A Concise Diagnosis

In an aside in a recent column about the January 6th hearings, Jennifer Rubin really summed up the current crisis (or more accurately, crises) in American governance.

Trump utterly failed the country; his successor is stymied by a radicalized opposition determined to see him fail. The Senate is gridlocked by a minority party wielding the filibuster to, among other things, preserve voter suppression and subversion laws. The Supreme Court has been overtaken by rank, radical partisans whose decisions cannot be defended on the merits and whose public utterances and tone lack any semblance of “judicial temperament.” We seem stuck because structural advantages for the minority (the Senate, the electoral college, the right-wing Supreme Court) make real reform impossible.

Rubin’s main thrust was the meaning of the very real heroism displayed by poll workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. (The column was written before the even more impressive bravery displayed by Cassidy Hutchinson this week.)

Unlike a number of the witnesses called by the committee, these two women–mother and daughter–weren’t high-ranking members of the administration or Department of Justice, people who might lose a current job but would have little trouble finding new ones. Freeman and Share are ordinary citizens who were doing some of the low-paid jobs essential to the operation of democratic elections. Rubin is certainly correct in lauding the courage they displayed both in doing those jobs accurately and in testifying; her point was that they served the country just as surely as our military does, and that we need civilians “like Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss in public life if we are to muddle through a dangerous and disturbing period in our history.”

I don’t disagree, but I remain fixated on the quoted paragraph, because it succinctly sums up the challenges we currently face–and their magnitude.

I’ve written several times about the filibuster, and how its current use differs substantially from its historic one. The wrongheaded protection of what the filibuster has become allows a minority of lawmakers– who have been elected by a minority of voters– to veto the demonstrable will of the great majority of American citizens.

I need not reiterate the evidence showing how drastically the current Supreme Court has deviated from what was thought to be settled jurisprudence. To use a term beloved by a former vice-presidential candidate, the Court’s majority has “gone rogue.” To the extent that Americans were relying on the judiciary to protect fundamental rights, the Court’s current majority has signaled repeatedly that such reliance is misplaced–at least, so long as that majority fancies itself a religious tribunal rather than a court of law  bound by precedent and serving a theologically and ideologically diverse population.

In the final sentence of that quoted paragraph, Rubin alludes to what has become my most pressing–and depressing– concern: the obsolescence of much of America’s electoral and governing systems.

I doubt we can ever do anything about the fact that electing two senators from every state, irrespective of massive disproportions in population, means that very soon 70% of the Senate will represent 30% of the population. So long as our rogue court continues to protect partisan gerrymandering, lawmakers in both houses will continue to be answerable primarily–indeed, overwhelmingly– to rural Americans. The difficulty of amending the Constitution means we are probably saddled with the Electoral College for the foreseeable future–I don’t hold out much hope that the National Popular Vote Compact will be ratified by states having the necessary 270 electoral votes. (I would love to be wrong!)

The only remedy I can see would be a massive turnout in November repudiating the GOP –turnout large enough to allow Democrats  to get rid of the filibuster and pass a number of remedial measures–most importantly, the voting rights act. That law  would–among other salutary consequences– outlaw gerrymandering. Congress could also add Justices to the Court, diluting the power of the Court’s radical theocrats.

Are the Democrats perfect? Certainly not. But they’e a thousand times saner than the cult that is today’s GOP. If that cult loses badly enough, it will either be reformed from within, by genuine conservatives like Adam Kitzinger and Liz Cheney, or go the way of the Whigs.

Either way, We the People could then go back to arguing over our policy differences, rather than the survival of the republic.

In a very real way, Rubin was right: America’s future depends on ordinary citizens–those who do their jobs, and especially those who cast their votes to rescue the Constitution and Bill of Rights from the autocrats and theocrats. I’m clinging by my fingernails to the hope that there are enough of those citizens…


  1. Rubin expects a uniformed citizenry to do what? Good lord, Americans are still glued to their TVs watching what happened on 1/6 over a year ago.

    Meanwhile, the oligarchs are priming the pump for WW3 against China and Russia because nothing gets the printing presses pumping in a recession like war (common external enemies).

    While everyone waves their flags this weekend, the FED has transferred $4.2 trillion of mortgage debt on its balance sheet – meaning we the people own them. There is a good chance that a large percentage of those mortgages are toxic. Yes, just like the last toxic bubble.

