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A One Party Nation

A Parade of Horribles for the Democratic Party

The party of Donald Trump is poised to have more control over the levers of power than any political party in United States history. This is the absolute pinnacle of power that any political coalition has ever seen in since the founding of the Republic.

On the state level, Republicans now hold 68 of the 99 state legislatures, including control of both chambers in 33 states. They control 33 Governor’s Mansions. The number of states where Republicans control both state legislative chambers and the Governorship (known as a trifecta) currently sits at literally half of the Republic: 25 states. How many trifectas do Democrats have? Six. Six!

On the Federal level, Republicans command a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate. The 4-4 Supreme Court will have its conspicuous vacancy filled from a nomination by Donald Trump – who will control the Executive Branch, replete with all the accumulated power the Presidency has scooped up over time through court rulings and congressional dithering.

This didn’t all happen in one election. The trend has been incremental but steady. Republicans took the House in 2010 by winning a whopping 63 seats at once. They took the Senate in 2014 and expanded their House majority. Over the course of the Obama Presidency, Democrats lost more than 900 state legislative seats. (!!) In the election that happened last Tuesday, there were a total of 93 state executive seats (state attorneys general, etc.) up for grabs – Republicans won a solid 56 of them.

A One Party Republic

In the 2018 mid-term elections, the situation becomes even more dire for Democrats, as they will be defending an incredible 25 of the 33 contested seats. That places them in a more substantial defensive posture than any party has experienced in modern Senate elections. They will be defending states like Montana, West Virginia, North Dakota, Florida, and Missouri. No easy hill to climb to regain a majority, and a grave threat that could potentially permit Republicans to pass the magic 60 mark – eliminating any odds of a traditional filibuster for the minority party.

Despite winning substantial Electoral-College and popular-vote majorities two times in a row, Presidential excitement never truly turned into success in down-ballot races. And now it seems that the “Demographics are Destiny” mantra that has been repeated ad infinitum the past 8 years is no longer a viable calming balm during election season for the Democratic Party. Especially when at least 7 million voters from the Obama coalition didn’t even bother to participate in the most consequential election in world history.

It’s is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the premise that the United States is a two party nation. Maryland and Massachusetts have Republican Governors. Even Bernie Sanders’s Vermont has a Republican Governor. For 8 years, the massive losses among Democrats were masked by having power at the tippy top. Now that this mask is being ripped off, the starkness of the devastation is more obvious. The Presidency, despite sweeping GOP control of other areas of Government, elicited from the citizenry a continued illusion that problems could be thrown at the President’s heels – and Republican opposition was more than happy to encourage such dramatics.

Republicans no longer have such a foil. They will have to govern whether they like it or not, and they will have broad leverage and mandate to govern good and hard. Even after replacing Scalia to restore the court to its previous 5-4 orientation, one must consider that Justice Ginsburg is 83 years old, and Stephen Breyer is 78 years old. In four years those ages will be 87 and 82. As another shrimp to the GOP gumbo, there does not seem to be any writing on the wall that could harm them in the foreseeable future. Certainly, control of this much government will demand accountability to some extent, with potential electoral consequences. But for 2 to 4 solid years, their control will be impenetrable, and with gerrymandered districts just to be sure. Even with a successful impeachment, the party of the Presidency does not change hands to a different party.

There have been other times when a political party had widespread power. But never this broadly based, and not in the information age – where coordination and communication is instantly possible and infinitely easier.

This scenario is bothersome. It’s not how we generally think of checks and balances, or even federalism. There’s a reason for that.

Federalist Paper #10

The constitution was designed in-part to “break and control the violence of faction.” James Madison conveniently proferred a definition for factions:

[A] number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

Re-read that one more time, and see if that definition doesn’t entirely apply to this situation, in your own estimation. Pay particular attention to the “…adversed to the rights of other citizens” phrase – and keep in mind all the policy proposals that Donald Trump has thrown around which meet the definition.

Mass deportations, higher suspicion for certain religions, callous indifference to a free press, disdain for speech and assembly, punishing women who terminate their pregnancies, bringing back waterboarding, illegal trials for Americans, bombing innocent families, a casual attitude toward misogyny and sexual assault, and on and on. Add to this, the existing platforms and proposals of his party – the privatization of Medicare, the un-funding of women’s healthcare, and bringing back the notorious HUAC committee specifically to investigate Muslims. None of these things are made up accusations of a liberal, they are the documented facts.

Madison laces Federalist #10 with other pieces of definition throughout the document. Do these look familiar?

Madison goes on to say there only two cures for factionalism. One is to entirely destroy liberty, and so he quickly dismisses it as worse than the disease it cures. The other is to accept factionalism as a democratic reality, but to “control its effects.” Among those features that control the effects include the division of a central government with the various states, the implementation of representative democracy rather than direct, and finally – the maintenance of a large Republic so that through the sheer force of numbers and geographic distance it makes it difficult for a movement to obtain a majority. He intimates that in a large republic the voters will have a greater diversity of options and may thereby select more competent candidates for office. His actual words are striking:

 Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other.

The above paragraph describes, explicitly, what has happened. A political majority has been mustered in elective positions across the board – on the state and federal level – they share a national platform (common motive) – and in the information age they are empowered to act in unison and coordinate unlike ever before – and they are led by a man who wishes, by his own admission, to invade the rights of other citizens.

Madison wrote Federalist #10 to defend the Constitution, and to support ratification by explaining that this was unlikely to happen under the governance of the document he played such a critical role in drafting. He has been more or less right for the past 235 years.

On November 11, 2016 things changed. This is the most dangerous game, and we get to see it play out in real time.

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387 thoughts on “A One Party Nation

  1. As a foreigner, I suppose the question that arises is why?

    Are the Republicans better organised? That seems unlikely since we’re so used to being told that the Democrats have a superior political machine.

    Is the Republican base more coherent and more motivated? This seems more likely.

    Does Gerrymandering play an outsized role in the GOPs success? I can’t really say that I know enough about this particular subject to comment.

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      • I don’t think Kim is wrong about this. Democrats have spent most of the last 8 years planning HC’s inaugguration and also complaining about how mean everyone was to Obama. (Putting on my partisan stereotypes here) Liberals in general have always been kind of obsessed with celebrity, and there’s that whole Hollywood thing. I think they got way too focused on the one job at the top…and gave Republicans everything else.

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        • Political parties do lots of things simultaneously. If we’re going to talk about how Dems have no policy or don’t care about the working class, we need to talk about how bailing out Detroit, making health care more affordable for poor people, changing overtime rules to get higher pay for workers, raising the minimum wage, and just generally delivering eight years of declining unemployment and eventually wage gains etc. don’t count.

          Seems to me the unspoken assumption here is that WWC voters only care about tone, affect, etc., an assumption that makes it much harder for me to discount race and other prejudice in our analysis.

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            • True! And perhaps a different message would have succeeded. So if we’re talking about what the Dems should do in the future, is the argument that they should talk more about the ways their policies benefit working people without changing those policies? If they should change, then which ones and how?

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              • The Midwest already had the highest rates of health insurance coverage in the country before the ACA, outside of Massachusetts, although Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa statistically had similar rates of coverage with Massachusetts. Link to 2008 US Census report. The benefits of the ACA mainly went to places along the Southern border with high rates of uninsured, and places with high insurance rates were more likely to complain about the disruptions.

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          • The tone conversations amuse me. The most common “tone” lectures I’ve come across come from people treating rural voters as if they’re infantile, unable to get past “tone” to come to grips with issues.

            Of course, there’s a lot of “calling them racist made them racist” lectures from similar circles, which implies GOP voters are mentally 5 years old.

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            • “there’s a lot of “calling them racist made them racist” lectures from similar circles, which implies GOP voters are mentally 5 years old.”

              haw. “when you call black people inferior, that makes them believe it!” “So, like when I angrily scream that someone’s a racist, they figure maybe they are?” “Well if you’re a RACIST MORON you might think that way.”

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              • Kimmie seems to have turned up the dial a bit since the election. Not surprising. I believe her pre-election conspiracy was that Trump was a Clinton plant, and that Clinton’s victory was pre-ordained by the Illuminati-equivalent — you know, the ones that put a literal gun to Obama’s head.

                (Because a black man cannot, of course, understand any threat more subtle).

                I suppose some flailing about is to be expected, as the gears rearrange.

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              • Don,
                Yes, her neglected white papers. Do you think if you pulled ten people off the street you could get them to tell you what, specifically, clinton wanted for Climate Change? How about Taxes? How about the VA?

                DEMOCRATS couldn’t tell you, because that wasn’t the fucking strategy. Wall To Wall Trump, plastering every fucking progressive blog in the country.

                Smoking the mirrors was the strategy (that and leading Bernie voters around by the Bernie). Running on actual issues was NOT the strategy.

                I get this from clinton operatives (to be fair, my friend in her campaign did get fired at some point. probably after he suggested she needed to campaign in Wisconsin).

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    • I’m going to have to go to Earth-2, where Mitt Romney beat Hillary in a squeaker, to answer these questions:

      Are the Republicans better organised?

      Absolutely. Mitt Romney’s managerial skills are top notch and he had exceptionally good polling to work with which allowed him microtargeting of ads. Like DOWN TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD. The guy two blocks away got different fliers than you got. It was a good thing that the Kochs and other mega-donors mega-donated. He couldn’t have done that without $100,000,000 walking around money.

      Is the Republican base more coherent and more motivated?

      Less coherent, but that’s a strength here. This allowed for all kinds of diverse areas that rarely had common cause to come out and vote at the same time for the same candidate. They benefited, of course, from the fact that Clinton was an awful, awful candidate.

      Much of the motivation, of course, wasn’t particularly explored but is explained perfectly by the loss of Brad Avakian in the Oregon Secretary of State election.

      Does Gerrymandering play an outsized role in the GOPs success?

      An easier thing to argue if Obama himself didn’t have LBJ numbers at the beginning of his presidency but unless you count the states as gerrymandering, no. But maybe if the Republicans ran someone more charismatic, they’d have won the popular vote in addition to merely the electoral.

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    • Three answers, I think:

      1. Legitimate structural advantages. The GOP has long been the party preferred by rural Americans, while the Democrats have long been the party preferred by urban Americans. The nature of our system is that states like Wyoming, with no significant population (less than 600,000, and no large urban population) get two senators and a representative, while California (with a population of 38.8 million and huge cities) get the same two senators, and each of its 53 districts (i.e. each house representative) has a population of 732,000 or so (53 districts). This is not the result of any party’s decisions, but rather a vestige of a decision made in the Eighteenth Century at a time when no one could have foreseen such massive differences between “large” and “small” states.

      2. Gerrymandering. The GOP has made the tactically-smart (though in my view bad governance) decision to leverage their popularity in state elections to gerrymander individual districts such that they get disproportionate representation in the house. For example, in South Carolina this year, approximately 40% of votes in house races were Democratic, but only one of seven reps is a Democrat. And it isn’t just micro-level. In 2012, for example, Democrats received 1.4 million more votes nationwide, but Republicans maintained a 234-201 advantage.

      3. I think the Republican party has done a better job of encouraging down-ballot party-line voting. Democrats have real problems getting their relatively-younger voters to care about smaller elections, and to avoid ticket-splitting. That is going to need to change as the country becomes more partisan, and state officials become more closely aligned with the national parties, or the Democrats are in pretty bad shape. It’s hard to see a lot of Schwarzeneggers in our future (ran as a republican in CA, appointed liberal judges, and largely advanced moderate-to-liberal policy goals).

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      • I would like to blame clinton for 2010, and the subsequent gerrymandering.
        Competency isn’t her strong suit, and the people she had installed in the DNC just didn’t give a flying fuck.
        (which isn’t to say the Dems wouldn’t have lost seats).

