Cartoon: The Two Party System

two-party-system-1500

In my youth, I was very tempted by third parties. Not so much nowadays.

But this cartoon isn’t about that; it’s about the ridiculous choice between two major parties, one of which is a bit technocratic and complacent, the other of which is both ridiculous and vile. This isn’t how things are supposed to work, but it feels like we have no viable alternatives.

I’m rather pleased with the art for this one, and have left it in black and white on purpose. I think most of my cartoons from now on will have color of some sort, though.

If you like this cartoon, you can read a bunch more for free at my Patreon! And please consider supporting these cartoons. The support I get from readers on Patreon enables me to do many more political cartoons.

Transcript of cartoon

Title at the top of the cartoon: The Two Party System

Panel 1
A woman is standing in front of a little booth with a sign that says “DEMOCRATS.” The booth is in the style of Lucy’s psychiatry booth from the comic strip “Peanuts.” Seated behind the booth is an older white man, leaning his face on his hands; he doesn’t look very energetic.

WOMAN: Poverty is a national disgrace!

Panel 2
A close-up of the Democrat dude.
DEMOCRAT: That’s why we Democrats want to expand the earned income tax credit.
WOMAN: Okay, good. And?

Panel 3
A shot of the two of them. His head is still leaning on his hands; she’s waving her arms angrily.
DEMOCRAT: And there’s some other technical fixes we could do…
WOMAN: Tiny technical changes aren’t enough!

Panel 4
A close-up of the woman. She’s talking angrily and checking off things on her fingers.
WOMAN: What’s needed is single payer! Or free child care! Or a real game-changer, like a universal basic income!

Panel 5
The woman stomps away from the booth. The Democrat doesn’t even lift his head out of his hands.
WOMAN: Forget it! I’m out of here!
DEMOCRAT: You’ll be back.

Panel 6
The woman angrily walks to the right; in the background there’s a stone wall, and beyond that a hillside with trees on it.

Panel 7
The woman has arrived at a similar booth to the Democrat’s booth, but this one is labeled “GOP.” She talks to the middle-aged white an at the booth. The man behind the booth reacts angrily, grabbing the booth with one hand and leaning very far forward, thrusting his other hand out in a “STOP!” gesture.
WOMAN: I’m concerned about poverty. What will Republicans do for-
GOP MAN (very large letters): NO!

Panel 8
A close-up on the GOP man. He is yelling, eyes bulging, spittle flying.
GOP MAN: Not MY fault you’re a lazy welfare queen DEPENDENT wallowing in false victimhood! Take responsibility for your own life, LOSER!

Panel 9
The woman, visibly deflated and shaken, hugging herself, is stumbling back to the Democrat’s booth.
DEMOCRAT: Told ya.

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40 Responses to Cartoon: The Two Party System

  1. 1
    Sebastian H says:

    Yup, this is how I feel about the 2 party system in the US except the Democrats are actively bad in a few areas that are important to me so my choice is between “complacent and technocratic in some areas and bad in others” and “horrible in some areas and bad in others”. Obviously I choose the first, but crap.

  2. 2
    Kate says:

    I’m with you on the futility of third parties on the national level. But, I think that libertarians could make some real ground on the local level in areas where either Democrats or Republicans don’t have a chance, if they could get a nation wide strategy together. In Democratic leaning areas, local Greens might have a chance as well. It’s going to take local, grass-roots activism to change the system.

  3. 3
    Falstaff says:

    I couldn’t agree with Kate more.

    I mean, I’m a Democrat raised in a region — Portland, OR, what my conservative cousins like to snort at as “the People’s Republic of Multnomah County” — where the Dems pretty much have a hammerlock on just about every elected office.

    Didn’t use to be that way. In my own lifetime, it changed — it used to be left-wing Republicans running just about everything. But here’s the thing: while I always vote D in Oregon elections, I also live in Australia, where — because we have preference voting — I tend to support the Greens. (Not because the environment is my main issue — that’d be civil rights — but because they’re the most successful of Australia’s left-wing parties.) And they’ve risen to what prominence they have here by contesting local elections and winning a seat at a time — a handful of seats in the Senate here, a member of the House of Reps there, members of state assemblies over there. It hasn’t been quick change, but over the last forty years, the Greens have gone from idealists with no real power to the controlling bloc of votes in the Australian senate — if the local conservative or centrist parties want to get anything done, they mostly need to deal with the Greens.

