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Jonathan Chait, TNR: Normally, the consequences of an electoral fluke would have been limited by a Congress sensitive to public opinion. But Congress is not completely democratic either. The House has been gerrymandered to the point where competetive elections are rare and GOP control is all but immune to voter dissatisfaction. And the Senate--reflecting an even more pronounced small-state bias than the electoral college--gives the citizens in the 30 states Bush won in 2000, which comprise slightly less than half of the U.S. population, 60 seats. The 20 states Gore won comprise a narrow majority of the population, but they get only 40 seats in the Senate. Even with this skew, Democrats captured nearly half the seats; balance the scales, and the Senate would have a solid Democratic majority.

Republicans therefore ended up running the presidency, the Senate, and the House, despite a lack of evidence that voters wanted them to control any one of the three. At the beginning of 2001, the conventional wisdom held that Republicans would court a backlash if they exceeded their limited mandate. The common metaphor is a pendulum that, if tilted off center, inevitably swings back. The more apt (and less comforting) metaphor, however, may be a feedback loop. Facing a lack of public support, Bush and his allies circumscribe normal democratic procedures to enact their agenda. The Republican Congress, in turn, spares Bush from paying a price for his anti-democratic endeavors, and this protection only encourages further abuses by the White House.

Thus, the system is broken says Chait.

If Republicans stand together, there will be no investigations. (Or, at least, no serious investigations.) If there are no investigations, there is no process for the media to cover. If there's no media coverage, there's no public outrage to constrain the GOP.

And anyone who continues to whine about the story no one is covering is called "shrill".


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 16th, 2004 05:43 am (UTC)
That's one scary story. I'd seen most of the pieces, but Chait did something important, putting them all together like that.
Jul. 16th, 2004 06:00 am (UTC)
Two classes of people in particular that I'm thinking need to see Chait's piece.

The first is libertarians who lean Republican or are on the fence. I can't imagine folks with a libertarian streak being too keen on this sort of top-down rule.

The second is the Naderites. Maybe two parties is too few, but one-party rule is even worse. At least with Democrats, you can find out what's going on in your own government. But the current GOP is going to fight you every step of the way.

As Jackson Browne sang, back in the Iran-Contra days:

As if freedom was a question of might
As if loyalty was black and white
You hear people say it all the time-
"My country wrong or right"
I want to know what that's got to do
With what it takes to find out what's true
With everyone from the President on down
Trying to keep it from you
Jul. 16th, 2004 08:17 am (UTC)
As you can see, I'm terrible with pull-quotes...
Choosing the quote I did, I'm surprised anyone wanted to read it. There was so much in there that I wanted to quote, I'd would have had to write Jon Chait and have him just post the thing himself. The leadership has become amoral power-hungry bastards. (Ah, the party of values...)

Though what I find remarkable still is that TNR still hasn't posted a link to the article on its front page. (It was dated yesterday.) I only finessed the link from the subscription email that comes every Friday morn.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )