News — At The Edge — 2/8

Like the Weimar Republic before WWII — decline of democracy, flaws in U.S. design, global madness — authoritarian plutocrats are undermining what remains of representative systems.

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“[System] was rigged from the outset, quite intentionally, to favor small states…[and] became an enormous advantage for Republicans…[placing] voters in dense, urban areas…[Democrats] at a terrible disadvantage….

[Republicans] took their unfair advantage and built on it by gerrymandering…to fill the courts with Republican judges, and then using their control of the judiciary to bolster their own party’s chances in elections. This is how United States now finds itself barreling toward a legitimacy crisis….

[F]our features of our system of government…make our democracy less democratic…[and] give the GOP a structural advantage.

  1. The Senate is deeply unrepresentative….2018 Census…more than half of the US population…in just nine states…represented by only 18 senators. Less than half of the population controls about 82 percent of the Senate. It’s going to get worse. By 2040…half the population will live in eight states. About 70 percent of people will live in 16 states — which means that 30 percent of the population will control 68 percent of the Senatedominated by white voters….
  • [A] devil’s bargain in 1787, America is a very different place today….In the current Senate, the Republican ‘majority’ represents about 15 million fewer people than the Democratic ‘minority’…[and] likely to grow….
  • [Yet] no reason to believe that residents of small states…[are] interest group whose political concerns are in tension with residents of large states….20,000 more farms in California than there are in Nebraska….
  • [Senate] gives the biggest advantage to states with large populations of white, non-college-educated voters — the very demographic…trending rapidly toward the GOP….
  • [Judge] Gorsuch made history, becoming the first member of the Supreme Court…to be nominated by a president who lost the popular vote and confirmed by a bloc of senators who represent less than half of the country. The second was Brett Kavanaugh….
  • [Malapportionment] gives Republicans an undemocratic advantage in the Senate…[which] gave them control of the courts.

2. The next winner of the Electoral College could lose the popular vote by as much as 6 percentage points….

  • The choice of a president, Hamilton wrote, ‘should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station’…[and] affords a moral certainty’ that ‘the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications’…is refuted…[because] people who make up the Electoral College…[are] partisan loyalists, selected by their party to…robotically vote for whoever the party nominated….[This] has allowed five men who lost the popular vote to become president….
  • [I]f ensuring…candidates focus on the nation as a whole is the goal, the Electoral College defeats [goal]….
  • [So] Electoral College was either a poorly designed kludge that failed to achieve its intended purpose, or a misbegotten device intended to preserve a great evil.

3) Partisan gerrymandering is still allowed….

  • [2019] Court ruled it can’t stop partisan gerrymandering…[yet] described it as ‘incompatible with democratic principles’…[and] devising a legal test…[for] illegal gerrymanders…too difficult…[said] all five of the Court’s Republicans…[while] all four Democrats agreed…courts should dismantle the most egregious gerrymanders….
  • Republicans owe that five-justice majority to Senate malapportionment and the Electoral College….

4) The Constitution is virtually impossible to amend…[because] takes three-quarters of the states to ratify…[so] Republicans will…block any attempt to remove the Constitution’s anti-democratic features….

If Democrats somehow manage to overcome the odds and capture Congress and the White House, they could divide large blue states like California and New York up into several states (provided…those states agreed), thus changing the…malapportioned Senate. They could also add new seats to the Supreme Court…[but] invites retaliation if Republicans regain control….

[So] most democratic solutions, such as abolishing the Senate or replacing it with a body that fairly represents all Americans, are off the table in a nation that cannot amend its Constitution.

And so we’re likely left with our undemocratic system for a long while.” https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/1/30/20997046/constitution-electoral-college-senate-popular-vote-trump

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“[Only] agreement in American politics is that it is in a bad way…[because] founding fathers unthinkingly imported the British system of first-past-the-post elections, which…produce two large parties since third-party votes…seem wasted….

