Who Needs Elections, Anyway?

Thursday, September 29, AD 2011

Whenever I see that someone has said something insanely stupid, I often check the source and try to dig deeper to make sure there’s not more to the story than meets the eyes.  So I was initially skeptical when I heard that Governor Bev Purdue said the following:

“You have to have more ability from Congress, I think, to work together and to get over the partisan bickering and focus on fixing things. I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that. The one good thing about Raleigh is that for so many years we worked across party lines. It’s a little bit more contentious now but it’s not impossible to try to do what’s right in this state. You want people who don’t worry about the next election.”

Surely she can’t be serious.  A sitting governor could not possibly be advocating the suspension of elections, could she?

Well her team went into immediate spin mode and claimed that she was just exaggerating.

Later Tuesday afternoon, Perdue’s office clarified the remarks: “Come on,” said spokeswoman Chris Mackey in a statement. “Gov. Perdue was obviously using hyperbole to highlight what we can all agree is a serious problem: Washington politicians who focus on their own election instead of what’s best for the people they serve.”

Only she wasn’t exaggerating, she was being sarcastic.

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10 Responses to Who Needs Elections, Anyway?

  • Gov. Perdue has a point: our political cycles have a periodicity that is too short. There is one other thing: there comes a point in the life of nations where the dynamics that operate among the political class render constitutional processes less likely to secure order and justice than an authoritarian arrangement. (The history of Uruguay between 1955 and 1973 is sadly relevant). I think we are closer to such a state than you appreciate.

  • The only point Governor Perdue has is doubtless at the top of her skull. We had elections during the American Revolution, all the economic upheavals of the nineteenth century, during both World Wars and throughout the Cold War. During our Civil War, when the nation was engaged in an immense struggle with itself, both sides held regular elections. When the heroes of Flight 93 had to decide whether to rush the hijackers they took a vote. Voting is essential to the way we Americans view the world; it is built into our political DNA as a people. In the truest sense of the word, Governor Perdue’s proposal was deeply un-American.

  • I understand that elections have been held in inclement circumstances, but critiquing that practice is not my point nor is it hers. (N.B. Britain postponed parliamentary elections during the 2d World War).

    Incorporated in the Governor’s comments is the notion that the balance of time and attention between making public policy and electioneering is severely out of whack as we speak. We hold federal elections every two years in this country rather than the three year cycle that is about normal in Canada and New Zealand or the four year cycle in Britain. The internal structure of our political parties puts a heavy fund-raising burden on our legislators as well. Quadrennial federal elections and a transfer of fund-raising duties to the political party apparat would be helpful.

  • (N.B. Britain postponed parliamentary elections during the 2d World War).

    Yes and they have had National Unity Governments of all parties during times of crisis and various other bad ideas that make me say for at least the thousandth time, “Thank God for 1776!”

    Elections are not the problem Art, and calling politicians to account at frequent elections is a feature and not a bug of our system. If anything gerrymandering and making too many seats safe for one party so elections are not a serious contest greatly contribute to the poor leadership from our political class. Postponing elections or amending the Constitution to elect House members for four year terms would exacerbate, rather than solve, this problem.

  • There is little hope, either way. They keep voting for baboons and idiots that promise something for nothing.

    Our only hope is to limit guvmint’s power to inadvertently destroy we the people.

    It’s prtobably too late.

  • Croakers have always been with us T.Shaw from the earliest days of the Republic. In spite of them a fair amount of good has been accomplished by the American people since the foundation of the Republic, and quite a bit of good remains to be accomplished.

  • Mark Twain: “If you don’t read the papers, you are uninformed. If you read the papers, you are misinformed.”

    “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
    – Mark Twain, a Biography

    Agreed: a fair amount of good has been accomplished by we the people . . . Not much by big guvmint.

    Gibbon “Decline and Fall . . . “ paraphrased: “An educated, well-informed populous, possessed of arms, tenacious of property, and collected into constitutional assemblies form the only balance capable of preserving a free constitution against the enterprises of an aspiring prince (despotism).”

    “ . . the people of Rome, viewing with a secret pleasure the humiliation of the aristocracy demanded only bread and public shows.” Augustus had destroyed the aristocracy, the Praetorian Guards ran rampant; people were reduced to wards of the state. The army was professional and not made up of the citizenry, which was dependent, disarmed and disenfranchised.

    Does any of that sound familair?

  • Actually T.Shaw, some of the Founding Fathers in their older and crankier years quoted Gibbon when lamenting that the Republic they had created was going to Hell in a handbasket. Such laments are timeless. Sometimes they are also timely, but not usually.