        My friends in the know are happier with Ellison than Dean — they know more than I do.

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  2. With so much power in one party, a strategy for the extreme right, solidly at the core of that party, seems viable to get full control of ? of the states and then attempt to get rid of presidential term limits. That would allow them to have Trump as president for live. With Trump only interested in his own ego, the party extremist can essentially do what they like. In particular they could permanently dismantle the demographic time bomb by disenfranchising the votes for those minorities, and so assure themselves of support of xenophobic voters.
    More moderate republican, those who actually believe in democracy, will go along for a long while as there conservative wishes are also being fulfilled. Until it is too late, and they too will be marginalized.
    Just a possibility. Not even improbable. It has happened before.
    Very scary stuff.

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  3. The distribution of Democratic votes is non-optimal; Republican gerrymandering–enabled by their smart strategy of taking over state governments–further exacerbates the problem; finally, the Democratic base is less likely to vote, particularly in the states where it counts. Also, a lot of smugness, and self-defeating choices.

    Re: recent election; I blame Obama and the Democrats in Congress as much as Hillary. They *could have* bailed out the underwater homeowners. But they didn’t, and it took years for those homeowners to get out from under debt, or, at least, get it manageable again, and that was one long drag on the economy*

    * don’t talk to me about moral hazard. moral hazard applies to lenders just as much as to homeowners, if not more given the asymmetries between lending institutions and individuals.

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      • I visit this OT because it is a bastion of reasoned considerate disagreement. Your comment, however, is neither reasoned nor considerate, and it does not belong in a forum like this. In fact, it completely misses the point (something hotheaded keyboard jockeys frequently do).

        First, your reply did not address the main point of mine, which is about the political consequences of failing to bail out homeowners directly, not the merits of such a program itself. My point, to repeat, is that the Democrats were in charge and had an opportunity to directly help a lot of people; but they didn’t, and the Democrats have paid the price.

        IMO, not letting the financial institutions crumble was a *good* idea. Unless, of course, you like massive economic depressions. However, bailing out the banks, but not bailing out the homeowners was a deep error, both strategic and ethically. There are two parties to bad lending decisions; it was only the ones with political clout that were the primary beneficiaries.

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        • joke,
          So, um, you totally don’t want to talk about the actual bailout that happened?
          Dude.
          (That’ll be a free $8000 per house — it started at $16,000 and got talked down by de shmart guys, to help bail out those homeowners).

          Sorry if you don’t want to talk about actual policy, but I’m not willing to allow your ignorance to go uncorrected.

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          • I’m not sure what policy you’re talking about either, , and ‘s point about civility (“Fish off”) is well-taken. Where do you get the $8,000-per-house/$16,000-per-house number? That might be a good point to regain focus on the topic, though it sounds a bit like we’re litigating things that happened from 2007-2009 here.

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        • the political consequences of not bailing out the homeowners? Didn’t matter.

          The people that voted for Trump in the places it counted have seen a large secular decline in their home values (relative, but sometimes on an absolute basis too) over 2 or 3 decades. (ever since the major metro area real estate divergence started in the early 90s).

          They weren’t directly effected by the housing bubble because they were never in it directly*. Except for Florida, but Florida voted for Obama the last time. So the lack of bailout wasn’t an issue 4 years ago, why would it be one now?

          *they were, though, affected disproportionately (for white people) by the job losses in the recession. And the jobs are back, but in sectoral shifts that have left some behind or just quitting the market altogether in their 50s.

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          • No, this site should be represented by the people willing to listen to the Clinton Approved Conspiracy Theories, and none else.

            Do you realize how long it took to explain to the Clinton Team that they couldn’t just “deny” the wikileaks e-mails? “Russia Did It” wasn’t their first strategy.

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    • I think there is a good amount of truth to this. Democratic voters tend to be in major urban centers in a handful of states. Now these urban centers tend to be the driving force of the American economy but it also makes it easy to keep Democratic voters relatively to very isolated if one is committed to gerrymandering and ratfucking.

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  4. We’ve come full circle on this site. From the collapse of the Republican party to the collapse of the Democrat party. I think this is a bit over done though. Maryland and Mass are reliably Democratic. RELIABLY. MD has had two or three Republican governors in 30 years. The only reason they get elected is the Dems throw up someone who’s “due” the position by being a good party operative, sucks as a candidate, and runs a sucky campaign, aka Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. And any Republican in MD is generally far left of the generic national republican. I’m going to assume that’s the case in Mass as well.

    However, I will say, again, and again, and again. It’s a travesty of democracy when your side looses and a triumph when your side wins. Take comfort in the fact that the number of people that 1) voted 2) voted for Trump is a minority of the eligible voters, so regardless of whether Trump or HRC had won the election, they don’t represent a “mandate” or even the “will of the people”.

    And one last thought, since I’m a vindictive sort, although NOT a Trump supporter. Now the shoe’s on the other foot. Reap what you sow. Maybe next time you’ll want to remember that the wheel turns.

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    • We’ve come full circle on this site. From the collapse of the Republican party to the collapse of the Democrat party.

      Yeah. 2006 and 2008 were *REALLY BAD* for the Republicans. Obama had LBJ numbers when he was in office. Something unthinkable in 2004… the *LAST* time we were talking about a Permanent Republican Majority.

      The pattern I see happening is a fairly bad 2018, because, as far as I can tell, the Democrats still have no idea why they lost and then we’ll see if 2020 looks any better. (No pun intended.)

      But, where we are right now? The Democrats are in *GREAT* position to be able to say “Hey! It wasn’t *OUR* fault! We weren’t in power!”

      Which is a good position to be in, if you don’t know why you lose elections.

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    • If history is any guide (Andrew Jackson), the only way the Democrats can extinguish themselves would be to redefine themselves as an anti-Trump party, and slowly lose coherence.

      The red flag though is whether this election was a realigning election in the Midwest. There were a lot of Senate races in the Midwest, and I believe in each of them the Republican candidate for Senate outperformed Trump, whether or not they outperformed their Democratic opponent, which more often than not they did. The Minnesota legislature became Republican, the Republicans picked up seats in the Illinois state legislature and are aiming to take at least one house in the next off-year election. Personally think the Democrats need a more populist appeal in the Midwest, but perhaps they think they’ll do better in the South going forward.

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      • AZ, GA, and TX went from 9-8-16 point Republican margins to 4-6-9; in percentage terms, Trump’s Texas margin was smaller than his Iowa margin. It’s conceivable that the next Democratic President will win AZ and GA but lose IA and OH.

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        • The Texas results were weird. It’s not like she was running serious GOTV here.

          Our local county…Treasurer? Sheriff? I forget which…got the boot (he was Republican) and a Democrat took the office for the first time in decades.

          In his concession, the incumbent blamed “The Hillary Effect” for his loss.

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        • Certainly agree its possible that any realignment could have other effects outside the Midwest, and they be related, as African-Americans are leaving Chicago and other major Northern cities for the South, Atlanta in particular.

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      • “If history is any guide (Andrew Jackson), the only way the Democrats can extinguish themselves would be to redefine themselves as an anti-Trump party, and slowly lose coherence.”

        hey-ho, guess that’s happening now

        pretty much the consensus on progressive Twitter is that there was no reason other than racism and there never was, that the US is racist and always has been and always will be, and the only reason that a white woman lost the election was…uh…something something RACISM, OKAY, IF YOU WON’T ADMIT THAT THE US IS A RACIST NATION RUN BY RACISTS THEN DON’T EVEN TALK TO ME.

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        • At the risk of breaking several internet rules, I agree with that racism is a bad explanation.

          I’m not in a place where I can explain why so many non-college-educated people broke towards Trump, but I think there are a lot of answers better than that they were all racists. I think one is that they didn’t care Trump acted like a racist, because they had more pressing concerns. I think another is that a lot of people just couldn’t pull the lever for a woman (I’ll observe that the 19th amendment took a full fifty years after the 15th). And I think another is that too many people have absorbed the constant rage peddled by talk radio, Fox, and (to a lesser extent other media sources) and their political views are therefore grounded in some kind of incoherent anger that doesn’t mesh with Democrats’ message.

          I’m sure there are plenty more reasons, and that we don’t have to pick one.

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          • Oh, please, please, please don’t say that people couldn’t vote for a woman.
            Please.
            Do I need to mention LIbby Dole? Do I need to mention Heidi? These are from places that pulled HARD for trump! I can go on, but I’d need to pull the fucking numbers.

            Hillary was uniquely bad, and it wasn’t because she was a woman. Believe you me, it wasn’t that.

            Hillary failed to run on ANY issue other than “I’m not him, and I’ve got a vagoo, so all you bitches better vote for me.”

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            • Hillary failed to run on ANY issue other than “I’m not him, and I’ve got a vagoo, so all you bitches better vote for me.”

              That’s a lie flatly contradicted by paying the least bit of attention to anything she said all election, or her website. You should be embarrassed to say it.

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              • nevermoor,
                Pardon me for expressing what Clinton campaign pollsters have been saying. Yes, indeed, pardon me.

                If no one can pick out a specific policy position, then she doesn’t have one that she’s running on.

                Did she say who she was going to appoint to the Supreme Court?
                Did she say what she was going to do with climate change?
                Did she say what exactly she was going to do with gun control?

                I’m serious here. If I stood up and asked my workplace, they wouldn’t be able to tell you what she was FOR. O was for Healthcare for All.

                Hell, remember Billy Clinton? Campaigning on School Uniforms? That’s at least a campaign. Or Dole on cutting the damn deficit.

                These are big, splashy “This is What I’m About” policies. Name one of those for Clinton.

                Clinton ran more on conspiracy theories than on actual facts. “Russia made up the e-mails!” “Wikileaks is going to have a Whopper out a day before the election!” (whopper is slang for lie, did you notice?)

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                • Did she say who she was going to appoint to the Supreme Court?

                  I don’t believe she ever released a list (nor would that have made sense, since her party had a pending appointment).

                  Did she say what she was going to do with climate change?

                  Yes.

                  Did she say what exactly she was going to do with gun control?

                  Yes.

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                  • Do you think it says something that I can’t tell you about her views on climate change?

                    Because I do. (And, seriously, here on this site? Nobody was discussing it. At all. With O, we had tons of good discussions on obamacare, on the wars, on guantanamo).

                    Her strategy this election wasn’t about policy, it was all about smoking the mirrors, and Trump Is EVUL, don’t vote for Trump.

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          • I have a hard time squaring the concept that the voters want someone who feels the incoherent rage they’ve been propagandized to feel, and the fact that Obama got elected. If the rage machine weren’t quite turned up to eleven in 2008 and 2012, maybe, but I don’t recall that being the case. The same kind of batshit crazy conspiracies about Kenya and secret-Muslim-Manchiran candidate were in circulation back then, and Benghazigateghazi got added to the mix in 2012.

            Democrats do have a message that will get votes out. Hillary Clinton did not convey that message. Age, race, energy, eloquence, temperament, character, career record, strategic decisions — these things all go into how Obama could carry that message and command winning majorities while how Clinton’s majority failed in critical areas, costing her the Electoral College. So in 2020 there will obviously be a different candidate, and the question will be whether that candidate can tap into the political power that Obama did.

            N.b., Bill Clinton in 2015 advised aggressively pursuing rural working class votes and was shut down by other advisors in the Clinton campaign. You’d have thought that a former President whose loyalty to the candidate would be unquestioned would have earned a bit more deference, but that’s part of what happened. He found a way to connect with voters like that, too. So it’s not just Obama.

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            • I think the propaganda machine didn’t really start until after Obama’s first election, when unified Democratic governance caused the need to de-legitimize absolutely everything.

              I think 2012’s issue was that no one was less likely to connect with inchoate rage than Romney. And the rage machine kept building afterwards.

