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January 25, 2013

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What Fallows' notes demonstrate (for anyone who wasn't already aware) is that you can make an enormous difference with presentation, even if you live up to a commttment to not change the content being presented. Move stuff you disagree with to a less visible position. Phrase a headline to give a very different perspective than the article itself sugests. Even just change the photo or chart which accompanies it. Magic!

I have two very different questions for the readers.

1st) Why does everyone seem to think the Republicans can't win national elections anymore, simply because they've lost the last two? Losing two presidential elections in a row happens all the time. They still hold the house and the senate is NOT filibusterer proof. The Republicans themselves, probably won't see that they have any reason to change unless they lose three presidential elections in a row.

2nd) If most house districts end up greatly gerrymandered, WHY would the party holding that district change their politics in any direction other than more extreme? Where would the moderating forces come from? In a safe red district a Republican candidate can expect to ONLY be attacked from the right. The only moderating forces we have in politics is in districts that could go either way. In those districts the majority is going to be in the middle thus moderation of opinion makes political since. 'Safe' districts tend to be echo chambers. It seems to me that gerrymandering is something that political operatives and parties desire because it gives them power, but ultimately it just ends in tears for everyone because the party can only become more extreme.

I would say 1) comes from looking at which groups seem to be rejected by the Republicans, and comparing that to which groups are growing. As for the Republicans holding the House currently, it may be worth noting that nationwide Republican House candidates totalled a couple million fewer votes than Democratic House candidates. Whatever the reasons for that, it doesn't suggest that Republicans are just inches away from a resurgence.

2) The drive for moderation comes from the desire to win nationwide (or merely statewide) elections. Unfortunately for the forces of moderation, primary elections tend to bring out mostly strong partisans. So you don't get moderate candidates who can win until the partisan voters decide that they would rather win with someone that they mostly (but not completely) agree with, rather than lose to someone that they totally disagree with because they wanted purity in their candidate. In some places, that may happen relatively quickly. In others (I'm looking at the California Republican Party as an example), losing elections seems to merely reinforce the desire for ever more extreme candidates. In similar circumstances, it took the Democrats losing several Presidential elections before they were willing to move back to the center. And the parties in the 1980s were far less homogeneous than they are now.

With the way the house districts are set up the total number of votes for either party really doesn't matter all that much. It's the number of competitive districts that really matter. Even if Democrats were getting twice as many votes as Republicans it won't matter until the districts get re-drawn in a decade or so. If demographics continue the way they have been, when that district re-drawing happens I expect the Republicans to REALLY freak out. Maybe THAT will be what brings about the long dark tea time of their soul.

While I agree that the desire for nationwide elections is what drives moderation, I just don't see the Republicans moving in a moderate(or more inclusive) direction anytime soon. They've managed to make so many of their districts safe that the 'local' talent that would eventually move up is all extreme. If they keep losing, but everyone in their local elections thinks like them, they are liable to believe the Democrats are 'cheating' to win national elections somehow rather than the reality that a majority of the population disagrees with them. I'm not sure what happens after that.

Valar morghulis

I take what comfort there may be in the knowledge that all men are mortal, and that Rupert Murdoch will celebrate his 83d natal anniversary in March.

Unfortunately, (the bad) Roger Ailes is only 72, and so may continue to pollute our national discourse for another ten to twenty years.

Al Queda has done far less damage to the nation than have these two men.

It's the current plan of the GOP (called redmap) to apply the gerrymandering to the presidential elections too. If e.g. Virginia had already enacted what the GOP legislature tries to put into place right now Obama would have gotten only 4 of 13 electoral votes there despite beating Romney by 5-6% in the popular vote.
Another reason to demand federalizing federal elections: One single standard for the whole country.

As for leading GOPsters and/or fundamentalist religionists, a number of them are definitely lying (and on a regular base). I have seen and heard enough "how dare you quote me in context" episodes to believe otherwise. It's not all of them naturally but enough to make the assumption of real doublethink questionable at least for the leaders.

On another view, what the Virginia GOP is saying, implicitly, is that they do not believe that they will be able to win the popular vote in Virginia again. Because it they thought that they could, they wouldn't be so keen on a system which would give the Democrats a bunch of electoral votes in that citcumstance.

Or, to put it another way, they are saying "We know that the tide of history is running against us. But this may allow us to hold on a tiny bit longer."

One goal of the Republican party has been for the last thirty years or so to end representative democracy in this country. Voter suppression is part of the effort as is gerrymandering Congressional districts. Gerrymandering the Electoral College is another essential step because they ahve to get in the position to make a few more Supreme Court judges of the rightwing activist Scalia type.

Then it won't matter if a generation of mean, selfish people die of old age while democratic voters continue to reproduce. The Republican party can just use their entrenched power to stay entrenched and, of course, they will continue to lie about what they want to do with governmental power.

Their problem is that once they get power and they start actually implementing their preferred policies, even their own voters won't like them. Who wants Medicare to be a voucher system? Who wants to ahve to move grandma into the living room becuase the funding for Medicaid has been gutted? Who wants to keep cutting taxes for rich people when the money for grants for college are drying up? What red state voters really want an end to the big government programs that are the mainstay of their economies?

In other words once they get into power they will make themselves justifiably hated. Things will only get worse for the Republicans as we experience the effects of global warming. Crap about beig against big government, global warming denialism, horseshit about tax cuts fo rthe rich producing jobs: the worse things get the fewer Americans will be suckers for that nonsense.

Americans can only afford to vote for Republicans when the times are good enough to insulate them from the consequences of their vote.

Why does everyone seem to think the Republicans can't win national elections anymore

They can't ever win a presidential election again without increasing their share of the votes of various demographic groups - minorities, women, young people, on and on. That's statistics.

The steps they would need to take to appeal to those demographic groups are poison to their base. They can't be less harsh on immigrants, gays, abortion, etc. without offending ignorant bigoted southern whites - their base. And if ignorant bigoted southern whites stop showing up at the polls to vote Republican, the Republican party is over.

Second, the Republican party itself obviously is worried about its ability to win national elections because its strategy has shifted from trying to win votes to trying to keep people who vote for Democrats from voting, and to trying to create conditions where Republicans can win even if the majority of the people vote for Democrats.

They know they can't win a majority of the popular vote without appealing to a wider demographic, and they know they can't appeal to a wider demographic without losing the bigots, their party's core.

They think that only the end of democracy in America can keep them in power, so that's where they are putting their efforts.

It's a dangerous time.

Has anyone here ever heard a post-Nixon Democrat use the phrase 'this is a republic not a democracy'? (except as a quote that is)
I have heard/read it numerous times from Republicans and similar-minded people.
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Yes, I am aware that gerrymandering is a bipartisan issue and the hypocrisy on both sides is nauseating but as far as I see it, the current main offenders are GOPsters and with far more sinister means and purposes. Return of the machine era?

"They can't ever win a presidential election again without increasing their share of the votes of various demographic groups - minorities, women, young people, on and on. That's statistics."

If less than three million votes had gone to Romney instead of Obama, out of about 130 million cast, Romney would have won the popular vote. I'm fairly certain that far fewer changed votes, if distributed in marginal states, would have made the difference. And this in an election where turnout among people already identifying as Republicans was down; Romney could have won that election without moving a single voter from the Obama column, if he'd been popular enough among Republicans that they bothered turning out.

That wasn't anything like a landslide, and there is no reason why Republicans can't, quite rationally, suppose that they might have won such an election with a bit better candidate.

There's no doubt that the GOP has a serious problem with it's candidate selection mechanism, they keep puking up McCains and Romneys, who the establishment might like, but the rank and file aren't at all enthusiastic about.

But the Democratic triumphalism is seriously misplaced.

But the Democratic triumphalism is seriously misplaced.

Something we can fully agree on.
I just hope that the actual deciders are not infectecd, results are usually discgraceful.

If less than three million votes had gone to Romney instead of Obama

And yet, they didn't.

To be clear about my position, I would be for proportional distribution of electoral votes by state nationwide, not tied to districts but to total votes. Uniform standards. Better still would be a division of the country into a small number of regions with each region doing the proportional distribution tied to total votes but that would require a major constitutional overhaul. The very unequal population distribution would unfortunately make a true national presidential election a rather unfair thing. What cannot stand is a sytem of 'proportional where we lose and winner-takes-all where we win'

Low GOP turnout is a http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324352004578133120431803606.html>simply not supported by the facts.

...there is no reason why Republicans can't, quite rationally, suppose that they might have won such an election with a bit better candidate.

Name just one such person.

The Republicans need to come up with something better than stroking rich people and firing up the resentment of pissed off white people.

