Sunday Sermon: Time To Give Them The (Electoral) Business

A long time reader once remarked to me that the Democratic reaction to a strong win in 2008 was disappointing: the response should have been, as he put it, “Now it’s our turn to give them the business.” Which brings us to this piece about gerrymandering by Michael Olenick (boldface mine):

In the modern world where it’s polite to pretend that everything is equal, that both sides are no different. In reality, Republicans are a lot better at chicanery (I mean seriously: they elected Donald Trump president).

Republicans are a lot better at cheating but Democrats refuse to play the same games. Which is a shame because that’s what a large number of their own voters would prefer. California and New York could probably eliminate virtually all Republicans at the federal level with some Republican-style gerrymandering but, for whatever reason, they refuse to do it. I’d suggest the reason is worries about political blowback but, like we saw with the Virginia race, gerrymandering can also take care of that problem.

If California and New York acted like red states they could theoretically flip 22 seats, enough to leave Republicans in the minority. Sure, they received more votes in 2016 but, at this point, that under Republican orthodoxy that’s a meaningless detail. Nancy Pelosi should not be winning her seat by 80.9 percent, which she did. She should win by 52 percent to ensure that California Republican Jeff Denham, who won by 51.7 percent, loses. Since the districts are nowhere near each other is that unethical? Ethics in gerrymandering? Yawn.

Republicans have chosen to embrace their self-described “very stable genius” in the White House. They eliminated the filibuster to appoint hard-right ideological bag of wind Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Filibuster? Not for their tax cuts. They lie, cheat, and steal without giving it a second thought. Adopting their techniques might not sound entirely moral but it’s a whole lot better than the alternative, where they pollute the earth, sell out the middle class, reign in civil rights, and enable value extractors to run amok.

As Yves Smith notes, there’s only one situation where the Democratic establishment will play hardball: against other Democrats, who happen to be left-ish (the Iron Law of Institutions is always operative).

Wanting a ‘win’ and achieve policy goals aside (both of which are important), there’s a more serious issue at stake. Currently, our democracy requires that one party vastly outperform the other to gain a modest amount of power. If this continues, this state of affairs will be seen–correctly–as illegitimate. Right now, most Democrats still have faith in our institutions (to the ridiculous extent that many believe the Republican-ridden FBI will save them from Il Trumpe), but what happens if and when that vanishes? There will be very little restraint on either side.

Fighting back isn’t just about policy anymore.

Added: California’s redistricting system is run by a non-partisan commission.

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1 Response to Sunday Sermon: Time To Give Them The (Electoral) Business

  1. I read an article a long time ago about some work in game theory that determined, using computer simulations, that the best way to deal with rule breakers is to respond in kind, but go back to playing by the rules if they do. The Democrats should give it a try.

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