              Hillary Clinton, of course, did deliver the message that got votes out. She’s already up almost a million votes, with reason to believe that’ll hit two million before its all over (since a LOT of uncounted ballots are in California, where even our conservatives have some sense). I think there are a lot of lessons to take from this election, one of which is that charisma matters a lot more to most voters than it does to me. And Hillary doesn’t have that connection. I hope we are soon able to find a woman who does, because I want to have a different morning-after conversation with my daughter than I did this time.

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              • It wasn’t the propaganda machine that delegitimized anything. It was the Democrats who pushed forward with Obamacare, and the reaction of horror from substantial demographics of the American people, not all of them Republicans by any shot, who were confronted with the horror of the realization that the widespread unpopularity of Obamacare(s) as a _bill_ was not necessarily going to stop it.

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                • That’s a symptom, not a cause.

                  Obamacare was, and is, a good law (just like it was when Romney deployed it as a Heritage Foundation idea) in the sense that it improved the individual healthcare market and insured 20 million Americans. Its unpopularity (in the sense of “do you like the Affordable Care Act”) is the result of the smear campaign. Evidence is that the actual things Obamacare does (coverage to 26, preexisting conditions, no lifetime caps, etc) are quite popular.

                  Of course, Obamacare wasn’t and isn’t a perfect law, which is why a responsible administration would improve–rather than destroy–it. Unfortunately, well, you know.

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                  • Well, that’s a slightly different subject, though it’s still wrong on its own terms.

                    But imo it’s more important to acknowledge the wrongness of your original point, which was that there was some nebulous propaganda machine that discredited all of President Obama’s significant moves in his first term.

                    In reality, the situation was much simpler. Specifically, that the desire of the American people to not have Obamacare was given no consideration at all by what was then called the netroots. And given their influence on Obama, this lack of democratic legitimacy extended to him as well. This created the opportunity for the Republicans to gain credibility, which they took.

                    Without the destruction of crucial norms of democratic governance by the Obama Administration, things could have worked out very different.

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                    • That isn’t true.

                      Obamacare was a clearly expressed campaign promise that was delivered. It was popular enough to get him elected easily, and its provisions are popular to this day. And it has achieved a great many of its goals at lower than projected costs, thereby functioning just like the good-but-imperfect policy it always was.

                      The propaganda effort also wasn’t nebulous. McConnell was clear about it from before Obama took office.

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                      • No, not even close. Mr. Obama defeated John McCain for any number of reasons, most of which had nothing to do with Obamacare. And Obamacare as it came from Congress was much different than what candidate Obama promised on the campaign trail anyway, ie, keeping your own doctor and no individual mandate.

                        Moreover, it’s irrelevant even if it were true. The American people don’t give up their sovereignty (or least didn’t until Obamacare) just because an election is over.

                        Most importantly, above all else, President Obama and the Democrats don’t have to concern themselves overly much with the reasons behind why Obamacare was supposedly unpopular when they had the obligation to recognize the simple fact of it, and the constraints implied by that.

                        The whole business about Mitch McConnell and the like is also irrelevant. Whatever Mitch McConnell intended is limited by his ability to execute, and that was limited by his lack of seats in Congress and the White House held by the other party.

                        Mitch McConnell can oppose or obstruct whatever, but if President Obama had something that the people wanted, none of it would have made a difference. Like I read somewhere about the business of Trump conceding (or not), it doesn’t matter. The Cubs didn’t have to wait for the Indians to concede (or refuse to) in order schedule the bus parade. They don’t have control over any veto points.

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                        • He did have something that the people wanted. He had lots of things the people wanted. That you disagree matters about as little as the fact that I believe Bannon shouldn’t have a job at the white house does now.

                          People elected Obama by a huge margin, along with a democratic house and 60 democratic senators. And that crew passed a good-but-not-perfect law. What you call “sovereignty” is really a demand that your preferences get veto power over elections. Which is nonsense.

                          The only real tragedy is that Kennedy died (and then the MA dems shat the bed), so we didn’t also get cap and trade.

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                          • He did have something that the people wanted. He had lots of things the people wanted.

                            Please no. Please please no. I want to say that you don’t believe this yourself, but it’s even worse than that to the extent that it’s even worse if you do.

                            When the American people speak in as clear and loud of voice as they spoke regarding Obamacare, they have the right to the expectation that their voice will be heard, election or no election. Simple as, end of.

                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayU5kw7Kf5U

                            Like Ernie Johnson above, this is an important opportunity, now more than ever, to move forward in a spirit of togetherness and mutual interest as Americans:

                            “I, as lib, who have done so much damage to the body politic have the opportunity to start making amends in the hope of better times in the future for all of us.”

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                            • How did Obama get elected by the margins he did if he didn’t have policies (including expanding health care) that people wanted?

                              You realize a sizable (but hard to nail down) percentage was against it because they supported a public option or medicare for all.

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                              • How did Obama get elected by the margins he did if he didn’t have policies (including expanding health care) that people wanted?

                                Obamacare was carefully timed to roll out after the election, and there were other issues. Election-wise the ACA has been an amazing gift for the GOP.

                                Ted Kennedy’s seat was given to a guy for the explicit purpose of preventing it; Wave after wave of GOP politicians has been elected because they denounced ACA; Wave after wave of Dems have been thrown out of office for voting for it.

                                Obama himself is popular, everyone else supported the ACA at their own risk.

                                You realize a sizable (but hard to nail down) percentage was against it because they supported a public option or medicare for all.

                                And these are the people who are throwing Dems out of office and putting in GOP politicians who promise to get rid of the ACA?

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                                  • Republicans certainly gained seats in the the midterm, but lost the presidency and seats in both the Senate and house in 2012.

                                    The cost of the ACA goes way beyond a few seats.

                                    The Dems went from a super majority because the GOP was (rightfully) despised to losing control of the House (at the next election) and then the Senate as soon as enough Senators who’d voted for the ACA faced election.

                                    If the ACA had been popular, or if the dems had just backed off and done nothing, they would have kept their super majority MUCH longer because there’s no way Ted’s seat would have gone to the GOP.

                                    If the Dems had enacted popular legislation they would have kept the House, they might or might not have lost their Super Majority but they’d still be in the majority in the Senate and thus would now have tilted the Supreme Court Left. The Elderly Leftist Supremes might have been convinced to retire and be replaced by Obama.

                                    The GOP taking power in 2010 across multiple states was huge because of the Census and gerrymandering, the Dems would have been the group doing that if they could have stayed the party of fiscal responsibility for two years.

                                    Imagine the Tea Party never existing because Obama governed like a fiscal conservative (or at least moderate) and the GOP was still burdened with the reputation of being the party of incompetent war, big, irresponsible spending and irresponsible tax cuts.

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                                    • “Imagine the Tea Party never existing because Obama…”

                                      The latest start date I’m finding for the Tea Party movement was in January 2009… within days of Obama taking office.

                                      Add the Tea Party to Isis on the list of things he miraculously founded.

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                                      • The latest start date I’m finding for the Tea Party movement was in January 2009… within days of Obama taking office. Add the Tea Party to Isis on the list of things he miraculously founded.

                                        Hmm… looks like I got the President right but the incident wrong.

                                        The movement began following Barack Obama’s first presidential inauguration (in January 2009) when his administration announced plans to give financial aid to bankrupt homeowners. Following a February 19, 2009 rant by CNBC reporter Rick Santelli on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for a “tea party,”[11][12] over fifty conservative activists agreed by conference call to coalesce against Obama’s agenda and scheduled series of protests, including the 2009 Taxpayer March on Washington.[13][14] Supporters of the movement subsequently have had a major impact on the internal politics of the Republican Party.

                                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Party_movement

                                        Although granted, they were pretty irritated over lots of things Bush did.

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                                    • That Republican politicians, media, and (by extension) voters would not have opposed anything President Obama did with respect to Healthcare does not pass the smell test for me.

                                      I mean there was lockstep opposition to a plan that was at least modeled off of a Heritage plan, and was significantly more centrist than the many in the Democratic party wanted (who, remember, had just won a wave election). I mean a plan that was fine for Romney in Mass. was suddenly the death of liberty when enacted by the federal government. That is at least circumstantial evidence that the lockstep opposition from politicians and the media to the ACA was driven by the political goal of making Obama a one term president rather than a principled decision based on the merits of the ACA.

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                                      • …a plan that was fine for Romney in Mass…

                                        The key word there is “Massachusetts”, not “Romney”. The rest of the Country is no where near as liberal as the state which kept Ted Kennedy in power for 47 years.

                                        That some Dems wanted something more to the left is irrelevant, they put together a plan as far to the left as it was possible to pass. The reported price for GOP input to the plan was supporting “the public option”. And shock, what was middle of the road in Massachusetts was far left in much of the rest of the country.

                                        Most politicians follow, as opposed to create, public opinion. The President is one of the few with a good sized budget and the ability to connect to the media, and that wasn’t close to being enough.

                                        Absolutely the GOP did what they could to fan the flames, but the core of the ACA is to expand coverage to a minority of people at the expense of the majority who were happy with what they had. If I ask “what is in it for me?” and your only answer is “higher prices so we can cover someone else”, that’s not going to be popular.

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                                        • The key word there is “Massachusetts”, not “Romney”. The rest of the Country is no where near as liberal as the state which kept Ted Kennedy in power for 47 years.

                                          No, the key word there is *Heritage Foundation*.

                                          As someone who had paid attention to health insurance reform since we were screwed out of it in the early 90s, the ACA *was the right’s ideas*.

                                          Exchanges, mandates, the lack of pre-existing conditions, and tax subsidies were the right’s *only ideas*.

                                          If you were to wander into think-tanks on the right in 2003 and ask them ‘How do we fix health insurance?’, they would have said: The left’s plan for Medicare-for-all is stupid. People need to be required to take personal responsibility for themselves, so we’re going to require everyone to buy them health insurance, and we’re going to make insurance companies sell to everyone, and we’re going to give them subsidies if they can’t afford it. And people will be able to get a big list of insurance companies in the states and their rates and pick the one that they like.

                                          That was, really and truly, what the *right* was saying.

                                          Here’s a funny little personal history lesson: I was in one semester of *debate class* in my high school in 1991. And the debate topic for that year was, tada, Clinton’s health care reform. When debating against it, we *used the Republican idea* to shoot it down. And, as I said, the Republican idea was…the ACA, basically, where everyone keeps their existing plans(2), insurance companies have to sell to everyone, and if you can’t afford insurance we just give you subsidies.

                                          Arguing about ‘Massachusetts’ is pointless. The ACA is not the Massachusetts plan. But what the ACA did, all the concepts in the ACA (3), were the stated ideas of the right ‘to solve health insurance’ at the time the ACA was written.

                                          And this is pretty easy to prove, because faced with replacing the ACA, they haven’t come up with anything, in six years, that is enough of an alternative to even *pretend* it’s different enough to be something else. (Except floating the *left’s* plan of Medicare-for-all/single-payer.) This is because what the ACA does is pretty much the only ‘free market’ version of health care reform they have ever come up with, and they came up with it in the early 90s. (Or possibly earlier, I dunno.)

                                          1) Of course, their ideas, like trading carbon credits, were something that the right came up with only so they could compare it to the left’s plan, so that would fail and they wouldn’t have to pass any legislation. The second the left goes ‘Fine, we’ll do it *your* way, at least that will be something.’, the right suddenly doesn’t like *their own* way either.

                                          2) Just as much a lie then as it wasunder the ACA, in your plan was a thing offered by private corporations and you could keep it as long as they felt it was profitable.

                                          3) Except the Medicaid expansion. Sometimes the think-tanks liked it, sometimes not and they wanted to extend the credits all the way down where people could basically get private insurance for free. Fair enough.