    That could happen in America, but it won’t until somebody — Greens, Libertarians, someone else, whatever — starts building an infrastructure brick by brick. It’s gonna take a long time. It won’t happen fast. (Unless the Republicans fall apart like the Whigs did, but I don’t know — I think that’s the kind of thing that only happens once or twice in a country’s history.)

  4. 4
    Karen Porter says:

    You’re blaming the wrong party. EITC was created by Republicans.

    “The earned income tax credit (EITC), first proposed in the early 1970s, was signed by President Ford. It was later substantially expanded by President Reagan, who deemed it “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress” (Snyder 1995).”

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Karen, thanks for your comment.

    But I disagree. First of all, the politics are different now. Republicans now are far more unified, and far more right-wing. Despite what happened decades ago, for many years it’s primarily been the Democrats who favor expanding EITC, not the Republicans. (Or, in Ryan’s case, Republicans have proposed expanding the EITC but paying for it with larger cuts from other antipoverty programs, meaning a net loss for antipoverty programs.)

    Second of all, your argument only makes sense if we assume that Presidents create legislation. But they don’t – Congress does. In 1975, when the EITC was created as a temporary tax measure (the original sponsor was Oregon’s Al Ullman, a Democrat who was very influential on tax and budget matters), both houses of Congress were controlled by the Democrats. The same was true in 1978, when EITC was made permanent.

    The Tax Reform Act of 1986 – which was the Reagan-era law you referred to – is interesting. At that time, congressional control was split (Republicans had the Senate, Democrats the House). Unlike now, the parties were both willing to compromise, resulting in a tax simplification bill that was revenue-neutral. (To his credit, Reagan insisted that he’d only sign a revenue-neutral bill.) The bill was overwhelmingly supported by both parties (passed 97-3 in the Senate, and by a voice vote in the House).

    So I don’t think there’s any way you can say that the Republicans get sole credit for creating the EITC. More importantly, the Republican party of 1975 was a very different creature than the Republican party of 2017.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    Falstaff, a lot of Greens and Libertarians have tried running for local offices in the US, and a handful have even won. But Australia (correct me if I’m wrong) has preferential voting for most elections, in which people can vote for small parties without worrying about the those candidates acting as “spoilers.”

    Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s possible for third parties to have significant victories in the US unless our “first past the post” voting system is changed. And it’s hard to see why the two major parties, which benefit so much from this system, would agree to change it.

  7. 7
    closetpuritan says:

    Maine recently passed a ranked choice voting system. The state Democratic party supported it. This was in the wake of, twice in a row, a Republican winning with the left-of-center vote split between two candidates. So despite the mockery of third-party voters that I’ve seen this election season, causing the more popular party to lose by splitting the vote may be a viable strategy to pressure the more popular party to support ranked choice voting. (Would it work as well as an explicit strategy? It was not an explicit strategy AFAICT.)

    The Portland Press-Herald notes “Of course, all this assumes that the Maine Legislature and secretary of state do their jobs and implement ranked-choice voting in 2018, as the people have demanded by public referendum, and as state law now mandates.”

    It will be worth watching to see how/whether this is implemented.

  8. 8
    MJJ says:

    So despite the mockery of third-party voters that I’ve seen this election season, causing the more popular party to lose by splitting the vote may be a viable strategy to pressure the more popular party to support ranked choice voting.

    You need a referendum system, though, to get this to go through.

  9. 9
    closetpuritan says:

    @MJJ–Yes, the voters in Maine voted for it directly, so it probably wouldn’t have worked to do it through the legislature. Even with the state Democratic party theoretically in favor of it, it might not have been a priority without it being on the ballot.

  10. 10
    Kate says:

    Well, then is sounds like the first step is for third parties to band together in states with referrendum systems to get these changes in place.

