Joe Biden Won’t Restore America’s Norms

Eric Cunningham

Eric Cunningham is the editor-in-chief of Elections Daily. He is a lifelong resident of western North Carolina and graduated from Appalachian State University. You can follow him on Twitter at @decunningham2. @decunningham2.

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142 Responses

  1. Chip Daniels says:

    And so the pearl clutching begins.

    When the Republicans play political hardball, it is just politics, but when Democrats do it, it is the Death of America.

    What is especially hilarious is the furious denunciation that Democrats “fell entitled to power”.

    The nerve! The audacity to imagine they are entitled to govern even though they *checks notes* win more votes than the opposition.

    The next act in this game is the sudden rediscovery of the budget deficit.Report

    • If you want to see hardball, wait until a packed court makes a controversial ruling and nobody follows it.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Eric Cunningham says:

        I don’t see that happening, at least not at the personal or federal level. I can picture a “sanctuary state” mentality developing, though.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Eric Cunningham says:

        A couple of times on this site, I have invited conservatives to paint a picture of what a dystopian leftist America would look like.

        Because when conservatives do this, the world they picture looks either freakish implausible, like forced abortions or something, or it just sounds like something that most Americans wouldn’t mind so much like abortion being freely available everywhere.

        So like this comment- what court ruling do the conservatives imagine resisting?Report

        • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Off the top of my head religious freedom would be a big one for conservatives. Charitably religious organizations and religious individuals being able to operate according to the tenants of their faith and consciences. It’s definitely something left wingers keep taking runs at, especially in academia.
          Less charitably: religious freedom for institutions that are religious but simultaneously have their snouts plugged into the public fisc. Religious schools leap to mind.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

            Sure, religion is an easy example, for the exact reason that the First Amendment has two parts, the establishment clause, and the free exercise clause.

            Most religions demand that adherents do two things, one, practice the rituals, and two, demand that everyone in society practice the rituals.

            Since the Enlightenment most religions have scaled down their requirements for the second part, but it still exists.

            Whether through passive or active means, religions are constantly trying to make their preferred way of living the only option available. Or at least, they are the ones who are seeking out that boundary between “proselytizing” and “coercively enforcing”.

            In modern day America, “Religious freedom” is all about the establishment clause, because no one anywhere is infringing the free exercise part.Report

            • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Heh, I love those two steps, once you get woke enough it becomes awfully hard to tell it apart from religion, except since intersectionality is “not a religion” it isn’t subject to any of the restrictions religions face in the modern world.Report

            • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              The rituals? No, not the rituals. Most Christian denominations wouldn’t want you partaking in the rituals if you’re not a believer. Islam makes no such demands; ditto Judaism. AFAIK none of the other majors have that expectation. They all recommend what they believe is a good way of life, though. I think Judaism spells this out nicely with the Noahide Laws being applicable to everyone. (Believe me, no Jewish person cares if you eat shellfish.)

              When you boil it down, nearly every religious person in the US is simply promoting what he sees as a good society, not a usurpation of the state.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          A couple of times on this site, I have invited conservatives to paint a picture of what a dystopian leftist America would look like.

          I have missed this.

          I will write a post.Report

        • Aaron David in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          A couple of times on this site, I have invited conservatives to paint a picture of what a dystopian leftist America would look like.

          I am not a conservative, but I wrote this almost four years ago:

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Aaron David says:

            I’ve read it, and its quite good.

            I just didn’t see what makes it a uniquely leftist dystopia, as opposed to any other society in which there are hierarchical castes, and the lower caste does all the menial labor.

            Aside from the genderless pronouns, what makes you think of it as “leftist”?Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              We see this move with “conservative media” as well.

              “Why do you consider those to be conservative values? Those are universal values.”

              And we hammer out that there are only universal values and progressive values.

              When it comes to dystopia, we can play a different game. “What makes this a progressive dystopia? That’s a universal dystopia.”Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                Presumably you have answers to your rhetorical questions. Or maybe not.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                I wasn’t asking rhetorical questions. I was pointing to the questions as examples of a particular counter-criticism when we discuss whether any given piece of art is “conservative”.

                If you’d like to see us play the “Why do you consider those to be conservative values? Those are universal values” game, you can do so here.

                And I was merely noting that we were seeing this same trick being used with dystopias. “What makes that a leftist one?”

                It’s not a rhetorical question. It’s a question that has an answer… just like “Why do you consider those to be conservative values?” is when we discuss Conservative Art.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                I certainly don’t want to see a repeat of the referenced comment thread, and I’d have a hard time imagining anyone else has an appetite for a repeat.
                If the question is a real question with a real answer, anyone — even you — is free to try to answer it.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to CJColucci says:

                “Games”, “moves”, “tricks”…

                The only winning move is not to play.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                There *ARE* conservative values. Shows that demonstrate these conservative values are conservative shows.

                The issue is one of “ranking”. Like, Value A is a 10 for conservatives and Value B is a 3, and Progressives have Value A be at a 3 but Value B be at a 10.

                And so a show that is primarily focused on Value A gets called out as having a universal value because, hey, Progressives have this value too.

                They just have it at a 3.

                (There’s also this phenomenon where “Conservative” is immediately interpreted as “Mainline Evangelical Christianity” and if it’s Mainline Evangelical, it’s Conservative and everything else is pretty much out there in the public domain. So Veggietales is “conservative” and uncontroversially so even though the show talks about values that everybody (even progressives!) has (if only at a 3).)Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Or of course trying to separate values into conservative or progressive is inherently difficult and fraught with problems. It’s likely to more partisan framing of values to present one side as good and the other as bad.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                It’s just weird that, when we start discussing whether a particular entertainment is “conservative”, it gets pointed out that there are only two kinds of values:

                Universal and Progressive.

                Oh, three I guess. “Mainline Evangelical Christianity” being the third.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Ahh…ummm… Huh? That wasn’t remotely what i said. Not even in the ballpark.

                The desire to pigeonhole specific values and entertainment as residing solely in one of two crude political descriptors is always going to be problematic. Some entertainments certainly aim at demographics but that is a lot more than just C or L.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                If a Conservative said “man, there are a lot of Liberal shows on the television”, would you understand what s/he was saying?

                Or would his/her complaint be completely incomprehensible to you?Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                I could guess the heuristic they are using. It doesn’t change my point. What people talk about are cultural sign posts more than values. Is love of family a value: yes. Is it a conservative value or a liberal value. Well now that is how everything gets silly. Very little of the difference is about values but about hot button issues or style.

                So La Cage aux Folles is a “liberal” show about family and love but it is positive about gay people. This is opposed to what… 7th Heaven maybe as a conservative show ( leaving aside Collins ick factor). They are both about love of family as a bedrock value.

                The more you try to separate values into American political labels the less you are talking about values and more about a host of other things.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                I’m sure it doesn’t change your point but neither does your response change our theoretical conservative complaintant’s.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                When people talk about values they are talking about a politically framed commercial version of values where if you believe in value Z then you must believe in this list of cultural signifiers/ policy items. That isn’t a discussion of values it’s a debating trick. Plenty of C’s go for that, it doesn’t make it a discussion of values. And lord knows if you don’t check every box in the list of signs and symbols then to hell with you. That is the monetization and manipulation of what i’ve heard refereed to as the toxoplamosis of rage.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                I get your argument, Greg. I understand it.

