each party shift whenever the other party does something or makes a new ally or enemy. My favorite this week has been Sarah Palin's about-face on WikiLeaks. In this case I think she's "coming correct," but I can see that shifting again as soon as WikiLeaks does something that damages conservatives (something Assange said he would do in a heartbeat).


  9. J_W_W:

    But of course. The fact that the media refers to them constantly by their jersey colors is a big hint.

  10. J_W_W:

    But the idea that "The Russians Hacked the election" is completely unfounded and untrue. They are conflating releasing private e-mails openly, with stuffing the ballot box, and they are doing in on purpose.

    I have never seen a bigger example of shooting the messenger. If Nixon had been a Democrat, it would have been all about "those despicable reporters and their dishonorable source".

  11. johnmoore:

    You are missing my point. The Russians probably were involved in the DNC leaks. If Republicans weren't in reaction mode, which seems to be a Trump thing, they'd say the sensible thing: yes, the Russians did it, but so what? And then go on about the bogus meme from the Democrats. Saying the Russians didn't do it leaves the meme intact, and thus doesn't do anything to combat it.

    Yes, of course the Democrats are intentionally conflating the DNC leaks and the Hillary legal releases and the vote count which wasn't hacked at all. That's a sensible, if dishonest and cynical tactic on their part. It needs to be combated in a better way.

  12. Not Rick:

    It all make sense when seen from the view of - But how does this affect ME.

    They have no principles - just a desire for personal power.
    They have no honor - they don't care if everyone knows they're hypocrites.
    They have no conscience - they will happily throw their constituents under the buss if it has even the tiniest advantage.
    They know all these things about themselves and they feel bad about it - so they virtue-signal in a way that won't cost them anything - no matter how much it costs others.

  13. marque2:

    The Russians probably were not part of the leaks. The government actually warned the DNC their servers were grossly substandard, but they didn't listen. Podesta got hit by a fishing attack. Just as likely a kid, a Nigerian, just about anyone can send an email with a story and a fake website. We all get those all the time, and I never answer. Just shows Podesta is stupid, and especially so if his password was really "password." And we are very fortunate that he was kept out of government.

  14. marque2:

    I should also point out, that the 17 agencies which had nothing to say on the subject, didn't all say it was the Russians. That was a Hillary lie. All we had was an unsubstantiated Washington Post story based on alleged leaks from low level agents. WP has been caught lying twice now about the Russians, with their list of libertarian and conservative blogs which they claimed were funded by the Russians, and by the power plant Russian hack which was impossible to do since the computer is not connected to a network.

    Now we have the President, who wants to help Hillary and hurt Trump, telling the CIA, they better make a finding that it was the Russians, or else the President will punish them. This is just like Obama pressuring the Justice Department and FBI not to investigate Hillary, and not to investigate the Clinton foundation.

  15. John Moore:

    I disagree. The Russians have a formidable cyber warfare capability, and a very long habit of breaking into everything they can and gathering as much as possible. They use third parties and all sorts of cutouts and are famous for false flag operations. They probably did this one, although Assange may have received it from a cutout.

    Podesta was fooled, although you can get fooled by phishing and not be stupid. It has almost happened to me a few times, and I am well aware of the practice and am an IT professional.

  16. John Moore:

    The President no longer has the power to punish them.

    It is certainly true that the Democrats will demagogue this to death - that's what they do: lie. And, WaPo has gotten sharply more biased since Trump got the nomination. I cancelled my online subscription and got my money back from them because of it.

    But that doesn't mean the information is false, and by that, I mean the information that the Russians got into the DNC system. I have seen information (sorry, don't have the link) that is strongly suggestive, and in cyber warfare, it's hard to get more certain that just suggestive.

    As for the "17 agencies" - that, of course, was crap. After all, does the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency really have an opinion on this? Or, the National Reconnasisance Office or Office of Naval Intelligence? I don't think so.

  17. Ike Evans:

    So it's not a problem with the parties per se, but rather a problem with the quick abandonment of principle at the slightest shift of wind. I agree.

  18. marque2:

    Sending a fishing email, by the Russians - must of been a masterful piece of email propaganda.

    DNC leaker was an inside job and the person was mysteriously killed last year in an unsolved murder.

  19. CapnRusty:

    I don't think Assange so much "damages" anyone. He only reveals the things they were lying about, in which case, they do the damage to themselves.

  20. CC:

    I read an account of dietary taboos among tribes in the Amazon. Each tribe has certain foods one must not eat--they are viewed as disgusting. But nearby tribes eat those foods and forbid other ones. These serve to define one's tribe. Some of the political posturing is like this. Some of it, however, is simple expediency. If our guy is pres, executive orders and packing the courts are dandy. When the other guy is in, these are horrifying. Simply self-interest. No defense of constitutional principals.

  21. DirtyJobsGuy:

    In general the problems here in the US are mild compared to others. For example, the Russians have been astoundingly blatant in attempts to intimidate the Baltic and Scandinavian countries. My family has some new relations in Norway due to marriage and they are really concerned about the Russians (Check out last years Norwegian series "Occupied" on Netflix in which an isolationist USA, bad boys EU and Russia play key parts as well as Green Party screw-ups). If you are closer to the front you see things more clearly. Both Dems and GOP (with the highly independent Trump veering in all directions) will follow what they think the public wants.