  11. 11
    Ruchama says:

    Cincinnati does have a third party with significant local support, but they’re able to do it because we’ve got an at-large city council. (And, actually, they came to power in the twenties by first enacting ranked-choice voting.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_Party

  12. 12
    closetpuritan says:

    @Kate: Band together with who? With other third parties, or with members of the other two parties?

    I haven’t been following this issue closely, but here’s what I’m wondering: even where the measure itself is directly voted on, if both major parties are against it, do they have enough influence to cause average voters to vote against it? And without a reason to change staring them in the face in the form of two terms of Paul LePage, are average voters likely to be biased towards the status quo–“if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”–especially since the process of switching over costs money? Even in Maine where those factors were in their favor, it passed pretty narrowly.

    OTOH, more and more Americans are identifying as Independent and there was a lot of frustration with “the establishment” in the past election season. And if the new system is well-liked in Maine once implemented, it may make it easier to pass in other places.

  13. 13
    LTL FTC says:

    I’m honestly surprised to see an argument like this here. The intersectional triage approach prioritizes those with the most claims on oppression and requests those with fewer causes of complaint to sit down and shut up when someone is making those claims.

    You’d think that the more intersections you rack up, the more trapped you are in the Democratic party, the more important it is for you to tow the line and get out the vote for your half a loaf rather than walk out in a huff to get 100% of what you want and get zero. These are peoples’ lives we’re talking about, right?

    Given this, why bother pandering at all? Why fuss with the compliance with this week’s new language no-no, the ritual denunciations of “White Feminism” and the “I don’t feel sorry for regretful Trump voters” bluster? After all, if you’re doing this for people with nowhere else to go, aren’t you wasting the time and resources of an organization (the Democratic party) that has as its main goal the election of majorities?

    This is the double-bind of the modern American left. Intersectionality seems almost designed to regress into political irrelevancy by prioritizing ever-smaller slivers of the electorate. Winner-take-all politics demands broad support, including those who are specifically told to make themselves invisible for the good of their oppressed betters.

    Now, the Democratic party hasn’t gone “full Oberlin” on this yet, and that’s why they have the small footholds on power that they still do. And those slivers have legitimate, serious problems that need addressing. But if anyone is getting “centered,” it’s going to have to be the people who will get a good reception from the other guy’s lemonade stand.

  14. 14
    RonF says:

    Falstaff @4:

    But here’s the thing: while I always vote D in Oregon elections, I also live in Australia, where — because we have preference voting — I tend to support the Greens.

    Are you a dual citizen?

  15. 15
    RonF says:

    It’s interesting that the only options presented her are for this young woman to get help from either the GOP or the Democrats. Maybe she needs to stop looking to the government – to politicians, after all – to solve her problems.

  16. 16
    AcademicLurker says:

    15: I’m not sure that complaining that “Poverty is a national disgrace” is most obviously read as a demand that the government solve “her” problems.

  17. 17
    Mandolin says:

    I could say all her dialogue word for word and I have never lived in poverty.

  18. 18
    Ortvin Sarapuu says:

    ” Maybe she needs to stop looking to the government – to politicians, after all – to solve her problems.”

    IDK if this is a deliberate rephrasing of the Republicans’ last line, but it is.

  19. 19
    closetpuritan says:

    People in MA are also trying to get a ballot initiative going for ranked choice voting. As far as I know there haven’t been any recent LePage-like scenarios, so it will be interesting to see how it fares by comparison.

    Also, chiming in that I’m concerned about poverty, think that there’s a role for government in alleviating it, and am not personally looking for help.

  20. 20
    RonF says:

    Ortvin @ 18:

    No, it’s not. The GOP representative in the last panel characterizes her in a quite specific fashion. I haven’t characterized her at all.

    And, actually, now that I re-read the cartoon, there’s nothing in the cartoon that states that she herself is in poverty; it just shows her asking for solutions for poverty. My point is that society is far more than government. Government is not the foundation of society. The solution to society’s problems are not automatically rooted in government. If the only resource or the major resource she looks to for solving that problem is government, she’s likely going to fail to solve it.