                But the problem is that I also understand where our theoretical complaintant is coming from. Like, worse than that, I don’t think that s/he is even wrong. They have a point.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          I’m not a conservative, but Venezuela is an obvious example of a terrible outcome of left-wing policies. The big concern is a chain reaction, where bad government policies lead to bad outcomes which are then used to justify doubling down on the bad policies.

          This is basically what’s happening in the housing markets of many cities. The government makes it hard to develop housing, so housing prices naturally rise. The rising housing prices are then used as a justification to block development of more market-rate housing, leading to a housing-price death spiral, which reduces real wage growth, which in turn drives more left-wing populism.Report

        • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          picture of what a dystopian leftist America would look like.

          1) Dismantling of rule of law.

          “Believe all women” was implemented on college campuses by Obama and in practice that meant “accusation means guilt, no defense allowed”.

          2) This strong desire they clearly have to change the rules after the fact so they win and keep winning. Court Packing. Manufacturing of “new” states.

          3) There is a conflict between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. You can pick one or the other and the Left clearly is going for “outcome”.

          On that recent equality of promotion for firemen thread, for all of RBG saying how she wouldn’t just a statistical outcome to claim there was a disparate income, that seems to be exactly what she did.

          So, we could expand “Affirmative Action” to things other than colleges, and AA in practice means preventing Asians from having equal opportunity because they’d be too successful. Equal-pay-for-women, if we go this route, means a male doctor who works 70 hours a week in a high-pressure specialty needs to be paid the same as a 40 hour a week female doctor who doesn’t.

          4) Increased dominance by government unions. We see this a lot in Chicago and California where the gov union pensions are going to bankrupt the states.

          5) Dismantling the police. CHOP was the solution for dealing with mostly-non-violent “protesters” demand for “police reform”.

          6) Breaking the budget for (new) entitlements. So we have Medical Care reform and discover that the many trillions of money it takes is new money and an underestimate.

          7) Enacting serious Chicago style gun control laws and getting Chicago style results.

          8) Dismantling the economy in the name of fighting inequality. This includes everything from making sure the next Amazon needs to be created in a different country to making sure the most productive elements of society spend a lot of time hiding their money from the gov’s efforts to take it.Report

          • greginak in reply to Dark Matter says:

            Cops haven’t been dismantled and it is not happening. Firing IG’s investigating the prez is anti rule of law. New states have been admitted before; we didn’t start with 50. Breaking the budget…..I ….huh…LOL…..yeah trump breaks the budget then R’s whine about D spending. Right on cure. Dismantling the economy: god damn do R’s have anything that isnt’ hysterical hyperventilating. The Econ is going to go along in the same general sense as before. Sure there may be some changes but it ain’t being taken apart. Get serious.Report

            • George Turner in reply to greginak says:

              Police in Minneapolis, New York, Seattle, Portland, and many other liberal cities have taken a pretty big hit. Needless to say, their homicide rates went way way up. New York has 177% more shootings than last year. Cities are still burning.

              And new states have been admitted before, but the last time we were adding states to try to decide control of Congress, it was whether we should add slave states or free states. Things did not go smoothly.

              Biden wants to vastly increase taxes, which hurts the economy, go to a national $15 minimum wage, which would badly hurt small businesses in many states, and thus hurt the economy, and he wants to eliminate all fossil fuels, which will basically stop the economy in its tracks because nobody could go anywhere, as virtually all our vehicles run on fossil fuels. Electric cars wouldn’t work because the electric grid would’ve collapsed. Venezuela should be a warning, not a roadmap.

              Remember when Obama told us Trump couldn’t wave a magic wand and do better than Obama/Biden’s anemic growth rates and high unemployment? I remember.

              Of course during the last debate Biden claimed he’d never said he’d ban fracking, and dared Trump to post the videos of him saying it. So of course Trump posted the videos, and Twitter flagged them as misinformation, which in a way is apt because everything Biden says is misinformation.

              Of course Biden also claimed that not a single person lost their health insurance because of Obama care, not a single one. Well, I did. Millions of others did too.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

            Again, where are the victims in this dystopia?
            Who has suffered and for what?

            All you are really doing here is listing laws and policies you don’t prefer.

            What’s even more amusing is that I was asking for some examples of “dystopia”, something nightmarish if liberalism were to run amok.

            And what we get is, “Uh, well, maybe the liberal hellscape will be like Portland.”

            So even in the wildest imaginings, no one in the liberal hellscape is getting arrested, no one is being tortured, and no one is starving.Report

            • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              They’re just be assaulted, stabbed, shot, and their businesses are burned down. Meanwhile they have to pay insane rents and outrageous taxes for the privilege of stepping over needles, drug addicts, and human feces when they go outside.

              Other than that, it’s great!Report

            • Aaron David in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              At this point Chip, you have been provided with enough examples of the left/Democrats actions that diminish individual rights that it is only fair to say that you do not want to have a conversation about this. You move the goalposts so far and so often as to beggar belief.

              You have been given examples of actions of the left/Dems that have been perceived as rights reducing, and the redress of which cost the Dems politically (AWD). You have been given an example of how universities have followed the directives of left/Dems and been sued for depriving people of their rights (Dear College letter). Others, Brandon and Dark and Pinky have all explained how other aspects of the current left will damage the rights of others, and all you can say that these aren’t rights you particularly care about.

              I am done with this. You clearly don’t want to have a conversation, and cannot accept that other people see things differently than you.

              Through your written words, you are the very reason we have these enumerated rights.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Aaron David says:

                Portland. Venezuela. Any other candidates?Report

              • Pinky in reply to CJColucci says:

                I hope that’s an inquiry, rather than an argument. The question on the table is what would a theoretical leftist dystopia look like, and people have listed real-world examples. It’s not just “what could go wrong”, it’s “look at that dead body over there”. More than that, they’ve shown the processes by which leftism leads to those catastrophic results.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Pinky says:

                Well, Portland isn’t bad and Venezuela isn’t happening here. If either of these is someone’s version of left-wing dystopia, then it isn’t anything to worry about.Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Again, where are the victims in this dystopia? Who has suffered and for what?

              A dystopia created by the Left would presumably have the problems the Left already has but on steroids.

              California already has blackouts occasionally. Ergo it is trivially easy to picture massive blackouts for the entire country if the Left turns off Coal, Oil, Nuclear, etc to fight global warming.

              Similarly, it’s trivially easy to picture the dismantling due process for sex crimes because they already did so on college campuses. There are scores of cases in the courts where people who can prove they were innocent. Given it takes serious resources to do that one assumes there are MANY scores of poor black males who were also stripped of due process.

              And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The World Wide Left has the nasty habit of inflicting vast levels of economic damage. It’s easy to picture Venezuela because we already have Venezuela. We also have mainstream Dem politicians pointing to Venezuelan’s command and control policies and claiming we should expect Northern Europe if we do that.

              even in the wildest imaginings, no one in the liberal hellscape is getting arrested, no one is being tortured, and no one is starving

              Do we really need to go over what has happened in various Left experiments world wide? It is normal in countries which try this seriously to see starvation.

