Time For The Grown-Ups To Step In

I frequently quote Jennifer Rubin, a columnist with whom I almost always agree, and today’s post will echo yet another of her observations. Earlier in October, she wrote

Once upon a time, we had two functional parties that respected the rule of law, the outcome of elections and the norms necessary to preserve democratic governance. In that world, the filibuster was rarely invoked, an incapacitated member could be replaced on committee, indicted or even “merely” disgraced members would resign voluntarily and blue slips and single-member holds on appointments were not abused.

 Those days are long gone.

Since that column appeared in the Washington Post, the downsides of our governmental dysfunctions have gone from severe to frightening. Alabama’s ideological and intellectually-challenged Senator Tommy Tuberville has been holding up hundreds of military appointments for months, weakening America at a time when the war that has once again broken out in the Mideast and the danger posed by Russia in Ukraine are escalating and immediate challenges.  Other Republicans have refused to allow votes on State Department or Justice Department nominees, hobbling America’s ability to mount effective responses to these and other emerging crises.

Worse, at a time when we desperately need a functioning government, the crazed, performative GOP buffoons in the House of Representatives have brought that chamber to a standstill. The lack of a Speaker not only threatens America’s ability to respond to international crises, it may well cause a government shutdown, and the widespread misery such a shutdown would cause.

This is what happens when–thanks to gerrymandering and other political games–the people elected to conduct the nation’s business are clearly uninterested in doing that business. The current GOP is a collection of unserious, performative culture warriors and theocrats; few of them show any evidence of even understanding the role or imperatives of governing.

As Rubin wrote in the linked column,

This is the nature of the MAGA Republican Party. It cares not one whit for governing and considers Democrats’ electoral victories of no consequence. (The latest game: Make baseless impeachment threats to hamper duly elected Democrats from fulfilling their duties, as they’re doing with President Biden and a newly elected Supreme Court judge in Wisconsin.) Pleading with individual Republicans to break ranks or offering trade after trade to accommodate those acting in bad faith is useless. Worse, it blurs responsibility for chaos, paralysis and gridlock….

The exploitation of Senate rules is part of a larger GOP undertaking: the subversion of democracy. In their must-read book, “Tyranny of the Minority,” Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt cogently explain that Republicans, unable to appeal to a broader share of the electorate beyond diminishing numbers of White, rural Christians, have found ways to exploit, abuse and, indeed, break majority governance.

The authors have no quarrel with legitimate protections for minority rights (e.g., the Bill of Rights, an independent judiciary, federalism, separation of powers). Rather, the problem is Republicans’ insistence on denying the key component of a democracy: the power of the people to elect the leaders of their choice to govern. Republicans have grown attached to tactics that perpetuate minority rule, including thwarting voting (e.g., filibustering voting rights legislation) and denying election results (e.g., signing onto a brief to disenfranchise millions of Americans, baselessly challenging Biden’s electors).

The situation Rubin describes is depressing enough in normal times, but in times of crisis, it becomes exceedingly dangerous.

What is ironic is the fact that it’s those “America First” “American Exceptionalism” MAGA posturers who are sullying America’s reputation and threatening to destroy America’s international dominance–not to mention the country’s ability to react to world events.

Rubin quotes Levitsky and Ziblatt for the observation that America’s excessively counter-majoritarian institutions operate to reinforce extremism, empower authoritarian minorities and threaten minority rule. Their prescription is to “double down on democracy”– we need to dismantle rules that provide undue minority protection, to re-empower majorities–and we need to force politicians to be “more responsive and accountable to majorities of Americans.”

All that will take time, and right now, time is definitely not on our side. The GOP has brought the United States government to the brink of collapse–and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time.


  1. can we imagine for a second. hamas,, maga,, mmmm seems fitting…they both want civil war, magas terrorism, for now, is in the halls of congress. removal of rights to a christian /hard right religious doctrin,( taliban)and schooling (male only)via right wing ideology. if some one would compare them on the media tit for tat, maybe some more right wingers would walk across the line and have a relization how close those 2 factions are.

