The Republican Takeover of North Carolina


Michelle Togut

Michelle Togut resides in North Carolina with her husband and pets. She has worked as an adjunct professor of history, contributor and writer, and small-firm attorney, among other things. These days, she's trying to sell real estate. For fun, she reads political blogs of all persuasions, practices yoga, drinks wine, hikes, reads, and volunteers for a local animal rescue.

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220 Responses

  1. Avatar The Sanity Inspector says:

    Since colonial times North Carolina has been known as “a valley of humility between two mountains of conceit (Virginia and South Carolina)”. If this is an aberration borne of excessive zeal, it’ll be a short-lived one.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I wonder two things in response to this post. First, in relation to the cuts in social welfare and salaries for educators, to what extent were these cuts driven by a need for austerity during difficult financial times?

    And second, to what extent were they driven by organized labor backing (nearly exclusively) Democrats in the past? Are teachers unionized in North Carolina?

    I’m also astounded that $4.2 million could so dramatically sway a state’s direction in government. Did Pope act alone, or was there other money coming in to influence things?

    A final thought: state governments, for the most part, spend an overwhelming amount of their money on four things: education, infrastructure, law enforcement, and social welfare. How does North Carolina score on delivery of these basic services to its citizens?Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      Republicans claim that the cuts were budget-driven, but they were made at a time when the economy and revenues were beginning to improve in the state. There’s also a bunch of stuff going on about reforming taxes here, which I didn’t get into because the deal was worked out (mostly between different Republican factions) at the last moment. They agreed to convert to a flat tax-system (I think there were three levels before). Services like haircuts and legal representation will also be taxable now. There was debate about taxing food sales, but I that idea died, as did the idea of taxing parents who college kids registered to vote at an address different from their parents.

      North Carolina teachers aren’t represented by a union per se. About half of the state’s teachers are represented by a nonunion advocacy group, the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCEA). They lack the ability to organize or to bargain collectively for their members. North Carolina “is one of only five states that prohibit collective bargaining in education. No union or professional association may collect agency fees from non-members. The state does not allow teacher strikes.”


      Teachers’ organizations aren’t very powerful, which may explain why NC teacher salaries rank 46th in the US and why it’s difficult to retain new teachers:

      Most of the people we know here are around our age (50+), so their kids are in college. But the few we know with kids in high school send them to private school, which may say something about perceived quality.Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      Most of that $4.2 million was spent on state legislature races which are not necessarily all that expensive. Pope spent $2.2 million on 22 legislature races in 2010. If you divide that amount evenly, it’s about $100,000 per race, which is a good chunk of change for a state House or Senate race, especially if your opponent isn’t able to raise a similar amount.

      Given that gerrymandering probably made several of those districts safe bets in 2012, it likely wasn’t necessary to spend as much. Pope probably didn’t invest all that much in the governor’s race either. At least in this area of the state, McCrory stopped running television ads sometime in August or September, when polls made it clear he had the wind at his back. Except for the occasional yard sign, you wouldn’t have known there was a governor’s race going on here (as compared to the massive amounts of advertising Californians were no doubt subjected to during the Brown-Whitman race).Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      “And second, to what extent were they driven by organized labor backing (nearly exclusively) Democrats in the past? Are teachers unionized in North Carolina?”

      If organized labor was neutral, what would the Right and the GOP do? (hint – see Ohio)Report

  3. Avatar George Turner says:

    a bill creating a pathway to make fracking legal.

    How fracking could ever be illegal in a sane world full of technological people eludes me. It’s cracking rocks.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Nuclear bombs? Just splitting atoms, man!Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      Splitting atoms is splitting atoms. Cracking rocks is cracking rocks.

      If we were afraid of cracking rocks we’d still be sitting in caves, afraid to bust rocks up into movable sizes and then stack them on top of one anther to make houses and buildings.

      I wonder how these people can sleep at night knowing that deep in the earth, rock seems are already cracked? Or do they even know that?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        What impresses me most about your mind, George, is not your ability to reply to something with something unrelated, but your ability to ignore every single facet of a situation that doesn’t fit with the picture you’re trying to paint. Fracking? It’s no different than the Native ‘Muricans makin’ arrow heads out o’ flint! Fracking? Both involve breakin’ rocks, am I right? Or am I right?

        Fracking? It’s no different than pumpin’ water into a swimmin’ pool! Both involve pumpin’ water, am I right? Or am I right?Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Fracking is no different than hydraulic fracturing the rock layers at the bottom of the well head and trying to hold the newly-formed pores open with sand and gravel. Indeed that’s exactly what fracking is. We’ve been doing it for about fifty years now. The only upgrade is that we’re combining it with horizontal drilling because we’ve learned to how to steer the drill so that we only have to drill one vertical hole with one rig and have the holes then fan out horizontally in a star pattern, instead of covering the landscape with rigs.

        The fracturing is being done in the same strata, which is far below the depth of water wells. The results of the EPA study out west that found limited water contamination was withdrawn, because the idiots purposefully drilled a well all the way into the oil bearing layers. Nobody drills a water well into an oil layer because then the well produces oil, and we call it an oil well. Only retarded people would try to drink water out of an oil well instead of a water well. The drillers didn’t contaminate the ground with oil, it was already there. They added salt water and sand.

        The other idiotic worry fracking opponents have tried to stir up is of dangerous methane contamination in water supplies, as if methane was a dangerous and toxic chemical, or presented some new explosion hazard. Almost all water wells have methane contamination, often to such an extent that we’ve used gas vents on cisterns to prevent explosions since at least the 1700’s (the risk was actually worse when homeowners relied on candles and oil lamps to check the water level).

        And of course there’s the risk of ingesting methane with your drinking water, which could possibly assault your stomach and digestive tract with a millionth as much methane as it deals with when you combine iced tea and a bean burrito.

        The fracking idiocy is as bad as the cities that banned dihydrogen monoxide as a toxic chemical.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Please curb the offensive language. I’m confident you can make your point without employing words such as “retarded.”Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        My understanding is that fracking is normally done far below the water table, so the risks are minimal. That doesn’t mean fracking should have been exempted from the CWA, of course, but that it should be relatively easy to comply with the act.

        But I’d wager that the point can be made without the point-maker making himself look bad.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Yeah, I’d be lying if I said I knew all of the ins and outs of fracking, though I’ve attended a few industry talks at the capital (sort of “the state of Eagle Ford” meetings). I’d bet George would be lying if he said he did, too. But “fracking is just splitting rocks” is just silliness.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        But “fracking is just splitting rocks” is just silliness.

        Well, yeah. That’s part of what I meant by the point-maker making himself look bad.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Fracking isn’t just one thing. The geology of every gas-bearing site is different.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        If anything ever deserved the use of the R word (which Rachel Jeantel rehabilitated in open court, so citicism of its use be raciss), it would be drinking out of an oil well.

        A few years ago I was urging my geologist housemate to write a technical paper on the massive scientific flaws in a Duke study on fracking sites in Pennsylvania, where they showed a correlation between groundwater methane levels and active drilling sites, but which lacked any temporal comparisons (no measurements were taken before and after drilling).

        Well sites are most often selected based on seepage evidence like methane levels in ground water, which means the wells are specifically placed right where natural methane levels would be highest. Wells get shut down when the natural gas they were tapping into runs low (well operators use common sense that way), and when the the natural gas gets depleted, natural gas levels in the water will of course drop. The Duke study ignored all that, and although it had lots of pretty charts and graphs, it really would only be acceptable as an undergraduate paper.

        Currently my housemate’s job is measuring groundwater and soil contamination from oil and gas leaks throughout the state. Last week he got put in charge of acquiring and operating the UVOST which uses UV fluorescence to make a 3-D map of subsurface oil contamination from gasoline, jet fuel, hydraulic fluids, and other nasties. Over dinner he shows me photos of his day’s core samples, sometimes showing six inches of refined oil that looks pure enough to put in your engine, taken from only about 20 feet down. There’s probably a couple sites like that near where you live, and it has nothing to do with fracking. As he and his fellow geologists say, compared to what we usually do, fracking is like a semiconductor clean room.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I’m not disagreeing with your point. I’m objecting to that particular word. You’re a smart guy. Prove it.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I tend to think that those locales that want fracking due to the fear of risks to water and whatnot should have the right to do so. But I do tend to get annoyed when people then turn around and talk about how the beneficiaries of the mineral boom have largely undeserved fortune because the stuff just happens to be in their back yard. Well yeah, it’s in their backyard, but the boom wouldn’t exist if they weren’t willing to take the environmental risks (such as they are) and externalities associated with the drilling that other places are not willing to.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        When they’re refusing to release gov’t data, I start to get a trifle bit concerned.
        When they’re headhunting opponents (directly after someone went into the hospital no less!), I start to harbor doubts.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        As I understand it, the major issue with fracking is the enormous amount of water it requires. I imagine that risks straining water resources in certain areas, which could make it reasonable to object to on those grounds.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        As I understand it, the major issue with fracking is the enormous amount of water it requires.

        In some areas (eg New Mexico and West Texas), yes, and the water is a significant expense there. In response, service companies like Halliburton are starting to roll out recycling capabilities, where the water can be cleaned up enough on site to reuse for fracking, and the concentrated waste products disposed of. Disposal of the several million gallons of recovered fluid per well has always been one of the big things. Texas, which has 40-50 years of experience with fracking, has historically mandated that the only disposal method which can be used is injection into certified deep saline aquifers. An acquaintance down there who manages projects for small operators tells me that one of the significant expenses for completing a well is trucking the recovered fluid to a certified site for disposal. Much of the early fuss in Pennsylvania was due to operators simply paying municipalities to run the recovered fluid through their sewage treatment facilities, which were not designed to remove many of the contaminants. Pennsylvania has, IIRC now adopted deep injection as the only allowed disposal method. Pennsylvania’s geology is such that there are few acceptable structures of the appropriate type, so much of the fluid is now trucked to Ohio for injection.Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      “How fracking could ever be illegal in a sane world full of technological people eludes me. It’s cracking rocks.”

      By injecting a large volume of chemical solution into the ground, frequently getting into the groundwater.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        “frequently getting into the groundwater.”

        Do you have a citation for that? And this is a real question, not me trying to call you out.Report

  4. Avatar Kazzy says:

    That 12th district is straight up ridiculous. Is it really impossible to right an algorithm that can partition states in a random and arbitrary way that is at least semi-logical?Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

      Random, arbitrary, *and* semi-logical?

