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Nye Bevan

(25,406 posts)
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 11:45 AM Nov 2014

NYT: "Cancel the Midterms". Do you agree?

DURHAM, N.C. — By Tuesday night about 90 million Americans will have cast ballots in an election that’s almost certain to create greater partisan divisions, increase gridlock and render governance of our complex nation even more difficult. Ninety million sounds like a lot, but that means that less than 40 percent of the electorate will bother to vote, even though candidates, advocacy groups and shadowy “super PACs” will have spent more than $1 billion to air more than two million ads to influence the election.

There was a time when midterm elections made sense — at our nation’s founding, the Constitution represented a new form of republican government, and it was important for at least one body of Congress to be closely accountable to the people. But especially at a time when Americans’ confidence in the ability of their government to address pressing concerns is at a record low, two-year House terms no longer make any sense. We should get rid of federal midterm elections entirely.

There are few offices, at any level of government, with two-year terms. Here in Durham, we elect members of the school board and the county sheriff to terms that are double that length. Moreover, Twitter, ubiquitous video cameras, 24-hour cable news and a host of other technologies provide a level of hyper-accountability the framers could not possibly have imagined. In the modern age, we do not need an election every two years to communicate voters’ desires to their elected officials.

But the two-year cycle isn’t just unnecessary; it’s harmful to American politics.

.........

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/11/03/opinion/cancel-the-midterms.html?referrer=&_r=0




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NYT: "Cancel the Midterms". Do you agree? (Original Post) Nye Bevan Nov 2014 OP
band-aid non-reform reform. Warren Stupidity Nov 2014 #1
Agree... KansDem Nov 2014 #8
Two years keeps congressional representatives tuned into what their constituents want. badtoworse Nov 2014 #2
I agree- I like 2 year terms Lee-Lee Nov 2014 #3
I agree on that too. Jamastiene Nov 2014 #17
Two years keeps congressional reps in permanent campaign/fundraising mode frazzled Nov 2014 #37
Cancel the private money corrupting our elections. Orsino Nov 2014 #4
The volatility is a good thing. The last thing we need is a system designed for ossification and the Nuclear Unicorn Nov 2014 #5
How about starting with something small? DetlefK Nov 2014 #6
It's never been complicated for me goldent Nov 2014 #40
How about the NYT getting cancelled instead? hobbit709 Nov 2014 #7
Actually, I do agree Proud Public Servant Nov 2014 #9
If you 'cancel the midterms,' the 233 republican majority in the House stays in place until 2018! BP2 Nov 2014 #10
No. Arbitrary or random action in general rock Nov 2014 #11
Amend the Constitution and set the terms of Congress and President to four or six years, whichever. Spider Jerusalem Nov 2014 #12
The Tea Party would absolutely love a parliamentary system. Nye Bevan Nov 2014 #13
Do they? Spider Jerusalem Nov 2014 #14
In any parliamentary system, a small party can threaten to bring down the government, Nye Bevan Nov 2014 #20
Gridlock and very slow change were considered a feature, not a bug, in our system. branford Nov 2014 #28
A small party can threaten, they won't get anywhere Spider Jerusalem Nov 2014 #29
You need to look at places like Italy and Germany as well as the UK. Nye Bevan Nov 2014 #30
What "newly-acquired power"? Spider Jerusalem Nov 2014 #31
A party need not necessarily hold many seats to exert significant influence. branford Nov 2014 #33
The Tories won't be in government Spider Jerusalem Nov 2014 #39
A parliamentary system might be good for the Tea Party, but so what? dawg Nov 2014 #21
Yes, there would be plenty of tawdry back-room deals going on. Nye Bevan Nov 2014 #22
The thing is, the people would get what they voted for. dawg Nov 2014 #24
Interesting perspective, but somewhat skewed. branford Nov 2014 #32
If the President has to resort to repeated vetoes for the last two years of his Presidency, he ... dawg Nov 2014 #35
I think the complaints about divided government are vastly overstated, branford Nov 2014 #38
Well, it's all fun and games and checks and balances until we actually default on something. dawg Nov 2014 #41
Is NYT turning into Salon? LittleBlue Nov 2014 #15
I agree LeftInTX Nov 2014 #18
I'm not sure that it's that "wacky". Two years is a very short term for congressmen. Nye Bevan Nov 2014 #23
That is its intent LittleBlue Nov 2014 #25
Elected representatives should always be worrying about reelection. branford Nov 2014 #34
Two years is long enough. Jamastiene Nov 2014 #16
We need something more akin to a parliamentary system. dawg Nov 2014 #19
Citizen to NYT: SomethingFishy Nov 2014 #26
Are you suggesting changes to the First Amendment? nt branford Nov 2014 #36
I like the 2 yr terms. That way, I have a shot of throwing out the ones I don't like. napi21 Nov 2014 #27
 

