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Member since: Wed Aug 19, 2015, 04:47 AM
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I'd like to see a change as to which states lead off the primary.

It's good to see states doing away with caucuses. I'd also like the Democratic Primary to start with states that more closely reflect the Democratic electorate, such as Illinois and Virginia, or Maryland and Georgia, or California and North Carolina. The states that go first carry a lot of weight in terms of momentum, and I don't think Iowa and New Hampshire should be those states.


Small States, the Role of the US Senate, the size of the US House and a Parliamentary System

First, let me be clear that I'm not seeking a discussion about the likelihood of major systemic change, though I think having such discussions can plant the seeds that one day take root (and I don't see any harm in considering these matters). Nor am I looking for information about how the framers may have felt about these issues back when the country was a much, much different place. I'm really just seeking 2018-based opinions regarding the questions below.

I'll break this up into 4 parts:

1) Whenever there's talk of getting rid of the electoral college or making Congress (specifically the US Senate) proportional, people express a concern that small states would lose their voice or political power.

How exactly/specifically would small states be harmed? Is it primarily a matter of federal funding? Would it not be better to have laws ensuring fair/proportional federal funding for each state than to have voters in small states having a grossly outsized influence on the makeup of the US Senate and a grossly outsized influence on who becomes POTUS?

- - - - - - - - - -

2) Regarding the role of the US Senate, as opposed to the role of the US House: Why does a state or territory (as opposed to people within that state) need representation? What exactly does it mean to represent a state? And is that really what US Senators do? In theory, Kamala Harris represents the territory or state known as California and not the people of California, but does she? Again, what does that mean exactly? Does she represent the state's natural resources, its bodies of water and mountains, its arbitrary border, its roads and bridges? Even if she does, isn't she representing those things on behalf of the people?

Senators certainly talk about representing people in the same way Representatives do, so I'm not sure they got the memo.

- - - - - - - - - -

3) In another thread, someone posted this link: https://thirty-thousand.org

Every district is supposed to have approximately the same number of people, but - in reality - there's a fair amount of variance. Controlling that variance becomes more difficult as the population grows. If 2 districts within a state that differ in size by 50,000 people were made to be equal in size, that could potentially make a difference in which US House candidate wins each respective seat.

Do you support a substantial increase in the number of districts? If so, why? If not, why not? Even if every district had the same number of people, would it not be best to have fewer people per Representative? Currently, the 435 districts average more than 700,000 people each.

- - - - - - - - - -

4) What do you all think about going to a parliamentary system?

Play Cohen's recording on TV and it'll blow over even more quickly than the Access Hollywood tape.

Trump supporters will cheer further confirmation that their cult leader has sex with models, Republicans in Congress will dismiss it as irrelevant (if they gave a damn about Trump breaking laws or lying, Trump would have been gone long ago), and the mainstream media will quickly move on to the next horror.

I'm not being cynical. I'm just stating what is pretty obvious based on the last 3 years of Trump stories/scandals.

It's all about November, folks.

"What if Mueller proves his case and it doesn't matter?"

An article that I'm pretty sure appeared here on DU back when it was published (November of 2017) has resurfaced in my mind.


One should read the whole thing but some excerpts follow:

And yet millions of Americans fervently believe these things. Different polls find different things, and itís always difficult to distinguish what people really believe from what they say on surveys. But if 30 percent of Americaís 200 million registered voters are Republicans, and 40 percent of those donít believe Obama was born in the US, well, thatís 24 million people, among them the most active participants in Republican politics.

In short, an increasingly large chunk of Americans believes a whole bunch of crazy things, and it is warping our politics.

This basic story has been told plenty of times (my longer version is here), but the reason we should not let it out of our sights right now is the Mueller investigation.

In short, what if Mueller proves the case and itís not enough? What if there is no longer any evidentiary standard that could overcome the influence of right-wing media?

