When is a Majority a Minority? When It’s the GOP

Yves here. One small quibble with this piece. It does not mention the degree to which the Democratic party has become fixated with the patronage opportunities of controlling the Executive branch, and has been neglecting local and state races. The party hemorrhaged representation under Obama, yet party grandees were remarkably unconcerned. So the Democrats have no one to blame but themselves for a weak bench and squillionaire candidates thinking they can take advantage of that. Mind you, that does not obviate the ways that the Republicans make hay with their minority position, but Team Dem has not played a great game, save for certain favored interest and economic groups.

By Steven Hill,  the author of “10 Steps to Repair American Democracy” and “Fixing Elections: The Failure of America’s Winner Take All Politics” and a co-founder and former assistant director of FairVote (though his opinions are his own)

After a strong start with his ambitious Covid relief bill and vaccination rollout, President Joe Biden’s momentum has slowed considerably. Like President Barack Obama before him, he has now hit the buzzsaw of…Republican minority rule.

Much attention has been focused on Senator Joe Manchin’s stubborn defense of the filibuster, even as Republicans have raced forward with new outrages of voter suppression of racial minorities and thwarted establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attacks on the US Capitol. But beneath the headlines lurks a deeper, more troubling and harder to fix aspect of US democracy.

Majority rule, the notion that a constituency with more than half the popular support should be able to decide policy — and should not be dominated by a group that has less than half support — is one of the bedrock principles of representative government. Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 22 said a fundamental maxim of democratic government required “that the sense of the majority should prevail.” Yet the US violates this sacred imperative on a regular basis. The US political system has evolved over the last several decades so that it’s flawed and antiquated institutions continually frustrate that Hamiltonian standard, fostering a dangerous experiment with “minoritarianism.”

Those structural defects manifest in several ways that threaten America’s existence as a democratic nation:

US House of Representatives. In the “People’s House,” a number of analyses have shown that, for the Democrats to win a bare majority of seats, they often must win well more than half of the nationwide popular vote in all 435 House district seats. In some election years, such as 2012 and 1996, Democrats won the popular vote but Republicans won House majorities (you have to go back to 1942 to find an election in which a Democratic majority had fewer votes than Republicans). Today’s imbalance is due to natural partisan demographics, in which Democratic voters increasingly live in more concentrated urban districts, making it easier to pack them into fewer districts during partisan redistricting. Consequently, most Democrats win their seats with large victory margins and many wasted votes.

Partisan control over redistricting magnifies this effect. After the red wave election of 2010, Republicans took over many state legislatures and drew more than five times as many House districts as Democrats. With the next redistricting fast approaching, the GOP will control the drawing of lines for 2.5 times as many seats as Democrats. For that reason, a number of experts are predicting that Republicans will take back the House in 2022.

Double-magnifying this effect, with 90 percent of legislative districts often heavily lopsided in favor of either Democrats or Republicans, then the only election of real consequence is the primary election that nominates the candidate of the party that dominates that district. And those primaries usually have extremely low voter turnout, often around 20-25%, with the most motivated and hyper-partisan voters showing up. Consequently, a new report from Unite America found that just 10% of eligible voters nationwide cast ballots in those primaries in 2020 that effectively decided 83% of U.S. House races.

US Senate. The structural bias in the upper chamber is even more severe than in the House. Because every state receives two senators, regardless of population, Wyoming with a half a million people has the same representation as California with 40 million. At our country’s founding, this large state-small state bias was around 12 to 1, now it’s closer to 80 to 1. Moreover, in the last few decades, the two parties have gradually undergone a dramatic urban-rural sorting that has made most low-population states reliably Republican. Consequently, while the U.S. Senate is currently split 50-50 Senators for each party, the Democratic half won over 41 million more votes than the Republican half and represents 56% of the American people. GOP senators have not represented a majority of the population since 1999, yet Republicans have held a majority of Senate seats for most of the past 20 years, passing or blocking key legislation.