Warren Stupidity

(48,181 posts)
1. band-aid non-reform reform.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 11:50 AM
Nov 2014

The problem is the massive corruption of the political process. Everything else is just noise until we deal with that.

KansDem

(28,498 posts)
8. Agree...
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 12:13 PM
Nov 2014

Two "corruptions" of late--
1. The so-called "voter-fraud epidemic." There never was an epidemic, so promoting voter-suppression tactics to stop it is a lie.
2. Corporate-owned voting machines with super-secret proprietary software. There have been repeated reports of vote flipping occurring in the last several elections (remember Karl Rove's surprise when he learned of Ohio's results in 2012?). It's time to return to paper ballots with publicly-witnessed counting.

These corruptions need to be addressed and stopped. Everything else is just noise...

 

badtoworse

(5,957 posts)
2. Two years keeps congressional representatives tuned into what their constituents want.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 11:55 AM
Nov 2014

Piss them off and you get the boot - that's the way it ought to be.

Jamastiene

(38,187 posts)
17. I agree on that too.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 03:46 PM
Nov 2014

I'm tempted to suggest two year terms for governor too, but I'm putting up with McCrory right now and want him gone ASAP.

frazzled

(18,402 posts)
37. Two years keeps congressional reps in permanent campaign/fundraising mode
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:44 PM
Nov 2014

That's all they freaking do.

When congressional districts were smaller—and before big lobbyists and big-money cammpaigns, etc.— there might have been a reason to keep the representatives "close to the people" by bi-annual elections.

Since 1789, when the Federal Government began operating under the Constitution, the number of citizens per congressional district has risen from an average of 33,000 in 1790 to almost 700,000 as of 2008

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_congressional_apportionment


I personally would prefer a four-year term representative system. Given that increasing the number of representatives is both unfeasible and not an idea I subscribe to, I would like to see the term for a Representative increase too a reasonable four years.

That said, state and local elections should continue to be held in the midterm "off" years.

Orsino

(37,428 posts)
4. Cancel the private money corrupting our elections.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 11:59 AM
Nov 2014

A six-year cycle hasn't noticeably made the Senate more productive.

"Reform" advocates that are willfully (or otherwise) blind to the elephant in the living room are not worth our attention.

Nuclear Unicorn

(19,497 posts)
5. The volatility is a good thing. The last thing we need is a system designed for ossification and the
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 12:00 PM
Nov 2014

protection of incumbents.

DetlefK

(16,423 posts)
6. How about starting with something small?
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 12:07 PM
Nov 2014

Like making election-days holidays?

Or like switching to pen&paper for ballots? Or switching to open-source voting-machines?





Seriously. The voting-process in the US sounds awfully complicated to me.
In Germany, I get a personalized election-notification by mail one month ahead of the vote. (-> name+address)
Elections are ALWAYS held on Sundays in Germany.
On Sunday afternoon, I take the notification, take a stroll to the voting-place, hand in the notification, get a paper-ballot, they mark me as having voted in the register, and that's it.
The longest queue I have ever been in was 5 people.

goldent

(1,582 posts)
40. It's never been complicated for me
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 05:22 PM
Nov 2014

but I guess it depends on where you live and when you vote. I actually prefer voting machines - during this "off year" election, I still had at least 20 things to vote for. It's a lot faster and clearer with a voting machine.