              You and I recently talked about the “reformed” China which is apparently engaged in for real genocide via forced sterilizations and mass arrests on a insane scale. This sort of thing is FAR from how bad it can get if Leftist ideology is taken to it’s extreme.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Your imagined dystopia doesn’t sound very bad, frankly.

                The occasional blackout? Guys getting expelled from college? That’s it?

                “Oh, b-but the Chinese Uighurs!!”

                So in the leftist dystopia women are being sterilized against their will?
                Forced to carry pregnancy to term?
                Having their children ripped from their arms?
                Young men being are shot with impunity by cops?
                Asylum seekers are tortured into signing papers?

                See, this is why I keep asking for this, because the leftist dystopia inevitably relies on horrors that are actually happening or have actually happened in America.

                And the imagined resistance to such a dystopia would necessarily rely on things that the left wants, like police reform, empowerment of women’s reproductive choices, stronger rights for immigrants and a rollback of the security state.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Your imagined dystopia doesn’t sound very bad, frankly.

                If that’s your opinion then I suggest you check out the real-world leftist dystopias.

                Sacrificing individual rights to collective rights and collective identity tends to go to VERY dark places. That concept has been at the root of most atrocities the world has seen in the last century. Not just the Communist states either, Nazi Germany and the Somalia Genocide grew out of those.

                And if Genocide seems unlikely in the US, making an economic mess of things isn’t.

                “Oh, b-but the Chinese Uighurs!!”… the leftist dystopia inevitably relies on horrors that are actually happening or have actually happened in America.

                China has arrested 20% of the Uighur population for the crime of their race and seems to be in the process of sterilizing them.

                What is the USA doing that’s even slightly similar?Report

              • California has blackouts because our regulated utilities can’t stop their power lined from starting fires in hazardous weather, and that’s because they skimped on maintenance to goose profits. That’s not a “leftist’ problem.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                During the 1990’s, California built zero major new power plants (wiki).

                One assume both their economy and population increased so the need for energy presumably went up a lot.

                Further mismanagement of utilities in a Leftist dystopia is somewhere between possible and expected. Venezuela has both massive energy reserves and blackouts.Report

              • We’re not short of power. We weren’t short of power back in the early 2000s either, other than Enron getting plants shut down to game the system. The only reason we’ve had blackouts is an excess of capitalism.Report

          • Swami in reply to Dark Matter says:


            “There is a conflict between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. You can pick one or the other and the Left clearly is going for “outcome”.”

            Agreed. I believe there are two stable ways to maintain a multicultural society. The first is what occurred in places like the pre Civil War South or Iraq or Jews in Europe, where the powerful majority (or minority) systematically represses and marginalizes the weaker culture. Stable, but I think we can all agree, wrong.

            The other stable multicultural society follows the liberal blueprint of individual equality and equality of opportunity. Examples here are most of the developed western states in the last few decades of the twentieth century. These were stable and led to unprecedented levels of widespread human flourishing. Imperfect but better than all the alternatives.

            What is not stable is when demagogues and elites on the far left or right attempt to divide people into tribal collectives and then either “victimize” a group (convincing them that they are victims of racial or religious persecution), or “demonize” a subculture (Germany In ’38 and Rwanda in ’94].

            The latter being unstable, leads either to civil war, repression or extermination. Possibly all three.

            The US has regressed from liberal multiculturalism to victimization and demonization in just two decades. We are at a critical junction now. That is the leftist driven dystopia I most fear (though to be fair the right’s response may very well be as bad or worse).Report

      • If you want to see hardball, see the side with a bare majority pass a tax bill that was written in secret, without a single hearing being held, without any time for the rest of the Congress or the public to learn what’s in it, and without a single minority vote.Report

  2. Great piece, Eric. Thanks for writing it.Report

  3. Saul Degraw says:

    This is rather rich but the Republicans are the masters of every accusation is a confession.

    I guess I suppose I get it in theory. Depending on how you look at it, the GOP has been the dominant political force in the United States since sometime starting between 1968 to 1980. Not perfectly or totally of course because with two parties, there are ebbs and flows. But I was a child of the 1980s and 90s and remember those decades as largely when the Democrats were against the ropes. But the tables are turning now. People under 45 or so are not enamoured with Reagan or any other of the GOP saints. Most of them are further to the left and it is a more diverse cohort. Plus they see through all the GOP tricks and underwear twisting and say whatever. I can see why this push back is disconcerting to people used to Democrats in a fetal position but the game has changed. Deal with it.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Its also worth noting that Reagan was actually somewhat fiscally conservative – taxes were raised quietly 13 times in his 8 years when it became clear the deficit was growing too quickly and voodoo economics weren’t actually working. I did find it rich that Bush the Elder got run out for raising taxes as well. Neither of them could get nominated in the modern Republican Party no matter how much St. Ronnie is lauded.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Philip H says:

        Almost all economists of whatever stripe approved of the early Reagan tax changes: lower rates but eliminate loopholes to greatly broaden the base. Now we’re back to a tax code that takes up umpteen feet of shelf space.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      But I was a child of the 1980s and 90s and remember those decades as largely when the Democrats were against the ropes.

      This was largely an illusion. On the substantive issues, Republicans have been fighting a losing battle since before we were born. Here’s a chart of government spending per capita, in constant 2020 dollars. The blue line is military spending, and the green line is everything else. Means-tested spending, in particular, has risen dramatically. Abortion remains legal. Gay marriage is now legal. Having children out of wedlock is normalized. Marijuana is effectively legal in much of the country. We got the ACA. Short of having 70% marginal tax rates purely out of spite, Democrats have been slowly getting everything they wanted.

      That aside, the divide that really matters now is not right versus left, but smart vs. dumb, and the dumb side is taking over both parties. On the right, you have Donald Trump, and on the left you have Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Biden won this time, but as you pointed out, the cancer is spreading. I don’t see how this ends well for anybody.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Yes, there is no question but what the liberals (used in the contemporary sense) have won overwhelmingly during the last 125 years.Report

      • You’re assuming that Republicans care about spending and the deficit; there’s no evidence of that. Same-sex marriage and legalized marijuana are popular, not things the Democrats imposed on the country. The ACA may be unpopular, but some of its provisions like coverage for pre-existing conditions are very popular, which is why Republicans have to lie about having a plan to preserve them.

        Meanwhile, we’re about to be saddled with an activist Court with a 6-3 majority helping a minority party’s electoral chances.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    “But in the 2020 general election, Trump needs to communicate with those who live outside the Fox News Cinematic Universe and are not acquainted with its deep mythology. And his self-assigned mission on Thursday night — to reengineer the 2016 campaign’s twist ending by introducing a hazily defined, email-centric corruption scandal into the mix — only pulled him further into the weeds of the far-right fever swamp. Hunter Biden’s “laptop from hell” has been a fixture of conservative media for weeks now. But unlike in 2016, the mainstream press has declined to take interest in the right’s ill-substantiated smear of this year’s Democratic nominee. This is in part because Hunter-gate is thin gruel, even for those used to consuming Rudy Giuliani’s cooking. Existing reports have made it clear that Hunter monetized his father’s name in shady ways. But, as the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday night — in a jab at its own opinion page — there is as yet no evidence that Joe Biden himself committed any corrupt acts.”