Because of this anti-majoritarian potential James Madison opposed equal Senate representation as an unjustifiable limit on national majorities, proposing his Virginia Plan that granted representation based on population, like in the House. Hamilton was scathing in his condemnation of the Senate, writing “It may happen that this majority of States is a small minority of the people of America…the majority, in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings.”

Sound familiar? It sounds like today’s Senate, which in actual fact is about as representative as the UK’s House of Lords. It is overwhelmingly a chamber of elderly white males, with only 24 female senators out of 100 and 11 racial minorities (six Latinos, two Asian-Americans and three African-Americans) in a nation that is 40% people of color.

The filibuster. Add in archaic Senate procedures like the filibuster and appointment holds, and minority rule goes berserk. With the filibuster, the current Democratic-controlled Senate needs a near super-majority of 60 votes, including 10 votes from Republicans, to even debate any legislation. That means 41 GOP Senators representing a mere 20 percent of the country can stop legislation favored by Senators representing the other 80 percent. The Democrats’  override of the GOP filibuster to kill the January 6 commission won support from 56 Senators, including six Republicans, but that wasn’t enough. This amounts to an extreme minority veto over what lives and dies. As numerous observers have said, “The Senate is now the place where good legislation goes to die.”

Presidential elections. With the number of electoral votes awarded in each state partly based on two Senators per state, presidential elections also are tilted towards Republican success. FiveThirtyEight estimates that a Democratic presidential winner must win the national popular vote by a margin of at least 3.5 points in order to win a bare majority of electoral votes. That’s why Republicans have won the presidency twice in the last six elections while losing the popular vote. If 22,000 voters in the states of Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia had changed their minds and voted for Trump over Biden, Trump would have tied Biden in the Electoral College, throwing the election into the House and electing Trump, even though he lost the national popular vote by over 7 million votes.

US Supreme Court. Because Supreme Court justices are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, that same low-population, conservative bias is also hardwired into the Supreme Court. It’s no coincidence that currently the Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority, despite the Democrats winning a majority of voters nationwide for the presidency, the House and the Senate. The Republicans have been hugely successful at appointing conservative judges, with President Trump appointing 226 federal judges, including three Supreme Court justices and as many powerful federal appeals court judges in four years as Barack Obama appointed in eight. Not bad, for a president who lost the popular vote, and for a GOP Senate majority that was elected by a minority of voters.

* State legislatures. This GOP minoritarianism is not just baked into the federal government. Like in the US House, many states’ legislative elections are skewed by Democratic concentration in cities. In addition, Republicans have played a dominant role in the decennial redistricting process in state after state, due to their success in winning control of state legislatures, which redraw the district lines in most states. Republicans currently control 67 state legislative chambers and the Democrats only 37. In six states where Joe Biden won the statewide vote, the GOP controls both the house and senate in those state legislatures.

In short, minority rule has metastasized like a cancer and is pervasive throughout the US political system. It is like having a foot race in which one political party starts 10 meters ahead of the other. With paralysis in the Congress, “rule by executive order” increasingly has replaced the role of the legislature. The “Imperial Presidency” is in danger of transmogrifying into a toxic mutant of “post-democracy,” in which we will still hold elections but those democratic rituals will be increasingly less effective as a vehicle for resolving the nation’s challenges. At what point might a critical mass of voters in a handful of battleground states cry out for a strongman who can “get things done”? In 2024?

Despite appearances of the GOP’s “shrinking tent,” Republicans don’t need to expand their support base in order to win back control of the federal government in the next two election cycles, nor to torpedo the Democrat’s policy agenda today. The GOP has found that mobilizing its loyal base of white voters can be a winning strategy, even if that base constitutes a voting minority. And no one mobilizes that electoral constituency better than Donald Trump.

Beyond representational upheaval, the resulting policy impacts are equally alarming. A recent study from the Brookings Institution found that the 509 counties in the U.S. that voted for Joe Biden generate 71% of U.S. GDP, while the 2,547 counties that voted for Donald Trump – most of them sparsely populated – account for just 29% of the U.S. economy. So while the blue Democratic states are the economic engine of the entire country, the red GOP states hold a veto over public policy.