Proud Public Servant

(2,097 posts)
9. Actually, I do agree
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 12:33 PM
Nov 2014

People keep pointing to the corrupting influence of money in politics (as if that's something new), but that's only a subset of the real problem: the permanent campaign. Enacting the most stringent campaign finance reforms in the world wouldn't stop Congressmen from spending the lion's share of their terms focusing on their own re-election rather than constituent needs.

But if you REALLY want to fix the problem, you also need to find a way to reduce the number of people represented by each Congressman. The average Congressional district has gone from 40000 persons in 1814 to 215,000 persons in 1914 to about 750,000 persons today; there's no way the Founders envisioned a functioning republic in which a single person represents 3/4 of a million people, and it's no wonder that Congress is out of touch under those circumstances. Something's got to give.

BP2

(554 posts)
10. If you 'cancel the midterms,' the 233 republican majority in the House stays in place until 2018!
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 12:34 PM
Nov 2014

Is that REALLY what you want??!!

rock

(13,218 posts)
11. No. Arbitrary or random action in general
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 03:22 PM
Nov 2014

makes things worse not better. What problem are we trying to solve with "cancel the midterms?"

 

Spider Jerusalem

(21,786 posts)
12. Amend the Constitution and set the terms of Congress and President to four or six years, whichever.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 03:25 PM
Nov 2014

Better yet amend the Constitution, abolish the current presidential system and replace it with a parliamentary one.

Nye Bevan

(25,406 posts)
13. The Tea Party would absolutely love a parliamentary system.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 03:39 PM
Nov 2014

Smaller parties with a reliable voting base, especially if they are concentrated in a particular region, tend to have tremendously disproportionate power in a parliamentary system. They would form their own separate parties and the larger parties would fall over each other offering concessions to them in exchange for their support to maintain a government.

 

Spider Jerusalem

(21,786 posts)
14. Do they?
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 03:43 PM
Nov 2014

Depends on the parliamentary system and whether it has proportional representation via party list/single transferrable vote or first past the post. You can't say "parliamentary systems do X" when that's not strictly true and depends mostly on the voting system in place. However the USA is pretty much the only country in the world that has its peculiar form of bastard elective monarchy; if parliamentary systems suck so much why doesn't anyone else use the American form of government? Not like they haven't had plenty of opportunity to adopt it in the last 200+ years.

On edit: American political parties are already effectively coalitions (the Democratic Party moreso than the Republicans); if anything parliamentary government with representation apportioned by population would result in fewer Tea Party nutcases holding the country hostage--due to the way the Senate is apportioned, states representing less than a third of the population control over half the votes, which leads to disproportionate influence for fringe party factions who don't represent a majority of Americans; I don't think you can really argue that this is better.

Nye Bevan

(25,406 posts)
20. In any parliamentary system, a small party can threaten to bring down the government,
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 03:54 PM
Nov 2014

and can wield enormous power with this threat.

I'm not saying that the US system is perfect; each system has its advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage of the US system is probably gridlock, from having different parties control the presidency and congress; as an example, under a parliamentary system we would probably have had a single payer health care system introduced in 2009. A government in a parliamentary system can get a lot done, quickly; the flip side of this, of course, is that what is being done may not be stuff that you like (take Margaret Thatcher's government from 1979 to 1990, for example). Just as we would probably have single payer health care under a parliamentary system, we would probably also have privatized Social Security.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
28. Gridlock and very slow change were considered a feature, not a bug, in our system.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:16 PM
Nov 2014

Our system, with its innumerable and frustrating checks and balances, was actually designed to prevent a tyranny of the majority or allow drastic changes with simple shifting political whims.

As you note, I also doubt many here would support a parliamentary system with Republicans at the helm. In fact, considering the Republicans are already in clear control of the House, under a parliamentary system, they would likely now be calling the shots, rather than President Obama. The thought of Prime Minister John Boehner is most unsettling.