      No, I would say there probably isn’t.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


      Probably not those three criteria. But we could create non-partisan redistricting commissions who are required to consider equality of population in districts plus contiguity and compactness (all three constitutionally required, per SCOTUS decisions) and forbidden from considering voter registrations. The plan then can only be approved or rejected by a state’s legislature, not redrawn. It’s not immune to manipulation–the urban/rural divide is blindingly obvious, and of course any intelligent person knows where in his/her state the minorities, intellectuals and moneyed classes live–but it is less so, both because of the prohibition on using voter registrations and from the different nature of a non-partisan commission vs. an elected legislature.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I feel like it should be possible to write an algorithm that creates districts within a given size range utilizing existing borders and which are contiguous.

        Enter all the different subdivisions possible (county, city/town, neighborhood when necessary) along with their populations and the computer says, “Okay, these 4 are next to each other and together they fall within the population range, so that is district 1. These three over here will make district 2. Etc.” I mean, we can seemingly do damn near everything with computers nowadays. Why not this?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


        That might be possible (although I’m not qualified to really say), but it would be neither arbitrary nor random, only semi-logical. Vikram and I are probably giving those first two characteristics a more stringent technical meaning than you are. I’d almost certainly bet on that, and in some ways it’s not quite fair of us, but I think, since we’re talking about designing a functional system, it’s necessary.

        But in no way is that a criticism of your intent or meaning.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        There has to be a better way than letting congressmen pick for themselves, but it isn’t trivial. This XKCD is informative:

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        You’re probably right. Strike those words then. Is objective a better term?

        Have you seen this:

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Program in the constraints, create all possible districting schemes that meet them, rank them according the desired characteristics, and choose a random one from the top 10. (That last one is to minimize gaming of the system when defining constraints and ranking criteria.)Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        I like it, Mike.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        See! I knew someone could do it!Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        It is not difficult to craft a practice manual for the apportionment of state legislative seats and construction of districts which would be free of contrived partisan gamesmanship as well as systematic exaggeration of the weight of metropolitan or non-metropolitan votes or of durable exaggeration of the weight of a given geographic locale (at least on a scale large enough to much matter). It would not have to be voluminous – just a few pages of typescript will do. If you are still concerned about esoteric partisan advantage, you can append to your single-member district map compensatory at-large distributions such as is done in Hungary.

        There is just one proviso to having such a practice manual: you have to give up on a requirement that districts be strictly equipopulous. It is that requirement which leads to crustacean districts and the necessity of making use of a great deal of discretion in drawing lines. The problem is compounded by the judiciary’s auxilliary racial patronage requirements.

        I have noodled around with a hypothetical apportionment of the New York state Assembly and it can be done with a set of impersonal rules provided that you accept some degree of variation in district populations. Using 1990 census data, the range of populations ran from 110,000 to 170,000, with a mean of about 120,000. First you have to get the federal judiciary to stop being officious jerks.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        There is just one proviso to having such a practice manual: you have to give up on a requirement that districts be strictly equipopulous

        Strictly speaking, they do not have to be strictly equipopulous now. But close to equal population is in fact a big deal–kind of a constitutional deal; political equality and whatnot.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        It should not be. You have considerable variation in the demographics of districts as is – in the share which are citizens, in the share which are year-round residents, in the share which are minors. There are variations in turnout.

        Prior to 1964, you had an apportionment method for the New York state Assembly which worked about as follows.

        1. Every county in the state (bar Hamilton County, which shared with Fulton County) was assigned one member.
        2. The ratio of residents to members assigned was calculated.
        3. The county with the highest such ratio was identified and assigned a member.
        4. Step two and step three were repeated until all 150 members had been assigned.

        The problem with this method was that there were 37 non-metropolitan counties which were assigned 36 members each and every decennium. However, by 1960 the sum of populations therein amounted to 14% of the state’s total residents, the equivalent of 21 members. So, you had the systematic exaggeration of the weight of non-metropolitan voters and the abiding exaggeration of the weight of these 37 counties. Upstate New York was at one time one of the most intently Republican areas in the country. A mulligan of 15 seats in a legislative body with 150 members mattered a good deal.

        The task is to avoid systematic exaggeration of the weight of population subsets and abiding exaggeration of the weight of loci of cumulative importance. That can be done, but you do not need every district within 2% of the mean every decennium. Insisting on that leads you down a rathole.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        But wouldn’t it be rather trivial to force citizens to move into under-populated districts so the legislature is maximally proportional? That would both maintain the integrity of districts as coherent geographical entities and achieve the laudable goal of equal representation.

        What’s more, if we segregated the newly balanced districts by party, so that all the Republicans live in R districts and Democrats live in D districts, then no one would have to be represented by someone from the opposite party, whose goals they don’t believe in and whose values they don’t share.

        It’s an ideal solution, once a few details are ironed out.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        The more constraints you remove, the simpler the problem becomes. I don’t know why no one figured that out before.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Well, in earlier times it was pretty difficult to remove those constraints. People were often farmers, tied to the land, marriages were for life, and travel was slow and difficult, involving horse-drawn wagons over roads that were barely more than trails. So we set up the system we still use, as haphazard and imperfect as it is.

        But now everyone lives in apartments or shelters (thanks to the housing collapse), marriages last only months (thanks to celebrity reality shows), and we have moving vans that can travel down highways at 70 mph. There’s no reason not to segregate the population by party, which if nothing else should reduce campaign spending to nearly zero.

        Often it takes society a long time to realize the potential of new realities.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Equal or close-to-equal population is important, but not so important as to undermine other factor. The simulation I offered above (which is really quite fun, if you’re a supernerd) requires that all districts be between 640K and 650K. I’d probably be okay with a slightly larger margin, albeit not quite as large as AD offers.

        However, it is worth noting that there is a good deal of variation between the states, so perhaps if it falls within that range?Report

      • Avatar J. Airch says:


        I missed your link to the game first time around. I discovered that several years back and now make all my American Gov’t students do it. I’m glad to see you know it, too. I still do it a couple times each year so I don’t forget what my students are struggling with.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Think my students would go for it?Report

      • Avatar J. Airch says:

        Heh. One of my colleagues, a chemist, gave up in frustration on the Voting Rights Act mission…until I shamed him by pointing out that most of the frosh in my class eventually succeeded with it. So unless you’re teaching at a school for the unusually gifted….Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        It’s hard to get too, too excited about variances in district sizes when a rep in Rhode Island represents 525k people and a Montana’s rep covers over a million.Report

      • Avatar J. Airch says:

        Will, my take is that the House is long overdue for upsizing. We last increased it ~1911, when the country had under a third of its current population. My expectation–not quite a prediction, though–is that this will become an increasingly pressing issue, since it so clearly violates the proportionality intent of Article 1.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Let anyone propose any redistricting scheme he likes, provided that the population of each district are equal. The one with the smallest sum of perimeters wins.Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko says:

      To be fair, the 12th District has been more or less like that for some time, as it’s a majority-minority district. The old joke is that if you drive down I-85 with both car doors open, you’d hit every voter in the district.Report

      • Avatar Neil says:

        The 12th has indeed been like that a long time, and that’s the way both Republicans and supporters of the majority-minority provisions of the Voting Rights Act like it. Strange bedfellows. Maybe instead of putting forth more race-blind and party-blind schemes for redistricting, we should be looking at scrapping the districts (or at least greatly reducing their number) and allowing the representatives to run at-large in a proportional representation scheme. Wouldn’t that cut down on the “safe seats” syndrome that has turned the US House into such a clown show?Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

      The 12th district is legally and politically interesting

      Legally, It’s non-compactness–a concept that SCOTUS defines in much the same way it defined pornography–creates the potential for a legal challenge to it, but that legal challenge is bedeviled by the district’s clear compliance with the Voting Rights Act, which encourages minority-majority districts.

      Politically, then, this is a classic case of politics making strange bedfellows. Republicans are quite happy to create a minority-majority district because it packs lots of Democratic voters into a single district, making other districts more solidly Republican, limiting the total number of Democrats elected. Minorities are happy because they get the opportunity to elect one of their own. Democrats hate the district because they’d rather win 3 districts 55%-45% than win one with 70+% of the vote. But attacking it can appear–can easily be represented as–an attack on an important constituency.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Call me old school but it seems to me that the rule for districts should be something like the following:

        If there were a cake in the shape of the state, a reasonably agile adult should be able to cut the cake in reasonable approximations of the districts by looking at the map and then cutting the cake.Maybe they don’t all have to have right angles… but they should not require inhuman amounts of finesse to get everything just so.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        There is a joke in here about marijuana, Alaska, and cake. I can’t quite get to it though.Report

      • Avatar enoriverbend says:

        Just in case it wasn’t clear, the ridiculously gerrymandered NC 12th district was designed by Democratic state legislators in 1991/92 largely due to heavy pressure from the federal DoJ related to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. It has been continuously represented by the same Democratic representative (Mel Watts) since that time. The only blame the NC Republicans would have for it is that they made it slightly more compact (and thus less obviously gerrymandered) during the 2011 Republican-controlled redistricting.Report

      • Avatar NotMe says:


        Thanks for making that clear. If all you knew about the 12th was what Michelle wrote you would get the impression that like most things it was all the Repubs fault. Too bad the OP wasn’t more accurate.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        It’s non-compactness–a concept that SCOTUS defines in much the same way it defined pornography

        Which is silly, since compactness has a perfectly good defintion.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      This is my congressional district:

      Notice it cuts across the north side of Austin, the 11th most populous city in the country, and then expands and covers much of East Central Texas, all the way out to the Woodlands, a wealthy suburb of Houston 2 1/2 or hours from my home.

      My last congressional district (before I moved to years ago):

      It cut across Austin from its Southeastern side of Austin, a minority-majority area that is mostly poor and working class, over to the Western suburbs, which are white and extremely wealthy (extremely wealthy), then out into the hill country (mostly white, but varying socioeconomic status), and then a streak down through the cities between Austin and San Antonio (San Marcos, New Braunfels) and into San Antonio (the 7th most populous city in the country) proper, almost into downtown.

      In both cases, the goal was pretty simple: keep Austin and San Antonio from having a unified district, because they will vote for Democrats every time. So you throw in as much suburban and rural area as you can. And it works.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Mine covers the entirety of our county on the west side of the Hudson, but then jumps across the river to pick up random parts of three other counties. That’s curious, as the river serves as a pretty big dividing line. Why we don’t just pick up Rockland (which is similarly grouped with part of Westchester, also across the river), I’m not really sure.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Where I live used to part of a completely ridiculous Congressional district, little bites of four different counties, crossing the Bay, designed by Phil Burton to be the safest possible Democratic district for his little brother John. When John’s drug problem get the best of him, it became a safe seat for his chief aide, a woman named Barbara Boxer, who now holds a Senate seat made safe by the idiots the California GOP routinely nominates. Boxer rivals Ric Ocasek for the title of luckiest living human.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        See, my preferred algorithm would not allow such mishmashing. You’d work off existing boundaries. You’d need to split up some areas (NYC couldn’t function as a single district and certain counties might also be too large), but your divisions would be entirely internal within that area. It makes no sense to carve up 8 counties into 4 districts with no county being wholly within one district.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber says:

        @kazzy 8:17 pm

        As an outside observer, I think that Rockland is better grouped with Westchester than it is with Orange. I consider Orange to be the sticks and Rockland to be suburban. As long as the Tappan Zee is standing, the Hudson isn’t a big enough obstacle.

