Mostly rational politics, with occasional rants about how a few crazy Republicans are ruining the country.
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Monday, November 21, 2005
Republicans today refuse to govern from the center
In the NYT Magazine, two professors adeptly address the state of politics of the moment, with a look toward 2006. They remind us that the electoral map inherently favors Republicans (or whoever happens to be in favor with people from small-population states):
In the Senate, Republicans have a tremendous built-in edge because small states, which lean Republican, are so overrepresented. As a result, Democrats can win a majority of votes nationwide and still not gain control. In the last three Senate elections, as the political journalist Hendrik Hertzberg has pointed out, Democrats have actually received 2.4 million more votes than Republicans, yet the G.O.P. has won 11 more seats. The Senate's 55 Republicans represent 131 million people (assuming each senator represents half a state's population); its 44 Democrats represent 161 million.
Congressional districts are also currently drawn so that, by and large, Democratic districts are concentrated (think NYC), whereas Republican districts are more equally split but lean Democratic (think most districts in Texas).
By the same token, the Republicans could retain control of the House next year even if the majority of voters cast their ballots for Democratic candidates. Meanwhile, the G.O.P. has padded its lead by aggressively redrawing the Congressional map. Between 2000 and 2004, redistricting created roughly a dozen new Republican-leaning districts nationwide.
The article also notes that Republicans are increasingly partisan in their governance of the country.
Congressional committee chairmen are now appointed largely on the basis of their fealty to the Republican leadership and their ability to raise funds for G.O.P. candidates. When bills go to a conference committee to iron out differences between the House and Senate, they are rewritten to please conservatives and then thrown back to the floors of the House and Senate, where they can't be amended. Interest groups are told that loyalty to the G.O.P. is the price of access. One lobbyist reportedly complained: "I always thought my job is to look out for my clients. Suddenly, I'm working for the Republican Party."