Because there aren't that many rich people, and every year the proportion of pissed off white people relative to everybody else in the country gets lower.

Or, they can carry on as they have, and live with becoming increasingly marginalized.

Nixon's dead. So's Reagan. W's off the scene, making the occasional promotional appearance, and nobody wants him around anyway - folks can't run away from him fast enough.

The conservative Republican agenda has had most of the last 30 years to deliver whatever wonderfulness it was going to deliver, and it has failed to do so.

Time to turn the page.

"they keep puking up McCains and Romneys, who the establishment might like, but the rank and file aren't at all enthusiastic about."

Well, they had the puking contest called the primaries to sort all of that out.

In the annals of mainstream right-wing spewing, that first round was a display of extravagant projectile vomiting, a veritable vomitorium thanks to the rankest end of the rank and file.

That last Republican primary go-round was something to witness, if you could hold down your gorge and overcome your nausea. I haven't seen such four-color, heaving, hoarking, and overall barking and yodeling at the ants since the fat man parked his groceries all over the restaurant patrons in Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life".

The charming feature of that election was the inclusion of a woman and a black man in the festivities for the more politically correct jagoffs in the big tent, with various other politically correct Ralphs 3-D burping and mouth crying elsewhere. in the surrounding political shrubbery.

They yawned a big bright chunky rainbow.

Michelle Bachmann in one of the group disgorgements, misnamed as "debate", actually baked cookies for everyone and then all of them, including her, proceeded to toss those same cookies, albeit as one constituent in the overall acid chowder.

Rick Perry had suffered from oral diarrhea for so long that by the time he got to the first primary debate, all he could do was grab his six-gun, open his mouth, and call Earl.

I guess you missed the writings of the original Founders wherein they bruited about their dicey feelings about the rank and file of all political persuasions and the role of the political process in filtering out the larger chunks of the half-digested upchuck it throws up every two and four years.

I've no doubt the modern Republican Party, following its rankest founder, filed under the name John Wilkes Booth, who purged after every meal to keep his svelte libertarian, states rights figure, will continue its bile purification process for future rodeos, hoping perhaps that the porcelain God they call their base will be more receptive the next time they flash the hash, gurp the nostril sauce, jazz the carpet, shout at their shoes, sell the Buick, leggo their eggos, disembark their gut soup dinner, and otherwise, not to put too fine a point on it, cash in their round-trip meal ticket.

It's amusing to observe the election post-mortem in which that "Party" sorts through its own sick with a stick to identify the chunks that will go down better next time and come back up looking like a caviar cupcake with sprinkles.

Let's see, should we go with another Romney, whose main downside, let's face it from the perspective of the rankest of the file, was that in trying to bark like the big dogs, looked as out of place as a butler daintily chumming into his own hanky at 3:00 am in the frat parking lot during pledge week at the Alpha Alpha Alpha House, or rather should we opt next time for the real deal who can chorkle the call of the walrus, gush the goulash, and reverse jettison the ideological colon juice like a real man.

I suspect we'll see some combination of the two, a malignant motherf*cker with manners, who can fill the Party swimming pool with the purest, clearest, but most poisonous bile, into which the 27% base and another 24% of the usual suspects can and will swan dive from the highest diving board with nary a splash for perfect 10's for form and difficulty.

At which, I will come to see the wisdom of the second comma in the Second Amendment, which if you read the Constitutional small print purveyed by some here and elsewhere, roughly translates as "Hollis, I think we're going to need a bigger gun".

Let's try a little thought exercise. Suppose the Republicans sincerely think that allocating Electoral College votes by Congressional district is a fairer system. (And I confess I think that there might be something to that, actually.)

There are a bunch of states where Republicans are in complete control of the state government. (Say Texas, for just one example.) So when will we see them implementing this fairer system in some of those?

Admittedly, doing so without similar action in Democratic controlled states would have drawbacks. But a party really committed to its principles would hardly let details like that stop them. After all, consider the other self-destructive principles they have embraced.

People interested in fairness have no basis for pushing allocating electoral collage electors based on congressional district. There's a much better plan: the national popular vote. Basically, states pass a law awarding their EC electors to whoever wins the national popular vote. This avoids the congressional district gerrymandering issue altogether.

Not sure you'll ever get something like that to work. As an example, the people of MS really don't care how the big population centers of the coasts (and TX) voted. They care how the majority of MS voted. I figure the majority of the states would feel this way. If all electoral collage votes are base on pure popular vote then the candidates would pander exclusively to the large population states and the smaller states would be completely ignored.

