re-election of current Congress peeps


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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby kuha » Sun Oct 20, 2013 1:33 pm

user4 wrote:Political science is the art of persuasion: Persuading people, the citizens, to put the politicians interests above their own.


I don't buy that. Politicians stay in place by representing--enthusiastically, in many cases--the interests of their most potent/powerful supporters. That MAY mean the primary voters (however few of them there may be in gerrymandered districts) that get them elected in the first place, and/or the deep-pocket individuals and lobbying groups (however few of them there may be) who give them lots of campaign money. The fundamental problem lies in the fact that the interests of those groups may have very little to do with the actual, majority interests of the larger population.

Politicians are only as bad as the voters that elect them. If we truly wanted saints and geniuses in office, we could put them there.
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby gh » Sun Oct 20, 2013 1:40 pm

bekayne wrote:
jeremyp wrote:The problem can only be fixed when the procedures of our democracy are changed. Gerrymandering needs to be taken out of the hands of politicians

Proportional representation makes Gerrymandering obsolete


You're kidding, right?

http://www.nationaljournal.com/hotline/ ... s-20120330
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby TN1965 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 4:33 pm

bambam wrote: I don't have any enlightened views on politics. I just hardly think it is science. Science is mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc. Plus even if you concede that there is an academic side to it, and I certainly think there is, the reality is so contaminated by what we see in Washington and the state capitals that I find it specious to call it science.


What makes mathematics, physics and chemistry "science"? What makes "political science" (not "politics") categorically different from them?

Do you think astronomy, geology, paleontology or epidemiology "science"? Is "political science" categorically different from them?
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby TN1965 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 4:41 pm

user4 wrote:Political science is the art of persuasion: Persuading people, the citizens, to put the politicians interests above their own.


Another post by someone who has no clue on what the topic is about. :roll:

Political science is "study" of political phenomena. And as the name suggests, it tries to explain political phenomena by a series of falsifiable hypotheses. Its results can be used by political candidates or campaign managers. But that is not the objective of study.
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby jhc68 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 5:30 pm

Here's the technological (as distinct from the politically scientific) element to the current Congress:

Digital map-making programs available during the past couple of redistricting cycles have enabled politicians to analyze population,race, ethnicity and income demographics on a block-by-block (even a house-by-house) basis. And with that knowledge they have been able to carve out the otherwise nonsensical gerrymandered districts shown in the article gh cited to a much higher degree of precision than was ever possible in olden times.

Once computerized models were employed to create new, rock-solid districts where one political party or the other is absolutely ensured victory then the candidate selected during the primary election is unbeatable.

And since few voters are interested or informed during the primaries, then the small fraction of the population who are political zealots of the extreme right and left and DO vote in the primaries are the only ones the new Congressman represents. The rest of the population - voters or not - are irrelevant to the Congressman's reelection.

Voila! Governmental deadlock.
What's the solution? I dunno...
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby kuha » Sun Oct 20, 2013 5:44 pm

jhc68 wrote:What's the solution? I dunno...


Pretty clearly it is, in part, going back to some version of "objective," "old-fashioned" districts. That could start by including only whole and contiguous counties--in order to preserve something of the actual, existing urban/suburban/rural mix. While not eliminating all extreme candidates, it would give far more weight to centrists and pragmatists.
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby bekayne » Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:46 pm

gh wrote:
bekayne wrote:
jeremyp wrote:The problem can only be fixed when the procedures of our democracy are changed. Gerrymandering needs to be taken out of the hands of politicians

Proportional representation makes Gerrymandering obsolete


You're kidding, right?

http://www.nationaljournal.com/hotline/ ... s-20120330

No, really it does
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportion ... esentation
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby user4 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:20 am

kuha wrote:
user4 wrote:Political science is the art of persuasion: Persuading people, the citizens, to put the politician's interests above their own.


I don't buy that. Politicians stay in place by representing--enthusiastically, in many cases--the interests of their most potent/powerful supporters. That MAY mean the primary voters (however few of them there may be in gerrymandered districts) that get them elected in the first place, and/or the deep-pocket individuals and lobbying groups (however few of them there may be) who give them lots of campaign money. The fundamental problem lies in the fact that the interests of those groups may have very little to do with the actual, majority interests of the larger population.


If you didnt agree with it, why did you go on to explain how you agreed with it !! :)



TN1965 wrote:
user4 wrote:Political science is the art of persuasion: Persuading people, the citizens, to put the politician's interests above their own.