There are fixes to these democratic threats, but they will be challenging to enact. An ambitious effort is underway to adopt a national popular vote for president, utilizing interstate compacts instead of a constitutional amendment. The Congress also could change the method for electing the House to Ranked Choice Voting in multi-seat districts, instead of the current “winner take all” single-seat districts, which would ensure a proportional representation in which a majority of votes always wins a majority of seats. That also would give voters more choices and decrease some of the bitter partisanship. New York City just used RCV for the first time to elect its mayor and city council members, with dramatic results that doubled the number of women elected to the 51-seat city council from 14 to 29, with 26 of those women of color.

The Democratic-controlled Senate also could abolish the filibuster and toss it into the ash heap of history, where it belongs; or, to foster bipartisanship, gradually lower the threshold from 60 votes to a final 51 vote majority. The US also could depoliticize the appointment process for Supreme Court justices by using multiple appointing authorities and introducing reasonable term limits of 15 years, like many countries do. Unfortunately, changing the representative structure of the U.S. Senate is going to be devilishly difficult. It would probably be better to reduce its powers, making it more limited like Germany’s upper chamber, the Bundesrat.

An anti-democratic minoritarianism has been unleashed, just as Madison and Hamilton had feared it would. The Republicans will never give it up because, as a structural minority party, their power depends on it. Yet minority dominance undermines the government’s legitimacy, and pushes the US another step toward a future of post-democracy. Might the American republic go the way of the Roman Republic? I truly fear it might. And quicker than most Americans or our international allies would have thought possible.

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  1. bold'un

    My theory is that whereas democracy is the least-bad political system WITHIN a set of rules, it is no good for setting or modifying the same rules.

  2. Tom Stone

    Erm, the idea that the USA is a Democratic Country is absurd on its face.
    It is, and has been a plutocracy for a long, long time.

    1. LowellHIghlander

      I was thinking the same thing. Would a country the least bit democratic let private power become so threatening as it has? And Glenn Greenwald, in his book With Justice for Some, has unequivocally demonstrated that there’s one system of “justice” for the wealthy and powerful, and another for people without power and influence.

      I fear that more people will have to be thrown out onto the streets; more people will have to start dropping from starvation; and more people will have to lose everything before there’s any substantive change in our political systems and policies. And isn’t one purpose of government to prevent a situation where any of that happens to its citizens?

      1. d w

        exception being that the US has always been in the state it is today, go back and look at the 1800s, not much different, or 19th century, or even 20th century. the difference today is that politicians pick their voters. and we can actually hear of it. in the past it was hard to know what was happening then. the other change is that the parties have figured out how to slice and dice the populations so that they can be in control, but not need to win the most votes to do so. we can that the SCOTUS or this also, since they dont seem to see a problem with politicians picking their voters.

        i can see why the D’s worry about filibuster, cause if it goes based on number of seats, they cant even get in the room to do any thing at all.

        1. Michelle

          It seems that our history is remembered by the glorious, shining exceptions (Declaration of Independence, 13 & 14th Amandments, New Deal, Great Society) rather than the mundane but actually more determinant (plutocratic) rule(rs).

          It’s easy and distracting to tell the hagiographic story of success punctuations rather than the predominant strain of our politics.

          Thia article is a great reminder of “how the game is played by the professionals” while the “middle school cheerleaders” keep our minds off the reality.

      2. The last D

        Wow, a thousand, million thanks to the Great Glenn Greenwald for pointing out the obvious. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Indeed. The article labors under the pretense that there is a significant difference between the two parties and that any Democratic majority wants to do things differently than their Republican counterparts.

      They don’t. Just look what they did to Nina Turner this week. Plenty of bipartisanship among the plutocrats to kill off her Congressional bid.

  3. anon

    How will everyone feel about the filibuster if on January 20, 2025 we have speaker McCarthy, majority leader McConnell (in a 50-50 senate), and President DeSantis?

    1. mike

      they would suddenly become the biggest supporters of the filibuster….
      and the notion that these policies being put forth are supported by the majority is laughable at best

      1. 1 Kings

        Boy, I remember those great 36 hour lose-voice filibusters by the Kntucky frog Mitch Mc, Ron do-call-me the biggest Corp stooge of Wisconsin, and who can forget any Senator from Texas, Alabama, Missipsip, Wyoming etc etc who passionately tried to defeat a bill by reading the Bible start to finish.
        Oh wait, that has never happened?
        Never? You mean they can just SAY they are filibustering and it is done. Don’t have to read the Bible or the Constitution, or maybe one of those 900 page bills that pay off every lobbyist in the DC metro area.
        Okie dokie..

  4. Another Scott

    While I agree with some of the points made in the article, some of the assumptions are flawed. For example, where does it state that the number of representatives in the House is fixed at 435? It regularly increased until 1920, when it stopped. If the number doubled, it would likely help the larger states as smaller states wouldn’t have enough population to double there representation. And since the larger states tend to vote for the Democrats on the presidential level, it would help them in the electoral college.

    In addition, I seem to remember before the 2000 election, that many people thought that the electoral college benefited Gore, not Bush, although the results of the election were reversed. I think very these structural problems through partisan eyes is flawed and rather we should think that they benefit smaller states and more rural areas, which currently are Republican.

    1. d w

      indeed why is the house set at 435 seats, and cant be increased even if the country has grown a lot since 1920.
      and its not like this hasnt been litigated, it has, and the courts seem ok with the lack of representation.

      course i would also suggest maybe members of the house not be based on what they state the ‘represent’, and if they are, that the districts be set by the law, with a commission made up of the electorate, not just politicians. if insist on the state being where the geographical location, then its based on what ever the legislature wants, with approvals from that geographical location (from multiple districts if they are all in a metro area, plus by voters statewide.

      so are we even a representative democracy? i begin to wonder, we dont seem to be

      now if you look at surveys, the major parties, are just about dead even based on them, but neither has more than 39% of those surveyed. the actual majority is the independents

    2. AlfredHussian

      There was a lot of discussion prior to 11/2000 that Gore would win the electoral college but lose the popular vote, and the MSM (CNN and NYTimes stand out) was very supportive of the electoral college.

  5. James E Keenan

    New York City just used RCV for the first time to elect its mayor and city council members, with dramatic results that doubled the number of women elected to the 51-seat city council from 14 to 29, with 26 of those women of color.

    One caveat: The NYC mayor and City Council are term-limited. Hence, the turnover in gender among Council members cannot be entirely attributed to ranked choice voting.

    1. juno mas

      But RCV seems to encourage more candidates to run. And more women are finding an opportunity to throw their scarf in the ring. And term limits affect males and females equally.

  6. marym

    Thank you for the this concise review of anti-majoritarian structures. Republicans are also currently passing state laws to empower state legislators to discard the results of the popular vote and appoint their own slate of presidential of electors.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      And the other Republican party (who call themselves Democrats) has let it go on for years and is doing nothing of substance to stop it. It’s almost as if they’re completely OK with it…

      1. marym

        Republicans are gleeful in pursuit of power and doing harm. Democrats like to cover it their harmfulness with a veneer of helpless concern and tell their base to clap louder

  7. AndrewJ

    It’s hard to look at all this, among other aspects of our federal government that have metastatized over the last few centuries, and not want to just go ahead and tear it all down via a constitutional convention.

    1. freebird

      The same clowns who gave us this s*t-show would be the ‘delegates’ at said convention. Good luck with that.

    2. AndrewJ

      These are thoughtstoppers. “The radical right is for it, so we gotta be against it”?
      Do you have a better idea? I’m not sure they could make things worse than they already are. We’re already on a slide toward authoritarianism, shepherded by both parties. It may be a Rasputinesque viewpoint, but maybe things have to get worse before they can get better. I just don’t think there’s any chance, or value, in saving the American project of fifty states governed by the Constitution.
      Best outcome of a convention is that nobody can agree and the whole thing is dissolved. Worst is that we end up under the authoritarian pseudo-democracy that we are already barrelling toward anyway. Might as well get there and see if that will finally make our citizenry organize locally and form alternative power structures. That will happen anyway in the climate collapse to come. Let’s just get it over with.