    Just as unions were hitting the streets asking for more workers’ money, SCOTUS started dumping a basket of cultural issues to fuel the fires, and the FED is going to slam the brakes on the economy to stifle the inflation they created.

    Xi and Vladimir don’t have to lift a finger. Followers of Sun Tzu will know this quote well from “The Art of War”:

    “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

  2. Todd, you are mostly correct in your analysis, but, like the Republicans and the SCOTUS, short-sighted for the long game. The long game of the Republicans has reached a new sense of urgency; they seem to feel that if they don’t tear it all apart now, they’ll never have another chance to impose fascism.

    As Marx often stated in his musings, capitalists are rather simple folk. All they care about is profit and wealth. The means to that wealth? It doesn’t matter even if it sows the seeds of their own demise.

    Smart people on this blog have been mentioning the solutions for the 3 years I’ve visited here. BUT, the narrow-minded, short-sighted idiots running the Republican party simply cannot rise above their corruption to do what is right for our democracy and the Constitution. The Democrats haven’t had a lick of courage to confront this sedition for a couple decades. Schultz and Perez were the worst POSSIBLE DNC chairs during these election cycles. They allowed Trump to win and they allowed the Republicans to have their way IN SPITE OF THEIR MINORITY STATUS.

    Sun Tzu also said that when confronting the enemy, the best solution is to attack!

  3. I am really disgusted with the fact that I live in Indianapolis and, therefore, certainly seem to be mostly powerless over what is happening to me, my wife, my adult daughters and grandchildren in the State of Indiana that contribute to the perplexing problems at the federal level. I suspect there are many who feel the same way in Wisconsin, Florida, etc. So much of what is happening at the federal level is because of how with amazing skill, incredible damage is being done that may be extremely difficult to repair. My votes for Ed Delaney and others does not carry much weight in the fight against the destruction of representative government. I am afraid that soon they will have no effect at all. Just disgusted and angry that it has come to this. I thought we were evolving.

  4. I too am hanging on by my fingernails that THIS time US citizens will go to the polls and vote the Republicans out of office. It is our only hope and it is not a sure thing— as past election outcomes have shown us! Perfect summary of our state of affairs. Thanks!

  5. Hey Professor,
    Have you seen the Rude Pundit’s latest post? He cuts through the b.s. with very colorful language, right to the heart of the matter. Those readers here that aren’t so offended by his foul language might appreciate it. You’re welcome.

  6. “Freeman and Share are ordinary citizens who were doing some of the low-paid jobs essential to the operation of democratic elections.” Shaye’s job was an active position from her seat as the person who registered people to vote, she and Cassidy from her low level position of support staff to a man in an important position within the White House; both were viewed as part of their offices like office equipment. They saw and heard what was going on so were active witnesses to the corruption. Like the house slaves in the pillared plantations, they knew what was going on in the innermost parts of plantation life and death. Not important enough to hide what should have been classified conversations from; just as from my desk in the Indianapolis City-County Building I saw and heard and understood what was going on in Goldsmith’s administration. Lady Ruby, Shaye and Cassidy are true Americans and their loyalty to this country, the people and the Constitution is deeply embedded in their hearts and souls.

    The veiled threat to Cassidy, from Meadows go-between, stated “He is thinking about you and knows you will remain loyal”, she knew meant Donald Trump. One of that administration’s “dog whistles” which was fully understood by Cassidy and the lawyer she hired rather than Trump’s cadre of personal flunky attorneys.

    “…We the People could then go back to arguing over our policy differences, rather than the survival of the republic.” We entered the realm of Constitutional crisis when the RNC chose Trump as their presidential nominee over one of their own; Democrats ignored President Obama’s warning “not to form a circular firing squad”. Both parties made major missteps; I see no way to totally recover from our current conditions to “go back to arguing over policy differences” which is what we elected our leaders to do.

  7. I would like to see Schumer approach Collins and Murkowski about joining with the Dems to codify Roe. If they truly feel they were deceived, they should be willing to do a carve out to the filibuster to pass the bill. If they won’t join the fight, then they must be just fine with the results. They can go down in history as the mendacity sisters.

  8. Todd sees no reason to investigate and present to the American people evidence the President of the United States tried to instigate a violent insurrection to overturn the 2020 election results and to remain in power. Nothing to see here! Move along!