  2. John S. 1964? “rarely”? Today Republicans use the new filibuster rules to stop anything they disagree with. Nothing passes without 60 votes in a chamber where a majority is 51 votes because of the Republican use of filibuster.

  3. There is no moral high ground!

    History has a selective memory. Joe Scarborough this morning mentioned how you would never see in America, dead bodies being paraded around like trophies.

    May I remind Mr Scarborough, that during the native American conflicts, there were bounties on scalps! They’re also were mass lynchings across most of this country. Predominantly, people of African descent were lynched, and burned, and dissected, while people posed in front of their mutilated bodies. Then, those in attendance would take parts of the bodies as souvenirs!

    Look after the widows and orphans in their tribulation, (Ecclesiastes 3:19 and James 1:27.)

    Every third year, giving a 10th of all produce to the alien resident, the fatherless boys, and the widows! (Leviticus 19: 14 and Deuteronomy 14: 28-29.)

    Now there’s an example of moral high ground! And considering all three of the abrahamic religions believe in and read the pentateuch, also considered the Tavrat in Islam, and the Torah and Judaism. (First five books of the Bible)

    These laws are basic, they are compassionate, they are empathetic, they show love and concern. They show an active conscience that proves the law in the hearts of humanity. (Romans 2:14-15)

    2 Chronicles 19:10 talks about the blood guilt.

    Deuteronomy 7: 8 – 9 talks about the process of confirming or denying blood guilt. This is in the Pentateuch/Torah/Tavrat; which all Abrahamic religions are supposed to abide by. And yet, they are laws that are not followed.

  4. I can only speak, peering from between the weeds down here at grassroots level but; the numbers just don’t add up. The Freedom Caucus faction in the House with their slight Republican majority is somehow overriding all logic, common sense, democracy, Rule of Law and support of the Constitution of the United States with their few numbers. I can only conclude that they are ruling the House by terrorism and the much larger number, consisting of both parties, is cringing in cowardice by ignoring or allowing it. Their silence and lack of action is condoning the continuing Trump coup to overturn the United States government. And Tommy Tuberville maintains his stranglehold on our military. They are all aiding and abetting the highest crimes and misdemeanors in this nation.

    The current war in Gaza, declared by Israel, is of vital importance to this country; but so is the continuing war in Ukraine by Russia. Vital to the United States is our internal war Trump and the small numbers of his Freedom Caucus have become an “Oh, by the way…” in the news as all media concentrates on Israel and Gaza. While I am sick to vomiting level of seeing and reading about Trump; what the hell is going on in this country with his numerous indictments (the outcomes which are primary to the outcome of 2023 and 2024 elections) as the House majority continues their personal pissing contest and halting any and all action to aid Ukraine or Israel?

  5. Those America First MAGAts in Congress are giving our long held international dominance to China on a silver platter.

  6. John S., no argument with your facts, but… Since 1964, the divisive filibusterers who were then Democrats have all migrated over to the Republican side of the aisle. The people, the communities they represented then are still the obstructionists. Parties change… Lincoln would not be welcome in today’s GOP…

  7. It appears that there are no grown-ups on the right side of the aisle, period.
    Is this how Rome went down…with internal bickering and idiots rising to the top of the junk heap?
    Tuberville being elected in Alabama can be seen as a direct result of the country’s slave and uber-Christian legacy in the formerly plantation-run south. I’m guessing that there are people praising him there, literally to high heaven, every Sunday, happy to see the odious blending of church and state.

  8. Jack Smith’s idea for media to compare the extreme right wingers to Hamas. However, that will never happen as long as our media is controlled by uber wealthy self-serving individuals and corporations.

    The top tv anchor in Fort Wayne lost his job in September because he held Rep Jim Banks’ feet to the fire for refusing to answer a valid interview question – Did he believe President Biden was fairly elected in 2020? The anchor’s contract was up for renewal in September and it wasn’t renewed. That interview was clear back in January. One can only assume that Club for Growth made sure the corporate owners of that tv station were informed that millions of dollars in advertising would be pulled if they kept their award winning anchor on staff.