  8. KD

    I am reminded of George Carlin:

    Two reasons I don’t vote: first of all, it’s meaningless. This country was bought and sold and paid for a long time ago. The shit they shuffle around every four years doesn’t mean a fuckin’ thing. And secondly, I don’t vote ’cause I believe if you vote, you have no right to complain. People like to twist that around. I know, they say, they say: “well if you don’t vote you have no right to complain”. But where’s the logic in that? If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent people, and they get into office and screw everything up, well you are responsible for what they have done, YOU caused the problem, you voted them in, you have no right to complain. I on the other hand, who did not vote, WHO DID NOT VOTE. Who in fact did not even leave the house on election-day, am in no way responsible for what these people have done, and have every RIGHT to complain as loud as I want, about the mess YOU created, that I had nothing to do with.

    Yes, the only thing that sucks worse than minority rule is majority rule. Besides, if the politicians actually believed voting would change anything, they would ban it. Voting: everyone secretly does it! Soviets vote, Chinese vote, Americans vote. As Carlin noted:

    So I know that a little later on this year, you’re going to have another one of those really swell presidential elections that you like so much. You enjoy yourselves. It will be a lot of fun. I’m sure as soon as the election is over, your country will “improve” immediately. As for me, I’ll be home on that day, doing essentially the same thing as you, the only difference is, when I get finished masturbating, I’m going to have a little something to show for it folks.

    1. Tom Bradford

      Carlin is wrong. Not voting is an abrogation of responsibility. Don’t vote and you’re responsible for the outcome whatever it is.

      The proper approach is to vote, as has been said, for the ‘least worst’ according to your views. Most democratic systems have three, four or even more candidates representing a wide range of politics. Most of those will be hopeless yet even the worst always garner a few votes – protest votes perhaps, but far more of a message than not voting at all. And over time the small parties with a message of their own can gain a little ground plebiscite by plebiscite as they draw a little more attention each time, gain a little more appeal, until they can actually have an impact.

      In my neck of the woods I helped form the Green Party in the early ’90’s and after initially forming a coalition with a number of other small parties which together drew enough votes to actually have a voice in Parliament, has steadily grown its vote with each election, each time gaining a little more weight and Parliamentary presence, to the point that it can now actually affect Government policy.

      The problem isn’t the US electoral system. It’s people like Carlin who look at elections like boxing matches with a winner and a loser, and who like many Americans are so terrified of being ‘losers’ that they won’t take the risk of being seen as such by supporting the losing side. I’m sure more that a few Americans actually support the Greens, but as no-one believes the Greens can actually win few see any point ‘wasting’ a vote on them and backing a loser, whereas if they actually voted as they believed not only are they making a point, they are helping nudge the boulder towards the edge of a slope where it would start picking up momentum to perhaps shatter a few glass ceilings.

      1. Societal Illusions

        I appreciate the personal experience you share, but in the US where primaries are mostly filled with endorsed candidates and the monopoly by the two parties regularly keep other parties out, Carlin may have it right.

        At least he explains his thinking.

      2. Dr. R.k. Barkhi

        “The proper approach is to vote, as has been said, for the ‘least worst’ according to your views. “*

        This,imo, is the problem,and not a solution at all. The absolutely rigid control the “two” parties have over every aspect of the nomination process is what lays the foundation for this. No Abraham Lincolns invited or welcome. No Independents either,and especially no one actually representing non corporate/plutocratic concerns.

        The 2 main parties here are 2 sides of the same corporate coin and no progress will be made until Americans understand this.

        *Btw,Here we call it “the lesser of 2 evils”. So following your advice we are still voting for an evil,and maybe worse,thinking we are accomplishing something positive.

        1. Tom Bradford

          The absolutely rigid control the “two” parties have over every aspect of the nomination process is what lays the foundation for this.