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                                          • the key word there is *Heritage Foundation*.

                                            Where, other than Mass, was this attempted, much less implemented?

                                            Exchanges, mandates, the lack of pre-existing conditions, and tax subsidies were the right’s *only ideas*.

                                            Lack of Transparency prevents consumers from knowing how much something costs. Force the publication of all costs.

                                            Lack of Transparency also prevents consumers from knowing how safe a doctor or hospital is, and it’s a real challenge to figure out who is good at what. How many surgeries of type X does Doctor Y do a year? What is his success rate?

                                            3rd party pays prevents consumers from having any skin in the game, figure out a way that they do, the HSA isn’t a terrible way to do it but there are others.

                                            In the news recently are drugs off patent (epi-pens for example) which increase in price to crazy levels. Why do we have one pen while Europe has 9 or so? Regulatory capture? Standards set too high?

                                            And yes, I shouldn’t lose my insurance just because I have to move across state lines, so letting insurance be sold across state lines would be good.
                                            And yes, defensive medicine is a bad thing, so tort reform would be good.

                                            Medical mistakes are a problem. There are better ways to address this than lawyers, where the doctors are incentivized to hide their mistakes so other doctors can make the same mistakes. Something like what we do for vaccinations would probably work, and/or what the Air Force(? I think) does for mistakes. Reviewed them, examine them, don’t blame the guy who did it, blame the system and fix it.

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                                            • Where, other than Mass, was this attempted, much less implemented?

                                              It wasn’t. As I said, the Republican’s idea of health care reform was one of those Republicans inventions where the left wants to do something, and the right invents a ‘free market’ concept to argue with so *nothing gets done*. Heaven forbid they actually push to do their own idea themselves.

                                              Lack of Transparency prevents consumers from knowing how much something costs. Force the publication of all costs.

                                              snipped other ways to reduce costs

                                              The base that the ACA (And the Massachusetts plan) was built on was the Republican ideas, of a mandate and subsidies, but the ACA also contains a hell of a lot of cost control measures, something the Heritage Foundation ideas *didn’t bother with at all*.

                                              In fact, as the Heritage Foundation plan attempted to remove many people from Medicaid, which *does* have all sorts of cost control measures in it (Which is why doctors don’t like Medicaid.), it arguably would have made things worse.

                                              The ACA, as it is, has a lot of cost control in it, and has bent the increasing cost of medical care downward, and probably would have bent it more if Medicaid had been expanded everywhere.

                                              Are costs still going up faster than inflation? Yes. Will this need fixing? Yes. Is there more we can do? Yes.

                                              Will repealing the ACA undo all the new cost controls? Yes. Is there any evidence the Republicans care about cost controls? Not really.

                                              And yes, I shouldn’t lose my insurance just because I have to move across state lines, so letting insurance be sold across state lines would be good.

                                              This is all well and good for ‘not losing insurance’ if you happen to be in the tiny population of people who live close enough to a state line, but you do realize it will do nothing about *costs*, right? Costs in health insurance are almost entirely due to medical network costs.

                                              Medical mistakes are a problem. There are better ways to address this than lawyers, where the doctors are incentivized to hide their mistakes so other doctors can make the same mistakes.

                                              If you want to argue that reducing medical mistakes will reduce costs, you are correct. The ACA has a lot of things that attempt to reduce mistakes, and awesomely, a few of them are now ‘baked-in’ to the health care industry, like requiring electronic record-keeping. (Even if the ACA is repealed, no one is going back to paper.) And doctors and hospitals actually started doing a lot of things *themselves* two decades ago, changing a lot of the medical norms to stop mistakes.

                                              The problem is the mention of ‘lawyers’, and the implication that the problem is lawsuits. The thing is…medical malpractice lawsuits are not why medical costs have gone up, as evidenced by the obvious fact the amount of those lawsuits, and the costs of malpractice insurance keep dropping.

                                              http://truecostofhealthcare.net/malpractice/

                                              In 2003, 4.7 million was paid out in malpractice claims. In 2014, 3.6 million was…and let’s not forget, the population *not only* expanded, but the portion of the population accessing medical services went up due to the ACA.

                                              Something that appears to be declining as various industry changes happen is probably *not* the cause of rising health care costs.

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                              • You realize a sizable (but hard to nail down) percentage was against it because they supported a public option or medicare for all.

                                Again, that’s an explanation of why Obamacare was unpopular, which is irrelevant against the fact that it was unpopular.

                                As far as the broader question goes, it could be that a significant fraction of Americans simply changed their mind. As it happens, I don’t believe that. My theory is that a lot of Americans took the Demo side of the health care debate not too much differently than the prospect of Mexico paying for a border wall with the US.

                                When it came to being a serious possibility, they evaluated it seriously.

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                            • When the American people speak in as clear and loud of voice as they spoke regarding Obamacare, they have the right to the expectation that their voice will be heard, election or no election. Simple as, end of.

                              I agree!

                              https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/05/16/most-americans-want-to-replace-obamacare-with-a-single-payer-system-including-a-lot-of-republicans/

                              Koz, as you haven’t been here for a while (apparently?), you’ve probably missed some of the background truths we all accept about ‘dislike of the ACA’ that no one has bothered to repeat to you:

                              1) Americans, while opposing ‘Obamacare’, have much less opposition to ‘the ACA’, and when dissecting even further, have very little opposition to specific *parts* of the ACA. If you list the individual things in the ACA and don’t tell them where they are from, they like *almost* all of them.

                              Which rather indicates their opposition is, to put it politely, ‘philosophical’, and to put it bluntly, ‘they have been told they hate Obamacare over and over so it must be true’.

                              2) There are, basically, two parts of the ACA they *don’t* like:

                              a) The mandate. As most people (I say, although Congressional Republicans are about to prove me wrong.) are aware, that is needed to make the law work.

                              b) The involvement of private insurance companies. They either want a public option or single payer, even if they don’t know to call them those things. Sometimes these are people on the left saying the left should have pushed harder, and sometimes these, inexplicably, are people on the right who are calling for Republicans to replace the ACA with a ‘more liberal’ plan and don’t seem to notice that. (See the start of this post.)

                              That’s it. Those are the parts of the ACA that, if you put in front of people, they sometimes say ‘Yeah, we don’t like that part’. The mandate, and the involvement of private insurance companies, are objected to by moderate amounts of people. I don’t know if it’s a majority, it depends how you ask them, but it’s significant.

                              The *other* parts of the law, everyone is fine with, and fine with by pretty wide margins, like mid-70%. Like ‘Big majorities of Democrats, and almost a majority of Republicans’.

                              Now, whether or not you *agree* with those dislikes is not really my point. I’m just telling you those thing I just said is basically where the *entire site* is coming from. It’s the base assumption here when people talk about how the ACA is ‘disliked’. nevermoor made a reference to this that I think you missed.

                              You can’t just blithely state ‘It polls really badly’, this site is somewhat past that. A perfectly valid response to that is ‘Well, let’s keep the ban on pre-existing conditions and keep the subsidies, drop the mandate, and watch the government go bankrupt trying to cover the death spiral, because that’s what *the voters* seem to want. Because the voters are dumb.’

                              (And none of this has anything to do with whether or not it’s a good law or should or should not be replaced. This is about why people in general *dislike* it. People can dislike good laws, or like bad laws, or even dislike bad laws for stupid reasons.)

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                              • Koz, as you haven’t been here for a while (apparently?), you’ve probably missed some of the background truths we all accept about ‘dislike of the ACA’ that no one has bothered to repeat to you:

                                1) Americans, while opposing ‘Obamacare’, have much less opposition to ‘the ACA’, and when dissecting even further, have very little opposition to specific *parts* of the ACA. If you list the individual things in the ACA and don’t tell them where they are from, they like *almost* all of them.

                                No, no. It’s been a long time since I participated here but I was here for that. RealClearPolitics published an aggregation history for PPACA and the results very clear as it pertained to its unpopularity. It was like a Presidential election in that there were several polling organizations involved, I’m sure some methodologies polled for “ACA” and others for “Obamacare” but it didn’t make a difference. They were all bad.

                                And let’s note that the unpopularity of Obamacare went way beyond polling as well. It’s also in the intensity of the opposition that it created. Many ideas from the government are unpopular, but ACA had some measure of uniqueness in the mobilization that it created against it.

                                That’s to say, that it wasn’t something that the opponents of ACA among the American people were willing to shrug and let slide. And the fallout from the passage of ACA has poisoned our politics since then.

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                                • No, no. It’s been a long time since I participated here but I was here for that. RealClearPolitics published an aggregation history for PPACA and the results very clear as it pertained to its unpopularity. It was like a Presidential election in that there were several polling organizations involved, I’m sure some methodologies polled for “ACA” and others for “Obamacare” but it didn’t make a difference. They were all bad.

                                  http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/09/27/poll-obamacare-vs-affordable-care-act/

                                  And, you missed the actual point that regardless of the name: Americans vastly liked the *actual policies* in the plan. Even *Republicans* are vastly in favor of a few of them.

                                  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/republicans-support-obamas-health-reforms–as-long-as-his-name-isnt-on-them/2012/06/25/gJQAq7E51V_blog.html?tid=a_inl

                                  80% of Republicans like having exchanges.
                                  78% of Republicans like no pre-existing conditions.
                                  57% of Republicans like subsidies.
                                  54% of Republicans like requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance.
                                  52% of Republicans like letting children stay on parent’s insurance until 26. (The lowness of *that* actually startles me a bit. I could have sworn that was up there near 80% also. That’s one of the few things even *Ryan* is willing to keep.)

                                  Again, that’s *just Republicans*, and they like that stuff the least. When you include everyone, even those last three have a pretty solid majority.

                                  The mandate wasn’t listed there, but it polls negative among Republicans and independents, and has somewhat weak support among Democrats. Of course, this is akin to polling if taxes should be lower, while all government services remain at the same level. It’s magical thinking. You can’t have no pre-existing conditions without a mandate.

                                  And let’s note that the unpopularity of Obamacare went way beyond polling as well. It’s also in the intensity of the opposition that it created. Many ideas from the government are unpopular, but ACA had some measure of uniqueness in the mobilization that it created against it.

                                  Yes, in that it is literally the first large proposal ever passed where the opposition party continued to attack for years *after* it was passed.

                                  Surprisingly, if people are constantly told they should hate something, they hate it. Weird.

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                              • Finally, you are quite right in that just because Obamacare was unpopular in 2009-10, doesn’t necessarily mean that a total repeal in 2016 will be popular. Or, in general, that the enactment of Trump campaign promises will be popular with Americans, or even Trump voters.

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                                • I’ll second what Koz said.

                                  Further, IMHO the dems’ leadership was counting on entitlements being almost impossible to remove after enacted to safeguard the ACA. Of course I also think they believed the ACA would work better than it has at reducing expenses and so forth, and that the political expense wouldn’t be this extreme.

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                                  • I don’t think the political expense actually has been that extreme. It’s not like Trump ran exclusively on a “repeal and replace” platform and THAT’S what got him elected. (That’s yer Grandpa’s conservatism…) In fact, he wants to keep the central element upon which the ACA is structured: guarantee issue. And frankly, there’s just no way to keep that in place in the individual market (except cynically, that is, without community rating) without something exactly like or equivalent to the mandate or an more extreme mandate.

                                    Most of the provisions in the ACA poll very well. The only one that doesn’t is the mandate, for obvious reasons. But this is where I think the GOP puts politics in front of good governance: people who don’t need insurance must pay into the system for the entire model to work, whether that system is private or public. Eg, if young healthy employees were allowed to opt out of employer sponsored insurance the whole healthcare insurance delivery system would collapse very quickly.