  9. In 2016 we started to talk about the risk that our democracy was in when Putin made sure that Trump beat HRC who Putin knew would have been a formidable enemy, (although Putin’s key role was not revealed until later) whereas Trump was an easily manipulated money friend.

    Everything that we feared has since come true. Between Putin and McConnell and Trump, our government has been taken away from the people and turned over to the powerful.

    Now what? Women and school children have paid the initial price. The global status and competitiveness of the US will be the middle-term price. Humanity will pay the long-term
    price, as we are forced to support fossil fuel companies at the expense of the world until what we prospered in becomes no longer recognizable.

    The winner? Immutable China observing our decent into chaos.

  10. Peggy, instead of codifying Roe, which holding required states allow highly-unpopular second trimester abortions, why not put a bill on the floor of Congress that puts the cut off at 15 weeks (but allows states to go longer if they want) and includes exceptions for rape, incest, threat to the life of the mother. You’d probably would get considerable bipartisan support for such a bill and if Republicans voted against it, you’d have a great election issue to use against them. About 93% of abortions happen in the in the first 15 weeks. And that 93% does not even include those states – such as California and New York – who would adopt a cut-off later than 15 weeks. Seriously, there is plenty of area for compromise on the abortion issue if both sides would be reasonable. And the pro-abortion rights crowd as has been just as unreasonable as those who oppose abortion rights.

  11. We are now engaged in a religious class war, whether we admit it or not. The rightwing elites are using Christians to consolidate power and eliminate democracy. It now looks like we won’t be able to escape the bloodshed that ravaged Europe for a thousand years.

  12. Paul K. Ogden, 9:46 a.m.; WHY IS ANY PART OF THIS GOVERNMENT PRACTICING MEDICINE WITHOUT A LICENSE??? These are medical decisions made on women only on physical conditions and government and the church needs to get out of our vaginas and stop raping us in the courts. By the way; never in history of mankind has any women ever impregnated herself; our eggs alone remain eggs until the sperm joins it and we do not produce sperm.

  13. Todd, you really must live in an alternate universe. “Americans are still glued to their TVs watching what happened on 1/6 over a year ago.”
    indeed, because what happened in that cosmic fraction of time ago still threatens the democracy in which we have been
    hoping to spend our remaining years within. If Americans were blasé about 1/6, Trump would have no problem actually
    winning the next POTUS election, and while that may not scare you, it does scare lots of the rest of us.
    There is no need for me to spell out what further damage he could inflict in the country, were he to be in office again…as the mess he
    left behind continues to turn us into a simply larger version of Orban’s Hungary! Apparently, you are one of those “ordinary citizens”
    who is not alarmed by the erosion of Ben Franklin’s “Republic.”
    I’m in Florididia, where I recently saw a bumper sticker reading “45TRUMP47,” and another still reading “BUILD THE WALL.”
    Those who think not will have to get out in major force, in November!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. So, what is to stop SCOTUS from overturning a “codified Roe”?

    And in possibly choosing to use the “filibuster card” for this, while ignoring it for voting rights, the DEMs shoot themselves in the whatever. Yes, women’s rights are important, but voting rights affect everyone, define democracy and daggers at the minority DEM base. Again, the DEMs show that identity/progressive stuff is more important than the survival of our country. SAD!

  15. Paul: because those babies die in the womb and they have no clock built in. They don’t know they are over 15 weeks in the womb and now the Mother has to carry the dead fetus until she’s dead too?! Stay out of our wombs. If a woman has an abortion after 15 weeks it’s unavoidable and you need to keep your laws off our bodies.

    I just read a story about a 10 year old in Ohio that had to travel to Indiana last week after Ohio’s trigger law went into effect. The 10 year old was 6 weeks and 3 days pregnant! She was 10 years old! Not old enough for consent but old enough for laws to forbid her from healthcare in Ohio! Come on!

  16. AgingLGirl,

    I think Paul is just a very deep thinker trying to figure out a way to prevent a complete ban.

    Of course, certain States will allow abortion at any level especially concerning the health and well-being of the mother. That in itself would be a win for abortion rights advocates. So, after 15 weeks, there’s a possibility of going to another state. Although, the cost would be preventative for those without disposable income.