        Also, Putnam is entirely in your district as well.

        I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but Orange County is scary big. West Point is a hike from Port Jervis.

        Orange County is home to the US Military Academy, the other FBS school in the NYC DMA. It is also home to Tuxedo, from which the clothing got its name and is the home to the annual New York Renaissance Faire where, for only $22, you can see fat girls dress with their ample cleavage on display.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Good points. I tend to think of it as this side of the river and that side of the river, but Rockland and Westchester sharing the Tap gives them a common interest. OC is totally the sticks. Having grown up in Bergen County, it feels real country up here. I work in Tuxedo and dread RenFaire time of year. It just began. Sigh…Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber says:


        Where in Bergen County? I have family near Giants Stadium.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Born and raised in Teaneck. Parents still live there.

        I assume your handle is an allusion to our State University there? Do you live in that area? Did you attend it? My sister plus a bunch of my friends all attended.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber says:


        Were you a Highwayman?

        The fact that you grew up in Teaneck makes a lot of sense when I think back to your posts. Teaneck, despite being heavily segregated by neighborhood, was in the vanguard in voluntarily desegrating its schools. It reminds me a lot of Montclair. For those not from around there, both are liberal bastions.

        As for me, I am a Rutgers alumnus only in a pedantic sense; I have done graduate work there. However, my degree comes from one of our fine directional colleges. I live in the corridor between Rutgers and The Meadowlands. In other words, Cory Booker country. Rush Holt has the Rutgers-Princeton corridor and Frank Pallone has the northern shore. Sheila Oliver has her dick in her hand, metaphorically speaking.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        @scarletnumber I am indeed a Highwayman. Class of ’01. I’d be curious to hear how that context makes my previous comments/posts make sense. I mean that genuinely and sincerely.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber says:


        Well a few posts ago I goofed on you for calling yourself a “diversity practitioner”. Now that I knew you grew up in Teaneck I know that you grew up in a township that proactively preached and practiced diversity.

        Of course, the family of Phillip Pannell might disagree…Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        @scarletnumber I assume you’re making allusion to the fact that Teaneck is a very diverse town, in every sense of the word. That no doubt has impacted the path I have taken, though it has not been quite linear (I was very much jaded with the diversity in Teaneck at that time, for reasons I won’t expand on right now).

        However, a diversity practitioner is a real thing. Case in point, I attended this conference last year:

        The naming is admittedly clunky but, hey, it’s what we got right now.Report

    • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

      Brandon –

      That’s a great idea, and a simple enough formula that it would be a straightforward standard. And increasing the contiguity of districts is almost certainly likely to increase the demographic mix found within them, particularly in cities.Report

  5. Avatar Chris says:

    “Women’s Right to Know Act” is some seriously Orwellian stuff. I mean, is something a right if you are forcing people to do it?Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      Moreover, it prescribes exactly what doctors are required to tell their patients, forgoing the usual doctor-patient privilege and traditional practice because doctors clearly can’t be trusted to tell their patients about the risks involved with the procedure.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        AD–my husband has had a stent inserted, a couple of kidney surgeries, and gall bladder removal. Each time, his doctors warned him about the risks involved, which were far more significant than those involved with a first-term abortion. They didn’t need a script written by the government to do so.

        You know that these regulations have nothing to do with providing women with information and everything to do with limiting abortions. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be supported by abortion opponents.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        Oh yes they do, Michelle. They are meant to put the brutal reality of what is to happen right in front of their addled heads. That is disclosure. Sorry it bothers you.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        They are meant to put the brutal reality of what is to happen right in front of their addled heads.

        So women who seek abortions are pre-emptively classifiable as “addled”? I’m sure there’s no way that could reasonably be interpreted as mindlessly sexist. No way at all. Only an addled person could possibly think so.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        Now I’ve graduated from being dishonest and incapable of recognizing an incomplete argument to being ‘mindlessly sexist’.


        You’re wrong. When I elect to insult broad classes of the female population, I am always mindful in so doing.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Hark, I hear the dulcet strains of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        Oh, Michelle

        Is ‘mindlessly sexist’ a ‘personal insult’? If I do not give a rip if someone calls me ‘sexist’, is the ‘mindlessly’ an insult?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        When I elect to insult broad classes of the female population, I am always mindful in so doing.

        I stand corrected. I was obviously much too generous in assuming you were not consciously intent on being sexist.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        A few months ago I posted a news topic on a science fiction board titled “Tragic: College coed killed in hostage standoff”. From the very first comment, I was attacked for using the word “coed”, which started an avalanche of shaming, demanding I use a less-loaded, less derisive term. I posted the word’s etymology and linked to its current and frequent usage in headlines in the New York Time, Los Angeles Times, and CNN (liberal paragons, all). That just enraged the mob even more, so of course they banned me. ^_^Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        You’re wrong. When I elect to insult broad classes of the female population, I am always mindful in so doing.

        Which just goes to show you’re a condescending prick. And which is why I don’t take anything you say seriously. You’re anger and bitterness comes through whenever you bother to comment on anything. And yes, I have no doubt you’re sexist.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco says:

      Required disclosure is coercive – to parties which have something to hide.Report

  6. Avatar Art Deco says:

    Because an ambulatory surgery center costs about $1 million more than an abortion clinic to build, opponents estimate that all but one of the state’s 16 abortion providers will close.

    Cry me a river.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Excellent political argumentation, Art. Excellent.

      Are there any policies in this country that you don’t like? Wait, no need to tell me. I’ll just give you a preemptive “cry me a river.”Report

    • Avatar Art Deco says:

      The current regime in abortion law is courtesy the judicial ukase. It will never be legitimate.

      And, of course, the practice is barbaric.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Why do you hate democracy?Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        It was not my political allies which put the legal status of abortion (and a dozen other social policy) beyond the ken of elected officials (without any warrant). I am not the one writing whinges about the North Carolina legislature legislating according to its lights. But I’m the one who ‘hates democracy’. Got it.Report

      • Avatar Johanna says:

        (without any warrant)

        Huh. Some people might argue that the Constitution gives the Supremes warrant dor exactly that kind of thing. Seriously, even if we can make a serious argument that they wrongly decided the case, they have a warrant to be the decisionmakers in the case.

        The list of things Art gets wrong in this comment thread continues to grow at approximately the same rate as the intrusiveness of the national security state.Report

      • Avatar J. Airch says:

        And….that was me, not Johanna.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        I have news for you, Johanna. There is no constitutional provision which prohibits a state legislature from proscribing abortion or from limiting from limiting survivors benefits to actual husbands and wives. The judges who issued these decision knew that, the shysters who argued for it know that, and Laurence Tribe, who has wandered through at least four excuses for the former decision over the last forty years, knows that. If you want to understand these decision, try sociological literature on the bar.Report

      • Avatar J. Airch says:


        1. As I already noted, that was me, not Johanna. I’ll take full responsibilty and credit for my criticism of you.

        2. I have real problems with the legal logic of Roe v. Wade myself, but unlike you I’m not a simplistic ideologue. If you don’t understand the concept of constitutional interpretation, and actually think there must be explicit statements in the Constitution in order to justify a ruling, then the list of your errors in this page continues to grow.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      Art, whatever you do, don’t look at NC abortion statistics by race, much less build a spreadsheet of population projections based on the vast disparities therein, or you’ll conclude that your opposition to abortion in North Carolina is merely an attempt to dethrone entrenched white privilege and status maintained through demographic dominance, you radical you. Children, throne, sacrifices… Whatever fits the narrative.Report

  7. Avatar Art Deco says:

    But to ensure it doesn’t happen, voters will now be required to show specific government-issued photo ID cards

    How brutal.Report

    • Avatar weinerdog43 says:

      Papers please, untermench!Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Fine, fine.

        Papers, please, comrade!Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        Seriously, I have had a government issued photo ID since I was 12 (or 16 I can’t remember, it changed some time around ’97) Its got a bar code and a fingerprint and anti duplication watermarks and everything. It even gives me a unique 7 digit identifier as well as my full name and everything. I keep it in my wallet. Photo IDs are not the face of the police state. The police state is more about thugs breaking down your door and shooting your dog by mistake. The casual and excessive violence of the police that Balko et al routinely report is a more immediate threat to your liberty. I’ve written about this before. Institutional quality is also key and for some reason, institutional quality in general sucks. I have no explanation for this though.Report

      • Avatar J. Airch says:

        Murali, you’re just not an American kind of libertarian. You puzzle us. But that’s not a condemation, just a fond observation.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        If I had a good analysis of why American institutions suck so badly in general, I would then write a post on: why you guys can’t have awesome things. For example, while I am all for federalism in practice, I have a nasty hunch that in the US, the kind of federalism I envision would result in Mississippi and the rest of the south becoming some kind of theocratic apartheid state/s. Unions have a pretty bad deal in Singapore where striking is not legal. But even then no boss in Singapore would there tell his employees that they cannot go to the toilet. Incentives work the way they are supposed to in Singapore as predicted by an Econ101 text. Yet America, even with extensive labour regulations still has employers telling employees telling people that they cannot go to the toilet except during regimented breaks. Singapore doesn’t have nearly the civil protections against police abuse and is far crazier about the drug war (until recently there was a mandatory death penalty to anyone convicted of drug dealing and/or trafficking) Yet police rarely ever discharge their guns let alone break into the wrong person’s door and shoot their dog. Perhaps there is a lack of social trust, but no more than 50 years ago there were violent racial riots. I doubt that Singapore’s social engineering policies were that effective. Forced integration of neighbourhoods is one thing but I doubt that it really that effective in terms of engendering the kind of social trust that makes for good institutions in general. So, something else is going on and I am confused.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Murali, i don’t think you’re actually talking about institutions there, but about culture. Does that sound correct to you?Report

      • Avatar Murali says:


        It’s possibly about culture. But I don’t want to be the guy who talks about culture. Culture is beyond the purview of a liberal (and thus limited) governmentReport

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Culture is beyond the purview of a liberal
        Hell no!

        (and thus limited) government
        No, although not hell no. The gov’t does need to recognize real limitations here, however, to avoid trampling real liberty in the name of some cultural aesthetic.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        There are issues with single point of failure identity systems, Murali, which may not be evident in your own local experience (largely successful), due to domain differences.

        There are also exception scenarios that may not be profitable to leverage in Singapore or Saudi Arabia or any one of a number of elsewheres, that are profitable to leverage in the U.S., due to a disparity in any one of a number of different social and political institutions.

        In any event, properly establishing authoritative single point of failure identity systems… that’s a project that can very easily be done very, very badly with scores of bad side effects.

        It is unclear to me what the advantage is of such a scheme.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:


        There are also exception scenarios that may not be profitable to leverage in Singapore or Saudi Arabia or any one of a number of elsewheres, that are profitable to leverage in the U.S., due to a disparity in any one of a number of different social and political institutions.

        This is a big problem then. What are these scenarios and why are the incentives to leverage them so high? Because, as I have said above, its not just identity cards, it is a whole list of policy options under which people when given the chance engage in a lot of petty abuse of power. This is not to say that there aren’t civil servants in Singapore who treat their office as a petty fiefdom, but it seems less widespread and the consequences seem particularly extreme. It’s like nobody tries to cooperate in PD anymore. Defection has become a virtue in and of itself. Jesse Ewiak seems like a case in point.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        @ Murali

        Well, part of this is due to the federated system itself. I’ll try to explain what I’m talking about by analogy to illustrate, so expect this to be a non-rigorous analysis…

        There are different social benefit programs per state, each with its own authorization mechanism and oversight mechanism (or lack thereof). There are different property laws per state, etc.

        Think of the U.S. like the European Union, in that regard. The EU has 25 union states that issue national identity cards to each of their citizens, and some member states that don’t. That’s roughly analogous to the US system where each state issues it’s own driver’s licenses, etc.

        When people talk about national IDs, they compare the U.S. to Germany. That’s a bad comparison. Compare *New York* to Germany, and California to France, etc… and compare all of the U.S. to all of the EU.

        You couldn’t use a Denmark-issued national identity card to do anything in Germany except have it double (effectively) as a passport… which is, actually, more or less about what you can do with a California driver’s license in Montana.

        Now imagine if Denmarkians, who pass their own social benefit laws, etc., have to accept some EU-wide identity card as an authorization mechanism for social services available in Denmark. All holy God would break loose. Whichever country had the most liberal social benefit laws would want the most secure and authoritative EU-issued identity card (to prevent Germans from forging EU cards enabling them to take advantage of Denmark services, for example), whereas the country with the least liberal social benefit laws would want the cheapest card available (and, probably not coincidentally, benefit from a closet industry of forging EU cards for other nations).

        The thing about attempting to establish unified authoritative identification systems is that it’s difficult to do in the first place (since you have to have a pretty rigorous method of identifying everybody in order to give them the credential in the first place, which is difficult when you’re talking about 300+ million people), *and* it creates an enormous incentive to break the authoritative mechanism in order to issue false credentials. When you have a monolithic system, issuing false credentials is useful. When you have a federated system, issuing false credentials is differently useful.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        I suspect the reason that Singaporean employers don’t regulate bathroom breaks is that Singaporean employees don’t abuse them.Report

    • Avatar Sam says:

      Says the guy who would almost certainly lose his mind if federally mandated picture identification became the law of the land.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        I do not think a federal ID card is necessary, but, no, I would not think it bothersome. I used to have a passport.Report

      • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

        I would take the Republicans seriously in their “voter fraud” laws if, in addition to requiring photo IDs at the polling places, made it a lot easier for citizens to obtain the IDs.

        But they don’t. So their intentions are more clearly revealed.Report

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      You can see the true colors of a man when it comes time to vote. Is he more interested in everyone having their vote, or more interested in making sure the wrong sort’s don’t?

      Still, “voter fraud” is the warm, lovely, rhetorical blanket that just keeps on giving. Sure, it never happens. Sure, only the King of All Idiots would choose ballot fraud via in-person voting under someone else’s name — and only an actual paragon of stupidity would think they could way an election there. (in case you’re wondering, Art — you want to swing an election? You rig machines or the count. The dead voting in chicago? They didn’t have people show up to the polls claiming to be those dead voters — they registered the dead so they didn’t have more votes than voters. The actual fraud was manipulating the machines.)

      But even though it never happens, even though it couldn’t change a darn thing if it did, it’s a perfect excuse to enact legislation that — purely accidentally — discourages your opponents from voting. All while they claim to be lily-white guardians of Democracy. A neat racket.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:


        It used to be the case in New York that you had to register to vote annually and in person – at the County Board of Elections if you lived in an incorporated city and at the town clerk’s office if you did not.

        By around about 1965 give or take, you had postal registration and the rolls were purged annually. The Board of Elections staff tracked the newspaper death notices assiduously, remarked notification cards that were returned as undeliverable or which had been returned after an irregular attempt to forward them, and flagged for removal anyone who had not voted in four years and did not respond to a courtesy notice.

        I was involved with party politics and canvassing ca. 1987 and had another brief foray into it in 2001, and there was a notable change between those intervals. Either the rolls were no longer purged or purged only very infrequently. This is a tremendous problem in inner city neighborhoods with masses of short term residents. Even under the ancien regime, you had a great number of phantom voters on the rolls in certain loci. An experienced circulator will know who are the fictional entries.

        In New York, the institutional set up has been such that tabulation fraud would require collusion between party wheelhorses. It is more theoretically possible now if you have equipment vendors colluding with one party to put one over on the other. (Gee, who does Silicon Valley favor?). If that is not happening, the richest opportunities would be in the realm of impersonators and absentee ballot fraud.

        You are all making a great exhibit of yourselves in defense of a very narrow segment of society, that is

        1. People so alienated from the practices of a bureaucratic society that they have no drivers’ license or any sort of identity documents which can substitute for same; but

        2. Are civic minded enough to want to cast a ballot.

        The convenience of these sociological pileated woodpeckers is not that important. That leaves people on my side of the aisle thinking the following: 1. the opposition makes exihibits of themselves for shits and giggles or 2. they know something they are not letting on.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Either the rolls were no longer purged or purged only very infrequently. This is a tremendous problem in inner city neighborhoods with masses of short term residents.

        And yet there’s been no evidence of substantial voter fraud, and every claim of it that’s been investigated has show the claim to be false.

        So why do we fucking care? Your argument shows a reason for concern, but doesn’t explore whether the real concern actually manifests itself–you just leave that as an unspoken assumption, and ignore the overwhelming evidence against it’s actual occurrence. And there’s the basic dishonesty of your position–whether you have an actual desire to limit minority or likely Democratic voters or whether you’re just sincerely interested in good governance, you’re not pursuing the evidence to its empirical conclusion.

        And, hey, even if there was substantial voter fraud benefiting the Democrats, cry me a river, eh?Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        Whose doing the investigating?

        While we are at it, what is the issue? Flash your bloody driver’s license and stick your thumb in the purple ink. That people are making such a stink about it is suspicious.


        I should note that New York has not been an early adopter of technology, nor of menaces like same-day registration, and it is a good thing. I think it was in Urban Affairs Review some years ago that an article appeared by a professor of computer technology on its use in elections. His take: bad idea, because it introduces a black box which reduces voter confidence. I can see the temptation if you have complicated tabulation procedures, but ordinal balloting is only used in odd locations in the United States. They have introduced it in Minneapolis mayoral elections, but they are using the simpler kind. Even without technology, it has been used for over a century in Australia.

        So, paper ballots in person, please.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        I have advocated nothing dishonest, Aitch.

        That college which employs you are not getting their money’s worth.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        As usual, AD, you’re resorting to personal insult when someone disagrees with your arguments, which doesn’t exactly paint you in a good light. There are plenty of reasons someone might not have a car, especially when they’re poor and live in an urban area. Cars are expensive and expensive to maintain and park in the big city. If you don’t have a car, they you likely aren’t going to have a driver’s license.

        You can now commence to throw a tantrum, stamp your feet, and imply (or state outright) that I’m an idiot, as you have on other comments’ threads. And as you do all the time over at Dreher’s site when people disagree with you. Cry me a river, pal.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        I take it being accused of being ‘dishonest’ is not a ‘personal insult’ in your mind.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Ah, that’s clever Art. Of course you actually know nothing about how well I perform as a teacher. But I will tip you off to this: when a student pursues an argument halfway, and doesn’t follow it through to see where the evidence actually leads, I prod them to complete their work. Amazingly–hubris, I know!–I think that’s where I really earn my money.

        In one of my classes last year I had a conservative student who supported free markets in everything except drugs, so I pushed him to seriously consider why he made just that one particular exception. In the same class I had a liberal student who opposed free trade because she was concerned about local businesses, so I pushed her to seriously consider why she focused her concern there instead of on local consumers. I couldn’t really care less about what position they’re coming from: an incomplete argument is an incomplete argument.

        And you did not complete your argument, so you’re trying to reach the conclusion that voter fraud exists from the fact that something specific makes it more possible (the non-purging of rolls in an area with high residential mobility). But that fact only provides a reason to suspect the conclusion–the conclusion still needs to be demonstrated by actual evidence.

        I could be wrong that you were being dishonest in your argument, of course. It could be that, like my students, you just haven’ t yet learned the value of evidence in completing an argument.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        No, I deal with you here, Aitch, making a hash of interpreting what I say. I certainly hope when the meter is running, you do a better job.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Whose doing the investigating?

        Are you kidding me? You don’t even know that the DOJ investigates claims of voter fraud?

        And before you try some lame claim that the DOJ is controlled by Democrats, so of course they don’t find any fraud, read the first article listed in the link above and take a close look at the timeline.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        making a hash of interpreting what I say.

        Really? Then why don’t you explain where I got you wrong instead of just making an unsubstantiated assertion?Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Nice, Art.

        A pointless digression. There is no voter fraud — not any that requiring very narrow photo ID would prevent. Given that, why are we changing the system that makes it harder to vote?

        Go ahead, Art. I’m ALL ears. Why are we making it harder to vote? It’s not to prevent voter fraud, because there is no fraud in a way this would fix.

        Do you just want to make it harder to vote? I’d love to hear your justification for that.

        (betting money says some variation of “They shouldn’t be so lazy” — classic slur with dog-whistle undertones, pure Republican id knee-jerk response).Report

    • Avatar NotMe says:

      Funny thing that when Obama was in Kenya he praised their voter ID program that that the US is helping fund but when the same things happens here in the US it is downright evil.

      Not to mention that some unions require an ID to vote and they know voter fraud.

