Weak parties, strong partisanship: a poisonous combination

1964_Democratic_National_Convention_2

Back when parties were parties…

Our own Karen Pearson said some very true things in this comment:

I’m all for keeping “parties ” out of it. We’re far too far along the way of voting for party instead of person. The candidates are forced to go farther and farther left or right in order to win a prime spot in their own party. This response encourages each party to go become even more “liberal” or “conservative.” Which means that in the next election the division becomes even greater, and ultimately excludes one side or the other from any possible voice in the ruling party. The ability of government to function disintegrates. Then we all stand around and decry our representatives because they can’t get anything done. This is madness.

She’s absolutely right, talking about the parties we have today. But her excellent points remind me of a phrase I’ve been hearing a good bit in recent years, most recently in a Dana Milbank column this morning in The Washington Post:

Political scientists have observed that American politics has deteriorated into an unstable combination of weak parties and strong partisanship — dry brush for the likes of Trump and Blankenship to ignite. The 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform restricted party fundraising, and the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling in 2010 essentially destroyed parties by giving everybody else freedom to spend unlimited sums to buy politicians. The moderating influence of parties was replaced by the radicalizing influence of dark money.

Related to this, partisanship in Washington escalated, aggravated by partisan redistricting that puts almost all House members in safe seats where the only threat comes from primaries. Primary voters tend to favor extreme candidates — who, once in Congress, turn politics into warfare.

Democrats suffer from the weak party/strong partisanship phenomenon too, as seen in the Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) campaign’s squabbles with the Democratic National Committee and the recent efforts by some Sanders followers to taint any candidate supported by the party. But the problem is most severe among Republicans…

Oh, excuse me. I meant this phrase: “an unstable combination of weak parties and strong partisanship.” Milbank cites “political scientists,” plural, but the phrase seems to have started on its current rounds with Julia Azari, a political science blogger and prof at Marquette University. As she put it a few days before the 2016 election, “The defining characteristic of our moment is that parties are weak while partisanship is strong.” And as she said, that’s a bad combination.

Y’all know I don’t think much of parties. But that’s largely because of what they’ve become. If they were more like what David Broder used to reminisce about, reliable institutions for winnowing candidates and putting forth the strongest ones — institutions that answered the question, “Who sent you?” — I wouldn’t hold them in such contempt.

We’re not just talking about the most dramatic case — the GOP’s utter helplessness to keep Donald Trump from waltzing in and taking their presidential nomination. A weak GOP is what gave us the Tea Party — which toppled party stalwarts left and right. It’s what weakened John McCain’s hand and made him think he had to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate instead of Joe Lieberman. More recently, it’s given us Roy Moore, and now this Blankenship yahoo in West Virginia. Line up enough know-nothing extremists behind you, and the party is helpless.

And Democrats, don’t think you’re immune. Some of the same forces weakening the GOP have been at work on your party for a long time. The Bernie bros whine about how the party leadership tried to cheat their guy out of the nomination. What stuff. In a time of strong parties, Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have had to spend a moment’s thought on Bernie Sanders. She’d have been a shoo-in, and she wouldn’t have done any of that pandering to extremes, such as turning against TPP.

Look back at my post about James and Micah. If the Democrats had a strong party, I would just go ahead and vote for Micah in the Republican primary, knowing that James had the Democratic nomination for governor locked up — everybody who is anybody in the party is lined up solidly behind him. But as polls have shown, Phil Noble — and to a lesser extent Marguerite Willis — have a shot (a long shot, but a shot) at denying it to him. Or at least forcing him into a runoff — which given the weakness of their candidacies should be impossible.

You don’t believe those polls? Well, I’m not convinced by them, either. But folks, this is the South Carolina Democratic primary electorate, the crowd that gave you Alvin Greene. A lot of people gave then-chair Carol Fowler hell for not preventing Greene from sneaking in and taking the U.S. Senate nomination. But what could she have done?

And folks, Alvin Greene wasn’t entirely a fluke. Such absurd things happen when parties are this weak.

Milbank is wrong to blame the problem on money, by the way. Sure, that can exacerbate the problem, but the fact is that Broder and others were writing about this in 1991, long before the campaign-finance developments that Milbank bemoans.