          Yes, but this isn’t the fault of the system. It’s the fault of the electorate that allows it to happen. Declaring as Carlin has that you don’t like what the game has become so you’re not going to play any more isn’t going to rectify it. It’s just going to consolidate the status quo.

          Having to choose between the lesser of two evils is unpleasant, but by not voting at all you’re in fact increasing the majority of whichever evil that wins by one and thereby strengthening its mandate.

          What the US needs is a few silly old rams looking to punch a hole in a dam.


          1. Starry Gordon

            I doubt if our problems are constitutional. Here in New York City, that famed hotbed of liberalism and radicalism, ranked choice voting gave us a mayor-presumptive who is an organization man, an ex-cop, and a friend of Real Estate and the money people, and similarly down the line with the lesser offices. That is, conservatives, in the original meaning of the word. As long as the electorate keeps voting for conservatives, they’re going to get the same results, and apparently they’re satisfied with that, or they’d do something different. And those who govern and profit by governing see to it that the electorate is not disturbed in its preferences. Things do change, indeed, they change constantly, but the powers that be are going to be the last to change. They are certainly not going to accede to the inconveniences of changing the Constitution if they can help it.

            I disagree with Carlin, though; if you like voting, go out and do it; knock yourselves out. It probably doesn’t hurt to remind the ruling class that their powers and privileges do rest on the backs of the masses, however inert they seem to be at the moment.

      3. Basil Pesto

        I don’t especially care for George “The Edgelord’s Edgelord” Carlin, but this:

        It’s people like Carlin who look at elections like boxing matches with a winner and a loser, and who like many Americans are so terrified of being ‘losers’ that they won’t take the risk of being seen as such by supporting the losing side.

        is a woefully bad reading of his bit.

  9. KD

    By way of further point, look at California. Total Democratic Control. They all ran on universal health care. They got complete control of the State, and health care disappeared and they started issuing fracking permits left and right. The Democrats and the Republicans don’t actually govern any differently when in power, other than symbolically pandering.

    All this electioneering if passed (and it won’t) would just put the Democrats in power, and they would continue to do the same stupid evil things that the Republicans used to do, and then try to scare everyone that if the Republicans get in, they will do even stupider and evil things than the Democrats.

    Look, Biden got elected. No racist tweets but pretty much the rest of the Trump agenda from hostility to China to kids in cages remains. Go Team Blue.

    1. 1 Kings

      How are California ‘Democrats’ any different than former Repub Governors Pete Wilson, Dukmagian, and even The Arnold, who was fairly liberal by Nancy, Feinstein, Gerry Brown and Boxer standards. The Dems talk a liberal bs show, but give us the hammer…on our heads.

  10. KD

    Gosh, don’t you think if the situation was this dire, rather than re-write the Constitution, the Democrats would put on their big boy pants and actually run on some kind of platform that appeals to Americans in rural states, or at least doesn’t render them nauseous? Oh, wait, then we couldn’t grandstand about the stupid people in Red places, make Deliverance jokes, and raise money for our foundations for “democracy” from billionaires in coastal cities.

  11. Chris Smith

    Color me unimpressed. There are plenty of options. First, Democrats could try winning state elections to gerrymander things their way. As Another Scott points out above, we could raise the number of house seats past 435 to have more (ostensibly) granular representation of constituents. Not to mention the more reps there are, the more expensive it gets to bribe, I mean “lobby,” them. Finally, the Senate was designed to represent the states, not the populous. On the one hand, I can sympathize with the idea that we should get rid of the senate.

    On the other hand, I live in a part of upstate New York that I have no doubt those nice, fine people in NYC would frack until it was too toxic for humans if it meant keeping the lights on in the city. Me and mine be damned! So counter-majoritarianism is not always a negative.

  12. wmkohler

    As far as I can tell, all of this comes down to exactly the same problem the founders faced when framing the Constitution to begin with. The advantages of a unified nation-state, versus a looser confederation of states that would retain greater individual authority, could not be attained without some assurance to the smaller states that their interests would not be drowned out by the population centers. As far as this goes, to this day the smaller states continue to have no compelling reason to give up their leverage here, indeed even less so as the population gap has grown.

