Re: Why Republicans want gridlock
- From: "Jerry Okamura" <okamuraj005@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 2 Apr 2010 09:17:51 -1000
If it is all about winning, then the argument has some validity. If it is about what is best for the American people, then the argument has no validity. It depends on the question, does the end justify the means, it seems to me.
"arthur wouk" <awouk@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message news:731680016.286486@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Why Republicans want gridlock
Groups in decline, such as the white working class that controls
the GOP, tend to focus on blocking change
By Michael Lind Wikimedia Commons/Salon
Why is the Republican Party insisting on gridlock in Washington?
Why is the Republican minority in California blocking necessary
change? The Beltway pundits who attribute everything to electoral
cycle gamesmanship do not understand the deeper cause of this
scorched-earth policy: demographic decline.
Having lost much of the white professional class to the Democrats
(perhaps temporarily), the Republican Party is increasingly the
party of the declining white working class. Non-Hispanic whites
are shrinking as a percentage of the U.S. population. Meanwhile,
the traditional skilled working class and lower middle class are
shrinking as a proportion of the workforce, while the service
sector proletariat and college-educated professionals increase
To add insult to injury, the Democrats, instead of reaching out
to white working-class voters, often have snobbishly dismissed
them, as Obama did with his patronizing discussion of the
In these circumstances, the American white working class quite
naturally is experiencing "demographic panic." Declining groups
experiencing such anxieties generally focus on blocking adverse
change, using the political institutions they still control.
Apart from hanging on to their power as long as they can, they
usually do not have programs for governing the country, something
they do not expect to be able to do in the long run.
This was the strategy of the antebellum Southern planter class,
beginning in the 1820s. As immigrants poured into the North,
where native white farmers also had high birthrates, Southern
whites were increasingly outnumbered. By threatening to secede in
1820 (the Missouri Compromise) and 1850 (the Compromise of 1850),
Southern politicians forced the rest of the country to acquiesce
to the rule that slave states and free states must be equal in
number in the Senate, even though slave-state whites were a
shrinking minority of the population. When the rise of the
Republican Party convinced them that this delaying tactic was
doomed, the Southerners tried to secede and form a smaller union
they would forever control.
Demographic panic also afflicted old-stock British Protestants in
Northern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their
fear that they would be displaced socially and politically by
European immigrants, particularly by hated Irish Catholic
immigrants, inspired Protestant nativism as early as the 1840s.
The Protestant nativists, like the Southern planters, sought to
booby-trap Congress to maintain their political power in spite of
their dwindling relative numbers. From the founding onward, after
every census the size of the U.S. House of Representatives was
adjusted upward, in order to accommodate the growing population.
However, after the 1920 census, rural Protestant representatives
in Congress prevented an expansion of the House that would have
increased the influence of European immigrants and their
descendants in the big cities.
In 1929, the size of the House was capped at 435, the number it
reached after the 1910 census. Many democracies have lower houses
of 600 to 800 members. The Anglo-Protestant nativists long ago
lost their battle against Euro-Americans, but the small size of
the U.S. House of Representatives is the legacy of their struggle
to maintain their status and power.
This history underscores the irony that yesterday's ascending
demographic force often becomes today's declining minority. The
Anglo-American Protestants in the North and Midwest who crushed
the Confederacy and dreamed of sending colonists to
demographically and culturally Yankeeize the defeated South were
themselves panicking half a century later over the prospect of
becoming outbred and outnumbered by Irish-Americans and Italian-
Americans in New England itself.
Many of the children of the European immigrants whom the old-line
WASPs feared and despised moved up and moved west to California,
where, assimilated and affluent by the 1970s, they pulled the
plug on the funding of public education, once black and brown
children who did not look like their kids began to fill
In a hundred years perhaps the relatively declining descendants
of today's growing Latino constituency will unite with other
groups to oppose the empowerment of 22nd century immigrants from
other parts of the world.