Another post by someone who has no clue on what the topic is about. :roll:

Political science is "study" of political phenomena. And as the name suggests, it tries to explain political phenomena by a series of falsifiable hypotheses. Its results can be used by political candidates or campaign managers. But that is not the objective of study.


I thought there was always room for a little political satire in a thread titled "re-election of current Congress peeps" ... It sounds like my summary hit just a bit too close to home. Nevertheless I like your definition, it provides some sofa stuffing for my more hard framed straightforward definition. :D
Last edited by user4 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby jazzcyclist » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:02 am


I think that's the way they do it in parliamentary systems. Democrats would control both houses of Congress if we had that system here. Then there's the makeup of the Senate, in which rural states are heavily over-represented in relation their percentage of the nation's population, and you realize how distorted our system is relative to the wishes of the majority.
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby user4 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:35 am

jazzcyclist wrote:

I think that's the way they do it in parliamentary systems. Democrats would control both houses of Congress if we had that system here. Then there's the makeup of the Senate, in which rural states are heavily over-represented in relation their percentage of the nation's population, and you realize how distorted our system is relative to the wishes of the majority.


I wonder if that is why Ben Franklin wrote: "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch...." ?
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby TN1965 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:30 am

kuha wrote:
jhc68 wrote:What's the solution? I dunno...


Pretty clearly it is, in part, going back to some version of "objective," "old-fashioned" districts. That could start by including only whole and contiguous counties--in order to preserve something of the actual, existing urban/suburban/rural mix. While not eliminating all extreme candidates, it would give far more weight to centrists and pragmatists.


Uh... I'm afraid you might be missing the point. The real question is how can we get back to non-partisan redistricting. The fact it is done in at least six different states (AZ, CA, HI, ID, NJ and WA) shows it is not impossible. But why would the state legislature give up its own power to redraw the lines?

1. If the majority party in the state legislature thinks they are better off (or at least not worse off) by non-partisan redistricting, then they will chose it.

2. If #1 is not possible, then the Congress can legislate that redistricting for federal offices be done by non-partisan commissions. It is the federal law that currently gives this power to the state legislature, so that can be changed by another federal law. But it requires that the majority party in both houses of Congress needs to think that they are better off (or at least not worse off) with this. (And realistically, at least 60 Senators would have to agree on this, since it can be filibustered.)

And ironically one thing that can reduce the demand for gerrymandering is the voters' self-segregation. If the most ideologically extreme voters chose to live in close proximity to one another, then there will be no need for gerrymandering. And indeed, all the evidences indicate that it is already happening. So gerrymandering may go away and non-partisan redistricting may spread. But by that time, most Congressional districts still might be heavily Democrat or heavily Republican.
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby kuha » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:25 am

TN1965 wrote:Uh... I'm afraid you might be missing the point.


I don't think so. I answered the "what" question. The "how" is something else...but that's not impossible, either.
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby bekayne » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:30 am

TN1965 wrote:2. If #1 is not possible, then the Congress can legislate that redistricting for federal offices be done by non-partisan commissions. It is the federal law that currently gives this power to the state legislature, so that can be changed by another federal law. But it requires that the majority party in both houses of Congress needs to think that they are better off (or at least not worse off) with this. (And realistically, at least 60 Senators would have to agree on this, since it can be filibustered.)

Then you'll hear the cry of "States Rights! States Rights!"
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby jeremyp » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:43 am

It's obvious that we are stuck on thinking that the electoral process is the problem, rather than the procedures Congress lives by, and changes, to suit themselves. Case in point was last night's "60 Minutes" showing that the Congress got around an ethics law barring private use of campaign money by creating a separate "Leader's PAC" and using campaign money as a slush fund for private uses (junkets, parties, nepotism.) One rep. is trying to pass a law to stop it but he has no takers. As long as Congress refuses to police itself it doesn't matter who you send there.
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby lonewolf » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:59 am

jeremyp wrote:As long as Congress refuses to police itself it doesn't matter who you send there.