It's a lot like that now, but with each state determining it's own electoral votes, at least some of the smaller states can become important to national races if the larger states are split.

If all electoral collage votes are base on pure popular vote then the candidates would pander exclusively to the large population states and the smaller states would be completely ignored.

I don't think this makes sense. Consider TX and WY right now. The national campaigns completely ignore both of them. One is big and the other is tiny. The electoral college doesn't incentivize campaigning in small states or big states: it incentivizes campaigning in states where the partisan balance is close enough that campaigning can make a difference.

I think it is very hard to argue with the idea that whoever gets the most votes should win the election. I don't care how my state votes: I want the candidate with the most votes to win.

There is the longstanding proposal of dividing the US into 5-6 regions for the purpose of presidential elections in order to find a compromise between state-centered (disproportionately favouring small and 'swing' states) and national (favoring large population centers).
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Mathematically a totally onse-sided gerrymander can lead to the extreme situation that 25% total +1 vote per district yield 50% of all seats + 1, i.e. an absolute majority.

If all electoral collage votes are base on pure popular vote then the candidates would pander exclusively to the large population states and the smaller states would be completely ignored.

There would be no need to "pander" to any state, large or small, as states would become irrelevant to to the electoral calculation.


"People interested in fairness have no basis for pushing allocating electoral collage electors based on congressional district."

The electoral college wasn't designed to be "fair", in a national sense, as it wasn't designed for a nation. It was designed for a federation of sovereign states, which were delegating to a federal government only part of their sovereignty, and the smaller states had to be given some assurance that they wouldn't be walked all over by the larger ones, or they wouldn't have joined.

Frankly the real problem is that the US is too large and heterogeneous to make a good nation. Any government which makes part of the nation happy will make another part extremely pissed off.

As a federation we worked, because the central government was restricted in it's reach, and people were mostly governed by their state and local governments. But the more like a centralized nation we became, the less it became possible for all parts of the country to be happy.

Ideally we'd restore the federalist system the Constitution specifies we should have, but that's kind of difficult when the people who don't want a federalist system are committed to pretending that they're already following that Constitution. I think the only realistic way out is to break the US up into a half dozen or more smaller nations.

I think it is very hard to argue with the idea that whoever gets the most votes should win the election.

What Turb said.

IMO it's long, long, long, long, long past time to move past the idea that states per se need to be represented in some way in federal governance.

States don't vote, people do.

If you're concerned about small states getting elbowed out, the Senate has got your back. The electoral system is vestigial aristocratic horsecrap.

As a federation we worked

Also, not for nothing, but we actually were a federation of more or less sovereign states when we started out, under the articles of confederation, before the Constitution was ratified in 1789.

As a federation, we were utter useless ineffective ungovernable crap. Utter crap. We couldn't get out of our own damned way. That's why we adopted the Constitution.

There is NO reasonable way to read the Constitution of US as a description of a federation of sovereign states. States are not sovereign, and never were sovereign, and were not intended to be sovereign, under the US Constitution.

As a federation we worked, because the central government was restricted in it's reach, and people were mostly governed by their state and local governments.

Astounding....however, before I proffer a response, I ask the front pagers for a ruling on the use of the term, "mendacity". Is it stroke and distance, two club lengths, free drop, loss of hole, immovable object? What?

Mendacity speaks to a state of mind where the person knows that s/he is wrong, but refuses to let it matter. Based on that, I don't think that it is mendacity, but a firmly held belief.

"There is NO reasonable way to read the Constitution of US as a description of a federation of sovereign states. States are not sovereign, and never were sovereign, and were not intended to be sovereign, under the US Constitution."

Wow, seriously? They were just blowing smoke when they claimed in the Declaration of independence to be "free and independent states"? No sovereign states before the revolution? Texas was never an independent nation? 10th amendment a fantasy, no reserved powers, no anti-commandeering doctrine? States have always, entirely, been nothing but administrative districts in a nation?

But, what LJ says; I think you actually believe this, and large parts of the Constitution and history just go right over your head.

At the time the Declaration was written, they were free and independent states.

A number of current US states were sovereign nations before they became US states. TX and VT, among others.

However, they are no longer free and independent states, nor are they sovereign nations. They're US states, by their own express wish and action. In other words, nobody made 'em join up.

