If the polls are to be believed, the American people have a powerful desire for change. The Democrats are accordingly enjoying wide margins in "generic" ballot tests. One would expect a Democratic wave the likes of 1974 (when they won 49 seats) or at least 1982 (when they won 27). This might happen, of course. But there is a very real possibility that the Democrats could win a majority of the national popular vote, and yet the Republicans remain in the majority. The Republicans have even boasted of their "structural advantages": gerrymandering, incumbency, their turn-out operation, and (most importantly) money. We see campaign coverage in which candidates are being judged not on their personal merits or public positions, but essentially on how much money they can raise. And we call this a democracy?
The problem is not so much that these are hurdles to overcome, but that each is fundamentally anti-majoritarian: they are designed to fend off the popular will. The Republicans are trying to build a political system that insulates them any real electoral competition. They want to silence the people's voice, reducing elections to mere symbol - of no more meaning than the elections that were conducted in Soviet Union.
For years the Republicans have been attacking the institutional foundation of the Democratic Party. Well, two can play at that game. Karl Rove & Ken Mehlman think that incumbency, gerrymandering, fund-raising, and low voter turnout are the keys to Republican advantage. Thanks guys - you've just laid out platform for the Democratic Party. Any future Democratic majority should alter the re-districting process to enhance competitiveness, reduce franking privileges, reduce pork, establish universal voter registration, and most importantly - reform the campaignf finance system. Half-measure won't work - corporate lobbyists are already trying to corrupt the Democrats in order to ensure the passage of horrific "pro-business" legislation.
I think that the substantive merits of these proposals speak for themselves - they'd do a lot to create a more just political system. But one could argue that Democrats would be foolish to embrace such a plan. Rahm Emmanuel and his sort might claim that a system of public financing would eliminate an important Democratic advantage, that it would remove an important new support for freshman incumbents.
To which I would reply - do you really think that business will ever give more to Democrats than Republicans. Why not cut the ground out from the Republican party entirely? Why not cripple their ability to compete by preventing them from burying their opponents in slime? Don't you think that we'd be better off, as a party and as a country?
Of course George Bush would veto this package of reforms. But then we'd have something pretty good to run on in 2008, wouldn't we? The Democratic Party wants to restore the government to the people, but Bush Republicans want to perpetuate the culture of corruption. Sounds pretty good to me.
Oh man, I'd feel so much better about this election if I hadn't just looked over the Propositions on our ballot.By prairieoyster, at 12:39 AM
Apparently the 'reforms' in this state includes amending the legislation that bans gay marriage... to make it worse. The new law would remove any need for companies to give special compensation to non-married partners, hetero or not. Awesome.
Oh, and then there's the new legislation to make all the forest reserve here private land. Yay!
Yow that's some pretty awful stuff. I tell you, referenda are just a bad idea.By Arbitrista (formerly Publius), at 7:14 AM