    Smarter conservatives like David Frum and William Kristol realize this is a big problem. There are some elected GOP politicians like Larry Hogan and Charlie Baker who realize it is a big problem. Also some former GOP bigwigs like Arnold Schwarzenegger but lots of people in the GOP and their adjacent supporters of people who hate the Democratic Party do not realize it is a big problem. The future GOP politicians out there are people like Madison Cawthorn who only know how to troll. I do not know when this stops getting worse and starts getting better. If there is any example to be learned from the GOP in California and Washington, it never stops getting worse. They prefer to be a rump party that flies the freak flag rather than govern and compromise.

    But David Frum is also smart enough to realize that conservative will not stop being conservative when it is no longer popular in a country with democratic elections. They will just stop believing in elections and democracy.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I’ve been watching this play out in Mississippi in an interesting way – the Governor (who is a staunch Trumpian) is being pilloried locally for trying to do things like a mask mandate on a county by county basis to combat COVID – and his most viscous attackers are other Republicans.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I’ve mentioned before my belief that the modern Republican Party has become a counterculture.
      Meaning, they reject the dominant political, cultural, and civic cultures believing them all to be corrupt or evil.

      The bodies they attack like the mainstream media, the FBI and intelligence agencies, the CDC, the diplomatic corps, universities and academia, even mainstream churches are all institutions that are broadly supported by the American public. Popular culture itself- Hollywood movies, television shows, art, music- the rightwing has overt hostility to these things.

      But the Republicans reject those institutions as corrupt and champion their own- Fox News, the local police, alternative academics like Dennis Prager; or fringe religious figures like Pat Robertson and the newest rising religion, Qanon.

      Regardless of how one thinks about these rightwing institutions, they are a minority. They aren’t supported by a broad cross section of the American public, and are generally hostile to the dominant culture.

      Republicans have become the minority who demands to rule not just politically but culturally.Report

  5. Pinky says:

    I’d like to address the rubber-glue dichotomy for a moment. Saul says that every Republican accusation is a confession, which reminds me of the old grade school taunt, “I’m rubber and you’re glue / whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you”. I’m sure that at times it’s factual. But it strikes me as completely antithetical to a conversation. Now, to my ear, Chip’s comment that Republicans want to rule culturally as well as politically sounds like self-parody. But you know what’s never going to lead to a meaningful discussion? Me saying that. It would only let me vent exasperation.

    It combines the worst aspects of the two great conversation-stoppers of our era, “you’re being disingenuous” and “both sides do it”. It’s actually worse than the latter, because it’s saying that only the other side does it. And again, there might be times that both sides do something, or the other side exclusively does something.

    So maybe I’m just venting my exasperation at other people venting theirs. (I know I’ve written rubber-glue comments before.) And maybe back-and-forth is going to be impossible for the next couple of weeks. It’s just bugging me that political conversation is being made harder.Report

    • CJColucci in reply to Pinky says:

      Whether certain forms of argument are conversation-stoppers depends in large part on the prior state of the conversation. Sometimes an argument stops a conversation; other times it accurately relates the current state of the conversation, which may already be, for all practical purposes, stopped.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

      Well lets have a discussion then.
      Do you think the current Republican Party is at peace with American culture?

      I can think of a dozen examples to the contrary- the prominence of people on the right like Jordan Peterson, Rod Dreher, Ben Shapiro, the evangelicals.
      Or their embrace of the Dunning School history of America, as exemplified by their fury over removing Confederate statues.
      Or the constant theme running through their discourse about how they are the resistance to a rising tide of Marxist repression; That is, their tacit acknowledgement that they are in fact a minority.

      My assertion is that the Republican Party/ conservative movement/ Trumpistas are a minority culture, and further, they refuse to accept the legitimacy of the majority one.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        You single out the Republicans for their culture war, but the Democrats have been dominating the culture war for the past 50 years. For every Ben Shapiro you’ve got a dozen Stephen Colberts. For every Hobby Lobby you’ve got a dozen Nikes. For every Starlord not saying anything you’ve got all the other Avengers fundraising for Biden. New York Post? Twitter and Facebook. Chris Wallace? George Stephanopoulos and Chris Cuomo, and anyway Wallace is a Democrat.

        I’m not sure how to respond to the accusation of minority status, though, which is why I’ve been late in responding to your comment. I don’t understand how it fits together,. and I’m not sure it’s correct or if it even matters. It’s a war, which means it’s unresolved. One could argue that there are two competing visions, but it’s probably closer to 10, with the majority of people being in the middle. Liberals are smart to pick fights where they are a majority, like in the social sciences. I’ll give them that. But that doesn’t mean the US is systematically liberal or conservative, or necessarily likely to lean either way on a random issue.

        As to the Confederate statues, it has to be said that the slippery-slope scenario envisioned by the right has played out exactly as they predicted, with Washington and Lincoln on the chopping block now. That makes it hard to argue that the conservatives were motivated by Confederate loyalty.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

          You can see the difference between a minority culture that accepts its minority status, and one that wants to impose its vision on the majority, right?

          Which is why I keep begging for examples of the rights that conservatives fear losing.
          No matter how many essays you read at Quillette, or writings by the IDW folk or Rod Dreher, they can never quite show us how they are persecuted.

          Using the two clauses of the First Amendment as examples, no one can plausibly claim that their exercise of culture or faith or expression is being infringed.

          But that’s not really what they want, is it? What they want is establishment. They want their culture to be the established one, even without the consent of the majority.Report

          • Aaron David in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            “You can see the difference between a minority culture that accepts its minority status, and one that wants to impose its vision on the majority, right?”

            Can you say racist? ‘Cause that is racist ASF.

            And do you often move the goalposts this much? Or is it only when you keep repeating the question after you heard the answer?

            But, to once again repeat what has been explained explicitly over the many, many years; gun rights, free speech, freedom of religion, due process. Much of which we have actually experienced under various Democrat administrations such as Clinton (AWB) Obama (Dear College letter regarding Title IX and due process) Cuomo, de Blasio, and Newsome (freedom of religion). Along with the loss of Freedom of speech, which is de regueur at a majority of Universities and bleeding out to the culture at large due to cancer culture and an anti-intellectual wave sweeping the left.

            No Chip, what they want are the protections guaranteed in the US Constitution by its recognition of rights in the Amendments.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Aaron David says:

              You’re demonstrating two things here.

              One, things like the assault weapons ban are things that a majority of Americans just don’t find all that oppressive.
              Imagine speaking to a group of people in Europe or Australia or Japan, and telling them that people in America are oppressed because… they can’t buy an assault rifle.

              Second, you’re using buzzwords instead of argument.
              In what way are freedom of speech or due process rights being infringed by the “dear colleague” letter?