                                    I mean, let’s get real here (again!): the increase in year over year healthcare costs won’t be mitigated by moving to subsidized private-insurance premiums for the olds and HSAs for the young. Those shots at Freedom!! completely miss how the engine driving increasing insurance and healthcare costs works.

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                                    • Btw, it’s just astounding to me – strenuously astounding – that the GOP persists in this fantasy that healthcare (rather than the politics they’ve created around it) isn’t a primary concern for Americans, but I’m even more astounded that their solution is to not just minimize, but eliminate government involvement in the healthcare delivery “market”.

                                      It boggles. Really.

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                                    • Eg, if young healthy employees were allowed to opt out of employer sponsored insurance the whole healthcare insurance delivery system would collapse very quickly.

                                      Everywhere I can remember working pre-ACA, employer sponsored insurance was an optional benefit. I knew people who declined because they could get coverage cheaper elsewhere, most often through a spouse. I knew people who declined because they couldn’t afford the employee share of the premium.

                                      Everywhere but one place, decades ago, where the company picked up the entire cost. But that was a peculiar self-insurance plan, where the company paid 80% of everything until you reached an out-of-pocket limit, and then the company paid 100%. If you were young and healthy — me at that time — I paid nothing in advance, and didn’t cost the company anything.

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                                      • Is that true generally? Everyone I’ve talked to has said they don’t get a say in whether they want it, just a vote on what type of group plan they get. If even that. Often it’s decided for them.

                                        NEVERTHELESS Michael (clears throat awkwardly…) all things equal, if healthy people drop outa the insurance market the premium price for covered individuals goes up. IOW, healthy people who don’t incur expenses subsidize those who do, and that’s what drives down cost.

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                                      • Everywhere I can remember working pre-ACA, employer sponsored insurance was an optional benefit.

                                        It would perhaps be more accurate if Stillwater said:

                                        If young healthy employees were *forced to pay the entire cost of their insurance*, while still giving them the change to opt out of their employer sponsored insurance, they would. And then the whole healthcare insurance delivery system would collapse very quickly.

                                        People on employer insurance are not paying their full cost, though. For one thing, no income taxes, which automatically means it’s 30% cheaper. (Assuming anyone who has actual benefits is at least in that tax bracket, which seems reasonable.) For another things, employers almost always cover some of it…and you usually can’t opt out of *that*, as far as I know. You don’t get insurance, you just don’t get the money they would have spent on your insurance.

                                        And most importantly, the people who can work are, by definition, *not* the higher users of health care. Some of them are *somewhat* sick, and others get very sick and are covered by the insurance for a while and then CORBA-ing for a bit more, but eventually drop off. But it’s not the super-duper-sick, the people who cost absurd amounts of money. And the rates show this.

                                        On top of that, even if people with jobs with insurance were *equally* likely to have medical problems as everyone else, handing insurance to a random subset of a group of people is always better, statistically, than giving insurance to a self-select subset of the same group that want it. People that *want* insurance probably have some reason for doing so. People that were just handed insurance at a huge discount and shrugged and said ‘Sure’ often don’t.

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                                    • I don’t think the political expense actually has been that extreme.

                                      We’ve been through about three election cycles where it’s been a serious issue, and has caused Dems to either retire or lose elections. Incumbents losing elections is seriously rare.

                                      …people who don’t need insurance must pay into the system for the entire model to work…

                                      This is the wrong discussion, and was the wrong discussion back when the Dems did the ACA.

                                      What the country needed was medical reform (i.e. cost), not medical insurance reform (coverage).

                                      The Dems turned the system upside down, promised all sorts of things, including that costs would go down, and delivered increasing costs, a government mandate on my person, and a broken website.

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                                      • Dark,

                                        What the country needed was medical reform (i.e. cost), not medical insurance reform (coverage).

                                        What is “medical reform”? I’ve never heard that term before.

                                        All I’ve heard from conservatives at this point (apart from dismantling Medicare) is a) HSAs and b) open up competition across state lines and c) “torts!”.

                                        I don’t think any of those constitute medical reform, even on a charitable interpretation. What am I missing?

                                        Add: Ahh, I get it now. Medical reform = costs, yes? The reform the country needed was to reduce cost. Hell, that’s easy…

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                                        • It was my understanding that cost increase slowed over the last five or six years. Thought whether that had anything to do with the ACA is above my pay grade.

                                          We have been through two mid-terms where Republicans picked up seats, a presidential election where Democrats won, and this election, where democrats picked up seats in the Senate and House but lost the strangest presidential election probably ever (though won the popular vote). How you turn this into a clear refutation of the ACA, and the democratic politicians that voted for it is beyond me.

                                          ed. this was supposed to be a response to Dark Matter

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                                        • What is “medical reform”? I’ve never heard that term before. All I’ve heard from conservatives at this point (apart from dismantling Medicare) is a) HSAs and b) open up competition across state lines and c) “torts!”.

                                          Conservatives? The liberals wrote the ACA, aren’t there any liberal ideas for reducing cost short of single payer and price controls? Having said that, let’s make a partial list on why the market doesn’t work and go through it.
                                          Lack of Transparency prevents consumers from knowing how much something costs. Force the publication of all costs.

                                          Lack of Transparency also prevents consumers from knowing how safe a doctor or hospital is, and it’s a real challenge to figure out who is good at what. How many surgeries of type X does Doctor Y do a year? What is his success rate?

                                          3rd party pays prevents consumers from having any skin in the game, figure out a way that they do, the HSA isn’t a terrible way to do it but there are others.

                                          In the news recently are drugs off patent (epi-pens for example) which increase in price to crazy levels. Why do we have one pen while Europe has 9 or so? Regulatory capture? Standards set too high?

                                          And yes, I shouldn’t lose my insurance just because I have to move across state lines.

                                          And yes, defensive medicine is a bad thing (how bad is unclear).

                                          And so are medical mistakes. There are better ways to address this than what we’ve been doing.

                                          I’m sure I’m missing things but this is the conversation which we should have had, and it would have been impossible for the GOP to not get involved because reducing medical costs is something everyone wants.

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                                • Yeah, this. Personally, I think Repealing Medicare and replacing it with insurance coupons for the olds would piss just about everyone off, but most importantly (cuz we’re talking political logic here) the old white folk who consistently vote R. Beyond that, I think getting rid of what’s in place rather than figuring out how to bring down the cost is politically dicey since blowing the thing up and replacing it with HSAs might pass the political smell test for a few months, but not much longer than that….

                                  Add: Problem is, Freedom! demands that no Merkin is coerced into paying into the healthcare pool, even tho Freedom! requires access to that pool for a reasonable price when needed….

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                                      • Yep. Medicare voucher plans, one (usually unstated) feature of which is that over time the cost of the policy will be greatly shifted to the individual, are written to not apply to people on/near Medicare. Privatized Social Security plans only ever apply to people some/many years from taking benefits. Such plans would totally screw the generation behind that group, who has to pay taxes to cover the PAYGO SS and Medicare bills, while trying desperately to save enough to cover their own retirement and old-age health insurance.

                                        Just for the record, note that the Baby Boomers, so often blamed for everything wrong in government policy, have been in that bind for most of their working lives: covering the costs of their parents’ and grandparents’ SS and Medicare, while accumulating a $3T surplus in the SS trust fund.

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                          • And that crew passed a good-but-not-perfect law. What you call “sovereignty” is really a demand that your preferences get veto power over elections. Which is nonsense.

                            That law has cost the Dems a lot of elections. The American people spoke up at the time, Obama rammed it through anyway, and the Dems have been losing elections ever since.

                            That pieces of the ACA poll well doesn’t change the fact that a lot of politicians have lost their jobs over it.

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                            • This continues to be one of the things that everyone on the right side of the spectrum believes is true, but is not even remotely proven. The Dems lost quite badly in 2010 and again in 2014 and 2016, but did well in 2012. It’s likely that the ACA’s polling effected the magnitude of some of those losses, but it wasn’t even close to the only issue at play in those elections. Particularly in 2010, where the economy was barely out of free fall, and 2016, where the Dems had held the presidency for two terms, fundamentals-based models suggested likely Republican victories.

                              On top of that, there’s the question of what the counterfactual looks like. If the Democrats had pushed for healthcare reform only to have it stall and fail in Congress after organizing their party around reform as their main domestic priority, do you really think they would have done any better in 2010? oh, and of course this is all setting aside the crazypants notion that the ACA poisoned American politics, when the GOP had already adopted a strategy of total opposition before anybody voted on the ACA at all. The fact is that the Democrats were going to tend towards losing seats across Obama’s presidency because governing is hard. Their decisions could probably have effected the scale and nature of those losses, but it’s a two-party system. Nobody lives forever, certainly not in our hyper-polarized times.

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                          • Just keep digging, dude. He was the minority leader, who was both able to set GOP strategy

                            Well, yes

                            and get his entire bloc to follow that strategy.

                            Because it was the right strategy, which is Republican colleagues in the Senate could see was the right strategy, which was vindicated at the time and in several elections since then.

                            Mitch McConnell is imo the most competent political operator in Washington but still, he’s not Jesus. He doesn’t turn a couple of fishes and loaves into a wedding feast.

                            Mitch McConnell didn’t make Obamacare unpopular. Obamacare made Obamacare unpopular. Mitch McConnell crystallized the perception widely held by many people throughout America, that Obamacare was something that could be opposed root-and-branch. That the results of the 2008 election did not mean that American people were forced to accept some kind of collectivization in the health care economy as a fait accompli.

                            It happened that way because of bad people who did bad things for bad reasons.

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                            • McConnell was certainly tactically smart to prefer losing a full-blown opposition over compromising with a VERY willing president to pass a bipartisan bill. It has paid off politically ever since.

                              I sure hope there’s a way to change that fundamental fact, though, because it will lead to nearly endless gridlock going forward.

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                      • So McConnell hadn’t committed, in advance, to organizing lockstep opposition to everything the Dems and Obama proposed no matter what it was? Odd that he then went and said the opposite.

                        Just like every other opposition party has done with every other first term President.

                        The Dems on this forum have been making suggestions for how to make Trump a one term President (or even less than that), I’m reasonably sure the professional Dems are plotting against Trump as well.

                        Bush x2 opened with nasty feelings which didn’t go away until 911. He was often referred to as “Commander and Thief”.

                        Here’s something they were saying about Reagan: The meeting occurred as delegates praised Cuomo’s stern warnings that continued divisions within the party could enable President Reagan to win a second term and subject the nation to the threat of “economic crisis . . . fiscal disaster or . . . nuclear holocaust.”

                        Good Presidents work around that sort of thing, normally by mobilising public support for whatever they want to do.

                        Obama didn’t have that skill set going into the office. The talk of him uniting everyone was in defiance of his history and resume which showed no such skills.

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                        • There’s a reason you haven’t discussed the actual behavior of Congressional Republicans after Obama’s election in comparison to the opposition party after any other President’s election in modern history. The difference between the two is so stark and so well documented that I just don’t have the energy to recap it again here. Instead, might I point out that you’re comparing what anonymous democrats on the internet said about George W Bush to what Mitch McConnell, the then-Senate Minority Leader, said and did re: Barack Obama?

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              • I think the propaganda machine didn’t really start until after Obama’s first election, when unified Democratic governance caused the need to de-legitimize absolutely everything.

                Exactly.

                I think 2012’s issue was that no one was less likely to connect with inchoate rage than Romney. And the rage machine kept building afterwards.

                Yes, this.

                As we’re nearing the week mark, I’ve become less and less worried. I had worried that I was wrong about all sorts of things, like where the demographics were leading us.

                But I’ve basically given up on that worry, for a few reasons. One, the current mixture of President and Congress are going to be a *disaster* of epic proportions in trying to do anything.