A lot of trends have gone into destroying parties. The rise of radical individualism and decline of institutions in general have done a great deal to undermine parties’ ability to produce the best candidates — as has the growth of excessive faith in direct democracy (such as primaries usurping the decision-making prerogatives of conventions), which has been a long-term problem throughout our history.

Lately, the decline in traditional news media (this morning on the radio, I heard the number of professional journalists plying their trade in this country was now half what it was 15 years ago; I’m shocked the number isn’t far lower than that), combined with the rise of new media that make every Tom, Dick and Harry his own publisher, have accelerated the problem. Not caused it, but further pushed a wheelchair that was already going downhill pretty fast. The cost for extremist flakes to go it alone is now lower than ever.

Combine all that with partisan redistricting, which forces the people who get elected under party banners to become more and more extreme, and the result is that our electorate is filled with people who have little loyalty to and no deference toward parties as institutions, but who are filled with passionate, increasingly extreme partisan sentiment, defining themselves as the only good people, and those who vote for candidates of that other party as the enemy.

And it just keeps spinning further out of control….

34 thoughts on “Weak parties, strong partisanship: a poisonous combination

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    The things I’m saying here will be counterintuitive for a lot of folks. People are likely to bridle especially when I mention the reliance on primaries over conventions as means of choosing candidates.

    The fact that that will run against the grain is testimony to just how strong that tendency toward direct democracy has been throughout our history, pulling farther away from the founding fathers, who feared mob rule and tried to rig the system to limit it and mitigate it as much as possible.

    And frankly, I’m with you on one level: I don’t know that I’d want to hand that power to the parties as they are now. They have come under the influence of such polarizing forces that I wouldn’t trust these folks to go behind closed doors and come out with the kind of candidate I’d want to vote for.

    That’s why you see me going the other way and making primaries more open than they are. We have more than one factor at work here, and we have to deal practically with the fact that increasingly in this partisan world, general elections are perfunctory exercises. So approaching it pragmatically, I embrace greater democracy to keep the parties from spinning further off into extremes. If my only chance to decide who will represent me is the primary, you’ve got no business denying me a say in that — so you should let me vote in both primaries.

    It’s complicated. But the things I say in posts such as that last one are based in an understanding of the way parties are at this time, not the way they should be, or might have once been in some golden age that Broder used to extol…

    Reply
  2. Karen Pearson

    Dark money has helped the campaigns of many of the most extreme representatives. The law needs to be changed, but it is the representatives who must initiate a change and vote on it. Few if any who rode to Congress on the back of this money are likely to vote to change it.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yep. The truest, stupidest expression in politics is that they dance with the one that brung them.

      Something must happen to disrupt the status quo. The best mechanism for that is reapportionment reform. That’s one of the toughest fights, too, running into the same obstacle, but it has the potential to do the most good…

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  3. bud

    We’re not just talking about the most dramatic case — the GOP’s utter helplessness to keep Donald Trump from waltzing in and taking their presidential nomination.
    -Brad

    Folks this is classic Brad using some type of intuition as a substitute for sound reasoning. It is totally illogical. It’s nonsense. It’s gibberish. The GOP is BY DEFINITION the people who vote as Republicans. Trump didn’t “waltz in and take THEIR nomination”. Who is the THEIR? It’s not the party of Bush, or Kasich or Romney or McCain or anyone else you may find acceptable. No. It’s a collective of ALL Republican voters. The 2016 primary season was a democratic process. Then you talk about this dark money issue. I agree Citizens United was a travesty almost as bad as Glossip vs Gross. Yet it is hard to see how that was a major factor in the disaster of Donald Trump. The mindset that led to Trump was mostly the result of talk radio and Fox News, both of which are manifestations of free speech. Besides, Trump continues to have the support of 85% of Republicans. So this really is the party of Trump now. You are in denial to suggest otherwise.

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      1. bud

        Brad just answer a simple question. Who is representative of the Republican Party? Is it just the people you like? The other top elected Republicans all support Trump. Are only the never-Trumpers eligible to be true Republicans? Perhaps I’m just not understanding what you’re trying to articulate here so let me ask in a completely un-sarcastic tone. How would you fix the system so that someone like Trump does not get into the White House again? I’ll give you my answer – Abolish the electoral college. Twice now we’ve ended up with a really awful POTUS because of this. That is starting to look like a pattern.

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        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          “Who is representative of the Republican Party? Is it just the people you like?”