For Muellerís findings to have any effect, they will have to break some part of the basic dynamic on the right. Hereís how it works:

Pundits and yellers in right-wing media compete to freak out the base and reinforce its allegiance to Donald Trump. The base leans on politicians. And most elected GOP officials are in seats safe enough that they fear a primary challenge from the base more than a Democratic challenger. The only way to stave off a primary is to pay obeisance.

Thatís why Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are leaving the Senate. They no longer have any control over what their constituents believe or want, and their constituents believe and want increasingly ugly things. Sen. John McCain is saying all the right things now, but back when he faced his own Tea Party challenger, he sprinted right as fast as he could.

GOP politicians cannot (or feel that they cannot) cross the base. And the base is currently being lied to about the Mueller investigation at a furious pace. The entire right-wing machine has kicked into high gear, led by the president himself, furiously throwing out chaff about Comey, Mueller, Obama, Hillary, the dossier, the uranium, the emails, and whatever else.

As always, the goal of this media/political offensive (there is no longer much distinction) is less to present some coherent alternative account of the facts than to fill the atmosphere with fog, to give those on the right enough cover to slough off the charges as yet another liberal plot. (See Voxís Sean Illingís great interview with Charlie Sykes, the conservative talk-radio host who criticized Trump and was excommunicated, for more on how this happens.)

This reaction to Mueller in right-wing media was predictable enough. Similar things have happened so many times before, and been studied, analyzed, and documented. But to this day, no one knows how to stop or counter it. Mainstream institutions seem as unable as ever to resist its warping effects. Itís all playing out like some morbid script that we can only watch, stupefied.

Say he pardons everyone. People will argue on cable TV about whether he should have. One side will say up, the other will say down. Trump may have done this, but what about when Obama did that? What about Hillaryís emails? Whatabout this, whatabout that, whatabout whatabout whatabout?

There is no longer any settling such arguments. The only way to settle any argument is for both sides to be committed, at least to some degree, to shared standards of evidence and accuracy, and to place a measure of shared trust in institutions meant to vouchsafe evidence and accuracy. Without that basic agreement, without common arbiters, there can be no end to dispute.

If one side rejects the epistemic authority of societyís core institutions and practices, thereís just nothing left to be done. Truth cannot speak for itself, like the voice of God from above. It can only speak through human institutions and practices.

The subject of climate change offers a crystalline example here. If climate science does its thing, checks and rechecks its work, and then the Republican Party simply refuses to accept it ... what then?

Thatís what US elites are truly afraid to confront: What if facts and persuasion just donít matter anymore?

As long as conservatives can do something ó steal an election, gerrymander crazy districts to maximize GOP advantage, use the filibuster as a routine tool of opposition, launch congressional investigations as political attacks, hold the debt ceiling hostage, repress voting among minorities, withhold a confirmation vote on a Supreme Court nominee, defend a known fraud and sexual predator who has likely colluded with a foreign government to gain the presidency ó they will do it, knowing theyíll be backed by a relentlessly on-message media apparatus.

And if thatís true, if the very preconditions of science and journalism as commonly understood have been eroded, then all thatís left is a raw contest of power.

Much more at the link, believe it or not.

If we have a POTUS who shouldn't have security clearance...

How do Democrats not bring articles of impeachment? I get that it might not be politically expedient (then again, it might be) and that we don't have the votes to actually impeach, and I get that more damning information is sure to come out.

But doesn't it just seem like the right thing to do? How can we have a POTUS who isn't worthy of receiving intelligence briefings? These are the craziest of times.

What's the argument for each state having the same number of US Senators?

It seems to come down to this notion that tyranny of the minority is somehow better than tyranny of the majority.

Would the least populous states (Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, etc.) be all that harmed by having a Senate that is proportional like the House is? Would they not benefit from more affordable higher education, health care for all, comprehensive immigration reform, environmental protection, less wage disparity, and so on? Would there be no opportunity for Wyoming-specific legislation?

Edit: Apparently I need to clarify. I'm not asking how it originated. We all know about the compromise. I'm asking what justification there is for it in 2018. Anyway, as many have pointed out, probably the best available option is to greatly increase the number of districts/Representatives.

The Republican Party isn't shrinking.