Moreover, our federalist system, with significant power delegated to the states, both on a local level and in Congress (i.e., the Senate), was a necessary compromise in actually forming our union. Opening-up changes to the foundations of our government would require a Constitutional Convention, and given that conservatives comprise about half the country, many here would definitely not like certain other potential changes that would arise, to the extent anything could even attain the necessary super-majority approvals.

 

Spider Jerusalem

(21,786 posts)
29. A small party can threaten, they won't get anywhere
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:16 PM
Nov 2014

you clearly don't know much about how parliamentary systems work; there hasn't been a successful vote of no confidence against a sitting goverment in the UK since 1979; before that, there hadn't been one since 1924, and the impact of smaller parties in the Westminster system is relatively negligible; how effective have the Liberal Democrats been? (The answer to that is "not at all", and going into coalition with the Tories has wrecked their electoral chances for a generation...there are quite a lot of people who never would have voted for the Lib Dems in 2010 if they'd known they'd be getting a Tory government out of it).

Nye Bevan

(25,406 posts)
30. You need to look at places like Italy and Germany as well as the UK.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:21 PM
Nov 2014

And it will be interesting to see how the UKIP wields its newly-acquired power after the next UK general election.

 

Spider Jerusalem

(21,786 posts)
31. What "newly-acquired power"?
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:26 PM
Nov 2014

They may win a couple of seats, won't do them any good since it's more likely than not that Labour will win the next general election.

And again, I'm not considering Italy, or Germany, or any country with proportional representation, because those aren't really good proxies for countries with a parliamentary system and first-past-the-post voting (which would be the most likely scenario if the USA had a parliamentary system).

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
33. A party need not necessarily hold many seats to exert significant influence.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:34 PM
Nov 2014

The Tories are moving farther to the right on many issues because they fear UKIP as a threat to their members.

UKIP can set the tone of many political issues in Britain without ever winning a single election. It's not much different to how mainstream Republicans modified their positions due to primary and other threats by the Tea Party.

dawg

(10,644 posts)
21. A parliamentary system might be good for the Tea Party, but so what?
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 03:54 PM
Nov 2014

Their gains would come at the expense of the mainstream Republican party. They'd still caucus with Republicans, I'm sure. But they might be convinced to cross the aisle and vote with us on issues relating to Wall Street or trade agreements. I wouldn't mind a world where the Republican Party was no longer the only game in town for right-wing nut jobs.

Nye Bevan

(25,406 posts)
22. Yes, there would be plenty of tawdry back-room deals going on.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 03:58 PM
Nov 2014

The Democrats, for example, could concede some of the Tea Party's demands respecting abortion, for example, in exchange for getting their support on something like trade agreements. Like I said in another post, there would be pluses and minuses, and under a Parliamentary system we would probably have single payer health care but would probably also have privatized Social Security.

dawg

(10,644 posts)
24. The thing is, the people would get what they voted for.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:04 PM
Nov 2014

Right now, we elect Barack Obama President, but the Republicans control the House and obstruct nearly everything. Then, they run campaigns blaming the President. There is no accountability.

If Democrats wanted to bargain away individual rights in order to make deals with the Tea Party, another party would rise up to represent those of us who think that is reprehensible.

Our current system is no longer working and cannot be repaired. It was designed for statesmen who would accept the results of elections and govern accordingly. Now that the "obstruction" genie has been let out of the bottle, I see no way of putting it back in short of a Constitutional amendment.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
32. Interesting perspective, but somewhat skewed.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:31 PM
Nov 2014

If the Republicans take control of the Senate, they will control all of Congress. If they then send bills with their agenda to the president who vetoes them repeatedly, will you then concede that the president is obstructing everything. Who's obstructing whom is often really just a matter of perspective. Was the Democratic Congress "obstructing" President Bush in his second term. I'm a loyal Democrat, but I'm not naive or blind.

The American people have chosen a divided government. It's not unusual, hardly something that was unanticipated, and many consider it just another wise and necessary check on the power and influence of both the Democrats and Republicans.

There is no need to change the system, and really no significant support, no less the necessary super-majority, to amend any part of the Constitution. Rather than complain incessantly about Republicans obstructing our policies, greater effort should go into electing Democrats to state and federal office, including GOTV efforts among our core constituencies.