              The examples usually offered are petty squabbles among very comfortable people who remain very comfortable.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Chip, referencing the actual acts as they were titled (AWB, Dear College letter) isn’t a buzzword, it is a reference to the actual acts of oppression. Now, you might not find them oppressive, but other people do, which is why the AWB caused a fairly popular president to lose the house after its passage and it was left to expire. The actions precipitated by the Dear College letter have caused many universities to get sued for denying the due process rights of students and in many cases Black students. Those are real actions that have caused pushback for the left on both a political level and a legal level.

                It doesn’t matter whether or not Germans or Australians or Japanese feel that those are not rights, as they are in different countries with different expectations of rights.

                And they might seem as petty squabbles to you, but in my eyes and in the eyes of significant numbers of people, they are essential facts of the left’s attempt to squash individual liberties.Report

              • greginak in reply to Aaron David says:

                Gun control is supported by far more people than the just “the left”. Whether its right or wrong or a violation of liberty is a separate issue. Seeing everything as “the Left” or “the Right” is the kind of partisan framing that clouds things.

                The attempts to deal with college sexual assault were pushed by DV advocates and womens groups.

                Now whether the AWB was oppression or just a law you don’t like is a question i imagine would go nowhere.Report

            • Pinky in reply to Aaron David says:

              There’s nothing racist about that position. I don’t know if you were just tormenting him, but when he said “minority” it was in the context of ideology, not race.Report

          • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Chip – I’d answer differently than Aaron did. (This is a reply to you, not Aaron. I hate the way subthreads appear these days.) I don’t think of myself as being threatened. I think I have a narrower conception of rights than you do, negative and bestowed by God. I mean, based on the recent thread about the black vote in Florida, I’d guess that you have a way broader interpretation of the idea.

            Now, I could one day see our population’s rights being infringed upon. (I mean, boys are competing against girls in track events. There are no too-far-fetched slippery slope arguments anymore.) Rights can come into conflict with rights, and if nearly everything is thought of as a right, then the negative rights can get lost in the shuffle.

            For me, our national debates don’t typically revolve about rights being lost, but about just plain terrible ideas becoming law.

            And no one reads Rod Dreher. No one. Not even him. That might not even be his last name. No one knows, because they’ve never read that far. Not even him. I know that liberals often cite Mother Jones, The Atlantic, and some of the NYT opinion writers. The silly ones cite The Daily Beast. If I want to know what well-reasoned conservatives are thinking about, I’m going to National Review Online, The Daily Wire, The Federalist, a few others. I might click on a link to The Daily Caller but I probably won’t believe what the article says.Report

        • greginak in reply to Pinky says:

          War is a terrible metaphor and at the heart of the problem. We are not at war with each other. Well some people want it to be war because they want hatred and conflict and to see everything at zero sum issues. Just having entertainers entertain with their values present is not war, it’s free society. News papers or broadcasters with view points. Yup free society not war.

          When you see everything as war you lose sight of what your values are and only want to defeat the other side. Which is how much of partisan media acts. If you fall into that you will never get a free society, just forever war about this comic or that silly issue.

          Nobody ever had to defend statues of slavers and traitors. They did it because they wanted to defend them. Figuring out who to have monuments to is one of the many parts of a having a community. Sometimes views change. I think we’ll have plenty of statues of lincon and washington.Report

  6. greginak says:

    Two things. No one person can restore norms. One party cannot restore norms. It will take both parties and good bit of their supporters and a lot of non aligned folks to do so. Joe might be a start but lets see if their is critical mass among everybody else to see what norms we will develop.

    Two: Super majorities to pass anything in the senate is not written in stone nor would eliminating that destroy the senate. I dont’ really want to have to go over the fugly history of R’s using the filibuster in giant record numbers during the Obama years to squelch almost everything the D’s tried to do. That was what happened and should not happen again. Requiring super majorities doesn’t lead to bi partisan support if one party decided it’s in their interests to stop everything.Report

  7. Many of President Trump’s comments and actions have been greatly concerning.

    For instance:

    Firing independent inspectors general and replacing therm with lackeys.

    Firing the head of the FBI for investigating his administration. (even Nixon never did that.)

    Pardoning his henchmen. (ditto)

    Using the DOJ as his personal attorneys.

    Unilaterally spending federal money in ways Congress hasn’t approved, e.g. DOD money on The Wall, and the “Health Cards” for seniors.

    Holding up foreign aid for political favors.

    And that’s not to mention his immense personal corruption: the amount of federal money spent at properties he owns, his selling access to the presidency, and the constant conflicts of interest.

    So, yes, any presidency that’s more or less like every preceding one would be a step towards reestablishing norms.Report

    • And this just today. I wouldn’t even stand for my toddlers acting like that.


      • Philip H in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I am unsurprised Bibi didn’t take the bait – unlike the President he has been indicted for official corruption while in office. He will probably stand trial at some point soon. He knows betterReport

        • North in reply to Philip H says:

          Bibi can read polls. And Israel needs to have the American President not enraged at them. Netanyahu, as much of a crook as he may be, does care about the welfare of his country in his own way.Report

  8. Jaybird says:

    As someone who sees Trump as a symptom rather than the problem itself, I think that “restoring America’s norms” is something that would be nice, I guess, if it were on the table.

    But I don’t think that it is.

    I imagine that Biden getting elected will result in a large number of elite-types saying, effectively, “Good! Politics is boring again! We can go back to brunch!” and a bunch of non-elite-types saying “hey, we voted for Biden… but the stuff that made Trump attractive hasn’t stopped. Some of it has gotten worse… now what?”

    And if Harris is Just Another Liberal (But Not Progressive) Technocrat, we’re going to see another Trump.

    I think that Trump’s ineptitude (and, goodness! Is he inept!) is creating quite the opening for “What if we tried it with someone who wasn’t inept?”

    And turning the WE NEED TO REBUILD THE MIDDLE EAST BUT NOT BE ISLAMOPHOBIC ABOUT IT spigot on full blast won’t help this time, I don’t think.Report

  9. Jesse says:

    The filibuster is so important to actual Senate history that…LBJ’s liaison to the Senate never mentioned the possibility of a filibuster once when it came to Medicare & Medicaid in strategy memos, and those bills both were voted out of the Senate with less than 60 votes.

    Until I almost in junior high, and I’m old, but not that old, the filibuster was basically never used outside of occasional grandstands and to keep non-white people from having equal rights.

    If anything, reforming the way the filibuster would get the Senate back to how it was actually historically run, as opposed to the myth that you always needed a supermajority to get anything done.

    As for the rest, it’s the usual whining that a minority won’t be able to impose their will on the population for a generation, because of a minority-elected President & Senate.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Jesse says:

      My amateur understanding was that the filibuster once required someone actually filibustering — reading from the Yellow Pages or some such things — but eventually just became everything needing the 60 votes because merely implying the filibuster was enough. I don’t know if that’s right and, if so, when/how the change happened. But the former is what I learned in school in the 90s and the latter is what I saw happen in the 2010s.Report

    • James K in reply to Jesse says:

      The big problem I see with the current filibuster is that it contributes to the impotence of the legislature. It’s bad enough needing a simple majority in each house, but when you need 60% in the Senate, it make it too hard for the legislature to do anything. This means the President tries to legislate by executive order and the Court rules on whether the orders are ultra vires or not.

