Political Legitimacy

Nancy Pelosi, asserting that there should be no presidential debates, said “I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with (Trump) nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States.”  (emphasis added) She also called President Trump and his Congressional supporters “enemies of the state,” a phrase that has a rather sinister history.  See also her November 2019 comments, made in the context of the impeachment hearings, about the integrity and legitimacy of the 2020 elections.

What this is really all about, as I see it, is an assertion that no elected President is legitimate unless he is approved by the Proper People.

In the Holy Roman Empire (‘neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire,’ said Bismarck), the Emperor was chosen by election, but the election was limited to a small elite group known as the Prince-Electors.  In America today, we have a group of people–national journalists, elite academics, senior government officials–who see themselves as the Prince-Electors and who believe no one should become President without their endorsement.

There can be popular elections, in this model, but the candidates are required to be pre-vetted by the Prince-Electors. So maybe a better historical analogy would be Guided Democracy, “a formally democratic government that functions as a de facto autocracy,”  practiced most notably in Indonesia under Sukarno.

Increasingly, Democrats are attacking the foundations of true democracy and maneuvering for establishment of an autocratic oligarchy overlaid with a Potemkin “people’s” government.  The 2020 elections will measure how successful–or not–they’ve been.

41 thoughts on “Political Legitimacy”

  1. Oh, there a many more examples of “a formally democratic government that functions as a de facto autocracy”. Formality of “elections” were followed very diligently in USSR and the whole Soviet Block, for instance.
    There is another, apt name for this form of government. I’ve lived under it first half of my life and do not want to return there.

  2. The 2010, 2014, 2016, and 2018 elections measured how successful they were. Democrats didn’t have a wildly popular presidential candidate running in those years’ elections and as a result they did poorly. Pelosi has tried so very hard to generate enthusiasm with her unhinged statements about the President and the GOP in general but she hasn’t been able to move the needle in the “D” direction with any significant success. And now they’ve boxed themselves into a corner by picking another lackluster candidate to run against Trump.

  3. It’s all about the corruption, I’m afraid.

    Trump is an outsider who listened to an honest adviser (from appearances) who wanted to audit the intel/diplomatic world where the corruptocrats have been drawing funds. Kickbacks, hiring of relatives, sweetheart deals, you name it–Flynn said he was going to audit it all, and that’s why he was the entrapment victim. It was all about stopping that audit, and the risk that the public would find all this out.

    And, it’s not the Democrats or the Republicans, per se, it’s the entrenched DC interests that think they’ve got a lock on running the country. Whether or not they’re red or blue, they think they’re the anointed ones, the sole legitimate powers. Membership in that club is worth trillions to all of them, and they’re not going anywhere without a fight.

    Getting rid of them means firing every single Ivy League asshole in government, and hiring outsiders. For the next seven generations, an Ivy League degree should mean being outlawed from government service of any kind, even as dog-catcher in Boston.

    We’ve allowed our own sort of oligarchy to gain a monopoly on power, and this is what we have to show for it: They think they’re our masters. They did the same thing to Sarah Palin that they’re trying to do against Trump, and they’ll keep right on doing it to anyone who isn’t one of them and who manages to get into a position of power.

    Look at where all these assholes come from: It’s an entrenched elite wearing whatever skin is convenient. The Republicans are crooks who tell the voters they’ll do one thing, get into office, and then start the orgiastic connivance with the Democrats like that was the plan from the beginning. Same-same with the rest of the “institutional elite”–Examine whose interests that the Chamber of Commerce look after. It isn’t the nation; it is their own pocketbooks.

    You could run down the list of Yale and Harvard graduates in government, sending them all to the camps, and we’d be a lot better off within a generation. Most of these connected idiots have no more intelligence or virtue than your typical feed-lot pig, and it’s long past the time we pulled them off the feedlot of government, and sent them to slaughter. Figuratively, of course–I’d prefer that we put them to physical labor, and let them fight the fires and clean up hazardous waste in expiation.

  4. Kirk, I wouldn’t be all that optimistic about what you would be getting from private schools like Oberlin or state schools like Berkeley. The Ivies may be sources from top down but bottom up what do you think is being taught in Education Departments across the country? And it is true, the Ivies often value “networking” over scholarship and that “finish” over competence. But what will replace them? Schools that still have “requirements” value “diversity” but not math or languages. I figure when A&M (a military school until the mid 60’s) doesn’t have a military historian and there is a movement to take down the statue of Sully, venerated through the years, that the sentiments you find in the Ivies have been nurtured a lot of other places as well. (Well, there is still Rudder – I’m waiting for the storming of Point du hoc to be considered a fascist move.)