  21. 21
    Jameson Quinn says:

    Yes, the US electoral system — specifically, what in the UK they call “first past the post” and in the US “single-member district plurality” is responsible for the two-party lock on power.

    Yes, it’s encouraging to see Maine voters ready to rethink that.

    Unfortunately, the system they’ve gone with in Maine (Instant Runoff Voting, which they deem “Ranked Choice Voting” as if it were the only ranked voting method) does not really fix the problem. It lets third parties grow unimpeded from 0% to 25%, but then anywhere from 25% to 50% they are just back in the position of being spoilers.

    A better solution would be 3-2-1 voting. This is basically a compromise between IRV and approval voting. You rate candidates good, OK, or bad; then the field is narrowed to the 3 most “good”, then to the 2 least “bad”, and of those two the winner is the one rated higher more often (the pairwise winner). In realistic elections, there is very little incentive to either pass over your favorite for a lesser evil (as with plurality or IRV) or to ignore the lesser evil to help your favorite (as with approval).

  22. 22
    RonF says:

    Closetpuritan @ 19:

    Just for the hell of it, I took a look at how RCV might have affected the 2016 Presidential election if every State had adopted it. Using CNN’s final state-by-state popular vote totals, I had a look at every State where the winning candidate did not have an outright majority of the vote.

    I did make one assumption that I have no way of proving – that all of Stein’s votes would have named Clinton as their #2 and all of Johnson’s votes would have named Trump as their #2. However, on that basis no State that Trump won with less than 50% of the vote would have flipped to Clinton, and 4 to 6 States that Clinton won would have flipped to Trump (Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico for sure, Nevada questionable because CNN’s vote total percentages don’t add up to 100% for that State, but the Trump + Johnson popular vote totals shown are > Clinton, and Maine splits their electoral votes by House district and I didn’t feel like f’ing around with it). That would have been an additional 32 to 38 Electoral College votes for Trump, turning the race into a runaway.

    The only road to victory for Clinton with RCV in the States would be if you presume that all of Stein’s votes go to Clinton and that 50% of Johnson’s votes would have as well. Then Clinton wins with 279 votes to 260 for Trump, as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan go to her. If she gets anything less than 50% of Johnson’s votes – which I’m going to guess is the most likely scenario – Trump still wins.

  23. 23
    Sarah says:

    RonF, I think there’s another quite major assumption you’re making that it is actually the purpose of switching to RCV to change — that all of the people who voted Clinton or Trump would have maintained those candidates as their #1 (or even #2) choice in an RCV scenario.

    We could also have ended up with a lot of Trump’s voters switching to Johnson, a substantial number of Clinton’s voters switching to Johnson, more people going with McMullin and Stein to detract from the major candidates’ tallies, and a situation where the final contest was between Johnson and one of the major two, rather than Clinton and Trump together. Under an established RCV voting system where voters trusted the ability of the system to elect third-party candidates, I don’t think either Clinton or Trump would have had nearly as many votes.

    We’d have to assume the election was one of the first held with RCV and most voters behaved identically to their first-past-the-post voting behavior (due to unfamiliarity with the system or mistrust of the efficacy of voting third-party), in order to ignore the people who would switch away from Clinton and Trump.

    But, in the larger sense, I don’t see re-running the 2016 election with RCV in the current political climate (which is influenced by the dominance of the two major parties) as an effective way of estimating the ability of another voting system to change the outcomes of our election system, anyway.

    If we had gotten all 50 states to use some form of ranked or runoff voting for Congress back in the 90’s or early 2000’s and were just now running the first presidential election with RCV/IRV, it would probably happen very differently than a replay of Clinton/Trump, not least because the composition of Congress would probably be different and the major parties would have had to adapt, which I personally think would have led to very different candidates being put forward. (I see both Clinton and Trump as candidates that could only ever have gotten the chance to run in a climate where their party knew they only had to deal with one other serious contender, and approximately what kind of candidate the other party would elect if they stayed true to form.)