A lot of truth in that. :(
The irony is that while we widely condemn Congress/Senate as a whole and other states representatives specifically, we , meaning everyone, keep sending our own incompetents back to DC. :?
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby Pego » Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:20 am

lonewolf wrote:keep sending our own incompetents back to DC


I don't believe the majority of them are incompetent. Most of them are actually quite bright, accomplished people, lawyers predominantly. The problem is that just about each one of them has an agenda (or ideology, if you please) that over the past few decades became increasingly more inflexible. Then, there are, of course, their own interests that majority of them place above the interests of the country.
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby bad hammy » Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:16 am

TN1965 wrote:(And realistically, at least 60 Senators would have to agree on this, since it can be filibustered.)

Since we're talking about nonsensical governmental crap that gums up the works, where in our Constitution did the founding fathers say that 60% is the bar to win an election or vote?? And why is it that 51 votes work in the Senate for stuff no one cares about but it takes 60 for the good stuff? Guess it's better than the old days when it was 67% . . . .
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby JumboElliott » Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:29 am

The constitution said that each house of congress can make its own rules. Politicians only dislike the filibuster when it's the other side that's filibustering.
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby lonewolf » Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:16 pm

Pego wrote:
lonewolf wrote:keep sending our own incompetents back to DC


I don't believe the majority of them are incompetent. Most of them are actually quite bright, accomplished people, lawyers predominantly. The problem is that just about each one of them has an agenda (or ideology, if you please) that over the past few decades became increasingly more inflexible. Then, there are, of course, their own interests that majority of them place above the interests of the country.

I agree completely.
" Incompetent" was a poor choice of words. They were smart enough to get elected.. and their constituents were dumb enough, in too many cases, to vote for them.
The hypocrisy, spin and outright lies are what infuriate me. :evil:
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby bambam » Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:41 pm

bad hammy wrote:Guess it's better than the old days when it was 67% . . . .


I've often thought that 67% is what it should be. Then there would have to be bi-partisan agreement to get things passed and the only laws passed would not be all sorts of pork, but only things that were really important and that a super-majority actually agreed on.
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby jhc68 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:21 pm

I think pork may well be the most likely sort of legislation to get a super-majority approval. And important stuff the least likely...
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby jazzcyclist » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:33 am

jhc68 wrote:I think pork may well be the most likely sort of legislation to get a super-majority approval. And important stuff the least likely...

You're probably right. No Congressman wants other people messing their pork, which only needs 51% to pass, so they know not to mess with anybody else's. On the other hand, it takes 67% of Congress to pass a balance budget amendment, which would prevent Congress from spending more money than the government takes in. If a balance budget amendment had been in place in 2003, W would have been forced to ask Congress to raise taxes to pay for his Iraq adventure, rather than just putting in on the national credit card.

In 1995, the Balance Budget Amendment passed in the House (300-132) but fell short by exactly one vote in the Senate (66-34). I remember at the time it was being reported that Congressional leaders did precise vote counting in order to allow as many people to vote for it as possible without it passing so that the maximum number of members would have political cover when they ran for reelection. Not coincidentally, all the senators who were up for reelection in 1996 voted for it.
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby user4 » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:05 am

Pego wrote:
lonewolf wrote:keep sending our own incompetents back to DC


I don't believe the majority of them are incompetent. Most of them are actually quite bright, accomplished people, lawyers predominantly. The problem is that just about each one of them has an agenda (or ideology, if you please) that over the past few decades became increasingly more inflexible. Then, there are, of course, their own interests that majority of them place above the interests of the country.



You mean a group of talented and skilled men go to one place where other peoples money is to be dispensed and it surprises us that they would put their own interests above the others.

Are there more than a few hundred men in the whole country that would not put their own interests above others if faced with those kinds of rewards ?

I could think of a thousand ways to "invest in the future" and have a nice slice of it come back into my pockets.
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby TN1965 » Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:51 pm

bad hammy wrote: Since we're talking about nonsensical governmental crap that gums up the works, where in our Constitution did the founding fathers say that 60% is the bar to win an election or vote?? And why is it that 51 votes work in the Senate for stuff no one cares about but it takes 60 for the good stuff? Guess it's better than the old days when it was 67% . . . .


Filibuster is consistent with Madison's idea of checking the "tyranny of majority." (I don't remember, and don't have the time to check the number, but it was in one of the Federalist Papers piece written by him.)
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Re: re-election of current Congress peeps

Postby TN1965 » Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:56 pm

jhc68 wrote:I think pork may well be the most likely sort of legislation to get a super-majority approval. And important stuff the least likely...


One of the common ways to secure the super-majority is to add "riders" to the original bill, and make it a "Christmas Tree bill."
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