January 4, 2016

"Long before Mr. Trump came along, the supposedly immutable laws of politics had begun to fall. Mr. Trump is taking defiance in a nervy new direction."

Writes Mark Schmitt in the NYT.

21 comments:

traditionalguy said...

He writes like an 1820s Federalist from Connecticut amazed by Old Hickory's defiance of the true civilization. This has never been done before!!!!

tim in vermont said...

Trump is moving the "Overton Window." I am not sure of the precise definition of the Overton Window. Is it the range of political ideas that a society holds? Or the range of ideas that the press is willing to report on? Bernie and the Donald seem to be pushing hard on its sills, that's for sure. Interesting that in an article of this kind, Bernie Sanders gets nary a mention, all the news they see fit to print.

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda said...

Saint Croix, you are so right.

Writ Small said...

This article is really not about Trump at all, but rather about the abandonment of the middle in favor of a winner-take-all, ideological extreme strategy now apparently adopted by both parties. I supposed you need to mention Trump's name to get link traffic. It did, after all, work with Althouse, although to be fair, Trump is the most obvious example of the new screw-the-middle approach.

Schmitt blames the usual suspects, Super Pacs, special interest groups and redistricting. He does have some interesting things to say about how politician's actions have now changed in response to a new understanding of voter behavior.

The main bit I expected to see but did not is the virtual ideological segregation that has taken place via technology. A hundred years ago, people were segregated by the expense of travelling and the modest and local reach of media. Fifty years ago, the big networks and major papers meant nearly everyone got a similar diet of news and information. The importance of the middle was never stronger. In the past fifteen years, it is increasingly possible for people to tailor their news in such a way that they are rarely challenged ideologically. Even as Althouse abandons cruel neutrality in favor of Trump boosterism, her site remains one of the few places of ideological variety.

I suppose Mark Schmitt failed to see this particular effect since he is well enveloped in his own safe-space bubble.

Jim Gust said...

"I hate the gerrymander. I despite it. It's dangerous and corrupt and unconstitutional."

On the contrary, the gerrymander is constitutionally required so that we may have a racially diverse Congress.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Had to bail out after the first paragraph.

...insulting Senator John McCain, a veteran... Are veterans a protected class that may not be "insulted?" What is the statutory penalty for insulting a veteran? If a person, veteran or not, asserts a falsehood is it "insulting" to point out the false assertion?

...disparaging women... Provide example. (Note: actual quote, in context, from Trump is asked for. Quotes from other Op.Ed. writers not responsive.)

...building a rhetorical wall to keep out the single demographic... Supporting information needed. Most folks I know here (the County is 95%+ Mexican heritage) do not support illegal migrants.

But Althouse's lead quote ...taking deefiance in a new nervy direction... gave ill portent for the linked article. Nervy defiance called to mind not Trump, who seems to speak the mind of perhaps a majority of voters. Rather, came the image of Obama and Executive Orders in defiance of both the officialy designated Constitutional Legislature and the apparent national popular will.

Chuck said...

Wow, Trump is sure attracting an awful lot of attention from people -- like Ann Althouse -- who have no intention of ever voting for him, and almost certainly would not vote for any Republican for president.

This guy, writing an op-ed in the New York Times (which will endorse the Democrat and ridicule the Republican, no matter what) works for the New America think tank in Washington, D.C. Which is funded with millions from the Ford Foundation, the State Department, Bill and Melinda Gates, and significantly from Soros and the Open Society Foundation. Which is to say, it is about as neutral, nonpartisan and apolitical as is NPR or PBS.

Their dream opponent is Donald Trump. That is the match that they want more than anything, because they feel certain that it means at least four more years of a Democratic executive branch. Who can blame them? Let's just be realistic about what is being said about Trump, who is saying it and why they are saying it.

Anthony said...

And in many nonpresidential elections, the median voter probably isn’t voting at all.

Gaaah! Talk about not understanding what you're reporting on!

Saint Croix said...

Thanks Amanda! (I yanked that sentence because I wrote "despite" instead of "despise") Anyway, here is a bit more discussion:

Americans really do still hate Congress. Approval ratings for Congress stood most recently at 13 percent, near a record low. People still think more highly of their own senator or representative, but that’s changing: In Gallup polls since 2013, about 40 percent disapprove of their own member of Congress, much higher than in previous periods of generalized hostility to the institution. Near majorities now say that their own member is “out of touch” and pays more attention to “special interests” than his or her constituents.

Numbers like those would normally foreshadow political doom. But 96 percent of House incumbents won re-election in 2014...