                But most importantly, the thing I really only internalized a few days ago: The left can’t be the targets of the rage anymore. We’re out. We’re done. Your turn.

                It’s why the right, right now, is focused on *demonstrations*. Or talking about Hillary Clinton still. It’s why they’re still trying to find things to complain about. The rage still exists, and it will continue to exist. None of the people operating the rage machine have any real incentive to turn it down.

                If Donald Trump knew what was going on, he could maybe do something about that, but Donald Trump, I am starting to become convinced, is, on in addition to all his problematic personality traits, sorta really stupid. Like maybe dumber than Bush (Who was not really that stupid.) stupid. Con-men don’t have to be *smart*.

                And at some point, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of their lives, the Trump administration and Republican Congress will do something stupid, either jointly or by having a war with each other.

                And the rage machine will *tear them apart*.

                I am halfway wondering if Trump’s cabinet choices are already doing that.

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                  • Is he wrong? Or are you happy to ignore accuracy, facts, or truth if you think you can score a point? (Score on who, or for what game, or who is even keeping score I dunno. But clearly, it’s a game some people love).

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                  • I would like it on the record that I have *repeatedly*, both before and after Bush left office, said he wasn’t dumb, at least nowhere near as dumb as people seem to think he is. Not a particularly coherent speaker sometimes, yes, dumb, no.

                    He was a guy who was *incurious* about a few specific aspects of the presidency, and thus Dick Cheney managed to get a few things over on him before he caught on, but he was not dumb. I mean, I don’t know if he beats Clinton intelligence, but it might be interesting to have some sort of contest.

                    Trump is *also* not particularly coherent speaking, in an entirely different way, but that’s not why I think he’s dumb. (Although any *intelligent* person would have, perhaps, stopped saying ‘big league’! Really?)

                    I think he’s dumb because he is apparently is so superstitious that he didn’t want to jinx himself by trying to figure out any of his future job responsibilities before winning the election.

                    I think he’s dumb because he thinks he can continue to live in New York.

                    Now, it’s *possible* those are all media lies. A slander campaign or something, I dunno. But to continue…

                    I think he’s dumb because he doesn’t seem to understand that his cabinet choices are *insanely bad* WRT his campaign promises.

                    I think he’s dumb because he doesn’t seem to understand that if he promises that his business interests will be run by his kids, he can’t then have his kids as advisers.

                    I think he’s dumb because he’s managed to fundamentally alter his transition team twice in a single damn week.

                    I think he’s dumb because he’s declared war against some of the #nevertrump advisers who have, in horror, tried to extend an olive branch to someone who has no idea what he’s doing because they realize that this is the actual real-life situation we’re in.

                    It is entirely possible I’m wrong. But this isn’t me deciding ‘Oh, Bush screws up his words, he must be dumb’ or ‘Trump can’t talk in a straight line, he must be dumb’. This is me looking at his actual behavior in just one week, and realize it’s a *complete mess*. Just multiple WTFs.

                    Not that it wasn’t a mess before, but *before*, he was balancing all sorts of competing interests and, in theory, try to manipulate the press and stuff. The transition, I would argue, actually gives us a much clearer view of the real Trump…and it’s a guy that is completely and totally over his head.

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                    • Well, much like using the term “fascist” to describe McCain, and Romney, and Bush for that matter, it kinda sucked that, by the time that Trump showed up, “fascist” lost its sting.

                      Pity about Dumbya spending 8 years being dumb, and Reagan being dumb. HW was kind of smart, I guess, but he was one of those Ivy League guys who just didn’t give a crap about anybody but people who were already the Boston Brahmin. He flew above the wreckage from Hurricane Andrew in a helicopter, for God’s sake!

                      What do you mean the townspeople aren’t showing up?

                      Wolves are very, very bad things!

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                      • And Kerry was an unamerican wuss who probably didn’t deserve those purple hearts anyway. And purple hearts are sort of stupid and shameful anyway, so lets mock the whole idea.

                        This is a fun game, but other than Jaybird being Jaybird I’m not sure why we’re playing. Do you not think Trump is kind of stupid? If so, please show your work. That would be interesting.

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                        • “This is a fun game, but other than Jaybird being Jaybird I’m not sure why we’re playing.”

                          Jaybird, the thing you need to realize is that the people talking about Trump’s racist fascist supporters actually do believe that the large majority of Americans are fascistic racists. They aren’t just engaging in rhetorical excess. They honestly do believe that five of every seven people you meet thinks black people are genetically inferior and the police should have total freedom to do anything they want.

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                          • Nah. I read a “counterfactual analysis” earlier this morning that concluded Bernie wouldn’t’ve performed any better amongst blacks, hispanics, whites, any other race, any of the various income brackets, any of the various genders, or any educational levels or religions, than Hillary did.

                            I could link it for you. Then you’d know it was true.

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                          • Maybe… but we’re running the risk of thinking that anyone other than HRC could have beaten Trump.

                            Time after time after time I proclaimed Trump couldn’t go any further, and I was always wrong. At every step I underestimated him, at some point I have to wonder if it’s something other than luck, especially with people like Scott Adams dissecting his moves.

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                • But most importantly, the thing I really only internalized a few days ago: The left can’t be the targets of the rage anymore. We’re out. We’re done. Your turn.

                  The last time the GOP was in charge we got an expensive new entitlement, war poorly fought, and an unpaid for tax cut. I used to joke that they were spending money like drunk dems.

                  We’ll see if they’ve learned their lesson and will do something for the economy rather than spending other people’s money.

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                    • IMHO we’ll be very lucky if we get one useful overhaul of anything before the spending begins.

                      Trump didn’t run on a pro-growth platform, that sharply limits his ability to make structural changes, assuming he even knows what would be useful which is also doubtful.

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                      • Trump didn’t run on a pro-growth platform, that sharply limits his ability to make structural changes, assuming he even knows what would be useful which is also doubtful.

                        Trump ran on a pro-*great* platform, and growth is great, right?

                        Trump promised tariffs, and trade wars cause growth if by growth we mean ‘not growth’, right?

                        What limits his ability to make structural changes is the fact he has very little idea how anything at all works. He is, basically, the opposite of a wonk. He is an anti-wonk in every field, with perhaps an exception in real estate tax law. (I mean, hypothetically, he *might* be good at that?)

                        Also limiting his ability: Congress is going to want to do specific stuff that they already thought of. Trump ran on some policy positions that we might, in some former life, call ‘compassionate conservative’. I.e., he wants to get rid of the ACA, but he wants to make sure everyone is cared for.

                        And I think, possibly, we’ve been underestimating him, in the sense that he really does think he can help everyone, and when Congress shows up with a bill turning Medicaid into *smaller* block grants, or with a bill just repealing the ACA, he might say ‘Wait, okay, this needs changing, sure, but you can’t just throw these people under the bus. I said I wasn’t going to do that.’

                        It’s really hard to tell with Trump. Trump is the kind of guy who will steal from lesser people, but he *does* care, to some extent, what people think of him, that they think he’s a good guy, (Witness his totally absurd attempts to be seen as much more charitable than he is.) and, more importantly, that money isn’t going into, or coming from, *his* pocket.

                        In fact, thinking about it, this has jumped to the top of my personal list of ‘reasons Trump will go to war against Congress’: Congress is going to try to do some sort of entitlement reform, and Trump will say no. (This replaces my previous entry, which was ‘Trump tries to build a giant wall and Congress points out he’s insane.’)

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                        • What limits his ability to make structural changes is the fact he has very little idea how anything at all works. He is, basically, the opposite of a wonk. He is an anti-wonk in every field…

                          Where we might see something useful is him stealing other people’s ideas (not a horrible skill for a politician). Ryan makes a proposal, Trump puts a “made by Trump” sticker on it to make it “the best ever” and we’re off.

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              • Yeah, I think Obama/Trump voters in places like WI, PA, MI are pretty simple – the economy was literally falling apart in 2008, Mitt Romney was possibly literally the guy who laid you off in 2012, and Hillary Clinton’s along with her other foibles is the bitch you’ve been told to hate since 1992 by the vast majority of the media.

                I forget who said it, but a reporter who talked to a RNC operative said there was internal polling that showed that if McCain would’ve went explicitly racial and populist ala Trump against Obama, he might’ve had a chance to beat him, even with the economy collapsing.

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                • That’s the conclusion that I’ve drawn from years of watching voters remain “undecided” until just before the election. They’re not interested in the policies or the history of the candidates. They’re looking for some sort of weird alpha monkey tribal mojo to come through their TV screens during the debates. Hell, voters even prefer taller candidates.

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      • If history is any guide (Andrew Jackson), the only way the Democrats can extinguish themselves would be to redefine themselves as an anti-Trump party, and slowly lose coherence.

        And yet, after 2008, the Republicans redefined themselves as an anti-Obama party, and triumphed.

        People were right to be skeptical about the “Death of the Republican Party” theories that I read in last month’s Atlantic and they should be skeptical about the “Death of the Democratic Party” theories they’ll read in this month’s Atlantic. Lots of people will oppose Trump and the notion of a two-party system is now ossified into our culture.

        The Whigs had another problem contemporary Democrats do not have: they couldn’t form a consensus among themselves about slavery. I don’t see an equivalent issue inducing such dramatic schism today. Like the Whigs, though, Democrats do seem to suffer from a lack of focus on any particular issue: the Whigs as a whole never rallied behind Clay’s American Plan, for instance.

        Perhaps today’s Democrats shall find that equality — something along the lines of demanding that the government treat people alike and with dignity, regardless of sex, race, religion, national origin — can become their party’s mission. That sounds like a rededication to the ideals of LBJ’s civil rights era Democratic party, but it’s the most credible mission for it that I can see at the moment.

        That will require a credible response to the Fear Of The Other which appears to be the motive force behind Trump’s coalition. So far I neither know what that might be nor have I heard of any plausible proposals.

        But that doesn’t mean it can’t exist.

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        • “And yet, after 2008, the Republicans redefined themselves as an anti-Obama party, and triumphed.”

          Well, yes and no. They won the whole shooting match this year, no doubt. But they’re still a fractured party, and the man that was elected to the White House ran on a series of positions that were largely foreign, if not downright the opposite, of what the party’s stated goals and values have been for many decades.

          They run a lot of things on a state level, but I’m not sure how much that means. More so than any other party in my lifetime, there’s no real idealogical cohesion from state to state, or at least from region to region. The Republican Parties up here in Oregon and Washington shares almost nothing other than name with their namesakes in Ohio or PA, and those guys don’t share that much with the folks in the South, who are pretty different from the SW.

          At this point the Republicans are almost more of a brand. Other than opposing liberals (not liberalism), I’m not sure I can name a thing the party stands for at this point. Maybe abortion? Maybe. Past that though, there’s not much.

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  5. joke:
    That’s not going to happen.

    Newt Gingrich just told CBS that Stephen Bannon can’t be an anti-Semite because he worked in Hollywood.

    Welcome to the politics of emotion and nostalgia, brought to you by the hard-right and hard-left. They seem to use one another’s arguments with alarming regularity nowadays.

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        • Mexicans/Latinos/Hispanics and Muslims will bear the largest shares of Othering in the Era of Bad Feelings, and it remains to be seen how Jewish people fare — will the “Judeao-” prefix be forgotten as the in-group’s cultural favoritism of “Judeao-Christianity” accelerates? Similar with the LGBTQ community and women: while I don’t think regression on their advances is a high priority with the incoming government (abortion rights excepted) it’s very easy for me to understand why they’re nervous.

          All of these people are Americans, damnit. No one should have to feel that way about their own government, even if their favored party is out of the majority.