The 10th Amendment states that powers not expressly given to the feds are reserved for the states. However, the powers that define and constitute a sovereign nation in the modern period are expressly granted to the feds.

US states are significant political entity. They are not sovereign. Some states have, over the years, asserted sovereignty, and the question has been resolved, repeatedly, and not in their favor.

Perhaps there is some question about what "sovereignty" means.

" In other words, nobody made 'em join up."

Setting aside that not being true for the former Confederacy states... What we have in the US is a system of shared sovereignty; The federal government is sovereign in some areas, the states sovereign in others.

"Sovereignty" means supreme authority, in an area where you're "sovereign", nobody is able to over-rule your decisions. Under the Constitution, this is the case for the federal government on some subjects, and for the states on all others.

Perhaps there is some question about what "sovereignty" means.

Yeuuuup. Perhaps Brett should look up the meaning of the term. As for history, I dimly recall some stuff about a "civil war". Did we have one of those? Did that era coincide with the federal nirvana that Brett claims existed at some time in the past?

In our far off fog shrouded 48th soviet of Washington we are all still anxiously awaiting Mr. Bellmore's naming the of the GOP candidate who would have demonstratively done better against Mr. Obama in the recent election than Mr. Mittens did.

Thanks for the h/t, LJ. I'll take a free drop.

Bobby, I did bother to look it up, just to confirm my understanding was correct per the dictionary. Can you honestly say the states don't have any attributes of sovereignty, when there are subjects where they can't constitutionally be ordered about by the federal government?

I kind of like Rand Paul for 2016, so of course you can already see the Democratic media machine revving up to destroy him, with no small amount of cooperation from the Republican establishment. The GOP's big problem is that they're saddled with an entrenched establishment which doesn't agree with the party's own nominal positions, and who really despise their own base. They do a really bang up job of fratriciding anybody who starts to look like a good conservative prospect for President.

Under the Constitution, this is the case for the federal government on some subjects, and for the states on all others.

This seems to imply that the level of sovereignty is determined by the number of "subjects" over which a given political entity has the final say (given the "some" v. "all others" phrasing).

As russell notes, the constitution happens to grant that final say over the most sovereignty-intensive subjects to the federal government.

By way of a very exaggerated analogy, for the purpose of conceptual clarity, it's like I get to tell you where you can live and where you are allowed to go and when, but you think you're mostly free to do what you want because you get to decide what flowers to plant in your yard, what kind of toothpaste to use, what color sheets to put on your bed, and whether you'll have your eggs over-easy or sunny-side-up (more "subjects"!).

So history stopped the day the constitution was ratified? If the states are so sovereign why do I have the overwhelming desire to beat my head against a wall when I read things like this happening in Mississippi where they've tried this before?

http://blogs.clarionledger.com/samrhall/2013/01/24/mississippi-house-bill-would-create-modern-day-sovereignty-commission/

Setting aside that not being true for the former Confederacy states

A reasonable point. However, they did opt in, initially. They just wanted to back out of the deal after they'd signed on the dotted line.

For the record, as far as I'm concerned, the door is open anytime they want to revisit that. I won't lift a finger to stop them.

I just want the feds - which is to say, all of the rest of us - to be paid back for all that we've invested there.

"Sovereignty" means supreme authority, in an area where you're "sovereign"

Yes, and when we speak of sovereign STATES, there are a range of things that we expect to fall within the scope of where that state is sovereign.

So - do you own responsibility for the defense of your own border? Can you control who can and cannot enter or leave your geographical territory? Can you enter into legally binding relationships with other sovereign states? Can you declare war? Can you print money?

Basically, what control do you have over the interaction of the territory and people you claim sovereignty over with that of other states claiming to be sovereign?

Those things belong to the feds, per the Constitution.

I have no argument with the idea that responsibility in a number of areas belongs to the states under the US Constitution. I frankly agree with your sense that more, at a basic regulatory and administrative level, could be devolved than now is, because it's freaking impossible to find common ground on anything more than the most basic points.

But the things that belong to the states do not amount to "sovereignty", in any meaningful way, as that term is applied to political entities.

I'm making a point of this because the "sovereign states" thing has been, and continues to be, a pernicious thorn in the side of American public life.

States are important political entities. They are not sovereign.

"Mendacity speaks to a state of mind where the person knows that s/he is wrong, but refuses to let it matter. Based on that, I don't think that it is mendacity, but a firmly held belief."

