The Coming Debate Slog in South Beach

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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66 Responses

  1. Avatar Marchmaine
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    says:

    While anyone can run for president, it continues to baffle me why anyone can run for a Party’s nomination to run for President.

    My contrarian take is that the Parties are empty vessels more interested in being “The Parties” that dominate the political landscape than being any sort of Political coalition that makes choices on what it means to be a party. These kinds of non-Parties are bad for governance, and ought to have their brand-power broken up.Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to Marchmaine
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      says:

      I think the “party as empty vessel” is a mostly inevitable result of the many ways our system of democracy pushes us towards having exactly two parties. Creating a new party is virtually impossible, and even if you succeed you will quickly find that you’ve displaced one of the old and untenable parties anyway.

      It’s easier to fight to influence, and possibly take over, an existing party.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to pillsy
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        says:

        I agree… but that leads to the strange dynamics of non-Supporter supporters; or party drift vs. party allegiance and all other distortions that make “The Parties” worse than Parties. Since the problems are mostly stuctural vis-a-vis voting rules, I continue to be in favor of alternate voting systems that would naturally deinstitutionalize “The Parties”.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to Marchmaine
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          says:

          Other systems also give weird results. I’m not sure we’re not all just better off trying to understand and negotiate our own system’s weirdness than creating a whole new weird system and finding ourselves in essentially the same place.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to pillsy
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            says:

            I’m ok with weird results… all political results are definitively weird… I’m increasingly seeing the US structure as brittle, and that’s a pre-failure mode that suggests we should explore alternatives especially since the brittleness is structural to our system’s weirdness; that is, its not for lack of understanding.Report

            • Avatar pillsy in reply to Marchmaine
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              says:

              I definitely see brittleness, but it seems like many alternative systems are also experiencing as much, or even more, brittleness as ours. It’s not like I look at Germany, or the UK, or France, or Israel and think, “OK, those folks have this ‘democracy’ crap sorted out properly.”

              [1] All with systems that range from somewhat to extremely more friendly to having multiple parties than ours.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to pillsy
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                says:

                I think there are two aspects there:
                1. Democracy Crap
                2. Sorting out Properly

                Regarding #1, it seems to me that France, Germany, Italy, and even the UK are in fact handling the Democracy Crap better… the fact that Macron could form a party and win the presidential election *in the very same election cycle* is pretty amazing Democracy Crap… that Italy requires both a Left Wing *and* a Right Wing coalition of anti-NeoLiberal parties to form a government is pretty good Democracy Crap. AfD slow rise in Germany is better than an overnight hostile take-over of the CDU, etc.

                Regarding #2, the “Sorting out Properly” I think is reasonably in the realm of political preferences where you and I and others may not agree on the Sorting or the Properly… but #1 is the more important point I’d argue.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Marchmaine
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                says:

                This is a really interesting point and something that we seem bad at addressing. Our party system has its roots in regional power broking not ideology. Capture one and you’ve got one hell of a weapon. But because there’s only two, and they’re big and slow and blunt we don’t have a good way to address change. Instead of having a big center left party and big center right party with some king makers in the flanks allowing for meaningful defection and even some accountability we end up with paralysis.

                I still really don’t envy what they’re dealing with in the UK though. The continental situation seems more manageable.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to InMD
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                says:

                ” Our party system has its roots in regional power broking not ideology.”

                I disagree with this (in part). For one, both Canada and the UK, for example, have distinctly regional parties, that, while not major parties, are significant factors in government formation dynamics. (& Canada much more so than the UK, because of the population of Quebec v rest of Canada vs population of Scotland and N Ireland v rest of UK)

                Also the regional affinity for one party or another in the US often comes down to race, which is frankly more of an ideological base than a actual regional interest one.

                Specifically, one thing I come keeping back to, is that it is very strange in American politics for ‘southern yeomen’ and ‘wall street money men’ to be in the same political party. Which is a connecting thread something Trump is putting some tension on, but also has preceded Trump with many ‘wall street types’ becoming de facto or de jure Democrats due to social issues.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Kolohe
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                says:

                I’m talking about the parties historically, where outside of some particular and notable exceptions (e.g. slavery) they were not ideological like they are forced to be now.

                I’m also not saying there’s something wrong with regional parties per se. Im saying our party system turning over (long spans of) time from primarily regional based to primarily ideological is part of whats driving the brittleness. A better system might have those yeomans and businessmen forming a coalition when convenient but they’d have their own parties better representing them instead of fighting over influence of one giant national.party.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to InMD
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                says:

                “A better system might have those yeomans and businessmen forming a coalition when convenient but they’d have their own parties better representing them instead of fighting over influence of one giant national.party.”