      Letting the legislature legislate would help restore legislative power and improve their ability to check the President.Report

      • North in reply to James K says:

        Yeah I’ve always been kind of meh on the filibuster but it’s becoming clear that it’s an enormous force for stasis. Especially in McConnell’s brave new legislative world where the 60 vote requirement is now the default. The filibuster both blocks legislative movement and also blocks accountability as Senators can just blame the filibuster and the voters won’t blame them for inaction. It really is weakening what is ostensibly the most powerful branch and empowering the executive. I don’t know if it should be done away with altogether but I doubt it can survive another 2008-2014 style cycle without getting axed.Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to North says:

          60 vote requirement plus dual track for Senate business. The filibuster was much less frequently used when the Senate rules allowed only a single motion to be open on the floor. In those days (ending around 1968?), a filibuster brought all business to a halt. The longer such a situation ran on, the greater the bipartisan pressure to stop it. See another comment of mine here somewhere about the filibuster being changed drastically after the Southern Senators demonstrated they were willing to halt Senate business for weeks/months in order to block the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts.

          I am particularly sensitive to single-open-motion rules because I ran afoul of one my first year on the legislative staff in Colorado.Report

  10. Saul Degraw says:

    I find myself in agreement and disagreement with Jaybird. Yes, Trump is a symptom and the problem might get a lot worse before it gets better but not because of those technocratic types. The problem will get worse because a lot of white guys are in never ending freak out that they are not the defacto rulers anymore and have decided flying the racist flag is what they want to do:

    • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I’m not sure that making appeals to the stuff going wrong being “racism” will work in the ways that you hope it will. As someone who sees it as fundamentally class-based, I think that it might even eventually backfire.Report

      • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

        It will backfire. Especially where it’s contingent on a sort of racial stasis and cohesion that doesn’t account for ongoing trends of intermarriage and assimilation. The country won’t be ‘white’ in the sense it was 50-60 years ago. But 50 or 60 years ago it already wasn’t ‘white’ in the sense it was 50 or 60 years prior to that. And so on.

        That isn’t the fault line, no matter how hard a certain socio-economic strata wishes it were.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

        Knowing it will be offensive, consider the difference in the state Republican parties’ positions on voting rights in states where African-Americans are the largest minority group, and in states where they have never been the largest minority group.Report

  11. Saul Degraw says:

    Ilya Shapiro decides that “liberty” is more important than Democracy:

    • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Isn’t it?

      I mean, gay marriage was losing votes left and right a mere decade ago. Democracy was wrong then and it took the Supreme Court to establish that, no, Liberty was more important than Democracy.

      I can come up with a couple dozen examples, if you’d like. (They pretty much all revolve around the use of the word “minority”, though. Variations on a theme, if you will.)

      It seems obvious to me that “liberty” is more important than “democracy”. I’d like to hear the argument otherwise.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        It is, as is the rule of law. Completely anodyne. Then Shapiro deals the “liberty means judges I like” from the bottom of the deck and concludes that liberty requires minority rule. Basically “elections that came out the right way have consequence.”Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      It isn’t his conception of “liberty” that is at issue, but his understanding of “rights”.

      That is, Ilya can’t name any actual “right” that they are in danger of losing, unless you assume that conservatives have a right to rule regardless of the consent of the majority.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        How about the right to drive a gasoline powered vehicle, fly in a plane, or use gas heat? Last night Biden told us that those won’t exist by 2025 because he’ll get rid of all fossil fuels. Of course it’s not something that’s really going to happen because he’s both stupid (it can’t be done) and he was lying once again (nobody would seriously attempt something that stupid).Report

        • North in reply to George Turner says:

          To be clear Biden said if he had his druthers fossil fuels would be phased out gradually and replaced by non-fossil fuel alternatives over time which relegates the statement to being a very anodyne assertion regarding climate change.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

            You can tell from how happy he is washing his Trans Am in the White House driveway, that Joe really loves him some internal combustion.Report

          • George Turner in reply to North says:

            Fossil fuels can’t be phased out without a truly massive investment into nuclear plants. There’s simply no other way around that.

            Hydroelectric is pretty much maxed out, and nobody is building new dams, much less new watersheds. Wind and solar combined only produce about 50% more of our energy than firewood does, meeting about 4% of our energy needs. 80% of our energy is comes from fossil fuels, with 8% coming from nuclear. To get rid of the fossil fuels, we have to build ten times the nuclear capacity that we currently have. The average time to build a nuclear plant is about ten years, and the left, if in charge, isn’t going to approve any new construction.

            Data from EIA.govReport

            • Michael Cain in reply to George Turner says:

              The situations vary enormously across the three US power grids. The Western Interconnect is headed down a low-carbon no-nuclear path for reasons specific to that region. Only about half of the conventional hydro in the West has been developed — small relative to total US demand, but not relative to demand in the West. Although other than for pumped hydro storage, the West is unlikely to develop additional conventional hydro because wind and solar are getting inexpensive so quickly.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Michael Cain says:

                The Western Interconnect may be less carbonized than the other grids, but it’s still heavily carbonized. 60% of its energy comes from natural gas and coal. Wind and solar provide about 7.4%, slightly less than nuclear, while hydro provides 25%.

                And that’s just for electricity. Heating is also a major energy consumer, especially in the northern part, and of course virtually all the transportation is straight fossil fuels. When you add those in, the area covered by the Western grid is probably getting about 80% of its total energy from fossil fuels.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to George Turner says:

                I have told a consistent story since I was first invited to post here some years back. We either accept the consequences of, say, +4 °C global warming, or we change our lifestyle (and are generous in sharing technology).

                The power grid is the low-hanging fruit. The WI has different choices than the other US interconnects. Transport is harder, but I would argue again that the West has greater flexibility. HVAC stuff and certain industrial is even harder: heat pumps that work at -30 °F are expensive.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

            Nothing is an anodyne assertion to right-wingers. These are the people who took a non-binding UN resolution on sustainable development from the 1980s and turned it into a blue print for world government and domination. Plus the document said bike paths are nice, how evil is that.Report

        • CJColucci in reply to George Turner says:

          What about the right to drive a carriage and team of horses down Main Street, or fly in a private balloon, or heat your home with coal? Or empty your bedpan out onto the street? When the world changes in ways like that, even if the change is sought deliberately, nobody’s “rights” are at stake.Report

    • greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      He used massively dumb framing. It’s both. Both liberty and democracy are important and need to be balanced. He is using the standard, but very dumb framing, that having democracy means liberty will not somehow not exist. It’s like the simple phrase majority rule with minority rights never freaking existed and is the obvious top level answer. The hard work is in finding the correct balance and adjusting that as we go.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Well, yes, of course. Honestly, pointing to this as some kind of obvious horrible is a bit of an own-goal, especially for someone with a JD.

      Democracy is instrumental. Its justification is not that it’s inherently good, but that it tends to produce better government than other systems. If democracy routinely resulted in Venezuela and monarchy routinely resulted in Switzerland, all reasonable people would be monarchists.

