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Mon Nov 5, 2018, 11:51 AM

Propublica, WaPo: How Congress Stopped Working

https://www.propublica.org/article/how-congress-stopped-working

Today’s legislative branch, far from the model envisioned by the founders, is dominated by party leaders and functions as a junior partner to the executive, according to an analysis by The Washington Post and ProPublica.


To document this transformation, the Post and ProPublica analyzed publicly available data from the House and Senate, committees, and members of Congress, dating back several decades. Some institutional decline began 25 years ago, but the study showed that the steepest institutional drop came in just the past 10 years.


This is exactly what I have experienced. The sourness of the politicians started around the time of Gingrich (gawd, he's still polluting), and reached its height with McConnell.

I don't know if a Democratic House can fix this as long as the repuglicons are doing everything they can to destroy democracy.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2018, 12:03 PM

1. many factors are inter-related.

increase in gerrymandering leads to increase in partisanship, which makes it harder to compromise and puts more of an emphasis on winning the primary rather than the general, all of which makes the other side feel like an enemy irrelevant to the real process, which then makes justifying dirty tricks and even illegal electoral activites easier, which only then feeds the cycle.

and the media is there to egg it all on because they just love a train wreck. but then the extra coverage only feeds the beast.

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Response to unblock (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 5, 2018, 01:31 PM

3. I wonder if we'd be in this place if we didn't have the rapid dissemination of news and lies

and all the other (mis)information via the internet. I guess T.V. and radio did the same in earlier days but it was more expensive and not as easy for any nut job to use.

I agree with your point that the two parties are now more enemies than different points-of-view.

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Response to erronis (Reply #3)

Mon Nov 5, 2018, 01:41 PM

5. it's not so much the speed of the internet as the balkanization of the media

so many channels now. back when there were only 3 networks plus pbs, they all pretty much had to compete for the middle and strive to be genuinely reliable, factual, news reporting. they all had to compete for a healthy chunk of the entire market.

now that there are hundreds of channels and thousands of websites, they're free to tailor the news to whatever niche they want, which makes easy room for a foxnews that couldn't care less if liberals never watch. media outlets can be commercially fine while ignoring or even insulting large portions of the country because they no longer need such a large portion of the overall market.


of course the speed of the internet isn't irrelevant, it does contribute to the need to get a story out quickly, before it's been properly vetted. factual errors are far more common in initial reporting these days than they used to be. they'll correct the story eventually, but republicans certainly take advantage in order to get their lies out early and often....

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2018, 12:37 PM

2. Loss of the loyal minority

For a long time, especially since the crash of '29, the GOP was willing to be the "loyal minority". When they would get any sort of majority rule, they would attempt to move their agenda forward, but it was often in the face of a branch of government that was run by democrats, so they would do what they could accomplish by working with democrats. When they were in a minority in a branch, they'd complain and pull to the right, but ultimately they recognized the limit of their power.

William F Buckley comes along and creates a version of conservatism. It pushed out the "Birchers" and pushed forward candidates like Goldwater and Nixon. They had some victories, but they were often accused of trying to win elections and govern by being better versions of the democrats. Then some people hooked up with Reagan. They got him elected and pushed alot of conservative ideas, but what came out was a lot of compromise with the democrats. Remember, he did "amensty" with illegal aliens. He did tax reform with the democrats over the howl of "true conservatives". (It was supposed to be "revenue neutral" but it wasn't).

It was about this time that a bunch of new republicans were getting elected and they chaffed against their leadership. They complained that the GOP had gotten to used to being the "loyal minority". They also complained about trying to be "better versions of the democrats" than the democrats. They wanted "true conservatism" and wanted to undo the New Deal and the Great Society. And they found a leader in Newt. He wanted to form a majority by pulling conservative democrats away and into the GOP. And he came close to succeeding. He got the "solid south" to abandon the democratic party. And they were getting close to a majority.

But it failed. They never really formed a "new majority" because they would never accept the more popular positions on social issues, much less on economic ones.