                I like this observation… and responding as well to Morat20’s comment below about horse trading, I’d suggest that we’re trading spherical horses in a (vacuous) Platform.

                If I can flip the narrative from the GOP to the Dems, I suspect counterfactually that Black Interests would have been significantly further advanced had those votes been allocated directly to a Party with independent means to strike bargains and broker power arrangements rather than ride along on the Platform of a National Party.

                There’s a huge difference between having Party with its own Power base and ability to broker deals and legislation rather than having its votes appropriated and hoping and its priorities aren’t degraded (in the interest of practical politics, of course… the other guys are at fault).

                To be sure multi-party systems introduce lots of new problems… Italy’s infamous fragmentation for 50 years after the war… fractious and anti-regime parties… and the ability to marginalize significant minorities/pluralities are either brought forward and/or made explicit.

                So, as always in politics, we’re trading old problems for new problems… I do think its healthier to force us to explicitly marginalize factions than our current passive aggressive marginalization… or worse, our pretend empowerment of coalition partners who’s votes go for legislation that smaller, but more powerful coalition members want. I also recognize that for folks who are committed to either of the parties, this would disrupt this commitment and require a realignment of some sort… even if the coalitions formed along expected fault lines.

                But, like I consistently point out in various gerrymandering debates, the model(s) we adopt should be fair and not designed for one party or coalition to gain an advantage. So, let’s argue the models on those grounds and we’ll all individuallly lose something in the short term… but hopefully collectively gain in the longer term.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to InMD
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                says:

                I’m also not saying there’s something wrong with regional parties per se. Im saying our party system turning over (long spans of) time from primarily regional based to primarily ideological is part of whats driving the brittleness.

                Compare the partisan control of state legislatures in 2010 and today. (I guess I’m the resident mapmaker, so should do that map.) There is no way to look at those maps and deny that something is making the parties regional again.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to pillsy
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        says:

        Any Democracy will move towards an equilibrium of two parties. It might be disguised — you might see two coalitions of multiple parties, but those coalitions will generally be very stable over the long term.

        You do, after all, need a bare majority to enact legislation.

        So it should boil down to two groups, each close in size, with tiny fluctuations determining who gets that bare majority.

        Whether the deal-making is to create a coalition government, or done as part of a party primary or platform, really doesn’t matter in the end.

        People keep hoping different voting methods might break the deadlock. It won’t — it’d just move the argument from a party primary to a sort of post-election rejiggering. Instead of “Environmental issues propelled candidate X to a good showing in the primary, we need to make that part of the platform” you’d get “Candidate X of the Greens did a lot better than expected, let’s make some of his issues ours…”Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Morat20
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          says:

          Your own example shows why it is different. If something a big party fails on causes one of the smaller parties to take some seats somewhere eventually that loss of seats can force a big party to respond. There’s no mechanism for that in our system except what marchmaine called hostile takeover. That’s never stable and its almost never effective either because of how big and difficult our two parties are to steer.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to InMD
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            says:

            No mechanism? We saw it play out in 2016.

            Both Trump and Sanders forced significant changes on each party. Trump by outright winning, Sanders by pulling in a good 40% or so of the party. Sanders did less, but he also lost.

            It’s not as big a change as a third-party candidate sucking down 10% of the vote, but the difference between, say, the Parliamentary model and the US model is the former does the horse-trading after the election, and we do it during the primary.

            The horses still get traded. Whether it’s as obvious to the casual observer might not be the same, but the end result is.Report

            • Avatar InMD in reply to Morat20
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              says:

              I still disagree. Trump has captured the party by grabbing the reins of a hostile takeover thats been in process for 25 years or so.

              This hasn’t changed the party so much as exacerbated its own internal contradictions.Report

            • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Morat20
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              says:

              “It’s not as big a change as a third-party candidate sucking down 10% of the vote”

              This is a reasonable and practical objection to why it is in neither party’s interest to adopt such a strategy under the current FPTP voting structure… doing so would all but guaranty victory for the team that doesn’t do it.

              Another way to look at it, though, is that this is why conservatives are stuck with Trump… if the Never-Trumpers created the NVT Party, it would certainly derail Trump, but at the cost of a guaranteed win for the side they are hoping to defeat.

              So, I understand the objection… but that’s more of an example of why FPTP and other voting changes ought to be looked at holistically. If done appropriately, both Parties would “lose” and other Parties would win, and I’m honestly not sure what the endpoint realignment would look like.