      • Avatar Adam says:

        The “approval” in the Weekly Standard link you cited seems to be approval of helping Kenyan youths obtain the required cards, not necessarily approval of the card requirement itself. I would also imagine that voter fraud might be more of a demonstrable problem in Kenya than it is in America.Report

  8. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

    One critique and one riff.

    Critique: Gerrymandering and plenty of Pope family money (thank you Citizens United)
    If we’re going to judge SCOTUS decisions on the standard of whether they help our political opponents, rather than on a standard of whether they evidence fidelity to constitutional principles, then we’re going to launch an even more severe attack on democracy than gerrymandering itself does.

    Riff: Re: Voter ID
    I think the evidence that there is no significant, widespread, and sustained, voter fraud is overwhelming, and so voter ID laws are, as a practical matter, wholly unnecessary. But…there is nothing inherently wrong or undemocratic about a system to ensure that the person voting is who he/she claims to be, and I very much doubt it will be determined to be unconstitutional, either, unless the effect is so evidently to disenfranchise minorities that SCOTUS can’t ignore it, or if the state makes it unreasonably hard to get photo ID (for whatever value of “unreasonable” the Court chooses to apply). Are liberals and Democrats willing to stake all on that outcome? Obviously they are persuaded that the effect, and even intent, is to disenfranchise minorities, but their persuasion is of little importance when stacked against SCOTUS’s persuasion.

    I’m not advocating that liberals/Dems give up the legal battle against voter ID, because I can’t predict SCOTUS with that much confidence, and they might win. But I would advocate that they hedge their bets and make the acquisition of photo ID a major part of their registration efforts. The same techniques they use to get people registered and get them to the polls should transfer over pretty readily to getting them the paperwork they need to get ID or even taking them down to the relevant state office. It’s possible they could even cover the fees for low income people–you can’t pay someone to vote or to register to vote, but I’m not (yet, at least) aware of a rule saying you can’t spot someone a tenner or so to get a state ID card.

    (Of course as a libertarian, I’m pretty skeptical of the whole concept of state issued ID cards, etc., but I’m not talking about ideology here, just pure practical politics.)Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Yea, it’d be great if Dems made such an effort and ultimately increased the voting rolls of the peeps the GOP are trying to keep off, and in such a way that their traditional method of trying to keep them off won’t suffice. “I got an ID… try and tell me I can’t vote!”

      I think if you are going to require a specific ID (or one of a set of IDs), the easiest one to acquire must be free-of-charge. The issue with photo IDs is by definition they will require someone to make an in-person appearance, until such time that we can roll out mobile technology capable of verifying identity and taking pictures on site. This presents issues for a whole host of people.

      The direction should always be toward making it easier to vote, not harder.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        The direction should always be toward making it easier to vote, not harder.

        Even a very mild screen like requiring people to fill out a form at the Post Office and make an annual appearance at the polls will clear out about 30% of the adult population. Even so, a comfortable majority of the people you meet canvassing are fairly indifferent to public affairs. They will react if the water table is thought to have toxins or if their property taxes might increase, but that’s it. My home town experimented with non-partisan school board elections a generation ago. The practice was abandoned with embarrassment after several years experience. Every year, the first four candidates listed on the ballot were the ones elected. “Greater voter participation” in current circumstances is not that important, though it might be optimal to move elections to Saturday in recognition of the demise of Tuesday market days. Improved conduits for participation might be.

        1. Move election of judges, court officers, and personnel who monitor rather than implement public policy (e.g. comptrollers) to May or June. Have referenda at that time rather than later.

        2. Put elections on a strict quadrennial cycle: federal in year one, county and municipal in year two, state in year three, and special districts and special purpose officers in year four.

        3. In first-past-the-post contests, vary the order of the candidates on the ballot, printing up equal numbers of every permutation.

        4. Make use of ordinal balloting for all contests: the alternate vote for single-victor races and single-transferrable-vote for competition between party slates.

        5. Have the Board of Elections classify all constituencies as ‘competitive’ or ‘non-competitive’ according to their electoral history and dispense with party nomination processes for the latter. Instead, have any aspirant petition within his preferred pool of party registrants and appear on the ballot with his preferred party designation (in which he is presumably registered). You would have a great many contests with multiple Democrats contending (with a token Republican or non-partisan candidate); the practice of ordinal balloting would prevent perverse results.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Improved conduits for participation might be.
        1. Move election of judges, court officers, and personnel who monitor rather than implement public policy (e.g. comptrollers) to May or June. Have referenda at that time rather than later.
        2. Put elections on a strict quadrennial cycle: federal in year one, county and municipal in year two, state in year three, and special districts and special purpose officers in year four.

        This would actually be counter-productive. Then you have multiple elections, most of which don’t count for much. Asking people to do something more often and with each time they do it having less significance is a recipe for non-participation. If we shifted all elections to the same day–putting gubernatorial, state, and local elections and initiative/referenda in federal election years and on the same day, we’d get more participation because we’d be asking people to participate less frequently, and with each time having more significance. Of course that doesn’t come without a cost. We’d increase ballot fatigue and positions at the bottom of the ballot would get only cursory review by most voters, who would tend to vote randomly, or based just on some notable signal (like party ID, name ethnicity, etc.) or, on ballot initiatives, just vote no. That is, if they bothered to look at the bottom of the ballot at all.

        3. In first-past-the-post contests, vary the order of the candidates on the ballot, printing up equal numbers of every permutation.

        This is a very good idea. It wouldn’t increase turnout, but it would make those elections better representative of the public’s overall position rather than representative of ballot order.

        4. Make use of ordinal balloting for all contests: the alternate vote for single-victor races and single-transferrable-vote for competition between party slates.


      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        This would actually be counter-productive. Then you have multiple elections, most of which don’t count for much.

        We have elections every year in New York, with primaries at irregular intervals and certain contests relegated to June. The trouble is, you enter the booth in November and there you have a confusing jumble of contests and masses of people you’ve never heard of and offices with which you are unfamiliar.Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      You shouldn’t have to pay to vote, so if you need a specific, state-issued ID card to vote (if you don’t have a driver’s license), it should be free. The same law that required voter IDs, however, also forbid paying groups to register voters. It’s probably not a big deal to get an ID in the cities, but a lot of North Carolina is rural.

      It also strikes me that, if there were an area where widespread voter fraud could be committed, it would be with absentee ballots. Of course, the new law that has nothing to say about absentee ballots, which tend to be most often used by constituencies that lean Republican. But that, I’m sure, is purely coincidence.

      As for Citizens United, it works both ways. Democrats have their own deep pockets. I’m not a big fan of the whole “money = speech” line of legal reasoning. I think allowing individuals or groups to pour all kinds of unlimited money into campaigns tends to work against democracy.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        if you need a specific, state-issued ID card to vote (if you don’t have a driver’s license), it should be free.

        Agreed, and that’s a basis for a possible 24th Amendment challenge. (Notably, when Oregon went to vote-by-mail, some folks objected that having to buy a postage stamp amounted to a poll tax, so the state set up drop-off boxes in each locale (for those who wanted to avoid the poll tax by paying even more to drive to the drop-off box!).

        The same law that required voter IDs, however, also forbid paying groups to register voters.
        Understood, but getting someone an ID is not registering them.

        , if there were an area where widespread voter fraud could be committed, it would be with absentee ballots
        Maybe. I think that’s more complicated than it looks, because you’d either have to use real names, in which case a lot of folks are going to be surprised when they go to the polls to find out that they “already voted,” or you’d have to use lots of fake names, which is likely to draw notice sooner rather than later. But it is notable that they are requiring higher standards for in-person voting than absentee voting, isn’t it?

        I’m not a big fan of the whole “money = speech” line of legal reasoning.
        Honestly, I think it’s indisputable. I’ve never heard a persuasive constitutional argument against it, only arguments that strike me as fundamentally political. I remember there being a fair amount of dismay among left-of-center folks when they found out that non-profits were corporations, and thus fell under McCain-Feingold’s restrictions. Granted they seemed willing, in the end, to make the tradeoff, but it made it clear–to me, at least–that it wasn’t money itself, or even the bundling of money, that they really objected to, but who was bundling the money.

        I think allowing individuals or groups to pour all kinds of unlimited money into campaigns tends to work against democracy.
        Perhaps it does, by allowing some people more influence than others. But there are already those who have more influence than others, in various ways. Should Karl Rove’s impressive get out the vote drive in Ohio that secured re-election for W have been forbidden? He had more influence on that election outcome than anybody else in the country–is that really democratic? Perhaps so, because it actually got people out to vote, but then we run into two problems. First, that effort cost a lot of money, to first identify likely conservative non-voters, second to make sure they were or got registered, and third to get their butts off the couch and to the polls. So was that money really working against democracy? Second, money poured just into advertising may mobilize people to vote, also, by persuading them that this election, this set of issues, is too important to sit out.

        Where do we draw the line? If my neighbor is inarticulate and I am a charismatic speaker, is it undemocratic that I persuade more people to vote my way than he does? If I hold a block party and provide free food and drinks, so that I can talk to and try to persuade people to vote my way, is that undemocratic? If the most well of person in the neighborhood pays for signs and brochures warning everyone else in the neighborhood of a threat to their neighborhood’s integrity and quality of life from a planned freeway development nearby, is that undemocratic? Does that speech not deserve First Amendment protection? If an environmental organization runs an ad campaign urging everyone to support environmental policies and warning of the dangers from unnamed corporate interests and unnamed politicians, is that undemocratic? If Warren Buffet poured 100 million into a good governance campaign that attempted to persuade all state legislatures to adopt non-partisan redistricting commissions, or to pass a constitutional amendment requiring states to do so, would that be undemocratic?

        In my view, democracy requires the opportunity to try to persuade others, and banning efforts just because they are–perhaps–particularly effective at persuading people is the real threat to democracy.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Voter Ids will be free and available to all. Of course, the line to get one might be longer in some locations than others.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


        As well as the distance to a location offering them being significantly longer for some folks than for others, eh?Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        J@m3z Aitch

        Regarding absentee ballot fraud: How do you think the dead famously voted in Chicago? And why?

        They didn’t have people showing up to cast votes — they had rigged machines. The dead ‘voted’ in the sense that they were registered to vote so the numbers would match.

        Absentee ballots fraud would work the same way, unless you just wanted to cause chaos. You’d stuff the ballot box with absentee ballots for people who you had ‘registered’ but who weren’t actually voters.

        Of course, you can’t really stuff the ballot box these days (people watch it) — absentee voter fraud is a better example of “How do I show voter ID for an absentee ballot? Oh wait, I don’t, so why aren’t you screaming about that” hypocrisy.