Winner-takes-all politics means voters have limited choices…[and] closed primaries allow ideological outliers, such as…Trump, to take over national parties…and an increasing willingness to bend the rules and trample norms by, among other things, gerrymandering districts…[resulting in] 97% of votes in Congress are entirely partisan….

[But] could blunt the drift to the extremes by instituting ranked-choice voting…[to] covet second preferences as well as top…candidates would be warier of…negative campaigning that can repel moderates….

Another idea is to elect multiple representatives from enlarged districts — leading to mild proportional representation and making gerrymandering much harder….

[A] multiparty democracy…[could] combat not only polarization, but also low turnout, inequality and demagoguery.” https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2020/01/18/how-to-fix-the-design-flaws-in-american-democracy

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‘American democracy is broken….[with] a president who lost the popular vote, a Senate where the ‘majority’ represents…15 million fewer people than the ‘minority,’ and a Supreme Court where two justices were nominated by that president and confirmed by that unrepresentative Senate….

[From] Harvard Law Review…an entirely constitutional way out of this dilemma: Add new states — a lot of new states — then use this bloc of states to rewrite the Constitution so that the United States has an election system ‘where every vote counts equally’….

To do this, Congress should…[reduce] size of Washington, D.C., to an area encompassing only a few core federal buildings and then admit the rest of the District’s 127 neighborhoods as states…which could be added with a simple congressional majority…[and] add enough votes in Congress to ratify four amendments: (1) a transfer of the Senate’s power to a body that represents citizens equally; (2) an expansion of the House so that all citizens are represented in equal-sized districts; (3) a replacement of the Electoral College with a popular vote; and (4) a modification of the Constitution’s amendment process that would ensure future amendments are ratified by states representing most Americans….

Constitution does, however, prevent new states from being carved out of an existing state…[so cutting] up the District of Columbia gets around this….Similarly, the Harvard note proposes getting around this problem by transferring the Senate’s powers to another body….

[A] more straightforward solution might be ratifying two separate amendments: one to eliminate the restriction on amendments eliminating Senate malapportionment, and a second to actually eliminate Senate malapportionment…[and] 100 percent constitutional….

Constitution provides that ‘new states may be admitted by the Congress into this union,’ but it places no limits on the size of a state either in terms of population or in terms of physical space.

1864, for example, Republicans admitted the state of Nevada…a desert wasteland with only several thousand residents…[but] two extra Senate seats in the process…[and] Republicans celebrated their victory in the 1888 election by dividing the Republican Dakota Territory up into two states, thereby giving themselves four senators….

[This] proposal is ridiculous, but it is no more ridiculous than a system where the nearly 40 million people in California have no more Senate representation than the 578,759 people in Wyoming.” https://www.vox.com/2020/1/14/21063591/modest-proposal-to-save-american-democracy-pack-the-union-harvard-law-review

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“’[A] wind of madness…as instability erupts into unpredictable and violent conflicts…made even worse…by faltering economic situations and countries that disrespect U.N. Security Council resolutions…[and] worsening climate crisis….

’The disquiet in streets and squares across the world is proof that people want to be heard…[and] leaders to answer their anxieties with effective action’….

[T]he conflicts that emerge…are ‘longer, more lethal and more likely to erupt’….Arms are flowing and offensives are increasing…’[with] a feeling of growing instability and hair-trigger tensions, which makes everything far more unpredictable and uncontrollable, with a heightened risk of miscalculation….

As future prospects look bleak, populist and ethnic nationalist narratives gain appeal. As instability rises, investment dries up, and development cycles down….And as governance grows weak, terrorists get stronger’….

Referring to the…[climate] ‘What happens in Australia doesn’t stay in Australia — and the same can be said about any part of the world.’” https://www.npr.org/2020/02/04/802723312/-wind-of-madness-is-sweeping-earth-u-n-s-guterres-warns

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Doc Huston

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Doc Huston

Doc Huston

4.6K Followers

Consultant & Speaker on future nexus of technology-economics-politics, PhD Nested System Evolution, MA Alternative Futures, Patent Holder — dochuston1@gmail.com