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comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  281 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Election night, Norway. And get this...

    Yes, they are promising to raise taxes, and Norwegians are rallying behind them. Awesome huh?

One of the financial prognosticators I follow, can't remember which, said it was stupid to keep arguing about how the poor and rural south keeps voting "against their interests." His point? OF COURSE they were voting against their interests. They were voting their VALUES, just the same as the snooty Manhattanites with six and seven figure incomes voting for higher taxes and social programs they'll never use. People don't vote their self-interests, they vote their self-image - "I am a friend of the proletariat, even if I own two BMWs." "I am a believer in free-market capitalism, even if I live in a used single-wide trailer."

Except so much of the conservative platform these days is reductive. Against this, against that. Scott Anderson makes the point in Fractured Lands (tacocat) that prior to the Arab Spring, so much of the political engagement in the Middle East was against things, not for them - against Israel, against America, against Jews, against Shia. Once the dictators fell, the only logical path was sectarian violence because really, that's what first the Ottomans and then the West were containing for the past 500 years.

So it's easy to say that American "values" are against reproductive rights, against the rights of women, against the rights of minorities, against a strong social fabric. But then you look at how a 7% majority is necessary to have more than 50% of house and senate and gubernatorial seats because of gerrymandering and you recognize that in the US, it isn't even really about "values" so much as it's about dirty tricks and oligarchy.

And then you give more money to the NDRC but you know in your heart of hearts it'll never be enough.

tacocat  ·  274 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Cool. I'm glad you got a chance to read it

blackbootz  ·  280 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm very interested to learn more about the issue of redistricting. I just shared with a friend my optimism for the coming Supreme Court case regarding the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. Previous opinions and on-the-record statements by Justices suggest that partisan gerrymandering is probably unconstitutional, though has stayed on the books because there is no reliable legal standard to determine what clearly constitutes it. A few promising standards have been developed in the last few years (having to do with statistical analyses... I can provide a link to an explanation, but suffice it to say that the standard for partisan gerrymandering has to be a bit more rigorous than "you'll know it when you see it.")

This friend I'm talking to just wrapped up a yearlong stint at the National Governors Association, having met a large number of governors and their aides. He's not a professional political scientist, nor a statistician. But he says that, according to some insiders he rubs shoulders with, gerrymandering is partially working to Democrats favor insofar as the Republican advantage is geographic, so drawing maps that are "contiguous" and not gerrymandered would favor the Republicans. See What This 2012 Map Tells Us About America, and the Election.

kleinbl00  ·  280 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I would argue that if you want to have a lasting impact on local, state and federal governance and, therefore, society, getting involved in gerrymandering and redistricting is probably the most efficient place to work.

You're a white kid in a black neighborhood in Baltimore. This is exactly where you should be putting your energies.

blackbootz  ·  280 days ago  ·  link  ·  

What do you mean, get involved in redistricting?

kleinbl00  ·  280 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I mean get involved in districting, redistricting and protecting voter rights at a volunteer level. I'll bet you meet some interesting people.

goobster  ·  280 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Or we could throw out hundreds of legislators and elect a Brand New Congress.

I love the pluck of these people, and idea that a lot of small efforts will add up to one big result. I hope this gets some momentum and becomes A Thing.

blackbootz  ·  280 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Not sure how I feel about this. What's to stop the Brand New Congress from turning into the Old Congress? It seems like there's a systemic problem re: congressmen turn into professional fundraisers who entertain a revolving door of lobbyists. Also, the issue is that state legislatures and governors are able to draw congressional districts more or less however they want, creating all-but-assured partisan victories where the congressman is picked in district primaries, which we all know pulls candidates further right (or left) of center. I feel like this Brand New Congress would sour, no matter how idealistic its inaugural class is, within a few election cycles.

I'm not convinced this is a feasible or worthwhile solution. Granted I, too, think the current arrangement is a metastatic cancer so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

goobster  ·  279 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The big idea behind BNC is to replace career politicians with real people who have actually held a job at some point in their life, and have some grasp on the reality everyday Americans face.

Congresscritters are so inured and shielded against facing the everyday issues everyday people face - healthcare, transit, rent, job searches, etc. - that they spend their time dealing with moronic statues in parks, rather than addressing anything of material value.

In addition, the longer you are in Congress, the less work you do. As you become more senior, more of your time is taken up with fundraising and meeting with lobbyists, because seniority = power.

If you replace half of Congress with actual Americans who have had jobs (recently) and lived in the real world, the thought is that the cycle of politician-lobbyist-fundraiser could be broken, or at least drastically altered.

In short, the system is ineffective. Small changes (See: Tea Party) will have no meaningful effect.

So BNC is attempting to address the problem in a big way, that is statistically and practically possible... it just needs a head of steam, which is hard to drum up when people are so politically tired, right now. And this may be its biggest hurdle. But, hey, when something goes viral, change can happen realdamnquick. So maybe there's a chance...

OftenBen  ·  279 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    What's to stop the Brand New Congress from turning into the Old Congress?

I have suggestions, but they are all too drastic to ever be entertained.

The least objectionable I can come up with is have each elected official be under the direct observation of a third party they can in no way influence, and if that person decides that they are corrupt, out they go and a special election is held.

bfv  ·  280 days ago  ·  link  ·  
blackbootz  ·  280 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you! That YouTube channel has talks from two different academics whose work has been cited in cases advancing to the SCOTUS this session.