      It’s long been understood that democracy is of instrumental rather than of fundamental value, which is why the US Constitution has numerous anti-democratic measures, like the Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court, and (prior to the 17th Amendment) the Senate. The idea that we should care about democracy more than quality of governance is cargo-cult thinking.

      By the way, does anyone know what kicked off this kerfuffle in the first place? I know that Sen. Mike Lee was watching the Vice Presidential debates and tweeting his reactions and tweeted “We’re not a democracy,” then followed up with “Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prosperity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that,” at which point a bunch of people accidentally revealed to the country that they slept through high school civics. But to what was he responding? I assume it was something Kamala Harris had said, probably about how some poll shows that a majority of Americans supported some policy she was proposing, but I’m curious as to what specifically it was.Report

  12. Rufus F. says:

    I think the best way to settle this, in the event that Joe Biden does win, is to have a betting pool. We come up with some outcomes that might result from a Biden Presidency, place small bets on them- the end of the filibuster? Yes or no. etc. And then, at the end of four years, either pay out or extend it another four years, whatever the case may be.Report

  13. DavidTC says:

    The constitution does not forbid abolishing the Senate. The constitution forbids each state of being deprived of _equal_ representation in the Senate. Every state having zero representation is, in fact, still equal.

    Slightly saner, the constitution could also be amended to leave the Senate completely intact, but having no actual power, assigning all of its power to the House, or even some new entity. This would be much harder to challenge in court than dissolving it. Leave some scraps of rump functionality, or something we want it to actually be hard to do, like declare war.

    The constitution could _also_ be amended to allow amending the constitution to alter the makeup of the Senate, and _then_ altered to do that! The clause doesn’t protect itself, in a rather stupid loophole. This would not really be any longer a process…it would just require everyone that wanted to, for example, strip all Senate seats from North Dakota without the consent, to vote _twice_.

    None of this is going to happen, of course. But something that _could_ be a good idea is to simply half the size, give each state _one_ representive. Which would not do much to the actual Senate, but would decrease the moronic extra electorial college votes that vast empty stretches of America get. (Althought technically _that_ can be altered in the constitution by itself, so we could just say ‘Only the House counts in that, not the Senate’ anyway.)Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to DavidTC says:

      The Constitution does not strictly forbid abolishing the Senate, but it would require an amendment, which would have to be passed by the Senate and ratified by many of the states which are supposedly unfairly privileged by the Senate.

      It would be interesting to see what would happen if an amendment to Article V were passed and ratified, fundamentally changing the Amendment process or eliminating certain restrictions on what can be amended. I think there would be a reasonable basis for a court challenge on the grounds that this is clearly contrary to original intent and that it’s implied that Article V can’t be amended, but I don’t know how it would be decided.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Technically, the states could do it without consent of the Senate by calling a convention. The 17th Amendment was finally passed by the Senate and submitted to the states only after the states were within a small number of calling a convention.

        My own opinion is that we have reached a point where no further amendments will be made: there are at least 13 states that will oppose any change.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Oh, you’re right. An amendment can also be proposed by the legislatures of 2/3 of the states, though it still needs to be ratified by 3/4:

          The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress….


          • Jesse in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            Easier to get to 3/4 of the states when every city with more people than Wyoming is now a state, with two Senators.Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to Jesse says:

              Easier to get to 3/4 of the states when every city with more people than Wyoming is now a state, with two Senators.

              If we are going to make cities into states, then there are a lot more small cities than big ones and they’re mostly run by the GOP.

              Now you could put in the Constitution that only Team Blue is allowed to win elections. That’s basically what you’re trying to do so you might as well get the language right.Report

      • It would be interesting to see what would happen if an amendment to Article V were passed and ratified, fundamentally changing the Amendment process or eliminating certain restrictions on what can be amended. I think there would be a reasonable basis for a court challenge on the grounds that this is clearly contrary to original intent and that it’s implied that Article V can’t be amended, but I don’t know how it would be decided.

        Without commenting on the merits, I’d say a court would be wise to punt, call it a “political question,” and let everyone else figure it out. Of course, a court might not be wise….Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        The Constitution does not strictly forbid abolishing the Senate, but it would require an amendment, which would have to be passed by the Senate and ratified by many of the states which are supposedly unfairly privileged by the Senate.

        Oh, I know, and I’m not saying it’s likely, and I’m not even 100% sure anyone actually wants to do this.

        I was just objecting to the idea ‘We can’t change the Senate because the constitution forbids any amendments that reduce the amount of Senate representation without that state’s permission’, because…we can, it’s a rather easy requirement to get around.

        It would be interesting to see what would happen if an amendment to Article V were passed and ratified, fundamentally changing the Amendment process or eliminating certain restrictions on what can be amended. I think there would be a reasonable basis for a court challenge on the grounds that this is clearly contrary to original intent and that it’s implied that Article V can’t be amended, but I don’t know how it would be decided.

        I honestly think they already let the cat out of that bag, if we want to get into the weeds of original intent: The 17th amendment requiring the direct election of Senators could be argued to actually ‘take Suffrage away from the States’, and instead the _citizens_ of each State now have it .

        Weirdly, I haven’t heard this argument, even from the ‘We should repeal the 17th amendment’ crowd, possibly because they have noticed that all states lost it, so it remained ‘equal’. But it would be a funny conclusion of the court that ‘States now all have zero Suffrage in Congress, which is fine and completely proportional.’.

        I really think arguing original intent WRT constitutional amendments is a can of worms the court doesn’t want to get into, but, to avoid that, just altering the _job_ of the Senate, no longer requiring it as part of the process to pass legislation but perhaps giving it some supermajority veto powers and leaving it confirmation powers and whatnot (aka, not making it completely pointless) would be rather hard to constitutionally object to.

        Especially considering the 17th had changed the makeup of, and other amendments had changed its powers. Hell, the tenth amendment proported to take away the power of the Senate (And the House, but that doesn’t matter) to do _anything_ beside what was in the constitution, which, in theory, vastly reduced what each state could do with its ‘Senate Suffrage’.

        If the ‘no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.’ clause was interpeted broadly by the courts to mean ‘The Senate, both its powers and its makeup, must remain inviolate and not changed without the consent of all States effected’, then…like, we already did that. A lot.Report

  14. I’ve just now read the OP and haven’t read the comments yet, but here’s my take:

    I agree with you on court packnig.

    While I’m not bullish on adding DC and Puerto Rico solely for the purpose of “rigging the senate” (and I’m agnostic on whether it’s constitutional to make DC a state), doing so would fit in a sometime tradition of adding states for temporary partisan gain. Now, just because there’s a “tradition”doesn’t make it right, but the points you raise–about Puerto Rico, for example, not necessarily being onboard with the general Democratic party social issues, points to the real possibility that any partisan gain would be temporary.

    On ending the filibuster: I’m for it. The filibuster has evolved over the 200+ years the senate has been in existence. Over the last 50 years or so, it has gradually weakened. It’s a norm that we must continually evaluate. It’s not, in my view, a sacred norm. Now, that’s my view, not necessarily anyone else’s, and I’m not here making the argument for why I think ending the filibuster is a good thing. (Also, I realize that just because something has evolved or changed over the years is not by itself a reason to change it in any specific direction.)