          Prescott Bush. His descendants as well, but his name was so perfect.

          Lamar Alexander as well.

          It’s not always people I’d like. I’d put Robert Dole there, and maybe Mitch McConnell. I don’t like Robert Taft’s isolationism a bit, but he was probably a fair representation of the breed.

          Eventually, Reagan, although he started out as a sort of heretic. And I didn’t like him a bit back in the day.

          We’re just talking basic facts here. Donald Trump had not identified himself as a Republican for much of his life. And positions he’s held, flitting from one to another the way he does, are wildly inconsistent with GOP orthodoxy.

          It’s just like the fact that Bernie Sanders isn’t a Democrat — he doesn’t even claim to be. But he led a determined assault on the party’s nomination as an outsider, just as Trump did the Republican.

          In fact, the key to Trump’s appeal to his base is that he IS an outsider, not a McConnell or a Ryan or any of those other guys who just drip Republicanism. It’s the key to his success, such as it is.

          You want to say he IS the GOP because you despise the GOP. I’m not fond of it myself — or of the Democrats — but I don’t HATE it the way you do. If I did, maybe I’d want to hand it the ultimate insult, too…

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  4. bud

    If my only chance to decide who will represent me is the primary, you’ve got no business denying me a say in that — so you should let me vote in both primaries.
    -Brad

    On this we can agree. I could vote for my favorite in the Democratic primary then go vote for the easiest candidate(s) to beat in the Republican.

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      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        They get a bad rap from partisans, from the kind of people who WOULD vote for the worst for the other party, and therefore assume other people would, too.

        To me, that’s grounds for losing the right to vote. Sorry, bud, but I hold my vote to be a sacred thing, to be exercised with the greatest of respect and care.

        That “I’ll vote for the worst guy so MY side would win” attitude is gross, and destructive to your own cause. I seem to recall you saying similar things two years ago, about how you really, really hoped Trump would get the nomination, because then you KNEW Hillary would win.

        How did that work out for you? How did that work out for the country? And how many times did I tell you that the LAST thing you want, ever, is for the worst candidate to get the “other” party’s nomination, because anyone who gets one of the two major party nominations has something close to a 50 percent chance of winning, only needing one or two things to break his way to win it all. If you care at all about anything, you should want the other party’s candidate to be your second favorite candidate out there. Because there’s always an excellent chance that you won’t get your first choice.

        No one who gives a damn about this country or what it stands for, who cares about democracy in this world, should ever do what you just said. No one should ever even think it, for a second.

        There aren’t many things that can cause me to drop my cool and start into an Oliver Wendell Douglas speech about our obligations as citizens, with the fife playing “Yankee Doodle” in the background, but that is one of them.

        Sorry to go all Boy Scout on you…

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        1. bud

          I seem to recall you saying similar things two years ago, about how you really, really hoped Trump would get the nomination, because then you KNEW Hillary would win.
          -Brad

          I don’t think I said I KNEW Hillary would win. But I did think Trump gave the Democrats the BEST chance to win. Frankly Trump isn’t any worse than Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham or Jeb Bush. So I have no regrets. The real culprit in Trump’s win was the electoral college.

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  5. bud

    Just got through skimming James Smith’s website. He seems pretty reasonable. He’ll take the medicaid money and he supports some good gun legislation. I would like to see more though. How does he stand on abortion? What would he do about funding the roads? Will he increase teacher pay? What about the SCANA nuclear debacle? How does he feel in general about the ACA? Would he support single payer? Where does he stand on the death penalty? I’d like to see more.

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  6. bud

    I hold my vote to be a sacred thing, to be exercised with the greatest of respect and care.

    Another thing we agree on.