  24. 24
    Jameson Quinn says:

    I’ve done an in-depth analysis using a large polling data set. It’s possible that RCV would have flipped Michigan to Clinton; but not PA, and thus not the whole election.

    If Bernie had been swapped in for Hillary at the last minute — that is, without accounting for any damage that campaign attacks could have done to him — then it’s pretty clear from my data that he would have won; robustly under plurality, and in a landslide with better voting systems. But again, if he’d actually been in the campaign, presumably he would have been the target of attacks, so who knows. It’s always easier to see the green in the grass when it’s on the other side of the fence.

  25. 25
    RonF says:

    Heck, if I could make a choice in Illinois I’d go back to the cumulative voting system they used to have for the Illinois House in the General Assembly. For each House district the various parties would put up anywhere from 0 to 3 candidates. You had 3 votes that could be spread out among 1, 2 or 3 candidates. Thus, if you voted for one candidate they would get 3 votes (known as a “bullet vote”). You would still have one party districts in Chicago and far Downstate, but what you ended up with in numerous districts was 2 candidates elected for the majority party and one from the minority party – and everyone in the district believing that they were being fairly represented. Gerrymandering didn’t have as much effect. Each district also elected one candidate to the State Senate.

    They got rid of this in the late 80’s IIRC as a measure to reduce the size of the Illinois General Assembly. They kept the districts set up as they were to elect State Senators and then split them in half; each half electing one House member. That reduced the size of the House by a 1/3 but based on how the Illinois government has functioned since I can’t say it’s an improvement.

    Sarah:

    that all of the people who voted Clinton or Trump would have maintained those candidates as their #1 (or even #2) choice in an RCV scenario.

    Good point. Elections held under different systems mean that the campaigns are run differently and people vote differently – but then, that’s my argument as to why attempting to delegitimatize Trump’s election on the basis that he did not win the popular vote are invalid.

  26. 26
    Jake Squid says:

    … that’s my argument as to why attempting to delegitimatize Trump’s election on the basis that he did not win the popular vote are invalid.

    I think that fact that Trump didn’t win the popular vote is enough to delegitimize his election on its own. I don’t view a concession to slave owners as a legitimate vehicle to election.

  27. 27
    Ortvin Sarapuu says:

    @Ron: You didn’t call her a “loser”, but you definitely said she needs to take responsibility for her own life.

  28. 28
    Kate says:

    Ron – point me to a country where the poor have access to education and healthcare without the government playing the primary role. I’m not averse to nongovernmental solutions, I just haven’t seen any.

  29. 29
    RonF says:

    “I think that fact that Trump didn’t win the popular vote is enough to delegitimize his election on its own. I don’t view a concession to slave owners as a legitimate vehicle to election.”

    The reason for the Electoral College is immaterial. It’s the effect on the behavior of voters that matters.

  30. 30
    Kate says:

    Ron, the whole system was disigned to overrepresent rural voters. If we had proportional representation for urban dwellers, either the whole government would be Democratic, or (more likely) the Republicans would be much more moderate than they are. I’m actually okay with this, because I think rural people need that representation not to have their needs ignored. But, I get really tired of such people accusing people like me from donor states, who are paying taxes to prop up their economies, of not having jobs and wanting a handout.

  31. 31
    David Simon says:

    The worst thing about the electoral college is not that it makes votes in some states worth more than in others, but that it rounds off the preferences of up to millions of voters within each state; it’s like the system was invented before we figured out how to add large numbers correctly.

    If rural voters need more power, then I’d propose giving their votes a multiplier. Of course, that would be far less politically palatable than the obscured way our current system gives extra power to rural voters, but I see that as a feature, not a bug. It would bring up all the hidden issues for debate, like “why is the extra power also given to people who live in big cities in rural states, and not to rural residents of populous states”, and “is it even a good idea to give people uneven amounts of voting power?”.

