12 Jan 2018

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Outside of the Mueller investigation, the biggest political question of 2018 is whether Democrats can ride a widely anticipated Blue Wave into a majority in Congress and divide the government. There are similarities to the mid-term wave elections that flipped Congress in 2006 and 2010. Many compare the stunning Senate special election victory of Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore in crimson red Alabama to the equally stunning 2010 victory of Republican Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley in deep blue Massachusetts. Does the Jones win point to a 2018 political tsunami like the Brown election foreshadowed a 2010 red wave? Maybe. In both cases, the long shot won with the help of a seriously flawed opposition candidate. In Alabama Roy Moore was accused of sexual impropriety with minors, and in Massachusetts Martha Coakley called Curt Schilling a "Yankee fan." This is, of course, not a fair comparison. Coakley's faux pas was far mor...

27 Feb 2011

Solomon Kleinsmith links to an article by Major Garrett about the decline of centrists in Washington.  It’s actually the summation of a longer article in the National Journal about how the two political parties in Congress have grown more and more apart. Not that long ago, Washington used to be a place full of individual, and individualistic, lawmakers who were both capable and willing to defy party labels and the party orthodoxy to make things happen. That was also a world, paradoxically, where party infrastructure mattered more; a place and time when local, state, and national party machinery exerted at least some influence over candidate selection, fundraising, endorsements, and field operations. The irony is that in that era of greater party influence, lawmakers acted less predictably and with less partisan zeal. National Journal‘s vote ratings in 1982 found, to cite just one example, 60 senators who could credibly be described as operating ...

24 Feb 2011

In 1902, trust-busting President Theodore Roosevelt issued Executive Order 163, prohibiting Federal employees from collective bargaining.  Some Federal employee unions had been around since the 1880s, and the National Federation of Federal Employees united them in 1916. In 1937, FDR endorsed his cousin TR's position:  "All government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into public service....  The very nature and purposes of government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people." President JFK reversed TR in 1962 Executive Order 10988, which allowed Federal employee collective bargaining.  Most states followed suit, and many of those either allowed or tolerated public-sector strikes. Federal employee strikes, though, were s...

08 Jan 2011

For the Civil War's 150th anniversary, many Southern nostalgists are trotting out the old saw that the South fought for states' rights, not primarily for slavery.  It just isn't so.  Eleven Southern states seceded and fought for slavery.  They even said so at the time, 1860-65.  Brief proof from ten states is quoted below. Today's debates over states' rights in 1860 and even 1960 are still important, in part because of how states' rights arguments have shaped general sentiment over whether Federal government is ever any good, whether our current Constitutional arrangement for Federal Supremacy is worth it.  If you believe that 600,000 men died in vain due to arrogant Federal power -- or if you believe that the Supreme Court had no business in Little Rock's school system of 1954 because men and women you admired then or later said so -- or if you just hear the old echo of "states' rights" without any prior context -- then you are primed to believe...

21 Dec 2010

Who's afraid of the big bad Constitution?  Today's Tea Party leaders and increasing numbers of other Republicans, that's who.  In an irony they surely do not appreciate, leading Tea Party - Republicans regard the Framers and the Constitution as inviolable on the one hand, while assailing the Constitution's core Federalist purpose on the other, echoing the Antifederalists of yore. The United States is a Federal Republic, that of the Constitution of 1787.  Our prior, looser Confederated Republic, under the Articles of Confederation, was doomed to failure.  When George Washington and a host of other Patriots agreed on this prediction in 1786-87, they accepted and then promoted what many of them would once have rejected as incompatible with the Spirit of '76 -- a strong central government to reign supreme over the states.  This sentiment extended far beyond the Philadelphia convention. As James Madison wrote in 1796, "If we were to look ... for th...

08 Jul 2010

In a recent article, columnist Ari Berman discussed this idea that has been kicked around in the last few years that there is a demographic tidal wave coming that is going to usher in a new age of Democratic, hard left progressive dominance. Quite a few people started to buy into this idea a couple years back, after the 2006 takeover of DC by the Democrats, and the as the Obama campaign phenomenon emerged, but is there any truth to it? Do demographics really determine our political destiny? No.   Hubristically Ignoring Centrist Swing Voters = Pendulum Politics But wait - weren't Republicans saying the same sort of thing just a few years ago? How quickly things turn around, no? Where is that 'red sea, as far as the eye can see'? In short, it led to overblown hubris, and ignoring centrists even more than that did before, which led to a wave election that gave them split government. Yet again, if that sounds familiar, it's probably bec...