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    1. bud

      I take my vote very seriously because I view the Republican Party as a serious, dangerous threat to our state and nation. This threat extends beyond Donald Trump and a few extremist oddballs like Catherine Templeton. This is a party that is clearly attempting a conversion to a sort of neo-plutocracy. This is a party that will shamelessly enter us into war simply because they see it as a way to enrich the gilded class. This is a party that will diabolically support dangerous environmental policies merely because they can help enrich a few of the chosen few. This is a party that will pander to religious extremism as a means of garnering sufficient votes to retain power for their diabolical scheme to create a new gilded age. It is my view that the GOP must be defeated at every turn. It is dangerous and Pollyannish to suggest that the GOP is just one of two competing philosophies that has the interest of the American people in mind but merely has a different approach to achieving this goal. No. The current version of the GOP is nothing of the sort. It is a dangerous and reckless gang of thugs that cares nothing about the welfare of the people at large. Unless you are a member of this odious band of oligarchs then your value is only based on your vote. This is an organization that needs to be battled head on. That is why I find the whole false-equivalency meme that gets peddled so recklessly as nothing more than a misguided means of enabling this threat. So to me a vote that gives ANY Republican a better chance to defeat the Democratic standard bearer is not just a wasted vote but an immoral vote. Yes, I will proudly root for the weakest Republican to win in the primaries. I do so unapologetically. Even if I don’t participate in them.

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      1. Harry Harris

        Wow! That seems to me like an extremely broad brush. I think if you’ll look around, the gilded age is already here. It’s more diverse at the top than you seem to envision, but the concentration of wealth is already here and growing. The moves to consolidate power are just spreading. The job ahead is to undo much of the power to perpetuate the bought-and-paid-for (check out Mulvaney admission) system. That will require enlisting and redeeming some amenable Republicans – maybe the sort Brad sometimes speaks of. A groundswell of adamant anti-Republicans will likely only lead themselves, the baby, and the washwater off a cliff. There’s got to be civility, compromise, and enough patience to develop sound, long-term solutions that consider all interests. We just can’t jump from one whipsaw move to the next.

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        1. bud

          Broad brush? Perhaps a bit. But there aren’t many John Kasiches or Micah Caskeys left in the GOP. The Republican brand is increasingly populated by the likes of Donald Trump and Henry, slumlord, McMaster. At this point in time I see very little movement to moderate the GOP. On the other hand I just don’t see a similar extremist movement by the Democrats. Brad and others suggest that but in many ways the Democratic party is more conservative today than it was in the 70s.

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          1. Norm Ivey

            The worst trend I see is how both parties demonize the other, and that’s direct a result of hyper-partisanship. And that’s not a false eqivalency–the Ds do that just as vehemently as the Rs. Politicians could, if they had the courage, begin to heal some of the division by refusing to engage on that level. I like the way Harry describes Biden’s approach–“to oppose without demonizing”. That’s what both sides need.

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            1. bud

              Opposing without demonizing. That sounds good. But whenever the Dems try to be a bit accommodating they get slapped in the face. Just look at the Merritt Garland atrocity. Obama had the constitutional authority to nominate a SCOTUS justice. He appointed a man with great integrity and accomplishment. By all accounts Garland was no flaming liberal. We know how that ended.

              Then there was the whole repeal and replace fiasco. That was nothing but a sham attempt to undo anything Obama had accomplished. The Republicans could have worked with the Democrats to make improvements to the ACA. After all the ACA was pretty much a national version of Romneycare. But no. It was never in the cards to include Democrats.

              Then there was DACA. Now the Iran deal. I could go on. I’m just not buying the strategy of cooperation until the GOP makes some attempt to do the same. It really is a false equivalency to brand the two parties in the same way. Brad and his false equivalency warriors are just flat wrong on this. The only choice right now is to oppose this despicable bunch. Times have changed. And sadly so has the Republican party. It’s high time we recognize that fact.

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              1. Doug Ross

                The best way to get what you want, bud, is to run a candidate who can both win and draw support from the other side.

                Democrats are playing the same game that Republicans did under Obama — deny any attempts to allow Trump to look good before the election in the fall. Delay, demonize, and denigrate.

                And yet current models already show it is likely Republicans will retain control of the Senate at the least. More Democrats in swing states are on the ballot for the Senate. If Mitch McConnell is still in his role on December 1, then expect more of the same for the next two years.

                I think it’s funny that the savior for the Democratic Party is Joe Biden — a guy who would be 76 years old at the start of his Presidency… a guy who lost to both Obama and Hillary in 2008 when he was supposedly at his peak… and finished 5th in the Iowa primary behind even John Edwards!

                Do Democrats really want to put all their eggs into the “At Least He’s Not Trump” basket? Good luck with that. You need to identify a viable candidate in 18 months who can rise above what will likely be a wide (but not deep) field.