        *shrug*. Actual registrations are screened, however (ACORN paranoia was truly hilarious in this, in that the ‘proof’ of ACORN’s malfeasance was often the very ballots they had personally marked for examination as suspected to be fraudulent) and really filling out absentee ballots is only slightly less stupid than showing up for in-person voter fraud.

        But then again, all those photo ID stuff isn’t about voter fraud in the first place. It’s about voter suppression. Nobody spends that much time and money over something that doesn’t happen, and couldn’t happen in big enough numbers to sway even county dogcatcher without being blatant.

        Meanwhile, the actual vote counting software is pretty much ignored — despite numerous proven hacks and vulnerabilities in every electronic machine out there.

        ‘Fraud’ that has even a snowball’s chance at swaying an election happens not through fake voters but through corrupt counts.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


        There’s a real “that was then, this is now” difference, I think. In the old days state/local political machines controlled everything, from the vote counting to the courts, and there was no federal oversight. Today the feds have gotten very serious about taking down the political machines–which is why every Illinois governor now serves a second term…in prison. You can complain to federal courts now, instead of just machine controlled state courts (which are probably less machine controlled now, anyway), and have a hope for real action.

        In the old days everybody knew it was happening and nobody did anything about it. Today we “know” it’s happening far more than it actually is, by the evidence, and we do something about it. Different times, different institutional arrangements. It’s not that the desire to engage in, or the value of, voter fraud has diminished, but that the institutional structure has changed enough to make it more difficult to do on an effective scale.

        But on the rest of your comment I’m fully in agreement.Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

      The real problem that most liberals like myself, aside from the fact there’s no evidence that voter fraud is happening through people with no ID’s, is that with most of these voter ID laws, is that at the same time they’re being passed, they’re also eliminating early registration, Sunday voting, expanded voter registration hours, and in some cases, such as Wisconsin, closing driver license bureaus in areas that just happen to vote more Democratic than the rest of the state.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Yes, it’s a total coincidence that John Roberts opposed the VRA both as a GOP operative and as Chief Justice.Report

    • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

      I don’t understand why Democrats and liberals don’t coalesce around the idea of making ID cards easier to obtain for all (e.g. allowing post offices and retail stores to take applications and the accompanying photographs, providing in-house ID services to the infirm and elderly, tying college grant money to the policy of ID-ing all of their students, etc.)

      That would certainly take the wind out of the Republican voter restriction efforts. And it would mitigate one of the ways that the poor and disenfranchised are cut off from society (try cashing a check, or using a credit card in a poor neighborhood without an ID).Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Happened around here. Because the law was written poorly, any nursing home could give out cards to basically anyone. So that’s what they were directed to do.

        You appear to be assuming that the poor interact with the financial system enough to need Ids. rarely the case, for the nonworking.Report

  9. Avatar Don Zeko says:

    Where in the Piedmont do you live, Michelle? I grew up in (and my parents live in) Winston-Salem.Report

  10. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Michelle, you seem agitated. Would you like a cookie?Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      Only if it’s chocolate chip.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I had a debate with someone about whether or not chocolate chip should simply be considered the “default” or “standard” cookie – that is, if someone offers you a cookie, it should always be assumed to be chocolate chip, unless they specify otherwise.

        I say yes. To agree to otherwise seems like a slippery slope – it could end up that you order a hamburger, and have the person on the other side of the counter slide you a bun with no meat. Madness.Report

  11. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    The GOP will retain control of NC politics for at least another electoral cycle. I just don’t see the metro areas of NC providing enough opposition to the GOP. I see the same problem here in Wisconsin. Perhaps the GOP will make enough enemies for the Democrats to stage a substantive revolt — but not soon. It will take time to marshal that sort of force and I don’t see that happening soon. Unless the GOP go completely overboard, which I’m not sure they’re stupid enough to do — they’ll retain enough of the Cracker Vote to keep their mandate.

    The GOP’s problem at this point: the farther they go to the Right, the less chance they’ll have of ever getting a POTUS elected. The metro areas will become bright Blue islands in a very Red State. The Democrats need to shut up and start building networks in the metro areas. Won’t be easy and it won’t be overnight — but if they play their cards right, they can turn NC into something resembling Illinois, another mostly-red state with a few Blue Islands.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco says:

      About two thirds of the population of Illinois live in metropolitan Chicago. Only the map is red. North Carolina has two metropolitan centers more populous than Des Moines and only about 17% of the population of the state live in those two loci.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        The Democrats do have strongish areas in North Carolina. I repeat myself, not that you’re paying any attention: the Democrats need to build networks in the metro areas, Charlotte-Meck, Raleigh-Durham, Greensboro-W/S-High Point.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        Were you paying attention, you might have noticed the problem in your argument. Illinois is not a red state. Two-thirds of the population lives in large metropolitan centers, Chicago for the most part, but there is also a fragment of greater St. Louis. Somewhat shy of a tenth live in small cities, and a quarter in the small towns and countryside. North Carolina has about a fifty-fifty split between metropolitan and non-metropolitan populations and has no large cities. The Democrats compete in North Carolina, but it is doubtful they can run what the cat dragged in for statewide office and win.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        North Carolina has two of the quickest growing metropolitan areas in the country. Meanwhile, rural counties are losing population. So, the urban-rural shift is changing. The Triad area, at over a million population, is also fairly urban. The urban areas obviously don’t dominate the state in the way that Chicago dominates Illinois, but the balance is shifting.Report

      • Avatar trumwill mobile says:

        Referring to metro areas is deceptive. The rural vote almost never various elections for the GOP, the suburbs do (or fail to) and those are included in “urban” my numbers. So the question is ultimately whether the GOP carries the suburbs or not. Rural voters that move to the suburbs don’t suddenly start voting like urbanites, they help the suburbs (or cities) be red. On the other hand, “urban” growth that consists of blue state transplants keep the suburbs (or cities) blue.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        You need to be careful with longitudinal comparisons of Census figures like that. Per the census bureau the ‘urbanized area’ in which I grew up has increased its population by 1/3 in the last 20-odd years. That is interesting, because the county in which that ‘urbanized area’ nestles has increased its population by only 6% since 1980. The Census Bureau broadened the definition of what constitutes an ‘urban’ tract, incorporating low density areas which would have been excluded in 1990.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        NYC’s “drive in to work” reach extends to northeast PA. Census bureau isn’t fucking with the numbers, Americans are fucking with the numbers.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        I put up the map for North Carolina 2012 presidential election by voting district. Clearly Obama took more than a few districts. It’s clear the Democrats took Raleigh/Durham, Greenboro-High Point and Charlotte, Lumberton, Fayetteville, Asheville — and did reasonably well in the suburbs. Kinda takes a bit of Google Maps in one tab and the Wiki map in the other, but it’s clear enough where the Democrats did well.

        The Democrats need grassroots networks. The GOP already has them: all those piney-woods little Baptist churches. Michelle correctly observes the cities are growing and the rural areas are emptying out. America is becoming a more urban society, not just North Carolina — and the GOP has no answer for the phenomenon. After WW1, there was a little song “How are you going to keep ’em down on the farm once they’ve seen Paree?”Report

      • Avatar J. Airch says:

        Re: Census Bureau changing its defitinition of urban.

        The explanation is found here, particularly in the last paragraph.Report

      • Avatar J. Airch says:

        Hit reply to soon…

        It’s not clear from the Census Bureau history I linked the Art is correct in his claim that “The Census Bureau broadened the definition of what constitutes an ‘urban’ tract, incorporating low density areas which would have been excluded in 1990.”

        Specifically, the history says,

        The Census Bureau revised the urban definition for the 1950 census by adopting the urbanized area concept, to better account for increased growth in suburban areas outside incorporated places of 50,000 or more population. This change made it possible to define densely-populated but unincorporated territory as urban. The Census Bureau continued to identify as urban those places that had populations of 2,500 or more and were located outside urbanized areas. The Census Bureau also officially identified unincorporated places (referred to as census designated places (CDPs) starting with the 1980 census) located outside urbanized areas for the first time in 1950, and designated as urban any that contained at least 2,500 people within its boundaries. In 1960, the Census Bureau also adopted a population density threshold of at least 1,000 people per square mile for urbanized areas.

        For Census 2000, the Census Bureau adopted the urban cluster concept, for the first time defining relatively small, densely settled clusters of population using the same approach as was used to define larger urbanized areas of 50,000 or more population, and no longer identified urban places located outside urbanized areas. In addition, all urbanized areas and urban clusters were delineated solely on population density, without reference to place boundaries (for the 1950 through 1990 censuses, places were included in, or excluded from, urbanized areas in their entirety; exceptions were made for incorporated places containing substantial amounts of sparsely populated territory).

        Now that’s a bit confusing, to be sure. But I don’t see anything in there about changing the definition to bring in less densely pipulated areas, since they appear to be using the same population density figure of 1,000 per square mile adopted in 1960. Rather, their change appears to have been in the direction of including all areas that meet that population density, rather than excluding some of them.

        I’m open to explanation of how I may have misinterpreted this, but it looks to me like Ideologue Art’s Reign of Error continues unabated.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber says:

        When it comes to metro areas, I find that they are better defined by AC Nielsen than the US Census Bureau. For example, Nielsen has Trenton as part of Philly and the Census has it as part of NYC. From personal observation, Trenton leans more toward Philly.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I find that they are better defined by AC Nielsen than the US Census Bureau.

        Thus demonstrating the superiority of the private sector over government!Report

      • Avatar Kim says:


    • Avatar Art Deco says:

      Kim, you are confusing “standard metropolitan statistical areas”, which take account of commuting patterns, with “urbanized areas” which delimit tract development.

      I’m open to explanation of how I may have misinterpreted this, but it looks to me like Ideologue Art’s Reign of Error continues unabated.

      By way of example, the Census Bureau enumerates the Rochester, N.Y. “urbanized area” as comprehending some 720,000 people. Now, Monroe County, N.Y. has some 744,000 people in it. They excised some 24,000 people to arrive at the delimited urbanized area. Which 24,000 are excluded? The following municipalities have densities below 1,000 per square mile:

      Hamlin (9,000; 208 per sq. mile)
      Clarkson (6,700; 203 per sq. mile)
      Rush (3,500; 114 per sq. mile)
      Wheatland (4,800; 157 per sq. mile – 1/2 in discrete and detached settlements)
      Mendon (9,000; 209 per sq. mile – 30% is in a discrete and detached settlement)
      Riga (5,600; 159 per sq mile – 1/3 in a discrete and detached settlement)
      Sweden, (14,100; 420 per sq. mile; 55% located in a discrete settlement attached to the metropolis only by a slim ribbon of settlement)
      Parma (15,600; 372 per sq. mile; about 1/2 is in tract development which may be connected to the metropolis by a slim ribbon)
      Ogden (19,800; 544 per sq. mile; about 1/2 is in tract develoment which may be connected to the metropolis by a slim ribbon)

      That would add up to about 87,000 people, not 24,000. The population of this set was about 69,000 or so in 1980, so there has been some increase, but not enough to add 160,000 people to the definition of ‘urban’; tract development in nine peripheral municipalities does not get you there. This assessment does not account for the rural sections in half a dozen other municipalities. There are only five or six primary municipalities in Monroe County that are completely built up.