If you believe that there is a long-term national interest
distinct from that of particular groups, then the challenge is to
prevent the groups that are in relative decline -- be they
regions or ethnic or racial groups -- from trying to preserve
their relative political power by using the veto points in U.S.
government to bring the machinery of a government to a grinding
The increasing mismatch between population and power in American
government that underlies the present gridlock needs to be
addressed by structural reforms. Here is what needs to be done.
Reforming the U.S. Senate: The radical yet perfectly
constitutional solution to addressing the gridlock imposed by the
small-population states is to subdivide increasingly under-
represented large-population states like California, Texas,
Florida and New York into smaller states, each with two senators.
The Constitution permits a state to voluntarily subdivide itself
as long as Congress approves. In an article in Mother Jones a few
years back, I proposed the voluntary subdivision of the large
states to turn our present 50 states into 75 states. But the
small states in the Senate would try to block any attempt to
dilute their grotesquely disproportionate power by this voluntary
and constitutional method.
The immediate goal of Senate reform therefore should be the
abolition of the filibuster, which exists only because of the
Senate's own rules and has no basis in our constitutional design.
Small state populations would still have disproportionate
influence even if all Senate legislation were passed by 51
percent majorities, but less than they do now, when the
Republicans rule the Senate 41 to 59.
The House of Representatives: It is much easier to adjust the
other house of Congress to make it more representative of the
21st century American majority. The membership of the House needs
to be expanded. It is time to unfreeze the upper limit of 435
Creating more congressional districts, each with a much smaller
number of voters, will make it easier for you to actually meet
your representative. And smaller districts reduce the need for
out-of-state special interest campaign money to buy media in
elections. The clock that the WASP nativists stopped in the 1920s
should be restarted. After every census, the size of the House
should be expanded, until it reaches 600 or even 800 members.
Gerrymandering: Congress has the power to take away the right to
redraw congressional districts after every census from state
legislatures. It should do so. Districts should be drawn by
neutral commissions. Not only partisan gerrymandering but the
creation of majority-minority districts should be outlawed.
Majority-minority districts, intended to elect more black and
Latino representatives, backfired by allowing Republican
legislatures to divide white Democratic voters from one another
and cram them into Republican-majority districts. Along with more
Republicans, more black and Latino Democrats are elected, but at
the price of fewer Democrats overall. The goal should be actual
empowerment of minority voters, not rigging safe seats for
A single national primary: Why should candidates who appeal to
the disproportionately white voters of Iowa and New Hampshire
have an advantage over those with appeal in states like
California and Texas, where non-Hispanic whites are now a
minority? The presidential primaries should be replaced by a
single national primary. Would this help candidates who are known
quantities with name recognition? Let's hope so. No more Jimmy
The Electoral College: The white microstate advantage in the
Electoral College should be ended by replacing the Electoral
College with direct election of the presidency, whether by
conventional plurality voting or "instant runoff" (single
I have written elsewhere that out of this time of troubles, as
out of the Civil War and the Depression, may arise a reinvented
and reinvigorated America -- a Fourth American Republic. But
success is not foreordained. The demographically declining white
constituencies who benefit from gridlock may prevent necessary
reforms from being made by Congress for a while.
But needed reforms will be undertaken -- if necessary, by means
of executive orders by future Caesarist presidents who circumvent
the paralyzed Congress in order to get things done. And if the
situation is desperate enough and the obstructionists in Congress
are sufficiently despised, the new system of rule by presidential
decree will be supported by public opinion and ratified by the
federal judiciary, which generally follows public opinion.
If this came to pass, it would mark the transition from
democratic republicanism in the United States to plebiscitary
presidentialism. We would still have free and fair elections
every four years, but in between presidential elections the
country would be governed by decrees drafted by powerful but
little-known White House advisors, many of them not subject to
The conversion of the U.S. into a banana republic would be
complete, as the president became el presidente and the House and
Senate were reduced to honorary debating societies. Instead of
the Fourth American Republic, we would have the First American
The world began without the human race and will certainly end without it.
from Tristes Tropiques by Claude Levi-Strauss
to email me, delete blackhole. from my return address
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