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                1. Norm Ivey

                  I don’t want Biden to run. I want someone like him to run, but I honestly don’t know who that would be. I like the Castro brothers from Texas, but I’m not sure either of them are electable. Jerry Brown and Elizabeth Warren have some of the same issues as Bernie (I like all three, but all are just too far left to be electable, and Warren would be treated like Hillary). I keep hearing Kirsten Gillibrand’s name, but I don’t know much about her. I like Cory Booker, and I think he may be the Ds best hope.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  “I don’t want Biden to run. I want someone like him to run…”

                  I’m with you there, Norm. Although I suspect they broke the mold…

                  Kirsten Gillibrand’s the hot one. Or one of the hot ones, alongside Kamala Harris. Hey, I didn’t start that — Obama did.

                  I used to think Mary Landrieu was the hottest senator, but I got over it…

                3. bud

                  Doug, I’m going to agree with you, sort of. The Dems need new blood and an issue oriented campaign. I think we’ll some good young candidates come the fall. Plus we have Corey Booker, the Castros, Joe Kennedy III, Kirsten Gilibrand and others. As for issues. There is an embarrassment of riches to run on. Health care, taxes, the environment, foreign policy, immigration and education are all winners for the Dems. But here’s the thing. Running on these issues will come across as demonizing the GOP. So be it.

                4. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Again, Joe should have run last time.

                  And Bud, why don’t you mention Tim Kaine? Yeah, I know he’s tainted with the “loser” label now. But the other day I turned on NPR and heard him talking about some issue or other at some length, not knowing who it was, and I thought, “That guy’s pretty good.”

                  Kind of like the first time I heard Barack Obama, although maybe not quite on that level. I had missed his famous convention speech. I’d heard about it, and suspected it might have been overhyped a bit. Then I turned on the radio one morning a couple of years before he started overtly running for president, and they were running a substantial portion of a speech he’d made (in an early primary state, of course — I want to say New Hampshire).

                  And I thought, “Wow, this guy’s REALLY good! Where’s he been hiding?” Turns out it was Obama, and at that moment I decided that the hype about his convention speech hadn’t been hype…

  7. Harry Harris

    We seem to have witnessed Brad’s grand waltz from his elitist tendencies into full-blown paternalistic contempt for the masses.
    Brace yourself, Brad. The Democrats are very close to eliminating super-delegates and giving over to the madness of the mob. I think there’s a good chance that some out-of-the-norm Democrat (or independent) might marshal enough votes of disaffected Democrats, tired of tried and unsatisfying themes and positions to garner the nomination in ’20. He or she might even stir the pot to the point where good ol’ Joe Biden decides to step in with his gentlemanly tendencies, moderating manner, and propensity to oppose without demonizing. I suspect he would win, despite his age and “old party” connections – unless he tripped over his tongue.

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    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Joe should have run last time.

      There’s no “grand waltz.” I’ve always shared the Framers’ concerns about direct democracy.

      Anybody watching “Civilizations” on PBS? I watched the one last night: A couple of points about the “grand waltz” from hunter-gatherer primitivism to great cities.

      First, there’s the aspect that would delight Democrats — the assertion that as people crowd into cities, there is a trend toward inequality (with wealth and power concentrating in a few hands), and that the only successful societies are the ones that manage to mitigate that, and give everyone a sense of being all in it together, and benefiting from the arrangement on more equal terms. Those that allow inequality to fester fail.

      Then there’s the other obvious things about complex societies: Specialization. Everybody specializes, which means for day-to-day survival everybody depends on everybody else to do their increasingly specialized jobs, which not everyone can do.

      Taking those points together in a political sense, you want everybody to have a sense of shared investment in the political system, but the system will work better when the day-to-day mechanisms are in the hands of people who take the time to understand what they’re doing — which I mean both in terms of INFORMED voters, qualified candidates and trained bureaucrats.

      Representative democracy is based on that kind of relying on some people to do the job not everyone can do. And I’m not talking about innate ability or even experience or training, although those help. The fact is that if you take an average guy off the street (or gal, for those of you who refuse to accept the inclusive masculine), have him take time off from earning a living and study bills and issues and debate them with other people who have similarly taken such time and made such effort, he will make better decisions.

      This is why, for instance, you NEVER want to make a decision by referendum unless there is no other course of action available. Important decisions should not a) be framed as absolute choices between two opposites, yes or no, or b) be decided in a snap decision by your typical voter, who like as not goes into the booth knowing next to nothing (or actually nothing) about the issue and has spent NO time studying it or listening to different viewpoints on it.

