A Lot To Think About

The New York Times has been doing a series of editorial pieces that are longer and more in-depth than the usual daily/weekly editorials.  The most recent such piece by David Leonhardt was published on Saturday and is titled A Crisis Coming’: The Twin Threats to American Democracy.

Leonhardt’s piece is excellent, but far too long for me to reproduce here in a single blog post.  Rather, I will give you a few of the highlights and a link, and I really hope you’ll find the time to read it in its entirety, for it is well worth the time spent.

A few of the main points of the article …

  • The Jan. 6 attack on Congress was only the most obvious manifestation of the movement that refuses to accept election defeat. Hundreds of elected Republican officials around the country falsely claim that the 2020 election was rigged, suggesting they may be willing to overturn a future election. “There is the possibility, for the first time in American history, that a legitimately elected president will not be able to take office,” Yascha Mounk, a political scientist, said.
  • Even many Republicans who do not repeat the election lies have chosen to support and campaign for those who do. Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House leader, has gone so far as to support colleagues who have used violent imagery in public comments, such as calling for the killing of Democrats.
  • But there are also many senior Republicans who have signaled they would be unlikely to participate in an effort to overturn an election, including Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate. He recently said that the United States had “very little voter fraud.”
  • This combination suggests that the risk of an overturned election remains uncertain. But the chances are much higher than would have been fathomable until the past few years. Previous leaders of both parties consistently rejected talk of reversing an election outcome.
  • In addition to this acute threat, American democracy also faces a chronic threat: The power to set government policy is becoming increasingly disconnected from public opinion.
  • Two of the past four presidents have taken office despite losing the popular vote. Senators representing a majority of Americans are often unable to pass bills, partly because of the increasing use of the filibuster. And the Supreme Court is dominated by an ambitious Republican-appointed bloc even though Democrats have won the popular vote in seven of the past eight presidential elections — an unprecedented run of popular-vote success in U.S. history.
  • Parties in previous eras that fared as well in the popular vote as the Democrats have fared in recent decades were able to run the government and pass policies they favored. Examples include the Democratic-Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson’s time, the New Deal Democrats and the Reagan Republicans.
  • The growing disconnect from federal power and public opinion generally springs from enduring features of American government, some written into the Constitution. But these features did not conflict with majority opinion to the same degree in past decades. One reason is that less populous and more populous states tended to have broadly similar political outlooks in the past.
  • A sorting of the population in recent decades has meant that the less-populated areas given outsize influence by the Constitution also tend to be conservative, while major metropolitan areas have become more liberal. In the past, “the system was still antidemocratic, but it didn’t have a partisan effect,” said Steven Levitsky, another political scientist. “Now it’s undemocratic and has a partisan effect.”
  • Over the sweep of history, the American government has tended to become more democratic, through women’s suffrage, civil rights laws, the direct election of senators and more. The current period is so striking partly because it is one of the rare exceptions: The connection between government power and popular opinion has become weaker in recent decades.

Here is the link to Leonhardt’s excellent piece … you won’t regret it!

15 thoughts on “A Lot To Think About

  1. It’s going to take an awful lot of people, not known for their common sense,to come to their senses and realise the only way forward to a Democratic Country is to vote out their own kind this election and keep the Government in the hands of the one party still fighting to improve the Country and the lot of the people in it.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, it would take a lot of people and frankly, I just don’t see any signs that it will happen. Those people seem to be enamoured of chaos, love watching normalcy shredded and loud-mouthed, crass politicians bleating like a herd of goats. They don’t realize that by voting for those people they are voting against their own best interests. Unless I’m dramatically wrong, or unless something happens to change the minds of the ignorant before November 8th, I suspect this nation is doomed.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 2 people

        • Sigh. Thanks … I hope so too. Polls are looking up for Democrats, but here’s the problem: First, the polls aren’t always an accurate picture, as we learned back in 2016 when almost all the polls showed Hillary Clinton leading over Trump. Second, and perhaps what most people aren’t considering, anybody can respond to a poll, but with all the voting restrictions that have gone into law in the past two years, NOT everyone can vote. Or will vote. Sigh.
          Cwtch

