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mygif

Some people think that Democrats must be delighted to watch the Republicans twitch and convulse on a spit. The truth is, anyone significantly invested in democracy would much rather have a system where both parties are contributing and bringing ideas to the table. Like it or hate it, we have a two-party system. If one party just curls up in a ball and starts sobbing uncontrollably, it’s not only embarrassing, it’s a huge detriment to getting anything done. Even if every Democratic idea were to get passed into law, we don’t have any system to thoroughly vet those ideas and weed out any problems. Our system just doesn’t work without two functioning parties, so (intelligent) Democrats are just as horrified as anyone by what’s happening to the Republicans.

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Ryszard Kilarski said on October 28th, 2016 at 3:17 pm

I’ll second Jason’s sentiments. A nontrivial amount of our current challenges stem from a non-participating Republican party: Obamacare was a good first start, but the Republicans pitched a hissy fit “nyah nyah, we’re not doing anything” and the ACA holes started growing and growing. Ditto with our anemic economic growth, the federal budget, so many things in limbo.

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mygif

I agree. As satisfactory as it might be for the Democrats right now watching the implosion of the GOP, they also know that in the long run, it’s not healthy for the country, or for them either.

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mygif

I Like this argument, but I think it would be stronger with specifices.

Also, let’s run with David Wong’s argument that the vote for Trump is mostly rural. This also impacts your argument. For one thing, districting usually favours rural districts anyway, as they are less vote dense so their voters have more voting power per capita. For another, these people are suffering massively from a lack of economic recovery, which is almost certainly another factor in their choosing insane candidates who can come up with narratives to explain why they are being left behind.

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mygif

Is the vote for Trump mostly rural? I keep hearing that the majority of Trump’s supporters are something like $70,000 a year.

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I’ve been hearing his biggest demo is poor white males, but that might just be a fake narrative. Justin Wong provided a map that showed Republican support county by county, and it was obvious that only the dense population centers really supported the Democrats.

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mygif

Redistricting gets used as a boogeyman to explain every political problem we have these days, but it’s hard to believe a few ridiculously gerrymandered districts overshadow basic demographic differences. Democrats clustering inefficiently in cities, older white voters disproportionately getting out the vote during midterms, the Senate inflating the representation of smaller states Democrats perform poorly in—these all probably impact elections more.

Heck, we could just as easily blame the internet. Every candidate since Howard Dean has been able to tap into small dollar donations at a massive scale, greatly reducing the influence parties have over their candidates.

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mygif

I think that you can also put the Citizen’s United Decision in the ‘be careful what you wish for’ basket because it contributed its own bit to helping the extremists escape party control.

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girma: If you’ve been following the shitshow in North Carolina, redistricting is absolutely what led to that.

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Corrin Radd said on October 29th, 2016 at 8:13 pm

So this kind of gerrymandering also means giving up some districts to the opposing party, right? So why aren’t the noncompetetive Dem districts (of which I’m sure there are many) sending similar radical lefties, borderline communists, democratic socialists, or Green party candidates to Congress? If your premise is true, shouldn’t we be seeing a similar thing happening from the left?

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bad internet decisions said on October 29th, 2016 at 10:15 pm

No. The grassroots far-right is a very different animal from the grassroots far-left, because America is still pretty friendly to general populist rhetoric but at the same time openly hostile to anything that the word ‘socialist’ might touch. There have absolutely been far-left attempts to hit the Democrats from their own side, but barring a very few cases, the base has rejected them pretty soundly — go too far left of center and you will see that seat become contested by either Republicans or another Democrat.

Or, in simpler terms, the Republican base is conservative, and you can often go more conservative. The Democrat base is liberal, and Phil Ochs nailed how liberals work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

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Corrin, I sometimes wonder the same thing, but I don’t think the anti-establishment sentiment is as large on the left as it is on the right (although the Bernie campaign shows it certainly exists). People might grumble about Congress, but in my Democratic enclave our senators and representative are very popular.

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@Corrin: Because the extreme left simply isn’t as extreme as the extreme right. For the most part, I think it’s safe to say that the 50s and the 80s broke the radical Left in America to the point where current liberals and progressives simply don’t have a connection with them. The 50s made it impossible to be a big-c Communist, and the 80s (and 70s, really, when the government made violent splinter groups the face of the liberal movement) made it impossible to be a radical. There just isn’t any oxygen feeding that element of the progressive movement.

Whereas the radical right spent most of the 90s growing in influence due to talk radio, starting with Rush Limbaugh and proliferating through his various imitators. As an opposition party, the Republicans had the luxury of not worrying about the practical implications of their policy suggestions, so they were free to demand some pretty extremist stuff, and the base ate it up with a spoon. The Party establishment was happy to pretend it cared about those same issues, because it got the base motivated, but now they’re in the uncomfortable position of having to follow through on all their crazy ideas, conspiracy theories, unworkable economic policies, et cetera. I agree with Girma that redistricting isn’t the only problem the Republicans have–in all honesty, the roots of the Republican trainwreck go all the way back to the Great Depression, but I can only write so many words per blog post. :)

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L. A. Julian said on November 1st, 2016 at 1:56 pm

There’s something particularly beautiful in the way that this must have seemed like such a bargain. No longer would they have to spend money defending each district, the machine would grease itself! Not realizing that this took away their only control mechanism over undesirable behaviour, while at the same time ensuring that the worst sort of extremism would be rewarded.

And thus you get Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, and Presidential Nominee Donald Trump.

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SqueakyRat said on November 1st, 2016 at 2:35 pm

I don’t think a minority party can gerrymander its way into majority representation by creating ultra-safe districts for its own members: that packs too many of your voters into too few districts.

You have to do the opposite: pack the majority’s voters into as few districts as possible, leaving comfortable but not necessarily huge margins for your candidates in the rest.

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@SqueakyRat: You’d need to look at the maps. These are literally drawn house-by-house to both pack the majority voters into very few districts and create large margins for their own people. It’s why Obama has made challenging the district maps his top priority post-election, because these are blatantly gerrymandered in a way that is illegal and unconstitutional.

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mygif

There was an ep of a podcast about gerrymandering, and a book called “Ratfuck,” that made me want to build a map to demonstrate the problem. It’s on my to-do list.

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