"I kind of like Rand Paul for 2016, so of course you can already see the Democratic media machine revving up to destroy him ..."

You mean to say that a free press put a camera on Paul and recorded him speaking and letting him hoist himself on his own numerous mouth petards (petard in the archaic French slang: a sharp report of intestinal gas)?

I'll give you this, Paul seems to be a man of firmly held beliefs, which upon the slightest examination, all things being equal, leads me to prefer mendacity any time, and like Big Daddy, folks will learn to live with it.

I suppose the constitutional idealists on the far libertarian right believe Paul's nostrums for what ails us will not be compromised by simple realities (his big Daddy was a porkaholic, by his own definition, despite his "strongly held whackaloon bullsh*t beliefs") and will remain unwavering, but I think in time, like Greta Garbo viewing the actor Jean Marais' transformation from Beast to Man in Cocteau's "Beauty And The Beast", they will exclaim in disappointment, "Give me back my Beast", like they do for ... well ... everyone.

A federal government run by Rand Paul is a government that will deserve the full application of the Second Amendment solutions so coyly prescribed by the violent ones on the Right when their strongly held beliefs are violated.

Despite the fact that I find Paul's objections to the Homeland Security state, such as they are, attractive, I'm quite sure those views will evolve should he take the Presidency, not to protect the country, but to protect his own sorry as*.

Otherwise, dentist Paul in the Presidency will be an occasion to double down on the laughing gas, if he allows us a hit from his stash.

I wonder how this Rand Paul voter (it's all Obama's fault) will react when Paul doesn't carry out his full Constitutional responsibilities to preserve the entire country in his image.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2013/01/for_freedom_and_also_good_grades.php?ref=fpblg

Paul arms his own killers.

I've asked the question about which Republican could plausibly defeat the Democrats in 2016 -- and could plausibly win the nomination first. (Bearing in mind that a lot can happen in 4 years, so any guess is exactly that.)

So far, the suggestions are:
- Senator Rubio
- Governor Christie
- "one of the new Republican governors"
- and now, Senator Paul. (At least, I assume that Brett was saying that, and not just that he likes the Senator's position on the issues.)

First off, historically the Senate is not a strong base for reaching the Presidency. Yes, it has been done (most recently by Obama). But it is far harder to start from there than to start from a Governor's office (or previous Vice Presidential experience). Perope, understandably, see the Executive branch as requiring different skills than the Legislative branch. Not that some people can't have both sets of skills. Just that it's hard to demonstrate them in the legislature.

So the question, for both Rubio and Paul, would be: What special characteristics does he have (or would the nature of his competition give him) that would make him a plausible winner? Positions on issues which would resonate with a majority of voters (combined with a lack of positions which they would find seriously off-putting)? Exceptional campaigning skills? Etc.? The only thing I can see is that, if the economy has not recovered significantly, and if the Republicans in Congress (specifically including the Senator in question) have not visibly contributed to making things worse, just running on "time to try something different" might work. Unfortunately, the signs at the moment are that the economy will be recovering. A lot more slowly than desired, perhaps, but heading up rather than down. Failing that, it is hard to see which positive positions they espouse which would outweigh the negatives of their other positions for the population as a whole.

As for the Governors, they have the advantage of having actually run something. And the disadvantage of having had to actually do things -- things which are forced to deal with reality, not just the world as they would prefer it to be. That means either they have to convince the primary voters that what they did was right, even if it flew in the fact of conservative orthodoxy. Or they have to run away from their record in office (ala Romney), which rather undercuts running on the basis of executive experience. I don't see anybody pulling off the former with Republican primary voters. And I definitely don't see Christie doing the latter.

All of which leaves me still wondering where a viable Republican Presidential candidate might come from. Well, maybe one of the new governors will break lucky. Or maybe some major event, outside the control of anybody here, will make "time for a change" resonate.

...there is no reason why Republicans can't, quite rationally, suppose that they might have won such an election with a bit better candidate.

Name just one such person.

Chris Christie. Next question.

Team Obama feared Christie (the primaries took care of Huntsman who could have posed a real danger by strong appeal to independents). But Christie was careful enough not to run this time. If the GOP/TP does not go fully round the bend, he will be a formidable candidate next time. I personally don't like him (or his policies) but I think he has the capabilities for both candidacy and office. But the fact that he is not certifiably insane is of course a huge handicap in the primaries. Actually, I'd love to see him fighting it out with Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden, the debates would be both entertaining and have a good deal more substance than we have seen the last few times.