  22. TruthisaPeskyThing:

    John, I do not read everything, and I might have missed the proof, but the U.S. government offered more proof that Saddam had an ongoing WMD program than it has in this Russian hacking allegation. (Also, there was more proof that Hillary purposely deleted government e-mails.) Meanwhile, we have evidence that counters the charge that Russians were behind the WikiLeaks releases: WikiLeaks has consistently said that the source was not the Russians, and the American who provided e-mails to WikiLeaks says he did not get the info from the Russians. Apparently, information did not come from a sophisticated hack but rather from a phishing incident. Moreover, we learn today that neither the FBI nor the CIA nor any government agency has looked at the DNC IT system.
    Given Obama's history in deception, I remain far from convinced that the Russians were responsible for Trump's election.

  23. johnmoore:

    I saw evidence that strongly suggested Russian involvement. This was from forensic analysis of the tools used. Obviously, in this business, someone *might* have forged it, but who?

    I do not trust anything from Wikileaks that cannot be independently verified. Assange is a low life with long standing Russian connections. For example, his organization was able to get Snowden onto a flight to Moscow without a passport or (obviously) visa. Also, as I said, the Russians could easily have gotten data to Assange through a false flag operation, so that Assange didn't know he was getting it from the Russians.

    The phishing attack allowed the installation of sophisticated malware. That is not unusual for phishing - it is often used to do more than just grab credentials.

    I would utterly shocked if the Russians didn't try to get into everything. There is evidence that the RNC was also attacked, unsuccessfully. State Republican party officials did get successfully phished. Government servers here in AZ got hacked with voter data pulled.

    It is important not to underestimate Russian intelligence capabilities. It is in their cultural DNA, and it was also very well practiced by the KGB and GRU under the Soviets.

  24. ErikTheRed:

    Absolutely correct, but obviously these narcissists never see it that way.

  25. DaveK:

    Since all of this is a classic response to the release of damaging information, I would be shocked if the Republicans didn't do it, were their situation similar.

    The Dems cannot deny the information that was released, so they have to attack the source. As long as they can keep the conversation going about who obtained the information, and what were the motives of the leaker(s), they are winning.

  26. DaveK:

    In some cases, those especially "tribal" traditional foods will help to identify the "other" by simply being downwind. You know who someone is (or isn't) just by their smell.

  27. Steven Aldridge:

    Objectivists are like the three dimensional beings in Flatland, we are not on the left/right line.

  28. TruthisaPeskyThing:

    John, the evidence from forensic analysis has been notably absence in explanations. Today, we did news reports and some public releases from the intelligence community. I am sorry, but the evidence is far from convincing -- Russians were celebrating? I am not saying that the Russians did not hack, and I am sure that our CIA folks actually have hacked into their systems; however, the proof that they are behind WikiLeaks is not convincing, and they did not disrupt the election via ballot counting or false information.

  29. johnmoore:

    I wish I had saved the links. I saw some pretty assertions from forensic analysis.

    I think there is good circumstantial evidence that they use Wikileaks and vice versa.. "Behind WikiLeaks" is a stronger assertion and I don't know if that is true.

    I agree that they did not disrupt the election. That is a meme the Democrats are clinging to because they can't accept that Hillary lost because Hillary actually lost!

  30. Mercury:

    "I am more convinced than ever that our political parties are two tribes who are just going to take the opposite side of any issue from the other tribe, without any need for intellectual consistency either across positions or over time."

    Well, you're WAY behind the rest of the Open Borders crowd who have been focused on beefing up their tribe's numbers for a long time now.

  31. xtmar:

    is suddenly, and for the first time that I can remember, putting (mild) sanctions on Russia.

    I don't think this is true. Since invading Crimea, Russia has been under a number of targeted US sanctions, and top officials have had travel restrictions placed on them.

  32. obloodyhell:

    I haven't shifted **my view** one whit.

    My question about the "hacking" is simple:
    "You're believing the DEMOCRATS?? Seriously??"

  33. obloodyhell:


  34. JTW:

    I think part of the Republican shift on Putin isn't a shift at all, it's merely the reporting of their attitude towards the man.
    We may not like all a man or country does, but we're not black and white about it. I don't agree at all with Rusia's imperialist expansionism, it reeks too much of a wish to restore the USSR for one.
    But I can see when they do good as well, like in helping Syria fight for its life against the US supported IS and other AQ offshoots.
    On the same idea, I like the US but can disagree with their support for IS.
    I can even see the good things the nazis did in Germany, even while disagreeing with the ways in which they did it. Things like building the world's first real highway system, or getting basic labour rights codified in law (maximum work weeks, mandatory vacation allowances).

    The left OTOH can't be so flexible. Everything is black or white, and what's black and what's white can shift on a moment's notice. So one moment Russia is their darling and everything they do is great, the next moment (the moment they do something, anything, that they don't like) they're the evil boogeyman.