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U.S. Politics: Here At the End of All Things


Secretary of Eumenes

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1 hour ago, DMC said:

Where are you seeing this?  Just curious - I'm surprised because changes in tax policy aren't usually backdated (at least at the federal level, dunno about states).

This has been apparent since the Senate GOP started dragging their heels on a second stimulus bill 3/4 months ago.  Worked with Obama, why not his bumbling VP?

Rarely do I defend my Rochesterian roots, but at least when I was growing up no, nobody said 'pop' - and that goes for dozens of visits to Buffalo and Syracuse as well.  You must have encountered the remnants of midwesterners that were too lazy to continue moving west a century or two ago.  You're right about euchre though, that all of a sudden became a huge craze when I was in high school but every time people tried to teach me it I was way too high.  Still don't know how to play it.

Oh, just like everybody else, opinions are like assholes among political scientists - more so when we're talking about the variety of proposed solutions to our endemic and systematic problems.  Me personally, yes, the National Vote Plan to fix the EC is up there on my list of priorities, and I've probably championed it on here more than anything else.  But obviously fixing the electoral college isn't going to fix a whole hell of a lot that's still wrong.  I think you could sum up most of the normative discussion among Americanists, however, into three broad and interrelated categories (in no particular order because that depends on who you're asking):

  • The electoral system
  • Voting rights
  • Money in politics & the perpetual campaign

Switching to some type of PR system would indeed be a good start - and I agree with Kal that you should start at the state/local level (it already has started at the local level over the past few decades).  That's what the whole "laboratories of democracy" saying is about, and while FairVote's Fair Representation Act sounds great in theory, you're never gonna get incumbents that perpetuate the two party system in the US Congress to vote for it (and even if you did it'd be mired in court battles and would certainly be struck down given the current SCOTUS composition).

Still, it's important to emphasize that switching to PR is not going to be some magical elixir, plus it will undoubtedly take a long time to enact a broad shift - we're talking a generational effort.  Here's a good map of the electoral systems throughout the world.  As you can see, there are various forms of PR, but almost every industrialized democracy - and indeed most countries in general - have some type of PR system.  Obviously, their levels of democracy and/or good governance vary widely, there's minimal correlation between the two.  The Weimar Republic was a PR system.

The benefits of switching to a PR system is not really some major rise of third parties - the two parties are still likely to dominate.  But yes, a couple third parties would garner token representation.  What a PR over FPTP system would engender is reinstituting strong factions within each party.  That's the key to dispensing with the Hastert rule in Congress that handcuffs legislative productivity and perpetuates polarization.  Not to mention encouraging as many factions as possible is exactly how Madison tried to set up this country to avoid tyranny.

Second, in terms of voting rights, I think this is obvious.  Automatic registration, holiday, protection for courts and the DOJ (perhaps after the Trump administration create an independent agency after re-passing a VRA).  All the things we've talked about here ad nauseam to encourage participation.

Third, the perpetual campaign - fueled by money in politics - is perhaps the greatest institutional cause of polarization/negative partisanship that could conceivably be remedied.  IMO likely the best poly sci work explaining the roots of the problem in contemporary American politics over the past decade is Frances Lee's (2016) Insecure Majorities: Congress and the Perpetual Campaign.  (Full disclosure:  Lee is a mentor, friend, and even recruited me back when she was at Maryland.)

This is what's killing public trust in America, makes it virtually impossible for MCs to get together and work on legislation even if they wanted to, and perpetuates a horserace obsessed media that drowns outs out fact and unbiased journalism.  So, when it comes to "court packing," a more liberal court here would help take off the handcuffs the Roberts court has placed on curtailing money in politics.  Of course, you'd still need to get Congress to vote for it, so good luck on that score.

Also, on breaking up or combining states, I don't think it's really worth the time to entertain this even hypothetically.  Cal 3 - the proposition breaking up California into three states - was opposed by three fourths of voters in two separate polls.  Before that Tim Draper championed a "Six Californias" plan.  It didn't even get enough signatures to get on the ballot.  Combining or breaking up states requires the consent of each state involved, and people simply do not want to do that.