Brett, I'm not sure if this will make any difference to you, but your notion of constitutional interpretation is to take one notion and make it do all your work. In this case, sovereignty is a good example. While a definition of sovereignty is, as you say, that one governmental entity has the final say, you suggest that somehow, that understanding of the term dictates everything else in the document. I have students who commit a similar error in interpretation, finding one concept in a piece of writing and focussing on that to the exclusion of all else. At the risk of being dismissive, your definition of sovereignity mirrors the George W Bush reply at the Unity Conference in 2004.

I'll give you this, Paul seems to be a man of firmly held beliefs

RIght up until the point where his name is on the check.

Seriously, I appreciate that he talks the Randian party line, but conservatives have to be able to find somebody better than Rand freaking Paul.

Didn't Goldwater have any kids?

Eh, you work with what you've got, liberals had to be able to find somebody better than Mr. "I can kill anybody I like with a drone.", right?

Eh, you work with what you've got

I hear you.

liberals had to be able to find somebody better than Mr. "I can kill anybody I like with a drone.", right?

Apparently, no.

If less than three million votes had gone to Romney instead of Obama, out of about 130 million cast, Romney would have won the popular vote.

And if the queen had any balls, she'd be king.

Republicans are swimming against the demographic tide, but I never quite believed the claims that 2012 was the very last election they could possibly win with a base of just white people (even barring schemes like electoral-vote-splitting, which seems to be losing steam at the moment).

All it will take for the next couple of cycles will be for things to get disastrously bad enough for the Democratic candidate (war, economic collapse, some other calamity) that minorities don't want to turn out for that person.

Lots of people claimed that fundamentals models looked bad for Obama in 2012, but people by and large didn't blame him for the country's troubles to a sufficient degree. But there's no guarantee that won't be true for the Democrats in 2016 or 2020. Obama's job approval is currently right where George W. Bush's was after he was reelected in early 2005: he's basically a fifty-fifty President, but has gotten a little boost from winning. It's entirely possible that his popularity will collapse just like Bush's, which will make things hard for any Democratic successor. I believe that he's much more competent than Bush, which makes that less likely, but it depends on things that haven't happened yet.

Russell,

if we look from the late 18th century perspective, the claim "US states retain their sovereignity" is not completely insane. At that time, the concept of sovereignity was more fluid than it is now. For example, the Holy Roman Empire was formed out of several hundred subdivisions which were sovereign in their own right.

Similarly, a number of British dependencies, e.g. the Isle of Man, the Channel Isles, and Shetland Islands were "sovereign": the legislation of the Britannic Parliament was not binding there without certain formalities.

Nowadays, the EU member states consider themselves very clearly independent countries, but everyone agrees that the EU wields sovereignity in some areas. A EU member state may not:
* print its own money (if part of Eurozone)
* decide on its immigration controls
* make any international treaties that would affect the sovereignity of the Union (e.g. trade agreements)
* issue a non-standard-format driver's licences or passports

Claiming that a US state is not sovereign in the areas where it is the competent authority comes awfully close to claiming that EU member states are not sovereign.

Claiming that a US state is not sovereign in the areas where it is the competent authority comes awfully close to claiming that EU member states are not sovereign.

I don't think anyone is claiming such a thing. US states are sovereign to the extent that they have authority over certain matters within their borders. The question is what those matters are and what degree of sovereignty they represent, given the significance of those matters over which they do not have authority and that the federal government does.

Regardless of how dire the competition for Colorado River drinking water becomes, California cannot declare war on Arizona (not within the bounds of the constitution, anyway).

But it does raise the question of how an EU member goes about becoming a non-member, and how that compares to how a US state might secede. I'd say that's a fundamental aspect of sovereignty - how easily (and unilateraly) one member state can separate from the larger union.

they keep puking up McCains and Romneys, who the establishment might like, but the rank and file aren't at all enthusiastic about.

then maybe the rank and file should have voted for someone else in the primaries.

Chris Christie. Next question.
a moderate north-east governor who isn't afraid to say nice things about Democrats? yeah, that'll go over well with the shrieking lunatics who make up the public face of the GOP.