We held all levers of power for Obama's first two years in office, with much of that time including a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Much of the country was not impressed. We can do better.

dawg

(10,644 posts)
35. If the President has to resort to repeated vetoes for the last two years of his Presidency, he ...
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:38 PM
Nov 2014

will, by definition, be an obstructionist. It's a terrible situation for the country to put itself in .... repeatedly.

Better to let the country reap the rewards of its fickle votes than to have a system of perpetual obstruction where each party can credibly blame the other party for its own failures.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
38. I think the complaints about divided government are vastly overstated,
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:50 PM
Nov 2014

although I obviously would prefer Democrats in power. Although the will both Democrats and Republicans are thwarted, our government operates and perseveres. A government is also not just judged by how many laws it passes. More laws are not necessarily a good thing, particularly if you do not like the governing party.

Americans often vote for divided government as a check on the power and influence of both political parties. The majority of Americans are not nearly so partisan, and hold views that do not place them neatly into D and R slots. If we want to a less divided government, we have to earn the votes of more Americans.

dawg

(10,644 posts)
41. Well, it's all fun and games and checks and balances until we actually default on something.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 05:36 PM
Nov 2014

We have been edging closer and closer to the brink of that for the last few years. And since there is no accountability, when it finally happens, both parties will just blame each other, and neither side will pay a political price for the very real damage that will be done to the economic lives of the people.

 

LittleBlue

(10,362 posts)
15. Is NYT turning into Salon?
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 03:43 PM
Nov 2014

Voicing whacky opinions for clickbait purposes? Pathetic.

The house, senate and presidency are set up in a way to balance populism. The house is the most populist for a reason. They have to respond to voters every 2 years. Making it 4 years would put them in the same democratic cycle as the president.

It is not harmful to politics to have a body that is super responsive to the people. The people we elect, and the process by which they are funded, are what harms our country regardless of their term length.

Nye Bevan

(25,406 posts)
23. I'm not sure that it's that "wacky". Two years is a very short term for congressmen.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:00 PM
Nov 2014

They start worrying about being re-elected almost as soon as they have won election. There are plenty of issues that would benefit from a longer term focus. Cleaning up the mess from W, for example, was much, much more than a 2-year process.

 

LittleBlue

(10,362 posts)
25. That is its intent
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:09 PM
Nov 2014

2 year terms are working as intended, to be the most populist chamber. To be the most afraid of the common man's immediate anger. That's also why they don't need cloture votes. The senate exists as the balance to that populism by being the least responsive body of the non-judicial branches of government.

IMHO the worst thing about the House is gerrymandering and bribery.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
34. Elected representatives should always be worrying about reelection.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:37 PM
Nov 2014

That's what keeps them accountable to their constituents.

Maybe instead of lengthening the term for members of the House, we should reduce Senate terms to only 2 years.

Jamastiene

(38,187 posts)
16. Two years is long enough.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 03:45 PM
Nov 2014

If they can't get something done in two years, I want the option to vote their asses out. If they can, I want to vote to keep them. I want that option more often, not less.

dawg

(10,644 posts)
19. We need something more akin to a parliamentary system.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 03:50 PM
Nov 2014

For better or worse, the party that controls the House needs to be able to implement their agenda. And they need to do so in a way that leaves no doubt as to who is responsible for the results of that agenda.

Divided government hobbles the country and gives everyone plausible deniability in the eyes of the electorate.

SomethingFishy

(4,876 posts)
26. Citizen to NYT:
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:14 PM
Nov 2014

If you'd do your fucking job we wouldn't have to worry about elections. It's you who is harmful to American politics. You and the rest of your ilk, no matter who gets the blame, the fault lies with the media who cares not about informing the populace but about infotainment.

napi21

(45,806 posts)
27. I like the 2 yr terms. That way, I have a shot of throwing out the ones I don't like.
Tue Nov 4, 2014, 04:14 PM
Nov 2014

If we switched to 4 yr. terms, we'd be stuck with the idiots for longer!

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