  • Elections are not the problem Art

    To some extent, they are. The following problems are manifest:

    1. Barnacles and fried circuits:

    There was a great multiplication in the number and variety of offices subject to election during the Jacksonian period. The ballots we get here in New York are just hopeless. Regularity of scheduling and a reduction in the number of offices so subject would expand the capacity of the electorate to make informed choices. That in and of itself suggests quadrennial scheduling.

    2. Rapid cycling of offices may promote ‘accountability’, but only if you assume the effects of policies are fully manifest on two-year intervals. The restoration of price stability in 1979-82 is an example of a salutary public policy that it took more than two years to implement.

    3. Rapid cycling of offices also changes the recruitment patterns in political life. Right now, our system has given an escalating advantage to politicians talented at fund-raising and striking poses, because that is what they do half the time. (The current president is a fairly pure example of this tendency).


    Containing the effects of gerrymandering is going to require innovations in the architecture of electoral systems. Refusal to consider any sort of constitutional innovation is an ingrained element of the political culture we have.

    I understand there were antecedent arguments for the various aspects of our constitutional architecture and that there are post hoc apologetics for it. The wrecked and dysfunctional quality of it remain no matter what is said about it.

  • “The ballots we get here in New York are just hopeless.”

    I think that pretty well sums up the view of much of the country about New York Art! 🙂 (The joke would be funnier to me if I were not in Illinois.) Not having voted in New York I cannot judge the state of the ballot, but I do not think multiplicity of offices or frequency of balloting, at least on a two year schedule, would be daunting to an informed citizenry. Of course that last is a large part of the problem, not only in New York, but around the country.

    In the 19th century Art, radical and routine shifts in control of Congress were the norm, a result of voters paying close attention to what their reps were up to in Washington and making their displeasure known frequently. It ensured that when one party had control they enacted their agenda as rapidly as possible, which I think is preferable to the eternal grid lock that is now the norm. When a new party came to power they could repeal laws previously enacted that had proven to be failures or unpopular with the voters.

    We do not have rapid cycling of offices Art. Until very recently the re-election numbers for most members of Congress were obscenely high. I hope we are beginning to enter a new era when a substantial number of Congressional seats will be true contests each elections.

Who You Calling Racist, Racist?

Friday, August 19, AD 2011

By now roughly 20 times more people have seen the clip below than when it originally aired on the Keith Olbermann Show.  Yes, Keith Olbermann has a show again.  It runs on a channel called Current TV.  It’s basically a cable access channel gone national.  Keith had political philosopher Janeane Garofalo on his show to discuss the Tea Party movement, and she uttered these sage remarks about Herman Cain.

For those of you who don’t feel like watching the clip, here’s a transcript of the relevant portion.

Garofalo also said successful businessman Herman Cain is either being paid to run or is suffering from Stockholm syndrome because he is a “person of color” running as a Republican in the party’s presidential primary.

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8 Responses to Who You Calling Racist, Racist?

  • To many people on the Left it is an article of faith that racial minorities cannot be conservative, which would be news to Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Congressmen West and Scott, etc. They explain the existence of black conservatives using the type of psychobabble that Garafolo spewed. Just another example that whatever reality much of “the reality based community” is tuned into, it is not the one the rest of us occupy.

  • God willing, virtuous men and women like Col. West, Associate Justice Thomas, Herman Cain, Thomas Sowell, et al will lead black America out of democrat dependency and desperation.

    Recently, terrorist sympathizers at CAIR “called out” Congressman West for associating with certain Americans that oppose terror. His written, one-word response was: “NUTS!” Of course, the idiot progressives (I repeat myself) didn’t get it.

  • One wonders if Obama himself might not be racially suicidal given that abortions disproportionately affect persons of color, and Obama is a person of color.

    One also wonders why those who voted for Obama only because of the color of his skin are not themselves racist.

    Indeed, it’s not the accident of birth into a specific race or culture, or the pigment of the skin that counts, but the color of one’s heart. As Matthew 15:10-19 state:

    When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.” So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

  • I particularly like hearing Keith Olbermann talking about “delusions of grandeur” as if he wasn’t the poster child for such things.

  • So, Michael, Olbermann’s “delusions of grandeur” remark could be paraphrased thusly:

    Pot: “Hello, Kettle. You’re black.”

    … Or would that be racist, too?

  • Olbermann’s best gig was doing SportsCenter on ESPN at 1 in the morning when no one was watching. Amazingly, MSNBC gave this bonehead a $30 million, 4-year contract. Of course, no one of any intelligence watches that network much less Current TV. Garofalo’s so desperate for face time she’s a regular on Maher’s HBO show, another sources of enlightenment for the leftist loons.

  • Yawn! She would be more relevant if she said that Christianity is the reason why we have blacks like Herman Caine and women like Sarah Palin and Bachmann running under a conservative ticket. “Afterall” ,she would follow, “such a religion baits people into believing that a moral code is necessary to be live in this world.”