I keep seeing posts about how the Republican base is shrinking but I've seen no evidence to support that claim. We'd all like it to be true, but believing doesn't make it so.

Someone posted a couple of articles that point to the Gallup survey as evidence for the claim, but the Gallup survey doesn't actually support the claim.

Now, if you go back to 2004, you do see a pretty substantial decline in party affiliation and a rise in the number of people claiming no affiliation (i.e, 'independents').

But there's been very little change in recent years: https://news.gallup.com/poll/15370/party-affiliation.aspx. The most recent survey was taken in June.

In June of this year, 27% self-identify as Rep., 43% as independents and 29% as Dem.

In June of 2017, those numbers were 26, 42 and 30, respectively.

In June of 2016, it was 27, 41 and 30.

In June of 2015, it was 25, 41 and 31.

In June of 2014, it was 24, 46 and 28.

In June of 2013, it was 26, 41 and 31.

Anyway, you get the idea.

Lastly, I will once again remind everyone that the vast majority of so-called "independents" are actually very partisan. They just like calling themselves "independent" for one reason or another (wanting to sound reasonable, being too embarrassed to admit who they truly support, wanting to avoid political conversations, or whatever the reason may be). It's been all the rage lately to argue that Republican affiliation is undergoing a precipitous decline (and that that's why Trump's popularity within the Republican Party is so sky high), but I've seen no polling data that supports that. Wishing doesn't make it so.

The Republican donor class, the Republican base, Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress.

At this crazy time especially, I think the question of who Republicans in Congress are (most) beholden to is an interesting one.

1) Is it the Kochs, the Mercers, the NRA and so on?

2) Is it the base, the tens of millions who support Donald Trump no matter what?

Let's say Republicans in Congress are most beholden to the donor class.

3) If top Republicans in Congress (who are not retiring) start speaking out against Trump, would that signal that the donor class has determined that defending Trump has become untenable, that Trump no longer serves their short-term or long-term interests?

4) Even if that happens, though, and most Republicans in Congress (at the direction of the donor class) become anti-Trump, how would Trump's cult-like following respond?

Republicans (from Nixon and his Southern Strategy to Reagan's dog whistling to the Tea Party's racist backlash against Obama) have created this monster known as Trump and his base. Republicans in Congress and the donor class risk being eaten alive by the monster of their own making.

5a) How can the donor class and Republicans in Congress navigate that tightrope? 5b) Are Republicans in Congress and the donor class ultimately beholden to the Republican/Trump base?

And then there's Russia...

6a) Are Putin's interests and the interests of the donor class (and therefore, presumably, the interests of the Republicans in Congress) in complete alignment? 6b) Does Trump being beholden to Putin (due to money owed or kompromat, or both) cause any problems (aside from the potential for a blue wave in November) for the donor class and Republicans in Congress? 6c) If there is a blue wave in November, what are the next steps for Republicans in Congress and the donor class?

7a) If there isn't a blue wave in November (so frightening a prospect that I have a hard time typing it out), what next for the rest of us (especially if Russian interference and voter suppression are the primary reasons)? 7b) What if the legal and electoral systems are null and void?

Many questions. Have at it.

"...and I've said this many times..."

Trump, referring to his claim that he's said many times that he trusts US Intel, proceeds to rely on a script to read (haltingly) that which - again - he claims he's said many times.

All of us here recognize that he's lying, that someone would not need to read that which he has said "many times."

But, once again, I think we can be confident that Trump's base would not recognize what the rest of us do. And, once again, the current Congress won't do a damn thing to stop this madness.

It's all about November.

An avenue by which to at least consider abolishing the electoral college?

I would argue that Russia's goal of influencing the outcome of our election was made easier by the electoral college, for the simple fact that targeting a few specific states can make all the difference.

And Trump's supporters believe (because Trump said so) that the electoral college benefits those evil Democrats.

So, perhaps this opens the door to abolishing the electoral college. Or, more likely, this is just wishful thinking on my part given what it would take to do away with that vestige of slavery that I abhor.
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