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          • Well, let’s make sure we LISTEN TO and HONOR the people who disagree with this, and think all the various “others” should have to feel that way about their own government, because the Trump party is in the majority (or, at least, didn’t care enough about the issue to vote against tax cuts for the rich).

            I can’t wait to hear their views.

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      • I think there is a lot of truth to this. We are a nation of partianship driven by negative thoughts. I admit to being as guilty as this as anyone else.

        It seems to me that for a democracy to work. There need to be compromises along the lines of “Policy X is very important to the opposition. Even though I really oppose it, I will support the existence of the policy for the purpose of comity.”

        I don’t think anyone is willing to do this anymore. We seem to be in an age of wanting to destroy everything the opposition holds dear or trying to.

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    • Having Bannon come on board, which means not only mainstreaming the alt-right but putting them front and center for policy and public messaging, can only heighten the contradictions which I have been informed by people not expecting to suffer from such heightening, to be a good thing.

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  6. The big issue for the Democrats is the Big Sort. We actually have more Democratic voters than Republican overall, they’re just really concentrated in the urban areas. Evidence for this is that the Democratic candidate for president garnered the popular vote total in 4 of the last 5 and 6 of the last 7 elections. The Republican candidate has won twice by the E.C. overruling the popular vote.

    This is entirely structural and I have no idea what the Dems can possibly do about it. Honestly, our best hope in the short to medium term relies on a fairly predictable over-reach by the Republicans followed by a backlash, if not in 2018 then in 2020. I’m going to predict that Trump is a single termer, quite possibly primaried out by his own party if not impeached. Remember, while the Republicans certainly enjoy being in charge of everything they (as in the Party establishment) don’t like him much more than the Dems do.

    What we’re witnessing this cycle is the failure of the Republican party to prevent his nomination along with the failure of the Democratic party to nominate someone who could effectively counter his candidacy. The Republicans sorely wish they had super-delegates and the Dems are wishing theirs had been smarter.

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    • A living breathing DNC would help a LOT. Gerrymandering from 2010 (aka Hillary ain’t caring about anybody but Hillary) cost the House in 2016. And probably will in 2018 as well, barring calamity and catastrophe (which ARE on the table, we’re talking global recession here)

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    • The Democratic Party picked up Senate and House seats in this election and received more votes than the Republican Party. The reason why they aren’t in control are structural. For the Presidency, Clinton lost the electoral college by losing some key states by razor thin margins. If we didn’t have the Electoral College or some more Democratic voters came out to vote than Clinton would have won. Republican voter suppression efforts in states like North Carolina or Indiana did not help.

      The big sort hurts the Democratic Party in Congress, especially in the House. Since Democratic voters tend to be concentrated in urban areas, where most of the American people live, it creates a sort of natural gerrymander that helps the Republicans. Actual gerrymandering is given a boast by the Big Sort and the Republican Party basically demonstrated it doesn’t want to play fair. They perceive the Democratic Party as such an existential threat to what they consider American ideas that they are willing to do a lot to prevent the Democratic Party from wielding power.

      The real area where the Democratic Party is failing is on the state and local levels. A lot of work gets done on the state and local levels, so ignoring them prevents the Democratic Party from carrying out long term primary goals. We are having instances where Republican state legislatures are using their power at state level to stymie Democratic goals at the county or city level in terms of anti-discrimination legislation, minimum wage laws, and even public transportation spending. State and local politicians also form the farm league for the federal level.

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      • Possible, but bracketing the wisdom of forcing federal politicians from having to campaign in the entire geography, and thereby address regional concerns (albeit sometimes contradictatorily)… we just don’t know how the messaging and strategy would change to focus on certain areas/concerns would impact existing votes and factions.

        It’s like the Bernie scenario… assuming nothing changes maybe he wins; but once you get Bernie, maybe you get Bloomberg… does he still win?

        Maybe voters in CA who might vote Republican but don’t because, well CA… maybe they vote. In a message calibrated for 100% maximal Coastal Resonance… do votes in the midlands flip?

        There is no such thing as a Democratic voter, only voters who might vote Democratic.

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        • I am not sure about the last sentence. Why do so many people doubt that there can be such a thing as a proud Democratic voter? Do you doubt the existence of rock-ribbed Republicans? Do you think that there is no such thing as a Republican voter, only voters who might vote Republican.

          Believe it or not, there are lots of people, including people outside of major cities, that are proud to vote for the Democratic Party and proud to call themselves Democratic voters.

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        • My pet solution is for Maine’s successful ranked choice voting system to sweep the nation, so Bloomberg (or whatever other independent candidate you like) could run without handing the election to Trump.

          It would be very interesting to see what taking away the true observation that not voting for a Democrat or Republican is akin to not voting would do.

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          • Sure, I’m personally open to systems that allow for a multi-vectored factionalizing of the parties (or better, more parties!). But, I’m not sure if ranked voting is that or really just a way to make sure that the safe bet (e.g. incumbent/establishment) always wins.

            I could be persuaded, but I’d have to get the simulation app first and see how it plays. I say you moot it at the convention you’re calling for below.

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            • Rank voting works best when combined with multiple winners – if you’re voting for several seats, the top coalitions divide those seats in proportion to their share of the population. Australia does this for some elections. How exactly you hand people seats has an effect on who gets the last seat, but if most seats aren’t the last one, then that’s not a huge problem. In general, rank voting for multiple winners promotes compromise candidates by making it hard to engineer a particular winner and reducing the value of having any one person win. It’s still game-able (an election that is invulnerable to conspiracy necessarily either gives disproportionate power to some voters or contains a random element), but actually gaming the election by coordinated voting requires a very large conspiracy among the voters, and doesn’t really get them much.

              This isn’t really possible to implement in the US – all of our seats are required to be elected independently. Hypothetically a constitutional amendment could make it work for congressional districts, though. The problem is that many states only have a single congressional representative. For this reason, I think the US is probably a bit too big to really function well. If I were rebuilding the government from the ground up, I would insert another layer between the states and the federal government to even out the representation ratios in Congress, but I haven’t really thought this all the way through.

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              • You don’t need a constitutional amendment for multimember districts. You’d need to repeal a federal law or two, though.

                You can do IRV with single-member districts. It doesn’t produce the same multi-party system, though it can help stray candidates here and there along.

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    • There are several reasons I think our constitution is reaching the end of its useful life. The paramountcy of rural over urban areas and states was baked in since the beginning. But what might have made sense at the end of the XVIII century, when land and real property was still the main source of wealth, does not reflect XXI century realities.

      Just as the rural America does not like, and it’s fightingthe changes in culture, society, and the economy, using the excess leverage the Constitution gives them, urban America will start to resent being a political minority when they are the majority of the population, and generate and hold the majority of its wealth.

      The Constitution we have is an improved version of the Holy Roman Empire at its peak (before the Reformation and the Thirty Years War turned the emperor into nothing but a nominal figurehead). But what worked for a federation of quasi sovereign states with limited interaction between them (look at the states’ sizes and distances with the eyes of an XVIII century traveler) no longer works in a homogeneous consolidated economy, and a society of instant communication and fast mobilization.

      The Big Sort is just exacerbating the contradictions. Wealth and economic growth, both personal and societal, are concentrating in a few states, and a few regions within those states.At the same time, these regions, all of them urban, are losing more and more political power. The rural regions are usually NG their built in advantage to, through gerrymandering, dilute or concentrate the urban vote is less and less circumscriptions. 2020 will continue this trend.

      This is unstable, to say the least.

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      • Our constitution is more like an idealized and republicanized version of the British monarchy after the Glorious Revolution. The Glorious Revolution Parliament even passed a Bill of Rights somewhat similar to our own but more limited. The President more or less has the same powers that the British Monarch was supposed to have after the Glorious Revolution with the veto being like the Royal Ascent. Congress is Parliament with the Senate replacing the House of Lords and the Representatives being the Commons.

        The people who wrote the Constitution did not take into account all the political changes that occurred in the United Kingdom after the Glorious Revolution. By the time the Constitution was written, the United Kingdom was well on its way to parliamentary government. The post of Prime Minister already existed along with the idea that the Prime Minister needed to be able to support the majority of the House of Commons even if the Commons didn’t quite select the Prime Minister yet. The Cabinet and ministers with distinct portfolios was also in embryonic form at the time.

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        • I think the Senate and the Electors are more like the Imperial Diet (an assembly of the different constituent units of the Empire ) and the Electors of the Holy Roman Empire than like the House of Lords (which was an assembly of individuals, instead of political units)

          But this can become a very nerdy discussion.

          Suffice to say that the Constitution had baked in itself several premises about what the country and the world would look like that were becoming obsolete even before they shaked the sand off the paper.

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      • I think our constitution is reaching the end of its useful life.

        It may be that I am too upset at the concept of such a notion, too married to my own oaths to uphold it, and education about the nobility and philosophical utility of the concepts within the Constitution, to accept this without reflexively rebutting. Our Constitution (as the OP points out) is built to set up mechanisms to bake into the system checks and balances against the excesses of faction. We’ll likely have to use those backstops for the next four years, but I still think those backstops are there. I’m old enough to have seen the pendulum of political power swing back and forth more than once in my lifetime, so unless we start seeing some abrogration of the underlying mechanism, I’m not prepared to grab my musket, emigrate to some other nation, or otherwise get out of the system.

        If I’m wrong, and your notion is right, then at least let the reform be peaceful and legitimate; if there must be schism, let Czechoslovakia rather than Yugoslavia be our model. Let us not forget that we have been neighbors and fellow-citizens all along, and that even if the nation spins in different directions, that we may still find common cause and common ground notwithstanding our differences of opinions.

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        • We might see if the Linz thesis applies to the United States. The Constitution used to work because for a long period of time, the parties were not explicitly ideological. A Republican from New England was not the same as a Republican from the West. A New York Democrat was not like a Democratic politician from South Carolina. Both parties have been undergoing a slow process of becoming more ideological. It started during the 1960s or even earlier and has accelerated since 2000. The Civil War and Reconstruction era was the last time the two parties were so polarized in their views.

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        • We’ll likely have to use those backstops for the next four years

          Which do you have in mind? The filibuster isn’t a constitutional backstop (and is likely not long for this world). It’s hard to have a lot of trust in the courts on partisan political issues (which, I know, is not most of judicial dockets), since we are about to be back to the 3 hyper GOP-partisans, Roberts, Kennedy bloc that seems unlikely to undo many political questions. And when I met RBG five months ago she was looking pretty frail.

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          • If the political branches do something contrary to the Constitution because it is popular to do so, and the courts don’t stop them because the people appointed to the bench can’t themselves transcend partisanship, then yes, we’re well and truly fished.

            And yes, it’s happened before that the courts have let us down (Korematsu v. United States), just as it’s happened before that the courts have transcended partisanship and saved us from the demons of our political impulses (Brown v. Board of Education, Texas v. Johnson).

            I wish we didn’t have to say, “It’s come to this,” but it’s come to this, likely for at least the next four years.

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        • It may be that I am too upset at the concept of such a notion, too married to my own oaths to uphold it, and education about the nobility and philosophical utility of the concepts within the Constitution, to accept this without reflexively rebutting.

          You are probably taking an extreme view of what I’m saying. I myself I’m a child of the Enlightenment and see in our Constitution an embodiment of what that one of the best ages of Mankind brought forth.

          As I’ve argued in other threads, the biggest issue with the Constitution is entrenching the [albeit limited] sovereignty of the states. Unlike Europe (*), the states in the USA are not the product of separate historical processes (**). The states add very little (polite way of saying “nothing”) as intermediaries between the Federal Government and the individual in an environment where our economy is completely homogeneous from sea to shining sea, where the 14th Amendment equalized all persons in the polity no matter what state they were, and where, like it or not, our culture is much more alike than different, and even when it’s different, the differences are sorted out in a centralized way -everybody gets to watch the same Fox News, hear the same Rush, and laugh or cringe at the same SNL sketches.