  9. John Sorg is probably not the best time to quote from the predominately Jewish bible due to the mass bloodshed they are inflicting on the Palestinians. They are still living with revenge tactics — an eye for an eye. Thank god Jesus came with better ideas about forgiveness and loving thy neighbor.

    As for dealing with the minority, Charles Koch has an extra $5 billion to spend to ensure the minority has power over the majority. As a wealthy oligarch, he has more power than the people.

    His flooding of the airwaves with ads keeps the mainstream media afloat. WRTV could always take the high road and refuse to accept Charles’s money, or anybody else’s, used for negative ads, money outside the district, etc.

    But they don’t…money talks in an oligarchy. It trumps fairness, equity, and democracy. Does anybody else feel that voting has become irrelevant?

    Plato encouraged philosopher-Kings to rule his Republic. Sounds like the Chinese politburo to me. Maybe a democracy isn’t the best government formation. Maybe society should rethink our democracy, which now ranks 25th in the world and continues to fall. The truth is we’ve been an oligarchy from inception, and there would be NO division if there weren’t oligarchs behind the MAGA-minded politicians. If we were a democracy, we’d never allow Charles Koch to spend $5 billion to bribe and influence the government. He’d be in prison!

  10. Are there any grownups left in the Republican party? The forces of MAGA have systematically eliminated any who showed even the slightest hint of rational behavior. According to Heather Cox Richardson this morning, Hakeem Jeffries is eager to work with any still existing to break the deadlock. If there is only a handful of grownups on the other side of the aisle, this problem could be solved quickly. Time will tell.

  11. Tick, tick, tick… The “It Can’t Happen Here” time bomb for democracy in our land is ticking. Republicans are indeed actively trying to destroy our government. Why? Because it’s what our fascism-based corporate/banking moguls want them to do.

    This blog has been thrashing these issues for a few years now; EVERYTHING REPUBLICANS TOUCH DIES. Gee. I wonder where Ian’s terse rejoinder will land today.

  12. The only way to beat the Republican Party is to accept a strategy that encompasses a large acceptance of incrementalism to bring forth the change(s) you seek.

    In the past,Democrats have always advocated for incrementalism.

  13. From Robert Reich this morning:There is a way out of this Trumpish hell hole. So long as Democrats remain united, Republicans can afford to lose only four Republican votes to elect a Speaker. Which means Democrats need only six Republican votes to cobble together their own governing coalition.

    They can do this by reaching out to the ten moderate Republicans who won their seats in districts that Biden won in 2020 — and who are politically imperiled by House Republican extremists.

    Either bring six of them across the aisle to make House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries the next Speaker. Or make one of them Speaker by promising them all House Democrats’ votes if they can gather support from just five otherwise imperiled Republicans.

    Who might this be? Someone like Pennsylvania’s Brian Fitzpatrick.

    Fitzpatrick isn’t perfect. He declined to vote to impeach Trump and voted against establishing the January 6 committee (even though he described the attack on the Capitol as an “attempted coup”).

    But Fitzpatrick would make a decent speaker. He has been ranked for three straight years as the most bipartisan member of the House by the The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. (Their annual bipartisan index measures how often a member of Congress introduces bills that attract co-sponsors from the opposition party, and how often they in turn co-sponsor bills introduced from across the aisle.)

    Fitzpatrick co-chairs the House’s Problem Solvers Caucus, which consists of 56 members — half Democrats, half Republicans — who are committed to finding “common sense solutions to many of the country’s toughest challenges.” And it has found such common ground on issues ranging from gun violence to infrastructure to criminal justice reform.”

  14. It is clear to a fault that capitalism as presently practiced and Lincoln’s “of the people, by the people, and for the people” philosophical bent have come into open combat with the birth of the Magas. Evidence includes fear in many designs, i.e., corporate threats of withdrawal of advertising revenues to those in charge of disseminating information to the public unless it passes corporate muster, gerrrymandering and other means of destruction of the Greek/agora democratic rule by the majority along with resistance to Democratic bills designed to shore up the now discarded one man-one vote Supreme Court decision in Baker v. Carr (1962), indiscriminate use of the filibuster, women’s reproductive health, Koch and Club for Growth propaganda, right to work atrocities etc. etc. etc. The list is endless.

