From Revolution to Redistricting. Sigh.

How the power of the 'minority' is reshaping American politics

The US midterms are around the corner and Democrats just got clean-washed in the latest election. How the hell did that happen in just a year? Why is Biden at a 38% approval rating in the latest poll? What’s going on? Are Americans so fickle, impatient, as that? Or are the American people misread? The conundrum of the electorate.


But hey its not like no one predicted the faultlines in a democracy. From the Greeks to the founding fathers democracy is known for contrariness. Contrary to some, caprice to others.

Those 18th century revolutionaries or the US's founding fathers and their fellow insurrectionists (freedom fighters) in France were faced with how to deal with that conundrum: how to create a new kind of government: led by the common man: structured to govern with free men, no monarchs, no aristocrats and no back tracking.

In France they formed the Republic and beheaded the aristocrats, immediately limiting the attractiveness of that institution. In America, they worked diligently (marvelously we can see their thinking in our Federalist papers) on a constitution that established a democratic rule with safeguards for individual rights.

Jefferson et al were as sensitive to protect the young country against the tyranny of the majority as they were intent to eliminate any possibility of the tyranny of an autocrat. And they enshrined those protections in the U.S. Bill of Rights. And put faith in a revolutionary concept. The rule of law. Equally applied to all.

In both systems, its acknowledged that laws get passed by majorities of elected representatives. The idea is to temper the will of the majority to respect individual rights, not to cancel it completely, or, even worse, give power to a minority instead.

Fast forward 250 years or so and several needed amendments around equality of all citizens etc. and we have turned our backs on their hard work. Power corrupts all things. 

Gerrymandered districts and the urban vs. rural divide has skewed power toward the GOP beyond its support in actual numbers. 7 million votes more than Donald Trump, yet Joe Biden loses if about 42,000 votes flip in the right 3 states. Hillary Clinton was 3 million votes ahead of Donald Trump, and did lose because of about 100,000 votes in a handful of states. Add in the equal representation of states in the Senate, and the GOP has a structural advantage in geography by tailoring its message to socially conservative rural voters. Driving extremism.

The problem with the system, as it is now, is due to how it fails to incentivize the parties to genuinely appeal to the middle as well as their base. In Virginia, Youngkin won by straddling the line, but in a disingenuous way. Keep Trump at arm's length to not scare off the white suburban voters, while using coded language that appeals to the Trump fans.

Democrats win by doing something similar. Portray themselves as the anti-Trump, while still appealing to their progressive base. Actually trying to build a genuine coalition that includes the middle seems beyond either party's interest or capability. Why? Well they don't need to. 

That's where Biden's failing. It's not about what does and doesn't pass. It's not about Afghanistan or critical race theory. It's not policy or culture wars. It wasn't even about his not being Trump (although I think it made the path clearer as Trump is a rabid player in division).

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It was the promise that he would let everyone have their say and not force his views on anyone. Be practical. Be honest. Be straightforward. Stalwart comes to mind. Let's see more of that and less of the pandering to whatever self interest declares he owes them.


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