    There has to be more done concerning the male element of pregnancies. I know of a couple of individuals here, that have more than one child by five different women! The guy doesn’t work, and has been put in prison for not paying child support! I’m not sure giving someone a comfortable bed, three squares a day plus dental and medical is a good punishment for not keeping his pants zipped up. So the state, and most of the cases concerning this individual, is paying for the children and the mother’s sustenance, and then the double whammy, paying for the dude, who shall remain nameless right now, to live a life of luxury compared to what he would have been outside of the legal system.

    Guys like that really should be forcibly sterilized! Because, they will not stop, when they get the opportunity, or, if they get the opportunity, they’ll just start it all over again.

    I don’t know, maybe women who are having a hard time with being single parents, if they’re collecting aid, maybe part of that aid should be packages of condoms! Or maybe birth control pills? Especially with birth control pills, there could be a blood test to make sure the woman is taking it to continue receiving aid, therefore preventing in (most?) cases an unwanted pregnancy. And, if the circumstances change in the woman’s life, she can still have children.

    I am absolutely, completely, in favor of snipping the dudes worm so he’s not making babies anymore, no matter what his circumstances might evolve into.

  17. Also, I hate to say it, but I have said it before, it’s going to take some sort of action, some sort of force! Of course I could be wrong, maybe I have a lack of faith in mortal government. Not so much that humanity is incapable of doing good things, but there is too much motivation by those that prefer power and selfishness to figure an election would make a difference.

    With an activist court, and how they’re chipping away at the Bill of Rights, elections will not matter because they can be overturned by the states. Until the money is removed from elections, and the federal government puts in place safeguards for elections, and/or, how the activist Court is either answerable to an even higher Court, or,having habeas corpus suspended at least temporarily; Don’t count on any type of change. A unified minority can always challenge an ununified majority. Until “Majority Rules” is made law of the land, things will not change.

    Suspend gerrymandering and the use of delegates which unfairly disenfranchises the voter! Then, and only then will you see progress. That is, if the progressives don’t start beating the crap out of each other! And, I would say that’s a realistic possibility. Biden has the power, it’s been done nine times since World War ii, he could change everything! Course, there would be howling and screaming, but with the suspension of habeas corpus and congress, the president could accomplish what he’s been trying to do since he’s been elected.

  18. john p sorg; Paul K. Ogden is NOT a deep thinker, he is a typical Republican male, possibly Catholic, who believes men should rule the lives of women. Otherwise, why would he be trying to find ways to control women’s right of birth control on any level, in any form? It is none of his business or anyone other than women and their medicare caretaker to decide. Not every girl or woman’s menstrual cycle shows up every 28 days, our cycles vary, making it often difficult to begin to suspect we might be pregnant. Timing the actual day or night of conception can not be precisely determined, nor can the precise date of birth. My aunt went to the doctor with “stomach problems”; she was 5 months pregnant and had her period regularly so no idea she was pregnant.

    The “pro-abortion rights crowd” as Paul calls them primarily believe it is a private medical issue at all levels. Maybe men should have the right to have sex a specific number of times per month; the number decided by the courts and churches. Currently; it appears as if men have had no part in these pregnancies, they certainly were not immaculate conceptions.

  19. Republicans are the mass shooter. Democrats are the Uvalde police.

    Give Democrats a majority and they’re still ineffective. They’re too occupied being a faux party. The Democratic Party has become an organization to simply represent and create monies for its higher ups. It’s not a party,it’s a corporate entity parading as a political organization.

    How’s that for a concise diagnosis?

  20. I don’t buy it. Our election system is not obsolete. It has been overwhelmed and obfuscated by an anti-democracy, anti-American shadow network in “Christian” fleece. It can be corrected with the American Anti-Corruption Act, including Ranked Choice Voting and Open Primaries. Vote for the candidates who supports these.

  21. JoAnn,

    I still have trouble understanding how insurance can legally pay for a man’s Viagra but refuse to pay for women’s birth control! It’s moronic, and, it’s cruel. Maybe they should load the water with saltpeter like they do fluoride, then, the guys can Viagra all they want LOL and it won’t work. I don’t know, when you think about it, none of it makes any sense at all! Actually, you don’t even have to think about it, it’s just plain obvious! It stands to reason, if you are really against people having an abortion, then they should get busy developing male and female contraception options that prevent pregnancy, and quit trying to ban it. That’s just dumb!

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