    I’ve been working through Tocqueville’s Democracy in America which is quite illuminating as to how a lot of these things that we complain about in present-day politics are the system working exactly as intended. The whole purpose of the Senate is indeed to gum up the legislative works and create a barrier to the at least less-fettered expression of the voice of the people in the House.

    As the election of Trump showed, even the limited democracy we have can create significant challenges in such crucial state tasks as maintaining an approximately consistent foreign policy, one example of what the founders feared in giving too much sway to the impulses of the people.

  13. Richard

    How can the Senate Filibuster (SF) be considered Constitutional? A group of Senators decided to make it harder to pass a law by requiring a 60 vote majority just to debate certain legislation. The SF is not like an Initiative or Constitutional Amendment, it is a Senate voting protocol that stops legislation from being debated. What the protocol has done is create a 41 person Senate within a 100 person Senate. There are no words in the Constitution that allow a SF to exist. It does not say voting ties will be broken by the VP unless a super-majority is needed. Super-majority requirements are used in well defined singlular situations. When a SF is used it creates an unconstitutional event. Senate rules, not the Constitution, allows 41 Senators to deny majority of citizens and that is anti-democracy. Senate rules that are anti-democracy should be challenged in court as unconstitutional. Senate rules are not the equivalent of the Constitution.

  14. Sound of the Suburbs

    The rich are few and the poor are many.
    Right wing parties have always had a big problem, but have perfected the art of still winning elections when the odds are stacked against them.

    The US never really developed a real Left and has a liberal Left.
    Let’s look at the UK.

    How did we get here?
    There were two parties when we moved to universal suffrage.
    The Liberal Party were the left wing of the elite and didn’t represent the interests of labour, so they had to form their own party, the Labour Party.

    This truth table boils it down to the basics.
    Economically Right Socially Conservative
    Right 1 1
    Liberal 1 0
    The masses 0 1

    The Conservatives could always attract the masses on socially conservative issues and they still can.
    The liberals were in trouble, but gradually realised they could attract the masses with economically progressive issues, whilst making progress on socially liberal matters.
    This coalition worked well until the new liberals (neoliberals) arrived.

    Over-running the Labour Party did work for a while, but liberals are liberals and their true colours have been revealed.

    In the US, the Democrats had been more labour left, but have become more liberal left.
    The Republicans have seized the opportunity that has been presented to them.

    The truth table comes from Thomas Frank’s “Listen Liberal”.
    He looked into how the US professional classes went from being staunchly Republican to voting Democrat.
    When it wasn’t going to hit them in the pocket, they could become caring Democrats and feel better about themselves.

  15. Glen

    Please, it’s really not that complicated. There is one political party in America. It has two wings:

    The Republicans – whose role is to do bad things to the majority of Americans, and favor the rich and powerful. They are very good about removing any roadblocks like laws and tradition to do whatever they need to do to get their agenda enacted.

    The Democrats – whose role is to ensure that good things are never done for the majority of Americans, but favor the rich and powerful. They are very good at finding whatever inane excuse is necessary to ensure they cannot get anything done.

  16. Glen

    I know I have a somewhat simplistic view of this since the are differences between the Republicans and Democratic parties, but I keep coming back to this:

    The Republican party’s primary role is to do bad things to the majority of the American people as dictated by the wealthy and powerful. They accomplish this by overriding law and tradition and are very successful at enacting their agenda. They are very good at packing courts, gerrymandering districts, and restricting voting.

    The Democratic party’s primary role is to stop good things from happening for the majority of American people in support of the wealthy and powerful. They are routinely hamstrung for the most inane reasons, and if they do enact anything, it’s temporary, applies to a limited portion of the people, or rolls back only half of tax cut for billionaires rather than all of it. They promise much during elections and routinely don’t deliver once elected.

    I’m not disputing that there are structural defects which impede democracy, but don’t expect the centrist Democrats currently in power to do anything about it – that’s not their role.

    But what is important to understand, is if you want change, you must go after the centrist Democrats who stop it, not the Republicans.

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