Stop right there. That is a fundamental and broken part of our republic. If Congress is so deeply unpopular, they should not have a 96 percent re-election rate.

I blame the gerrymander. I blame both parties, conspiring together, to keep incumbents in office. And when we have that, a group of organized and corrupt individuals in power who usurp the people's right to vote, I believe our courts should step in.

A gerrymander is, by definition, anti-democratic (or anti-republican, take your pick!) When you look up the word, you see that it is defined as one party rewriting the districts to keep itself in power.

But that does not explain a 96 percent re-election rate! This is an evil times two. This is both parties, conspiring together, to create a political class that stays in office.

tim in vermont said...

, I believe our courts should step in.

Excellent suggestion! Let's bring in nine unelected partisan philosopher kings to solve all of our problems!

The left just won in Canada and are in the process of re-writing their election laws to make sure they never lose again. We don't need the left hi-jacking our electoral process here.

Qwinn said...

The only thing needed to explain the 96% reelection rate is that people can like their own congressmen while hating the majority. Why is that even puzzling?

Alex said...

Writ small - what makes you think the mushy middle is even a plurality in this country? Why should Trump cater to that mushiness in these dangerous times?

Alex said...

Chuck - it's all part of the left-wing mendacity.

Alex said...

Saint Croix - if people locally were THAT pissed off by gerrymandering and incumbency, they would simply vote in the opposite candidate for a few election cycles to send a message to the establishment and gerrymandering would be abolished. But "the people" are like pigs in a trough, happy at the slop their given.

Saint Croix said...

On the contrary, the gerrymander is constitutionally required so that we may have a racially diverse Congress.

Are you being sarcastic? I hope so!

I agree with Mr. Harlan's dissent in Baker v. Carr.

A State's choice to distribute electoral strength among geographical units, rather than according to a census of population, is certainly no less a rational decision of policy than would be its choice to levy a tax on property, rather than a tax on income. Both are legislative judgments entitled to equal respect from this Court.

I have read somewhere (no link, sorry) that the Tennessee legislature made their voting districts based on counties precisely to avoid the gerrymander. So if we want to blame somebody for this insane (and unconstitutional) re-election rate of unpopular representatives, we might start with the United States Supreme Court.

Creating racial districts is like creating racial juries, or racial classrooms. The whole sorry mess is malign. I wish our government would

1) stop playing its racial games
2) stop dividing people into "races" on the census
3) stop the gerrymander

I repeat that the best book on racism I have ever read is this one by Dr. Seuss. It's not just that race is an irrelevant and irrational way to divide people. It's that malign people divide us into races in order to attain political power. Pay attention to Sylvester McMonkey McBean, okay? We still have these assholes in our government. And the courts should be on guard against it.

Roger Sweeny said...

Saint Croix, Many states had districts based on counties. The systems began when there was a relatively even distribution of population and continued because changing it would mean taking voting power away from people in the counties that had (relatively) lost population. People don't like to have things taken away from them. Of course, changing would also mean many legislators losing their seats.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Saint Croix said I blame the gerrymander.

Hammond blames the voters. Two terms at each level of Government (City, County, State, National) is all anybody gets on Hammond's ballots.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Many people do not run for reelection if they have trouble raising money because of bad polling or other reasons, hence don't return yet aren't included in this discussion I fear.

I fear no more.

damikesc said...

The left just won in Canada and are in the process of re-writing their election laws to make sure they never lose again. We don't need the left hi-jacking our electoral process here.

That's Progressive democracy for you. One man, one vote, one time only.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Americans really do still hate Congress. Approval ratings for Congress stood most recently at 13 percent, near a record low. People still think more highly of their own senator or representative, but that’s changing: In Gallup polls since 2013, about 40 percent disapprove of their own member of Congress, much higher than in previous periods of generalized hostility to the institution. Near majorities now say that their own member is “out of touch” and pays more attention to “special interests” than his or her constituents.

Numbers like those would normally foreshadow political doom. But 96 percent of House incumbents won re-election in 2014...


Saint Croix said...

Stop right there. That is a fundamental and broken part of our republic. If Congress is so deeply unpopular, they should not have a 96 percent re-election rate.

The problem is it is very hard to run a race for Congress, and a lot of the problem is caused by campaign finance reform, which makes it difficult to get started.

We don't have competitive elections. And the parties are too strong.

Money comes from Pacs or from political parties. It is legal to dfonate larger sums to them, and besides these are already large sums.

In an ideal system, incumbents would be re-elected about 2/3 of the time, but not at a higher frequency.