      So, I think that they are doing something more elaborate than is indicated in their precis.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        You “think.” Well, it’s possible. Or it’s possible you don’t actually understand how their procedure works. Given that their own explanation of that procedure is far from clear–and I’m not pretending I actually understand it, either–I think you ought to give serious consideration to the latter.

        I’m reminded of something my uncle said recently. Reading an article about some rock that was dated to two million years old (or something like that), he said, “Oh, how do can they know that?” He wasn’t actually interested in knowing how; he just didn’t understand and so he thought surely something funny was going on. I see the same thing here with you. It’s fine to ask questions when we don’t understand how something is done–hell, that’s exactly what we should do–but when we don’t understand how something is done so we start making assumptions that it can’t be done (as my uncle did) or that it must be done thisaway (as you have) we’ve left behind the asking questions business, which is good, and gone into the ignorant objection business, which is bad.

        Sure, their actual process may be “more elaborate than is indicated in their precis.” I don’t have a problem with that. I have a problem still with your original claim about what they did, given that you haven’t actually given proof that’s what they did. The numbers you present (without source, so we have to take them on faith, which I am unwilling to do with any ideologue, of any persuasion) present a puzzle, to be sure. But they don’t prove your conclusion, because we lack clear evidence about precisely what the Census Bureau did.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        The question at hand is what is indicated in changes from one period to another in reported figures on ‘urbanized areas’. The definition appears to be somewhat mutable.

        The figures reported in this one county in 1990 are quite close to what you would get if you looked at the map and noted where the suburban cul-de-sacs end and the country roads start. Subsequently, they added a mess of other territory. I do not know why, but they did. It certainly was not changes in settlement patterns. The area is demographically fairly non-dynamic.

        In the context of this discussion, the issue is not that important.Report

  12. Avatar ktward says:

    It’s long been my aim to retire in Asheville.
    As a creative, I came to especially appreciate the town’s cultural bent and, well, I’m a mountain-lover so it was either Asheville or Boulder. But my connection to Asheville runs much deeper than that: I vacationed many times at my Aunt’s spread on Chunn’s Cove Rd. as a kid where, among a few awesome discoveries, I first discovered my lifelong passion for homegrown tomatoes. (I think her place now belongs to some Christian mission. Très bizarre.)

    Anyhoo, as a Chicagoan, I was way encouraged with the purple direction of NC.

    Art Pope’s been busy and, sigh, it comes as no surprise. Jane Mayer did a lengthy piece on him in The New Yorker a few years back:

    I still feel a primal tug toward Asheville. In fact, that’s still my official retirement destination. But my son and his darling girlfriend (who will unquestionably become my official daughter-in-law at some point) are building a life in Boulder and that’s where my first grandbabies will likely be. Boulder or Asheville? Feels like a tough call still. But once that first grandbaby comes along, I suspect it won’t be a tough call at all.Report

  13. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Maryland showed that the Democrats have absolutely without a single qualm in redistricting if the power balance is in their favor, so there is no principle at all involved when it comes to someone criticizing gerrymandering. The rest are very valid criticisms.

    Fwiw, I always found NC *more* Southern than SC. But I had only lived in Charleston & Columbia for any length of time, while my NC exposure was more uniform, though the majority of it was in Greensboro.Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      Yes, Democrats gerrymander as well, but perhaps not as successfully. That’s why I’m interested in redistributing schemes, like the one recently implemented in California, that attempt to remove partisan politics from the equation.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        If Democrats gerrymandered as successfully as Republicans, would that change your interests?Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        >Yes, Democrats gerrymander as well, but perhaps not as successfully.

        I ask this out of curiosity and not a desire to be obnoxious: why do you believe this to be true?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Vikram, this artucke provides some evidence.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        I saw that one. It says that Republicans fared well in 2012, but it gives no general evidence as to which party gerrys their manders better.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        To a certain extent, due to demographics (ie. urban self-packing), Democrats can’t gerrymander as well as Republicans. Note, my personal opinion would be too have a non-partisan board setting the boundaries like in those socialist hellholes of Canada and the UK, but until then, I don’t think the Democrat’s should unilaterally disarm. For instance, I don’t think the proposition should’ve been put up in California unitl the same sort of bill passed in Texas.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        If Democrats gerrymandered as successfully as Republicans, would that change your interests?

        Jaybird–no. I think redistributing should be done in as neutral a manner as possible. I’m also not comfortable with majority-minority districts even though I understand the rationale behind them.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I imagine whether demographics and geography favor Democrats or Republicans in a gerrymandering competition would depend on where we’re talking about, and what level of race we’re talking about.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        I ask this out of curiosity and not a desire to be obnoxious: why do you believe this to be true?

        Vikram–it’s more a general impression than something I believe is true. Democrats strike me as less cutthroat and more inept than Republicans when it comes to protecting their interests.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        Ugh–fricking iPad keeps changing redistricting to redistributing.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Rush Limbaugh used to (and still does, I imagine) say the same thing with the parties reversed: His guys were too timid or politically inept; the other guys only won elections because they were better at playing the game.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        my personal opinion would be too have a non-partisan board setting the boundaries like in those socialist hellholes of Canada and the UK,

        Or Iowa? Come on, don’t try to claim it, even tongue-in-cheek, as a liberal idea. I mentioned it on this thread long before you did.

        I don’t think the proposition should’ve been put up in California unitl the same sort of bill passed in Texas.

        So California should have continued to act undemocratically and screw over its own citizens just because Texas does? It’s hard to politely express just what a wretched and rabidly ideological idea that is. If each side is waiting for the other to act, then nobody will ever act. Somebody has to have the decency to act first, and apparently you don’t want the major party you are most closely aligned with to act with decency. You’re also ignoring the extent to which California has been a policy leader over our lifetimes–no single other state is as likely to prompt a wave of similar policies in other states as is California.

        Of course I’d be supportive of a federal constitutional amendment on this issue, which would allow everyone to act at once. But I’m not going to hold my breath hoping that happens and meanwhile discourage other states from making actual progress toward the actual goal.

        Attitudes like yours are what keeps politics really bad, hindering actual institutional progress. I can’t criticize your comment too harshlyReport

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Canada keeps voting in Harper because of these “so-called” non-partisan boards!

        That and all of the American ex-pats moving to Alberta to make money off of the oil they’re stealing from the ground who start voting “Conservative”.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        If I recall correctly, California’s redistricting plan was passed via the initiative system, and had been something Arnold tried for years to get passed as part of his legacy. Does Texas even have statewide ballot measures?Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        [Republicans] were too timid or politically inept; the other guys only won elections because they were better at playing the game.

        This is why I tend to be dubious about the claims of either party that they play rightly and justly more or less by the rules while the other side are tricksters.

        Then again, the Nazis said bad things about the Jews and the Jews said bad things about the Nazis…Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        James, I was just throwing out a little joke. No insult meant.

        As for the rest, yes, I’m a partisan Democrat. I believe it’s better for the nation and the welfare of the vast majority of people if more Democrat’s are in positions of power, especially when compared to the 2013 version of the Republican Party. So, I don’t believe Democrat’s should give up certain political advantages, simply for the fact of good government.

        After all, what use is bowing at the alter of “good government” if you can never get in power to put forth those good government policies. LBJ was a bastard, an asshole, horrible in foreign policy, but he also passed the Civil Right’s Act and Medicare. Adlai Stevenson never would’ve got that done.

        To Michelle, that was also my larger point. On a right-leaning website that focuses on elections that’s relatively sane that I lurk at, they were estatic after the redistricting proposal passed in California, because they knew Democrat’s were taking away a weapon from their arsenal. And as your post indicates, politics in 2013 is a battle, no matter how much some people on this site may not like that fact.

        Which, and you may call me a partisan hack for this point, the Democrat’s are worse at pressing their advantages. Imagine if the most conservative President in decades had gotten into office after the previous Democratic President had reigned over a massive economic collapse and an unpopular war, leading to large majorities in both houses. In modern times? A whole bunch of things, much farther to the Right in comparison that was passed on the “Left” (ie. a modest stimulus and a centrist health care plan) would’ve gotten through and thanks to the Republican messaging skills, people either would’ve not believed how conservative the Republican polciies were (as happened in this election – people literally didn’t believe the specifics of the Ryan plan were real) or would be convinced it’d be good for them.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        Also Jaybird, Harper keeps getting voted in because Canada has a FPTP system and two left-leaning parties who are too stubborn to merge.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Imagine if the most conservative President in decades had gotten into office after the previous Democratic President had reigned over a massive economic collapse and an unpopular war, leading to large majorities in both houses. In modern times? A whole bunch of things, much farther to the Right in comparison that was passed on the “Left” (ie. a modest stimulus and a centrist health care plan) would’ve gotten through and thanks to the Republican messaging skills, people either would’ve not believed how conservative the Republican polciies were (as happened in this election – people literally didn’t believe the specifics of the Ryan plan were real) or would be convinced it’d be good for them.

        Am I allowed to imagine 2004-2006?Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        Winning a narrow reelection over a less-than-stellar candidate doesn’t exactly equal the momentum that Obama had in January of ’09. Even then, the GOP tried to privatize Social Security! So yeah, you actually just proved my point.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        what use is bowing at the alter of “good government” if you can never get in power to put forth those good government policies.

        Christ. The Dems did get in power in California, and yet you still didn’t want them to put in good government policies!

        The good government policies are about ensuring that whoever has power uses it reasonably, not about which party is in power.

        Tell me if I’m wrong, but you come off as caring a lot more about Democratic rule itself than about good government policies themselves. Or perhaps you equate good government policies with Democratic rule?

        Maybe it’s just easier for me because I’m not a partisan hack, but I favor strong good government policies to any specific policies proposed by either party. Because the good government policies are fundamental, and everything else is just product. And frankly, I don’t really think anyone who cares more about their side’s dominance than about good government structure can claim to be anything but a mere partisan hack.

        But you’re young, and I hold out hope that it’s just youth, and not an innate character flaw.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        So, Jesse, let me get this straight:

        Your nightmare scenario with Republicans in office involves them talking about reforming Social Security?