      Believe it or not, I believe there’s something to “the wisdom of crowds.” I’ve seen it at work, although it seems to have gone a bit haywire in recent years. If you aren’t scared of the kinds of decisions “the masses” can make, you haven’t paid attention lately….

      Reply
  8. Brad Warthen Post author

    Looking back at this post, it occurred to me I didn’t fully explain how I understand that phrase, “weak parties and strong partisanship.”

    By “weak parties” I understand entities that can no longer hold their own candidates accountable. Today, unfit egotists can gather a following without the party, then run roughshod over the puny party structures that remain.

    The “strong partisanship” I see is vague sets of feelings and attitudes shared by groups of people that cut across traditional party lines, and are stronger and more vehement than traditional party platforms, to the extent that people think of themselves as “conservative” or “liberal” before they consider themselves to be Americans, and don’t want their daughters to marry anyone from the “other side.”

    Instead of party ideology, it’s more a sort of emotional tribalism…

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      And yeah, while this tribalism has been huge on the right in recent years, it’s very much a factor on the left. In fact, it’s often more open on the left, with identity politics proudly embraced (I support her because she’s a woman!”) while the racists and misogynists on the right often try to hide their attitudes — although they’re bothering to do so less and less these days, which is one of the most frightening developments on the current scene….

      Reply
      1. bud

        Brad you just made my point! You’re equating racism and misogyny with a desire to get more women elected.

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        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          No, I’m not. I’m talking about two types of tribalism. One type is more positive — separating people demographically in order to lift people up — and the other is unquestionably negative.

          But the fact is that both involve being very aware of differences.

          However well-intended the positive difference-consciousness can be, it still concerns me. I don’t think a candidate should be elected BECAUSE she’s a woman, unless a good argument can be made for that based on circumstances — say, you’ve got a board for a rape crisis center that is all male. That’s a situation a reasonable person would want to address.

          But in the normal run of things, it bugs me when too much is made of a candidate’s gender. I don’t think it’s appropriate, lacking special circumstances.

          Also… single-member districts were very well intended, and they helped elected more minority representatives — in many cases, the first we’d seen since Reconstruction. That was a welcome development.

          But district representation has also done a great deal of harm, in terms of electing people who are too narrowly focused on the interests of this group or that one. Today, we have too many white representatives who don’t give a damn about black voters because they don’t represent any, and a smaller number of minority reps who have no electoral reason to care about what whites think.

          And here’s something that should really concern you, since you see the GOP as the root of all evil: Starting after the 1990 census and accelerating in subsequent decades, Republicans realized they could squeeze huge political advantage out of the desire to create more majority-minority districts. That’s because for every district you pack black voters into, you create several unusually white districts around it. This is a big reason why the GOP controls most state legislatures, and also control the drawing of congressional district, today.

          I’d just prefer that we consider each candidate in terms of whether he or she is better qualified than the opponent, without considering gender, race or other demographic classifications as qualifications…

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Oh, and bud… we got off on a bit of a tangent, and it’s my fault because I used the “She’s a woman!” example.

            The real “tribalism” that bothers me on the left as well as on the right is the kind that demonizes people who think differently — that urge that both sides have to completely dismiss people who disagree, and huddle together only with people who think exactly the way they do.

            I think that’s an enormously destructive feature in our politics.

            Sometimes I’m tempted to envy people who can feel the warmth of that tribalism. It’s impossible for me, since I can’t possibly buy into the values of either party — both sides push me away in too many ways.

            But I think I’m able to factor out envy, and still see an objectively negative force for what it is…

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            1. bud

              Sometimes you have to be dismissive. For example I cannot see a point of view that wants to obliterate clean water regulations just to make it a bit more profitable for big utilities.

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          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            And now that I’ve argued myself into a corner on Identity Politics, I’ll step it back, a little…

            I just ran across this old blog post headlined “Most grownups are women,” and the point was sort of Thank God there are some women in the U.S. Senate to inject some mature common sense into the proceedings. Along the way I also identified one of the lady senators as the “cutest,” but I was just trying to keep the other fellas from giving me the business, and other than that the piece would have stood up to scrutiny at a #metoo symposium.

            So, catch me in the right mood, and I, too, might say, “We need to elect more women.”…

            Reply

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