          The states are not laboratories of democracy, either. The cities have been playing that role for decades now, with cities at the fore of gay rights, minimum salaries reviews, drug and immigration reform, and even at the fore of conservative politics (Joe Arpaio is a city product too).

          At this time, the states are an anomaly blocking democratic expression, and a major source of corruption and patronage. Their still excessive power in our constitutional system will have to go. Hopefully sooner than later, hopefully gracefully. And be replaced by cities and counties with stronger, better defined powers to bulk against the federal government.

          (*) Where the non national regions (like Scotland, Catalonia, the Veneto, Bavaria, or Kosovo) reflect real nations with a separate identity, language or religion, and a separate historical process that brought off a distict national identity

          (**) Even if a handful of states have a distinct historical origin -mainly confessional- two centuries of immigration and internal migration have erased those. No one will argue Maryland is a state defined by its Catholic identity or Massachusetts by its low church Puritanism. The founders of Massachusetts are probably turning in its graves that Boston is deemed the peak of USA Catholic identity today. (***)

          (***) HI, AK and perhaps LA are an exception, and so will a future state of Puerto Rico.

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      • Just as the rural America does not like, and it’s fighting the changes in culture, society, and the economy, using the excess leverage the Constitution gives them, urban America will start to resent being a political minority when they are the majority of the population, and generate and hold the majority of its wealth.

        While there are arguments against direct democracy in the form of ballot initiatives, at the state level such can act as a safety-valve in this type of situation. So we see red Arizona do urban-favored things like an independent redistricting commission, a minimum wage hike, and mandatory paid sick leave. In 2004, after the Republican-controlled state legislature in Colorado did not take up renewable energy, voters put in place a mandate for renewable elecricity.

        Mind you, I think initiatives on a national scope would probably be a disaster.

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    • Of course, had the DNC not been so overly committed to electing the first woman right after the first black man, they might have encouraged a larger primary contest. There were only 6 Dem candidates in the primaries, 2 of them were never really serious, and 2 others never really got any momentum.

      The GOP had 17 and as far as I can tell, no favored candidate. So by the time Trump starting to gain traction, the DNC had no one they could pivot to.

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      • Of course, had the DNC not been so overly committed to electing the first woman right after the first black man, they might have encouraged a larger primary contest.

        This is something I don’t have a good sense of. Is it that the DNC decided Clinton was going to be the candidate and blocked everyone else (which I would have no problem with morally, but in retrospect was a mistake tactically) or is it that the Democrats “backbech” (to borrow a term from the politics I am used to) was too weak to support other candidates. It worries me that people on social media were calling for Michelle Obama to run for President in 2020. Is that because they really want her to run, or is she just the only Democrat under 70 they can think of?

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        • Is that because they really want her to run, or is she just the only Democrat under 70 they can think of?

          The latter plus a bit of Obama nostalgia. (“It’d be like Obama was President again, when things weren’t terrifying!”)

          People don’t know a lot of politicians. I’d have to google my US Rep, to be honest, and I’m pretty into politics.

          Actual politicians or people doing politics for a living (reporters, staffers, etc) can probably name you all sorts of talent, some going up, some going down, etc. But the average citizen? They know the name of the President, and what party he is, and after that?

          Very little.

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        • First,
          Hillary’s team actively tampered with the voting machines in the primary so she could win. This is actually not illegal, surprisingly enough. (Do you have a problem with this? You state above that Clinton blocking others is not something you have a moral problem with.)

          The DNC has been hillary’s team since 2008. They LOST the fucking backbench because they didn’t give a fuck about redistricting in 2010.

          The people who know a bit are saying Liz Warren, or Franken, or Feingold, or half a dozen liberal lions. I’ll throw Heidi and Tester and a few other folks into the mix.

          People don’t really want Michelle Obama to run. No, they really don’t.

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        • It’s possible this was just a really bad year for viable & interested candidates for the Democrats, I don’t know enough about what names were getting floated before the primary race began.

          My impression, once the race began, was that the party leadership really wanted HRC to have the nomination, and that they tolerated the also-rans so they could maintain the appearance that the primary voters were making the actual decision.

          Now that I think about it, given the lackluster voter turnout, I have to wonder how much of that is a residual effect from the primary contest.

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          • Pollster suggests it was more a response to hillary voters crowing about how their candidate won the primary, and all the bernie bros were sexist sods.

            Of course, Pollster also says that Hillary didn’t win the primary, Bernie did (after you factor in all the “perfectly legal” tampering with the voting machines she did).

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        • I’ve come to the conclusion that the (D) bench is thin for a couple of reasons, both self-inflicted.

          (1) The Dem caucuses in Congress place much more emphasis on longevity. Some years back, the Republicans intentionally changed their caucus rules in order to season potential young stars. A Paul Ryan — chaired Budget, chaired Ways & Means, Speaker, still under age 50 — can’t happen for the Dems.

          (2) Geography. The Dems are currently strong in the NE urban corridor and the West. The Dems haven’t elected a President from the Northeast since 1960 (56 years), but TPTB for the party are NE urban corridor folks and they keep trying. To some degree, Governor or US Senator is as high as a western Dem can realistically hope to go, absent a western “lightning in a bottle” case similar to Obama.

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          • (1) The Dem caucuses in Congress place much more emphasis on longevity. Some years back, the Republicans intentionally changed their caucus rules in order to season potential young stars. A Paul Ryan — chaired Budget, chaired Ways & Means, Speaker, still under age 50 — can’t happen for the Dems.

            I’ve said it before, the idea of Chuck Schummer as Senate Majority (or Minority) Leader bugs me physically. He might be popular in NY State (I’m glad he’s doing things for his constituents) but he presents the image of a lot of what is wrong about politics.

            Were I a Democratic Senator, I wouldn’t vote for him as Leader ever. But apparently, it’s his turn.

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        • James, I’d submit that Hillary had it mostly in the bag from 2012 on and was starting to put out feelers as early as 2009. After she lost the 2008 contest she presciently threw her political machine and support behind Obama; took a role in his administration then spent the rest of his presidency roaming the Democratic Party basically doing good works. In 2012 Bill lit the convention on fire in his speech on behalf of Obama; it was so good even the GOP at the time was left rubbing their jaws and saying “Man it would be nice if we had one of him on our side.” By the time people started even thinking about who would come after Obama most of the party actors were already assuming/favoring Hillary. That meant that most of her plausible opposition for the nomination basically either said “I don’t want to beat her for the nod this time” or “I don’t think I can beat her this time” and sat it out. By the time the actual primary got under way Hillary had already mostly sewn up the nomination.
          Add in the partisan calculations and the simple fact that the Democratic Parties core base voters affirmatively liked her and that’s how you ended up with HRC. She basically won the nomination through raw massive long term logistics.
          It certainly did not serve the party well; she was evidently unsuited to face Trump and made some massive both long term and short term errors that weakened her further against him but it was not in any particular way nefarious and it’s also not repeatable. The path HRC took to gain the nomination is was unique to her personal and her party’s history.

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  7. I like Heidi. We need more folks like her.
    Democrats are decently good at fighting the winnable fights, even if that means getting a representative out of Idaho.

    No more Dean though — he’s been coopted by the Clinton Machine.

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    • Ain’t going to happen. We have a court press and they aren’t going to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. If the actually start doing their jobs and investigating Trump and other Republicans and even criticizing them or asking tough questions than Trump will just cut off access.

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      • Part of me does kind of wish that the press hadn’t sold its birthright for a mess of pottage, but you don’t need Trump’s permission to be adversarial.

        It’s more likely that the NYT will have no idea why people voted for Trump and run stories like “White Urban Professionals in New York are Troubled by Trade Deal which Limits their Access to Ylang Ylang” on the front page but, hey, maybe they’ll figure something out.

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        • Its television news that is the worst. The NYT has heavily criticized Trump as much as they could even though they paid more attention to Clinton non-scandals than they should have. The Washington Post was excellent in reporting on Trump. Its TV news that was the most fawning because Trump is ratings gold for them. Having the press take an adversarial stance means that television news is going to have to forsake profits for its gate keeper and investigative role.

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          • One problem with this take is that his own words were supposed to disqualify him. So showing hours of his unedited id should have been the best thing to happen to the Democrats. Sure, the GOP primary electorate would go for that racist sexist vulgar stream of consciousness – I mean, that’s what they gobble up on talk radio every day.

            But the general electorate was supposed to be different. Better even.

            I mean, remember when everyone said Hillary Clinton’s best campaign ads were to just show Donald Trump speaking on the stump? Remember when Clinton more or less *actually* did that in her campaign ads? Remember the debate jokes “Secretary Clinton, would you like to respond?” “Nope, I’m good. (grin)”

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            • Clinton’s strategy on focusing on Trump’s negatives did not exactly work as expected. My idea is that Democratic leaning voters tend to respond more to a positive or optimistic message than one based on fear and hate. She and future Democratic candidates need to focus more on what they are going to do for people rather than what Republicans are going to do if they loose.

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            • It turns out that the old adage that you can never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people was really really true.

              I really did believe the general election population would be better (and they were, just in a poorly distributed way for the electoral college, and not as much better as I had hoped).

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              • I was thinking this afternoon in the car, listening to the Obama press conference, (where Obama was trying his mightiest to polish the turd of having Trump as his sucessor – and doing a fair job of it), of those times in the campaign where Trump was interviewed by a friendly, but not devoted interviewer (e.g. Hewitt, Wallace), who tried to spin for Trump right there in the interview, and Trump was having none of it.

                Like the one time:

                T:”Obama and Clinton founded ISIS”

                H:”Oh, what you mean is that their sudden withdrawal from Iraq caused ISIS to form in the power vacuum”

                T:”No, I mean Obama and Clinton founded ISIS”

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                • I heard some of that myself, although the conversations before it were far more fascinating.

                  It was a bunch of seemingly rational people all agreeing the “bad Trump” (you know, the one that endorses war crimes, wants to leave NATO, build a wall, deport all Muslims, and brags about sexual assault) is bad, but thankfully he can be channeled into “good Trump” which, in dim light, passes for something that might be in the same general genus as a Republican. But only when, basically, his staff sits on him and makes him do it.

                  And no one said “This is insane. We’re letting saying “It’s not so bad when his staff keeps him acting vaguely normal” instead of saying “He’s so crazy it takes a dozen people treating him like a child throwing a tantrum to make him seem vaguely normal”.

                  It then went into his 60 minutes bit on health care. Which was “here’s my plan: Better, cheaper. It’s gonna be great”.

                  He has no plan. Although Paul Ryan has a plan, which is to turn Medicare into the ACA, which is hilarious, because he’s simultaneously getting rid of the ACA. (Medicare for people not on it: Subsidies for private insurance. A product that’s about to stop existing).

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        • heh. I’m looking forward to “people are still racist, we need to have more government prohibitions against being racist, maybe we can repeal that First Amendment thing that’s just something racists invented to enable racism”.

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  8. I can’t help but notice Tess’s Freudian slip about November 11th. That’s really what’s happening here: for a significant portion of the population, they’re reacting as they did to the terrorist attack. Or reacting as many people did. There’s the same sense of catastrophe, that history has changed, that what we knew as our country is over. That we can be attacked by the Other.

    It took me a while to realize this. I couldn’t account for the reactions. I mean, I can understand them intellectually, and having been through election losses before, I can sympathize. But there’s a depth to them that I haven’t seen before, and a passion now that I didn’t see on the left side during the election. When I’ve been involved in elections, I’ve never experienced an increase of emotion afterwards.

    Anyway, this is more than grief. This is fear. And not normal, political fear. It’s a 9/11 type reaction.

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