As for increasing the number of House members, I'm all for it within reason, but I don't see how this solves many issues beyond perhaps ticking up legislative productivity - at least in terms of committee work.  Presumably, if it's done fairly, you're still gonna have the same percentage of members from each party.

Finally, one huge problem that cannot be fixed is still the Senate.  The Senate cannot go to PR, and it will continue (and increasingly) be malapportioned.  Just to end on a hopeful note.

Thanks for the thorough response. I'm with you--voting rights and money in politics are two battles we have to wage. There are no easy solutions. For me, I have to wonder, is this current system so broken it can't be salvaged. How would we go about a new constitutional convention? Would that even be possible at this point?

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4 minutes ago, Simon Steele said:

For me, I have to wonder, is this current system so broken it can't be salvaged.

People on these threads have very strong opinions on this, but I think we can all agree it's veryclose to being too broken.  I don't think a constitutional convention is plausible right now.  I don't think you could get 3/4s of states to ratify an amendment saying puppies are cute.

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45 minutes ago, TrackerNeil said:

I'm going to make this three of us. Trump is not benefiting from debates, and he's not benefiting from talking to non-Trumpanzees. In fact, when he talks to regular people he only makes himself look worse, whereas Biden is good at projecting the image of a guy who cares about you. (This may be genuine, but I am not debating anyone about that.)

The gay mafia is back at work!

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6 minutes ago, DMC said:

People on these threads have very strong opinions on this, but I think we can all agree it's veryclose to being too broken.  I don't think a constitutional convention is plausible right now.  I don't think you could get 3/4s of states to ratify an amendment saying puppies are cute.

3/4's saying cats are evil though? 

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8 minutes ago, williamjm said:

When I clicked on that link (I can never resist a good map) my antivirus program gave a warning about a trojan virus on the website.

Yikes, sorry.  I did not but ACE should definitely fix that.

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1 hour ago, maarsen said:

Or Canada. Pop and euchre are both very big here. 

I love Canada or at least Ontario. Definitely God's country. I think it your close to a Great Lake  your in a good place.

As for the NBC town hall I say let Trump have it. The way he's pouring gasoline over his reelection campaign, I say give him all the townhalls he wants. I'll worry if he starts showing message discipline. Its probably not a bad thing of people pay less attention to Biden. It's not over yet but it's not 2016 either.

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20 minutes ago, Freshwater Spartan said:

I love Canada or at least Ontario. Definitely God's country. I think it your close to a Great Lake  your in a good place.

As for the NBC town hall I say let Trump have it. The way he's pouring gasoline over his reelection campaign, I say give him all the townhalls he wants. I'll worry if he starts showing message discipline. Its probably not a bad thing of people pay less attention to Biden. It's not over yet but it's not 2016 either.

That last part is vital for us all to remember. The polls are not the same as 2016, the Democratic nominee is not the same as 2016, and Donald Trump is running on a record of failure, which is not the same as 2016.

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I want to point out that NBC pretty well has to run against Biden’s town hall. If one runs before the other, they could answer some things that were said without the other person having a chance to respond. Trump would be really p’d off, don’t you think? 

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7 minutes ago, Chataya de Fleury said:

As long as it’s not your ACE 2 inhibitor working on an antivirus program, you should be all good.

Heh, made me think of those annoying hardware store commercials.

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2 hours ago, DanteGabriel said:

I bet DMC is just bullshitting us about his regional words, like when he tried to sell "bubblers" as a synonym for water pipes a year or two ago. FAKE NEWS

 

19 minutes ago, Chataya de Fleury said:

Damn this thread is moving fast, but I can confirm that “bubbler” is indeed a regional name for a water fountain. 

Bubbler is a Wisconsin thing and really only a Wisconsin thing.  Wisconsinites be weird.

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