It's always a bit dangerous to make analogies, especially around here, but sovereignty strikes me as a lot like the leeway we grant to parents in raising their kids. We generally tolerate a lot, but at a point that doesn't get reached very often (though probably more than we would want it to) someone steps in to act. It also summons up the same feelings when it is invoked, why shouldn't the parent/state/nation be able to do whatever it damn well pleases with its kids/residents/citizens. Of course, we are moving to a society where doing whatever one damn well pleases is not really possible, and we move in that direction because we are confronted with really dire cases
I would love to live in a world where we didn't have to worry about parents abusing or molesting their kids, states acknowledging and protecting their residents' civil rights, or nations not engaging in genocide, but I'm afraid that it's not the case.

http://dailycaller.com/2013/01/12/why-chris-christie-wont-win-the-presidency-in-2016/> Movement conservatism and their tumescent love for Chris Christie

a moderate north-east governor who isn't afraid to say nice things about Democrats? yeah, that'll go over well with the shrieking lunatics who make up the public face of the GOP.

Look how ready they were to excommunicate him just for saying nice things about Obama in the aftermath of Sandy and just prior to the eleciton.

Phil, that's why it seems a stretch to suggest that Christie could win the nomination: he shows no signs of being willing to make the kind of total rejection of everything he he says and does as governor that Romney made. Which is to say, he won't go with 100% pander to get the nomination.

It is not at all clear that it is currently possible to get the nomination any other way. And for it to become possible, the majority of Republican primary voters would have to decide both that
- they can't win the Presidency with an ideologically pure candidate, and that
- they care more about winning the Presidency than about ideological purity.
Neither of those decisions are in prospect.

"- they can't win the Presidency with an ideologically pure candidate,"

I'd have to see them try, before accepting that as proven. An ideologically pure candidate, by which I mean a candidate who actually agrees with his own party's platform, would have a number of advantages over a squish like Romney, such as an enthusiastic base of support, a consistent message. He'd doubtless lose Democratic voters in droves, but there actually are enough Republican voters that mobilizing a higher percentage of them could make for Democrats not liking him.

It's an experiment I'd like to see run.

Strange timing. Looks like Nate Silver has something to say about Electoral Collage changes.

FiveThirtyEight

If you want Electoral Collage changes, be sure to use Elmer's, not epoxy.

"If most house districts end up greatly gerrymandered, WHY would the party holding that district change their politics in any direction other than more extreme? Where would the moderating forces come from? In a safe red district a Republican candidate can expect to ONLY be attacked from the right."

The thing about gerrymandering is that if you use it to draw more districts for your party, those seats become LESS safe, and the corresponding Democratic districts MORE safe, because there are only so many Republican voters and you get more districts only by spreading them thinner.

such as an enthusiastic base of support

as bobbpyp pointed out two days ago, the idea that Romney didn't get the GOP base out is a myth. in nearly all the battleground states, he got better turnout than McCain, and better than W, while Obama was down.

want to win elections? get a better platform.

[running an ideologically pure candidate for President] It's an experiment I'd like to see run.

Brett, it would definitely be an interesting experiment. My sense is that it would be a disaster -- a McGovern-scale disaster. But my perception may well be skewed from watching Republicans here in California do that. Republicans here honestly, fervently, believe that running a "real conservative" is the path to victory. And the fact that it has repeatedly been tried, and failed, for state-wide offices for at least two decades has had zero impact on their belief.

Perhaps things would be different nationwide. But I would be interested in hearing why you think it would work. What big groups of voters have been put off by flashes of (or a history of) moderation in past candidates, but would turn out for a pure conserative? (And, for completeness, what groups have turned out to vote against such a "moderate" candidate, who would stay home if a pure conservative was on offer?) In short, were is the gain going to come from?

(Then, of course, there is the parallel question of how much a pure conservative would energize the opposition. But while that is obviously a factor in achieving victory, it is a separate issue.)

I'd have to see them try, before accepting that as proven. An ideologically pure candidate, by which I mean a candidate who actually agrees with his own party's platform, would have a number of advantages over a squish like Romney...

Well, Coolidge might fit that bill, but that was some time ago. For you tenthers out there, you might be suprised to know that some things have changed.

We could point to the disaster that was the Goldwater candidicy in '64, but you'd probably retort with Reagan. And my counter to that would be to compare/contrast the GOP platform http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/29/us/politics/republican-platform-takes-turn-to-right.html?_r=0> of 1980 vs. 2012.

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