    I do agree that a Biden presidency will not restore norms. If he wins, he will have to start where we are, not where we were. For me personally, though, the issue is putting out the fire that Mr. Trump represents, and we’ll worry about rest later. If the (by my view) the best happens (i.e., Biden wins and the senate flips), then I hope everyone is up to the task.Report

    • greginak in reply to gabriel conroy says:

      One thing i haven’t seen mentioned re: DC statehood is that the issue it not new at all. People in DC have been complaining about representation for years. PR statehood isn’t new either. While these things are coming up now they have been simmering for decades.Report

      • That’s a good point, too.Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to greginak says:

        We’ve had multiple Presidents say they’d welcome PR. The road block has been the people of PR keep voting against statehood. My father lives there and he’s said it’s pretty clear it would leave them a lot poorer… but I don’t remember the logic.

        “Coming up now” isn’t “the people of PR are saying they want Statehood”.
        “Coming up now” is “Team Blue is looking for a legal way to win elections because they lost against Trump”.Report

        • greginak in reply to Dark Matter says:

          The 2012 and 2017 referendums was overwhelmingly for statehood.

          Yeah there was some controversy about ballot design and stuff. But still they voted for statehood twice.Report

          • Dark Matter in reply to greginak says:

            In 1993, 46.6% of the voters wanted statehood.

            In 1998, 46.6% of the voters wanted statehood.

            In 2012 only 61.2% of 54% (i.e. 33%) wanted statehood.

            2017 was a massive cluster resulting in a massive boycott of the vote and a 23% turnout.

            Now they’re going to do this again on Nov 3rd so we’ll see.Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to Dark Matter says:

              Most recent polling puts the “Yes, Statehood” vote at 43%.Report

            • greginak in reply to Dark Matter says:

              So if PR votes for statehood then they will likely get it considering that would be the third Pro in row. Yeah they were issues the last couple times but at some point a vote has to count. If they don’t vote for it, then there is is no issue.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to greginak says:

                3rd? They’ve a total one that was Pro and that’s if you count 2017 with it’s twenty-ish percent turnout.

                That “61.2% of 54%” was not a turn out thing, they had a multi-part question and in order to vote for statehood you first had to vote for not-the-current-situation. So the total vote for that option that time was 33%.

                However agreed that they’ll get it if they want it. For that matter they could leave and go full independent too but only about 5% wants that.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I honestly don’t understand why all the PR voting on statehood seems _incredibly complicated_. The really obvious thing to do is to present a ballot that asks _different_ questions. Not multiple choice.

                What percentage of people support statehood vs. staying as-is?

                What percentage support independence, instead of staying as-is?

                Two different, independent questions (For all we know, there are people who would rather _either_ happen than keep the status quo), and get the numbers.

                Leave off the commentary on the ballot, which is what got it boycotted last time (The voters of Puetro Rico know their own situation and how the government works!), and also leave off opinions that _aren’t on the table_, like the question about ‘an independent nation that is somehow permanently allied with the US and defended by the US and has free trade with the US'(1) that I remember from one ballot.

                Now, at the end, we might get numbers like ‘51% would rather have independent than this, 62% would rather have statehood than this, and the overlap is 31%’ and at the end we’re all saying ‘I don’t know what that information means’. But at least we’d have some information.

                1) I mean, even if they do go independent country, I assume we would be allies for at least a bit! But this was some sort of quasi-independent country that was sort like the Isle of Man and other ‘self-governing British Crown dependencies’ that are not part of the UK proper, but still defended by and even funded by them, and it’s like ‘We don’t really do that here in the US, so not sure why you’re putting it on the ballot.’.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC says:

                I honestly don’t understand why all the PR voting on statehood seems _incredibly complicated_.

                Because when clear questions are asked the people return the wrong answer. It’s like how the EU asks their voters the same question repeatedly until they get the “correct” answer.

                Something like 43% want Statehood.
                Something like 6% want independence.
                Something like 48% want status quo.

                The “Statehood” group owns a major political party. If they ask the question at the right time with the right phrasing, they will get the answer they want.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter says:

                If that’s really the numbers, it’s well short of what I would want to support statehood.

                I don’t have a hard and fast number, but I feel a question as important as ‘changing a fundamental aspect of the government’ probably should require at least 60% support, not a simple majority.Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to Dark Matter says:

          My father lives there and he’s said it’s pretty clear it would leave them a lot poorer… but I don’t remember the logic.

          I would not be surprised. There are a lot of expenses that go with being a state that PR would be on the hook for. The assorted ongoing bankruptcy processes would be changed fairly dramatically, probably to PR’s detriment. (Eg, states don’t get bankruptcy protection.) I have read things that make me believe that the state and local governments would be under enormous pressure to make big capital investments.Report

          • DavidTC in reply to Michael Cain says:

            This is rather short-sighted of them. Half the reason PR _is_ bankrupt is that it’s not a state.

            From what I understand, a good chunk of their money problems are they do not get as much Medicaid support as actual states, putting them on the hook for more spending…which, as anyone who has ever looked at state budgets knows, is a _huge_ chunk of spending in states.

            Instead of actually solving this problem, by providing matching Federal money at the level of the states, the Federal government set up a system where it was incredibly easy for PR to borrow…which was their only option, so they did.

            It’s weird how, in all the ‘PR has been borrowing irresponsibly for decades’ talk, everyone leaves out the ‘So their people would have health care’ part.Report

          • Dark Matter in reply to Michael Cain says:

            One of the issues is people in Puerto Rico don’t pay federal income taxes.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to gabriel conroy says:

      I do agree that a Biden presidency will not restore norms.

      I don’t think we should ‘restore norms’. I think we should look at what norms we want back, and _put them into law_.

      And a lot of things being called ‘norms’ are actually pretty clear laws that the President was either supposed to follow, or laws that excluded the President, but only under the concept he was still subject to those contraints, but it wasn’t supposed to be via law, but via Congress.

      So what we really need to do is a) get rid of Congressentities who decided not to this, and b) formally write out Congressional rules stating under what grounds the president might be impeached.

      In fact, we really, REALLY, need to do that second thing. To just lay out a hard line, via Joint Resolution of Congress, that says ‘failure to provide tax returns and other financial information will be considered grounds for impeachment and removal’ and ‘interfering with prosecutions will be considered grounds for impeachment and removal’ and ‘lying to Congress and instructing people to lie to Congress will be considered grounds for impeachment and removal’, etc.

      Just have an entire list of the sort of abuses of power the President can commit, but are not actually ‘illegal’ for the president because of the idea that Congress will deal with them. Well…Congress needs to _formally_ say that they will do that!

      This wouldn’t _legally_ do anything, but it would make it a lot harder to defend a president that clearly has done those things.Report

  15. I don’t think a Biden admin restores norms. But I think a Trump re-election actively shatters them. And not to the benefit of the citizenry, to the benefit of Trump and his gang of thieves and miscreants.Report

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