          Liked by 2 people

    • Hello David. It would take people to look at the needs of the country rather than the wants of the political party. If you are always looking at how you vote or think on an issue as what is best for your party to have, get, or keep power you won’t care about democracy or the needs of the people. It is all about the needs of the party. But if you look at the country first and the needs of the people before the wants of the party you find yourself improving democracy and strengthening the country but also diminishing the authority of those who would rule rather than govern. That sadly is where we are in the US today. Too many people voting only to increase the wants of the party but against the good of the country / people. Hugs

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well said, Scottie. I would only add that it would take people to look past today and their own immediate desires. Yes, the cost of some things has risen, particularly rents, and that’s a problem for many. I’m not unsympathetic, but it is NOT the most relevant issue on the ballot in November. Democracy itself is on the ballot in November and if people don’t wake up and smell that coffee, they may doom us to a very uncertain future. Hugs

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  2. Pingback: A LOT TO THINK ABOUT. |jilldennison.com | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  3. “There is the possibility, for the first time in American history, that a legitimately elected president will not be able to take office.” Then why bother with elections? Instead of holding sham elections, as autocrats throughout history have done, why not cut to the chase and simply save Americans the time and trouble of voting? This would also save the GOP from the hypocrisy of pretending that their power grab aligns with American values. IT’S A WIN-WIN!

    Liked by 3 people

    • That, my friend, is one of the very valid concerns, and possibly one of the reasons for these candidates who cast doubt on elections. They hope that people will feel their vote won’t count, or that the election will be ‘rigged’, so why bother? By rights, this year’s election should have a historically high turnout rate for a mid-term election, but I fear people are just disgusted with it all and will throw up their hands and say f*** it. And then, for the autocrats, it is a win-win, but for we the people, a lose-lose.

      Liked by 5 people

  4. Jill, this is a much needed post. As an independent and former member of both parties, there are a couple of truisms that people need to consider, especially those who have drunk the Kool-aid the former president is serving. Here they are:

    -the former president has been associated with about 65 lawsuits to claim the election was fraudulent, winning only one small one in Pennsylvania. In baseball, that is an abysmal batting average of .015.
    -the former president has lost every recount, audit and review of election results. Using the baseball analogy, that is a batting average of .000.
    -the former president fired two people who openly disagreed with his bogus election fraud claims – Chris Krebs, the head of election cyber-security said it was the most secure election in our history leaving many auditable trails and William Barr, the Attorney General, who said to Trump’s face his election fraud claims were BS using the actual word.
    -I wrote a post in September before the election which contended the then president was planning to contest the election when he hired 1,000 attorneys and tried to hobble and naysay the post office and mail-in process. This is important as the former president planned to cheat before he did.

    The problem all along is while what the president did on election night and thereafter was not a surprise to me and many others, the fact spineless sycophants then and still go along with his BS is amazing. People died on January 6 as a result of the insurrection the former president instigated and fueled. People have gone to jail because they believed his election fraud BS.

    Sadly, per Steve Schmidt, a former Republican strategist, this has been a long in coming plan based on frightful demographic projection – naysay all institutions making people doubt their veracity, naysay the press making people believe anything, tighten voter rules to make it harder for opposing voters to vote, gerrymander districts to make safe districts, and blame the other, which has fueled this rise in white nationalism.

    People need to vote both with their fingers, feet and pocketbooks. The one thing that seems to get people’s attention is not buying their product. I have noticed more than a few issues move forward because a company embraces the change. Yes, it maybe less than altruistic, but it can be effective.

    Keith

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks, Keith. Well said … and to follow up on your baseball analogy … three strikes and YER OUT!!! By that standard, he should have been out before the end of 2017 and this nightmare might have been avoided.

      There is absolutely nothing he has done during or since his term in office that qualifies him for yet another term. And you’re right … people need to vote with their fingers, feet, and pocketbooks, but also with one other thing: their brains. Seems to be a lack of that these days as people respond to the loudest voices rather than the honest ones. I wish I had vision to know what this nation will look like ten years from now. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: A Lot To Think About | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

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