  32. 32
    closetpuritan says:

    @RonF–I was thinking along the same lines as Sarah–not only can we not assume that people’s choices would have been the same under some form of ranked choice voting, we can’t assume the same candidates would have run. Even if we assumed that the two strongest third parties were still the Greens and Libertarians, I would think that they could get stronger candidates than Jill Stein and Gary Johnson if third parties had more of a real chance of winning. And the Democratic and Republican candidates may well have been different in such a system also.

    ETA: and Jameson Quinn, thanks for the discussion of different systems. I will pass it on to a friend who is in MA and knows more about what they’re trying to do there.

  33. 33
    Mandolin says:

    Kate, I agree that everyone should have representation in government, including rural people, but I don’t understand why they should get more than others. I also believe other demographics should have representation in government and some of those live in predominately urban areas, this being in fact a locus of racial and religious politics. Over representation of rural people also means overrepresrnttion of other things.

    But that really is not my primary objection. I am a citizen of this country. I deserve an equal say, and so do all other citizens. The idea that it’s okay for some to be more equal citizens than others chills me, and its embrace by people on the left makes me feel ice.

  34. 34
    Mandolin says:

    (And while this really is not the way I conceive of politics, the fact that many conservatives think that tax payers should earn their say with their money rankles — I pay a fuck ton of taxes and am not unhappy doing so, but to be taxed without equal representation seems… well, like something some people would throw tea bags into oceans for.)

  35. 35
    Kate says:

    Mandolin, you raise good points. I think we agree on my main point, which is that the very people who are unfairly getting disproportionately high representation and paying less than their fair share of taxes are calling the rest of us tyrants and freeloaders. I’ve really had enough of it. I have no idea how to change that.

  36. 36
    Mookie says:

    @RonF

    The solution to society’s problems are not automatically rooted in government.

    Government is not the cause of every public ill, no; to solve, minimize, or neutralize public ills is, however, the precise function of government, which is itself a pooling of resources and a majority consensus of opinions about how to apply those resources in an informed and efficient way. As you say, people have lives to live and ambitions to fulfill. In a representative democracy, this is simply how it works. I’m amazed at the suggestion that government shouldn’t try to solve society’s “problems” — regulate for safety and health, provide infrastructure, monitor credit lenders. Why ever not? Why gloss over the notion of a social contract whereby government is obliged to serve us? We pay them enough.

  37. 37
    Kate says:

    The solution to society’s problems are not automatically rooted in government.

    No, it’s not “automatically” assumed. Over the past centruy and a half (or longer) its been proven that there are certain areas where markets break down and government needs to step in – education, healthcare, roads, response to natural disasters, to name a few.
    Show me some countries with nongovenmental approches to these problems that get anything close to the results that large government programs can produce. What country without massive investment in education has literacy rate approaching the U.S.? What country with an unsubsidzed, privatized sysetem manages to get any thing approaching the cost-benefit results of countries with national healthcare like Canada, Britain and Australia (to name a few)? What country has managed to create a nationwide road network to rival our interstate highway system without government leading the way?
    You say government is not the solution. Point me to other solutions in action.

  38. 38
    RonF says:

    My wife and I spent far more money on a vacation that we pretty much ever had and went on a Carnival cruise in the Caribbean, with a day before and a day after in New Orleans. I’m told I had a great time. There is video as proof, but you lot will never see it.

    Kate @ 30:

    Ron, the whole system was disigned to overrepresent rural voters.

    Can you show some direct evidence of that? Simply pointing to the current effect is insufficient. Back when the system was developed only ~5% of the population was urban. Unless you have some citations that it came up as a consideration in the design I’d doubt that the Founders had that concern as a major factor.

    Mookie @ 36:

    I’m amazed at the suggestion that government shouldn’t try to solve society’s “problems” — regulate for safety and health, provide infrastructure, monitor credit lenders. Why ever not?

    I’d be amazed at that as well. But, then, that’s not my proposition.

    and, @ 37:

    Over the past centruy and a half (or longer) its been proven that there are certain areas where markets break down and government needs to step in – education, healthcare, roads, response to natural disasters, to name a few.