    The fact of the matter is that the Magas have only such interest in governing that benefits these terminal capitalists, and not just via tax cuts. Right to work laws make wage and working conditions control a matter of public policy, tilting wage and working conditions in favor of employers while discouraging union membership in their negotiations.

    How to rescue our tattered democracy from yet further destruction at the hands of terminal capitalists and their handmaiden Magas? The old-fashioned way – a whupping at the polls come November ’24 up and down the ticket, from township trustee and school boards through state and federal legislatures and, of course, the presidency. Turnout at this scheduled event has never been more important, what with the alternative prospect of total Maga control and the end of our democracy with the potential for a curious admixture of terminal capitalism and fascism in our future – if we have one.

  15. Reading “Democracy Awakening”by historian Heather Cox Richardson.
    It has happened before and the government survived it.

    {Determined to get rid of the new nationalism and restore states’ rights as the law of the land, they [Democrat]} refused to fund the government. One southern representative told the New York Times, “The great blunder of our section was in abandoning our seats in Congress in 1861.” That would never happen again, he said: they would stay in Congress and control both the South and the North.
    Republican president Rutherford B. Hayes and House minority leader James A. Garfield of Ohio recognized that an extremist faction in Congress forcing its will on the country by holding government finances hostage was a form of revolution. If the extremists’ tactics worked, this would be only the first of their demands, and the country would fall, as one Democrat said, under “the absolute despotism of…irresponsible and unrestrained” partisans.}

    So here we are again, almost 150 years later, watching the same tactics being used by Republicans.

    Remember that the southern Democrats of that age left their party during the Nixon administration and became the Republicans of the current era.

  16. I think the answer is simple. Nominate the Republican Co-Chair of the Problem Seekers Caucus as Speaker and put together a bi-partisan coalition to get him elected.

  17. The Republicans all know that, if they try to work with the Dems, they will be primaried from the right and driven out of the party. One of them needs to reach out to the Dems. One of them needs to put the country above his or her personal ambitions and do what’s right. Is there one Republican who will do that? We’ll find out soon.

  18. Amen & Bingo to what JoAnn Green said above! I’m becoming less & less inclined to engage in international travel, in part because of the intense embarrassment I would endure in the presence of the local residents as a citizen of the U.S., a nation presently from a political perspective, cannot even elect a Congress that is not held hostage by a very small minority who say, “either our way or no way”. When oh when will rationality/sanity prevail – with a bi-partisan majority of Repubs & Dems – have the fortitude to take control so our national government can function with a House of Reps actually in position to contribute to legislation, budgets, etc. along with the Senate & President of the executive branch. An out-of-control Supreme Court is another matter to discuss another day.

    Our blog host S.S.K. is *spot on* in my perspective — in affirming our Federal government is made ineffective with a small minority of voting citizens (due to gerrymandering by State legislatures, etc. al.) able to incarnate a Congress, and a President (due to the Electoral College) that makes it politically not that difficult to have a small minority of voters who exercise tyranny of a much larger majority.

    Minority Rule does not reflect a democratic Republic. *Only a Republic*. We need to enact necessary steps to insure a *democratic* Republic, if not an authentic democracy.

    At age 86, that will NOT happen in my life time, and regretfully, likely NOT in the lifetime of anyone contributing to this thread of comments on this excellent (as usual) blog post by S.S.K.

  19. Lester’s idea might be a good one, even though the “problem solvers” answers are small government, balanced budgets, smaller safety net, leave it to “The Market” stuff that helped destroy the middle class.

    Still, while worth trying, I think it is hopeless. That would mean a Republican actually breaking with their party. None has and none will. They see what happened to those that tried. Even the so-called moderates (which actually means very conservative rather than bat-shit crazy reactionary) have gone along with every crazy Republican plan, or were allowed to quietly cast a dissenting vote when it didn’t matter.

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