        Seriously: look up WHAT THE REPUBLICANS ACTUALLY DID. Look it up. Google is right there. Come back and tell me what the House vote was followed by the Senate vote. I’ll be here waiting.

        And that, apparently, is your nightmare scenario of what might happen if Republicans had as much power as Obama did in 2008.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        @James – Yes, because I think they should think the long game, and realize that if Democrat’s give away what advantages they have, it’s bad long-term for Democrat’s if Republicans don’t as well. If you’re truly a non-partisan good govenrment reformed, good on ‘ya, but I’m not speaking about that.

        Well, my preferred policy positions are mostly to the left of the modern Democratic party, but yeah, I largely think a Democratic Party in power for an extended period of time is the best chance we have a nation not to become even further a corporate-dominated state with a weak social welfare state.

        To be blunt, I don’t think the modern Republican Party has any good policy proposals, so yeah, for the good of the country, the less power they have, the better. If that makes me a partisan hack, so be it. But, can you tell me something that could pass with a Republican trifecta that would be good policy that also wouldn’t be passed by the current people in power (ie. free trade, other bipartisan neoliberal policies that are largely passed by Democrat’s anyway).

        In a perfect world, like I said, I’d prefer a non-partisan national redistricting commision, along with some sort of AV or IRV voting system, plus proportional voting. But, no, I don’t think Democratic parties nationwide should give up advantages they have if the GOP won’t either. Because I value the policies the Democrat’s will be able to put forth more than slightly better redistricting in a few blue states.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        @Jaybird – You’re missing my point. Let’s look at the two situations.

        Party A wins a narrow reelection victory with a stagnant, but slowly growing economy. They immediately try to pass one of their big platform planks that is far out of the mainstream, using their political capital. Despite this, this administration of Party A is seen as “too liberal” to party activists and center-right in economics to “neutral observers.”

        Party B wins the biggest victory in a generation on the back of a massive midterm win. They pass watered down versions of both of their platform planks, but are still described as liberal or left-liberal to many neutral observers, and is still called the most liberal President since LBJ.

        So yes, I have zero doubt that if the GOP had won 60 Senate seats, a massive majority, and the Presidency, they would’ve pushed far-right policies. That was actually one of my big worries about 2012. Most likely, the economy will improve over the next few years, and if Romney won, right-wing economic policies would’ve been given the credit and even slightly center-left economic policies would’ve been thrown in the trash for another generation as Republican’s could’ve said, “policy x pulled us out of the Obama recession.”

        Again, I’m not saying this to claim the GOP are evil people. I’m saying that they’re better at shifting the Overton Window than Democrat’s have been since the mid-60’s.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        And your example of this that proves your point is a colossal failure to do so followed by massive losses resulting in losing both the House and Senate.

        (Hey, did you ever find the results of that House vote in your googling?)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I’m having flashbacks to arguing with Koz. He argued such things as “Republicans are the only hope for fiscal conservativism” and the number one examples I gave to disagree with him are “What the Republicans did, WHAT THEY ACTUALLY DID, between 2002 and 2006.”

        Now I’m having the mirror image of this argument. “If Republicans got in power, they’d do the things that people like Koz would say that they’d do!!!!”

        All I can do in response is provide the same counter-argument: Look at what they did. What they actually did. That’s who they are. That’s what they’re like.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        The Republican Pary of 2004 is not the Republican Party of 2016. About the only thing they’re consistent on is not really caring about the deficit if it means tax cuts and/or increases in defense spending.

        Yes, SS privatization never came up for a real House vote. But, my point is, despite a narrow reelection win, the GOP opened up big. The Democrats? They watered down their own proposals from day one.

        Also, I’ll note, the GOP didn’t lose in 2006 because of SS privatization, unfortunately. It lose because of the War and a dash of corruption mixed in with a late blooming Mark Foley scandal.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        Also, more than half of the current Republican caucus weren’t in the House during the Bush years. So, I can only go by what they’ve done since they got in office, not what totally different people did.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        I think they should think the long game,

        Good god, man, good government should be the long game!

        If you’re willing to cop to partisan hack, I can’t see any reason to disagree. Like Jaybird, I’m finding debating with you remarkably similar to debating with particular conservative partisan hacks here. I’m at a complete loss as to see how you are fundamentally any different from them. A different prize, perhaps, but the same disdain for any value except winning that prize.

        I imagine you’re rather proud of it, too. But then so is Art Deco. So is Karl Rove. If you’re really proud to focus your goals and your thinking at their level, so be it. Damned if I’ll feel any compulsion to respect it, though, or any hesitation to criticize it as sharply as I criticize Deco. Because ultimately it’s an intellectually immature position.

        (Heh, I teach strategic behavior, so I respect successful strategy. But not only do I think you’re not employing successful strategy by wanting to keep a system in which your party comes out the loser more often than not, rather than trying to find any way possible to change that system, but I also warn my students you have to give serious considerations to the kinds of games you’re willing to play, because your integrity, your soul if you will, has value, and it’s easier to throw it away than it is to get it back.)Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        I imagine you’re rather proud of it, too. But then so is Art Deco. So is Karl Rove. If you’re really proud to focus your goals and your thinking at their level, so be it. Damned if I’ll feel any compulsion to respect it, though, or any hesitation to criticize it as sharply as I criticize Deco. Because ultimately it’s an intellectually immature position.

        What have I got to do with Karl Rove?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        You are all factionalists, and bad for the country thereby.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        James, all I have seen during the entire lifetime I’ve been politically aware is liberals being the responsible ones and the decent ones and the ones standing back and compromising first, only to get run over by conservatives further pushing the Overton window to the right. So yes, I’m perfectly comfortable, saying on this one issue, telling conservatives – no, you move first and then we’ll come along.

        Also, to your strategy statement. Right now, if every single state run by Democrats instituted completely nonpartisan redistricting, I would bet my next paycheck that not one single Republican-controlled state would follow and not one Republican-controlled state legislature would feel any pain by the voters of their state as a result of that, because, outside of dorks like you and me, nobody understands gerrymandering.

        So yes, if these are the screwed up state of matters, I’m not going to give up the advantages that we have. If that makes me a horrible political partisan who only thinks of strategy, so be it. You line up the accomplishments of political strategists and the accomplishments of people who do whatever is best, regardless of party, the side of people thinking purely in political strategy have done a whole lot more to help this country than the other side.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        all I have seen during the entire lifetime I’ve been politically aware is liberals being the responsible ones and the decent ones and the ones standing back and compromising first, only to get run over by conservatives further pushing the Overton window to the right.

        Hee hee. After I get past the “THIS IS WHAT LIBERALS REALLY BELIEVE” giggles, I find myself flashing back to the evangelicals with whom I was raised who complained about how the country was continually and constantly moving left, left, left, left, Left, Left, Left, LEFT, LEFT, LEFT, LEFT

        And so on.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        You line up the accomplishments of political strategists and the accomplishments of people who do whatever is best, regardless of party, the side of people thinking purely in political strategy have done a whole lot more to help this country than the other side.

        So….Karl Rove did more to help this country than anyone else. Got it. Never expected to hear you say it, though.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


        That’s silly. It’s not like the country renewed the Voting Rights Act, lowered studentbloan rates, is moving towards legalizing same-sex marriage, decriminalizing marijuana, or taking the first steps toward a national healthcare system, or some crazy set of liberal policies like that.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        You know, now that I think about it, I’m wondering if there isn’t a degree to which both sides aren’t right to some degree. The Evangelicals are correct to see the country moving away from them. Folks like Jesse are correct to see the country moving away from them. The problem is that both of them assume that since it’s moving “away”, it must be moving “left” (or “right”, depending).

        There’s another game entirely being played.

        But they’re 100% right that it’s moving. It for sure as hell is moving.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Yeah, I’d say in some ways it actually is moving in a somewhat libertarian direction. Becoming both more civil libertarian in some respects and more economically libertarian in some respects. Not smoothly, not consistently, and certainly to libertarians’ full satisfaction (you know, TARP, GM, militarization of cops, etc.), but perhaps that’s what allows both of the major sides to think they’re losing; or perhaps not both of the major sides but two significant constituencies among those sides, the economic liberals and the social conservatives.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        You know, I wondered about the term economic liberals. Why is it that economic liberals tend to be opposed to liberalising the economy (even in theory)?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        What’s implied by liberalising? Economic liberals come in two flavours:

        1. Economic Liberals: those who want more regulation of existing markets, prosecution of financial crooks, beltway bandits and the like.

        2. Liberal Economists: those who want to organise the economy so as to benefit the poor and downtrodden, etcetera.

        They’re almost opposites, these two. Liberal is a squish word. Means so many different things it might as well be thrown out entirely.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


        It could be considered an example of polysemy, perhaps. The word liberal underwent something of a transformation in the U.S. Some libertarians style themselves “classical liberals” to denote their adherence to the original understanding of the term (although I suspect most of the original classic liberals weren’t nearly as libertarian as today’s classic liberals). Broadly speaking, beginning during the industrial revolution many American liberals kept their interest in civil liberties and the value of individuals, and rejected classical liberals’ laissez faire attitude because of what they saw it doing to individuals. Given how ugly many aspects of the industrial revolution, it’d be rather churlish to blame them, even though in retrospect those were just growing pains. But the term liberal stuck with that group, their opponents became defined as conservative (even though that term rrally makes no sense, since, unlike the classical European conservatives, we had no ancien regime to conserve), and it was a half century or more–after the “capitalist caused” Great Depression and WWII, and the (temporary) triumph of Keynesianism–before the classical liberal approach began to revive, under the auspices originally of the Austrian school of economics, and later through a handful of academic philosophers. But for all that some would like to reckaim the term liberal, that term is long gone for us.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        @blaisep ,
        Everywhere else in the world and in English speaking universities all over the world including the US, liberalising the economy refers to lowering trade barriers, reducing regulations, ensuring the rule of law and securing property rights. i.e. pushing economic policies in a more neoliberal/libertarian direction.Report

  14. Avatar The Sanity Inspector says:

    North Carolina is never going to be California…

    Let’s hope to God not!Report

  15. Avatar Damon says:

    But but “Democracy”!!Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      Democracy give to and democracy take to away. I think Republicans in NC have very likely overplayed their hand and will get pushed out of control over the next few years, despite attempts to rig the game in their favor.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        And the Demos will overplay their hand and the cycle will repeat again and again and in the interim, nothing will get done.Report

  16. Avatar ScarletNumber says:

    This was a minor point of your post, but I have no problem with any of the new 2nd Amendent based laws passed.Report