    To say that “The solution to society’s problems are not automatically rooted in government.” != “government shouldn’t try to solve society’s ‘problems’” Are there some problems that are best solved through a governmental approach? Sure. That’s how the specific provisions in the powers of the Federal government got written into the Constitution – via debate, agreement and voting on what those problems are. But that does not mean that government is overall the best choice or the first resort for providing the solution to what some people or even a majority of the people may see as a societial problem.

    It also doesn’t mean that such things require the intervention of the Federal government. Take the Federal Dept. of Education (call it DoEd). I got most of my education before the Federal Department of Education ever existed. For the first 200 years of the Republic the States ran education without the Dept. of Ed. Yes, there have been faults in that, but also successes. It’s not clear to me at all based on measurable outcomes that the Federal Dept. of Ed. has been a positive contributor to eliminating the faults in education in America.

    Why gloss over the notion of a social contract whereby government is obliged to serve us? We pay them enough.

    You will find few people who are more dedicated to the proposition that government should be obliged to serve us than I. But serving us is a different proposition than ruling us and intruding into every aspect of our lives. It’s a perspective I teach Scouts often as they become Patrol Leaders, Senior Patrol Leaders, etc. They most naturally think leadership is bossing people around. It’s my job to teach them a concept that is in fact officially in the B.S.A. leadership training materials at both the Scout and Scouter levels (and can be found in the Bible, for that matter) – “servant leadership”. The idea is that a true leader is a servant to those he or she leads, not a boss. It’s a concept that it seems to me a great many people in Washington D.C. have missed and often have contempt for.

  39. 39
    Humble Talent says:

    the whole system was disigned to overrepresent rural voters. If we had proportional representation for urban dwellers, either the whole government would be Democratic, or (more likely) the Republicans would be much more moderate than they are. I’m actually okay with this, because I think rural people need that representation not to have their needs ignored. But, I get really tired of such people accusing people like me from donor states, who are paying taxes to prop up their economies, of not having jobs and wanting a handout.

    I think, very often, this discussion is framed that the founders designed the EC imperfectly, that they couldn’t have forseen the effect the EC would have on national elections. I disagree with that, and I think you nailed it on the head: The EC *was* designed to overrepresent rural voters, and I think that was to attempt to force candidates to venture ourtside of large urban centers.

    The fact that this isn’t particularly effective, because we still have a whole load of the country certain people refer to as ‘fly over’, doesn’t mean that the system isn’t working: It’s punishing the people who ignore rural states. This phenominon has benefitted Republicans for decades, because Democrats have washed their hands of them. If the idea was to force national candidates to have a broader base of appeal, then it was designed to select against regional candidates. You look at this election… Clinton was the definition of a regional candidate. She won the popular vote by 2.3 Million votes. That SEEMS impressive… But she won California by 4 Million votes…. Which means she lost the rest of America by 1.7 million votes.

    This election went exactly as it was designed to. And I think this is something that Democrats should have learned a lesson from, but are doing their damndest to miss: The founders couldn’t possibly have forseen the positions political parties would take, or the demographics of the electorate. They put in place rules designed to favour certain broad characteristics, like a more national appeal, and everyone walks onto the battlefeild cognisant of what those rules are.

    I’ve said for a while: “Democrats need more than social justice if they’re going to win”, and I stand by that. Time and time again during this cycle, progressives were asked: “Why should the middle class vote for you? Why should white people support your policies? Men? Resource sector employees who lost their jobs? What’s in it for them?” It was answered embarassingly, ranging from ignoring the question completely to redirection, never quite engaging the question on its merits. It was was seen as an almost offensive question, and if you caught someone on a bad day, they might give the most honest iteration of the answer: a paraphrase of “Those people have enough, we’re more concerned about _____.”

    I’m not saying Trump deserved to win. But Clinton deserved to lose.

  40. 40
    Ampersand says:

    HT, of course the framers didn’t foresee how the electoral college would operate in today’s climate. At the time they wrote the Constitution, they didn’t think a strong national party system would emerge. Furthermore, in all but two states, only white, male property-owners could vote; there’s no evidence that most framers believed this would change.

    There was originally a lot more to this reply, but I decided to make it a separate post instead.

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