And so in the early 2000's, they cooked up a scheme to get majorities built in specific states, much of it through gerrymandering. It gave them wide margins and the ability to control the senate with minority support. The problem was that nationally, they had a hard time winning presidential elections. Bush II "won" with minority support. Obama crushed them with overwhelming turn out. But they had another trick up their sleeve. The got the voting rights act overturned. It allowed them to build up their control in states through voters suppression. And this allowed them to increase their voter participation without actually building up a majority support.

Buried in this though is a controlling minority which gets smaller all the time. It is narrowing itself to old white people. And they are afraid and want to maintain their power. But their intent is to maintain it through exclusion and concentration of power in themselves. And now they are getting violent. This "blue wave" may not happen, but they will have a harder and harder time maintaining control. If they lose Texas and Florida it is going to get even harder. The demographics in those states don't favor them.

The future doesn't look pretty, especially in the short term. As the civil rights movement advanced and had success, the white supremacists got more violent. Truth is, the American Civil War happened because the South saw that they were losing the political battle over slavery. I don't really expect it to go better this time around.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 5, 2018, 01:34 PM

4. + abso-effing-lutely

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 5, 2018, 01:59 PM

6. Great analysis altho pretty gloomy. Thanks.

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Response to erronis (Reply #6)

Mon Nov 5, 2018, 02:26 PM

8. We're in a real mess

We're in a mess that's been in the making for the better part of 230 years. The Constitution, as good as it is, was essentially designed to create a government run by white men. We've done a bit of work over the years to try to expand that, and have had alot of success. But some of the tinkering we've done has screwed up the situation.

The EC: For all it's faults, the EC was intended to prevent virtually exactly where we are. It was intended to both defend against excessive power in any particular state or institution. It was also intended to prevent unqualified or otherwise destructive people from becoming president. However, the way electors are now chosen, and the laws that govern their voting, are such that it has resulted in the exact OPPOSITE of what it was intended. Furthermore, we are no longer 13 states, we are 50 with huge disparities in population. This results in huge disparities in representation in the EC.

The House of Representatives: Originally they were supposed to be distributed by population. But as the country grew, and the population disparities increased, the House was becoming too large if the smallest state got 1 representatives, and the largest states got proportionally more. So the limit of 435 was created, but the smallest states got 1 regardless. That pulled representation away from large states and inflated small states. The end result is that the House doesn't represent the population, it is more representative of the states.

The Senate: Conversely, the Senate was to be chosen by the state legislatures. This was to give the states a "voice" in governing of the country. Unfortunately, the legislatures became so corrupt, that it corrupted the Senate. So the system was changed to allow the people to elect senators. So now, the Senators tend to be more representative of the people, than the state governments. Unfortunately, that is a disproportionate representation because each state, regardless of size, gets two.

Term Limits: The president is limited to 2 terms. The congress isn't, nor are the courts. This has created a situation in which presidents become "lame ducks" the day of their second election. Furthermore, it effectively forces the population to change, regardless of their desires. It favors the minority party by forcing a reconsideration every 8 years regardless.

So here we find ourselves with a system the is governed by a minority, serving a minority, and both empowering and encouraging them to avoid forming a majority. That's where fascism forms.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #8)

Mon Nov 5, 2018, 02:45 PM

10. Trump's 40% approval shows that 40% of America is already on board with fascism.

Trump and his cronies can do anything and that 40% will approve. They already think he's some kind of pious saint, despite the fact that Trump is an obvious and almost literal, Golden Calf. When your base is that blind and that fervent, they'll follow anything he does. Trump was right about his base. He could shoot someone in Times Square and they'd call him a hero.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 5, 2018, 02:11 PM

7. Rigging the vote: how the American right is on the way to permanent minority rule

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/04/america-minority-rule-voter-suppression-gerrymandering-supreme-court

I knew I had seen a similar viewpoint this morning.
The American right is in the midst of a formidable project: installing permanent minority rule, guaranteeing control of the government even as the number of actual human beings who support their political program dwindles.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2018, 02:40 PM

9. They think Congress stopped functioning in 2008?

Hah!

Try 1994, Newt Gingrich and his "Revolution". That's when things changed and the center evaporated.

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