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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Stolen Seats, Unresponsive Government

Good news, at least one poll shows that Democrats are poised to take the House of Representatives and with it John Boehner's gavel. In an eight point landslide. There are few outcomes that would be better for America. After all, it's Boehner and his willingness to be led around by the nose by Tea Party Republicans that most stands in the way of progress in America. It's they who believe that up is down, that black is white, and that undermining demand at every opportunity is good for the economy. No wonder Americans reject them.

There's one little hitch: the poll is a bit optimistic and even if it's merely close to being correct, Republicans have so rigged House elections that it wouldn't be enough.
According to a Quinnipiac poll released today, if the election were held today 43 percent of the electorate would support a Democratic U.S. House candidate, as opposed to just 35 percent who would back a Republican. That 8 point lead for Democrats is significantly more than the GOP’s margin of victory during the 2010 Republican wave election (6.6 percent) and even more that the Democratic margin of victory during the 2006 wave (7.9 percent) — when Democrats were bolstered by both an unpopular Republican president and a failing war in Iraq.
And yet, if Democrats succeed in maintaining this substantial lead through next year’s congressional election, they will likely emerge with a tiny majority of just 5 seats.
Last January, the Republican Party published a triumphant report bragging that “Republicans enjoy a 33-seat margin in the U.S. House seated yesterday in the 113th Congress, having endured Democratic successes atop the ticket and over one million more votes cast for Democratic House candidates than Republicans.” The report touts the role GOP gerrymandering played in enabling Republicans to keep the House despite losing the popular vote, citing states like Michigan, where “Michiganders cast over 240,000 more votes for Democratic congressional candidates than Republicans, but still elected a 9-5 Republican delegation to Congress.”
See, that's why I always call Republicans shameless. When you're actually bragging about how great a job you did of stealing elections, no other description fits quite so well.


"Indeed, Republican gerrymandering was so successful during the last redistricting cycle that Democrats would likely need to win the national popular vote by more than 7 points in order to win the barest of majorities in the House," the report tells us. So that eight point popular vote landslide Quinnipiac predicts? In practice, that would be a squeaker. Gerrymandering is like a filibuster launched against the will of the American people and it is profoundly undemocratic.

There's a consequence to this sort of election shenanigans, beyond just having the voters cheated at the polls. When people vote for candidates, they're actually voting for things (and perhaps more often against them). These things are policies, proposals, ideas, and values. And if the person you voted for gets robbed of victory by election rigging, then the things you voted for are robbed as well. For example:
Strong majorities of Americans say they favor stricter gun laws, including an assault-weapons ban and universal background checks for private gun sales, according to a new national Morning Joe/Marist poll. 
What’s more, the Morning Joe/Marist poll finds that 87 percent of Americans support background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows, and 59 percent favor legislation that would ban the sale of assault weapons.
But of course, if that support of common sense gun regulation is influencing voters in the 2014 election cycle, those lopsided numbers likely won't be lopsided enough.

The poll also found that most people are more interested in creating jobs than cutting the deficit -- the opposite of Republican priorities.There again, GOP gerrymandering will probably screw you.

So Americans keep voting on certain ideas and then wind up getting the opposite ideas jammed in their face by a party with absolutely no respect or reverence for democracy. In other words, the result is non-responsive government. No matter how you vote, you're getting what the GOP wants, since we still live in a largely Republican-constructed status quo. By obstructing everything and impeding any progress, House Republicans can get most of what they want, because most of what they want is the status quo -- loose gun laws, an unaccountable Wall Street, staggering wealth inequality, ignoring climate change, etc. They've even gotten drastic and foolhardy spending cuts, by obstructing all efforts to avoid sequestration. Washington may be mostly Democrats, but they're Democrats unable to change anything, because Republicans block their every move from stolen House seats. 


[photo by Vox Efx]

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