              But, in so far as the objective is better governance and a better representative system, then I’m willing to roll the dice… and why I’m generally critical of various schemes that are nakedly designed to exploit the current divide to the benefit of one of the two Parties.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Marchmaine
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      says:

      A big advantage to the parliamentary system, especially the way the British do it, is that you know who each party’s pick for Prime Minister is going to be way in advance of the election.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Marchmaine
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      says:

      For a lot of reasons that could take a PhD thesis to explain, we seem to live in an age of weak political parties. The idea of a candidate being picked by a bunch of party leaders in a smoked filled room is no longer tenable. Nor does anyone want the 1924 Democratic convention either which resulted in a very weak compromise candidate.

      Your big thing is for new political coalitions but the fact is that you need money to survive in American politics. There is probably an untapped quad for economically liberal (possibly for the “right” people) but socially conservative but this quad has no money and no one willing to join. Economic liberal types can join with well to do social liberals who will make some concessions. Econ conservative, socially liberal can get money from the titans of industry, etc.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        The idea of candidates being picked by party leaders disappeared during the late 1960s. The decline in party strength occurred afterwards.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        Its strange that you go from 20 self-determined candidates to a hand-picked candidate in smoke-filled room. Like there’s no notion whatsoever that a party might vette several candidates to take to their constituencies to see which is preferred and/or the best campaigner. And, if that feels too orchestrated/fixed, then that party risks losing its constituencies to other parties (assuming we can facilitate better party formation) that bring better candidates forward for consideration.

        The second part of your comment is curiously tone-deaf in the sense that if there’s a large constituency in a quadrant that none of the moneyed interests “want” then… that’s a challenge to Democracy that will sort itself out one way or another.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    At this point in 2015, Trump had been running for *ONE* day. (He came down that escalator on June 16, 2015.)

    (Indeed, we’ve already seen Buttigeig go from “seriously?” to “serious”. That’s probably far from the last “I didn’t see *THAT* coming” moment we’re going to have before, oh, the silly season in August.)Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Just saw this on twitter:

      We’ve got plenty of time for gamechanging interesting things to happen.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        That’s a good call from a political standpoint from the Jaybird’s Three Groups of Voters Perspective.

        The people that’s going to antagonize are already not going to support Mayor Pete in the primary, while it will appeal to people who were likely on the fence about him.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy
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          says:

          I also suspect that the people who will be antagonized by it are disproportionately represented on social media… which will amplify the debate something awful.

          Which will help very much with the #2s and the #3s and probably not really have much of an impact on the #1s that don’t exist primarily on social media. (I mean, assuming that it doesn’t spiral out of control.)

          (I don’t know what impact this would have on traditional media, outside of the fact that all of the big names in traditional media are, in fact, on social media.)Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            Yeah but most of the big names in traditional media, despite being on social media, will be pleased by, or indifferent to, Mayor Pete’s announcement.

            And of course I think one of the persistent themes we (should have) noticed in the last couple elections is that social media is actually not a very good guide to what’s going on. Both voters and grassroots party activists tend to be normies.

            Like, really, I wonder how many of them ever thought we didn’t recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel in the first place?Report

          • Avatar DensityDuc in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            which will amplify the debate something awful.

            And there’s those damn goons again.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            It’s going to be a long summer.

            Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy
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          says:

          So far, my favorite reply was something to the effect of “that’s because that’s the only country in the Middle East where he and his husband could live without fear” but it’s in the middle of an ocean of tweets expressing anything from disappointment to anger (“so he’s a Republican” being the cherry I found most tempting to pick).Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        Vox hasn’t really demonstrated why Israel isn’t a strong ally besides the fact that they disagree with Vox’s idea on what American foreign policy should look like at times. The entire far left discourse over Israel, where it is the most imperialistic capitalistic patriarchal colonialist country ever, is infecting how the center-left perceives Israel. Meanwhile, everything that real actual Palestinians say they want in their state that goes against what the Far and/or Center Left believes every country should practice gets quietly ignored because it would be inconvenient. Same with the other Muslim majority states. How many times do they have to say “no Jews” or make genocidal pronouncements about the Jews before people believe they are serious.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to LeeEsq
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          says:

          The real question is why any of that is the business and or responsibility of the US tax payer. Of course it’s completely off limits in the debate except as periodically raised by generally suspect and easily dismissed Buchananite a-holes.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to InMD
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            says:

            Most people who don’t want US money to go to Israel will want it to go to the Palestinians or elsewhere rather than stay in the United States. There are only very few people who would say that the United States should not give money to Israel and the Palestinians.Report

    • Avatar Andrew Donaldson in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      July-aug will be the silliest of silly seasons since only that specific set of polling data is going to be used for third debate in Sept for the wannabe tier of candidates. Should be entertaining but not sure its serving the greater good much. Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      New poll for 2016! (Poll was taken at this point in the cycle in 2015.)

      1.Jeb Bush 22%
      2.Scott Walker 17%
      3.Marco Rubio 14%
      4.Ben Carson 11%
      5.Mike Huckabee 9%
      6.Rand Paul 7%
      7.Rick Perry 5%
      8.Ted Cruz 4%
      9.Chris Christie 4%
      10.Carly Fiorina 2%
      11.Donald Trump 1%
      12.Lindsey Graham 1%
      13.John Kasich 1%
      14.Bobby Jindal 0%
      15.Rick Santorum 0%
      16.George Pataki 0%Report

  3. Avatar LTL FTC
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    says:

    This is going to be an interesting dynamic. Warren, as the front-runner in her debate, should be the target of attacks from the other candidates. Given the presence of Klobuchar and Gabbard (and to a lesser extent, Castro and Booker) it’s possible that a punch landed won’t be written off by the dem-friendly media as just the last yawlps of the angry white men.

    Though taking the “wonk lane” will endear you to the people who care at this point, it also leaves you open to attack. On a stage full of people with little to lose by shining the spotlight on her, there’s a chance we could see the first real critique of her proposals. Castro, who has a detailed immigration plan, may even be able to attack her from the center in a way she hasn’t been exposed to yet.

    Of course, Warren could use the spotlight to shine against the lesser lights. Or someone else could start turning heads. It’s early and the inter-candidate dynamics aren’t apparent yet.Report

  4. Avatar Aaron David
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    says:

    I think the debate groups are as random as a trip to the moon. IE; that everything about these strikes me as staged and managed down to a T. Putting Warren on the kid’s table (and that is essentially what it is) allows her one last chance to shine because if she can’t look presidential against that group of misfit toys, she deserves to get cut. It also clears the way for that with no pressure from the big stars who will very likely suck all the air out of the room. She is the wonks choice, and our media and DNC operatives want nothing more than a white-paper presidency.

    And those same operatives get to have a big(ish) show with Biden and the Bern fighting it out the next night. The ninety-second hold on resposes gives time to signal and not time to really dig into things. All the while looking like they overcame the failures of last time out, what with the appearance of rigging the primaries.

    The whole thing could work really well, or it could be a dumpster fire of epic proportions.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    A ping pong tournament would be more effective than debates with this level of candidates.Report

  6. Avatar InMD
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    says:

    My hope is Warren mops the floor with the JV set if for no other reason than the actual contest needs her perspective. If the Bernie-esque critique of late capitalism is going to be defeated (not something I particularly want but my personal preferences don’t matter) then it needs to happen against someone whose D creds aren’t so tenuous.Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    I suspect large debates like this are more like giving a stump speech broken up into segments. So I agree with your slog assessment. The Slow Slog of South Beach for the purpose of aliterationReport

  8. Avatar North
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    says:

    This debate is the tribute that the party will pay to the various spins and lingering complaints that came out of 2016. Then, once the pinch of incense has been burnt to the gods of “Everyone gets a fair shot” the bar will be raised for debate # 2 and all the candidates who continue to fail to launch will be out in the cold. At which point the political reapers scythe can be expected to swing in earnest as the winnowing begins.Report

  9. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    I may watch the first night just to see if they have a climate-change question, and if they give Inslee a chance to answer it. IIRC, across all of the 2016 debates, there was exactly one climate-change question. (Yeah, I know, I’m one of those weird one-issue people — keeping the lights on without cooking the planet.)Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Michael Cain
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      says:

      For that, the important discussions would occur during the Chinese presidential primary debate concerning their new grid policy.

      China Will Build Wind and Solar Only If Their Price Is Less Than Coal

      Conclusion

      China is cutting back on solar and wind units due to their cost, the ballooning subsidies the state owes the solar and wind power builders, and the lack of grid-connected transmission capacity. It has now placed the financial responsibility for the units on the local governments and required any solar or wind power built to be cheaper than the benchmark coal price.

      It also points out that the Chinese have 250 GW worth of coal plants currently under construction, which is more than the entire US coal plant capacity. I haven’t checked their election schedule, but it’s sure to be a hot topic on the debate stage in Beijing.Report

  10. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    I saw two tweets today that told me that Trump was going to be President Forever.

    Tweet the first:

    Report

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