  5. When it comes to the Democrats and Biden, my gifts for incandescent vituperation are probably not equal to the task of being either original or amusing enough to make up for preaching to the choir. But not entirely.

    On Joe Biden’s best day, he was a doddering fool and that was long ago. Early in his career of “public service” he learned this one simple trick: If he put his hand out, someone would find a reason and a way to put money in it. He has failed upward as far as it’s possible to go and finds himself in a race between his ambition and dying brain cells with the brain cells ahead by a neck.

    In ’16 they nominated a troll that had trouble staying both upright and mobile. She had Biden’s one trick down even better, in that she realized that all she had to do was marry someone and get him elected.

    The hubris, the arrogance, of nominating someone so patently unfit to hold any office, let alone the Presidency, is unbelievable. Even more unbelievable is the bland assumption that their “base” will just go along. In fact, not just tolerate but actively support him just because he’s been anointed by the Democrat establishment. As if the Democratic Party isn’t also the party of slavery, Jim Crow, the solid south and the KKK.

  6. The other side of the Democrat coin is their willing co-conspirators and con men in the Republican Party. McCain ring any bells for you, who had the balls to block the repeal of Obamacare, after campaigning on the basis of getting rid of it?

    There are no political parties, once you get past the local level. They’re both in the business of getting re-elected first, and then lining their own pockets. In that regard, the Republican establishment throughout the country has more in common with their Democrat peers than any of their constituents. Once in office, it’s all about playing the rubes in order to keep that sweet, sweet lucre flowing.

    The Republic was doomed about the time we allowed a professional political class to arise. Elected office was never meant to be a career, not the way the Founders saw things. You were supposed to be a successful member of the electorate, and then serve some time in political office. Lifetime terms of office like Biden’s? Should never have been a thing.

    At the rate we’re going, senatorial office is going to become a lifetime appointment, which is just plain wrong.

  7. The other side of the Democrat coin is their willing co-conspirators and con men in the Republican Party. McCain ring any bells for you, who had the balls to block the repeal of Obamacare, after campaigning on the basis of getting rid of it?

    Oh yes. I am pretty much with Angelo Codevilla and his essay on The Ruling Class.

    The Tea Party followed Sarah Palin and both examples showed us who was on our side. It was pretty lonely.

  8. What Kirk and Mike K said. Just about every level above local is all about how to get reelected to that sweet, sweet gig of higher office. Not about doing the actual hard, dirty job of governing and administrating in a fair and competent manner. It’s all about filling the square, in order to move up, just to get more of that sweet, sweet lolly – if not directly for yourself, than for your nearest kin.

  9. This is how regimes end.

    The most astonishing aspect to me about the slow-moving catastrophe we are living through is just how incompetent our self-described elite actually are. These people are failing at everything.

    Let me list a few of the jobs they just couldn’t do. They couldn’t stop the Demon Trump from becoming gop nominee, despite endless flailing effort. They couldn’t remove him from office, despite de facto control of the justice department to investigate him, complete control of the legacy media to lie about him, and bottomless money available to target him and his political supporters. They can’t even knock him out politically after a devastating pandemic and months of violent rioting, which they strenuously assert is his fault. Beyond Trump, despite the largest military budget on the planet, the US can’t even design navy ships, let alone win wars. Despite spending vast sums on its own space agency, Space X is far more successful at getting into space- and NASA just announced yet billions more cost overruns in its chosen vehicle return to the moon.

    These are the efforts of a failing regime, which has degenerated into a sad bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written. I could go on a long time, listing the endless failures- but most importantly, they have failed to disarm the public, despite decades of effort. Thus, when the political left has decided somehow that now is the time to violently overthrow the government, they have failed miserably to remove the ability to resist that violence from the public they despise.

    I am a fan of a book entitled The Fourth Turning, which I think has been discussed at this site- and I think everything that has happened lately fits pretty well into its thesis. Nancy Pelosi declaring her political opponents as enemies of state is about what I expect from these morons.

    Political legitimacy? That fled a long time ago.

  10. Since we mostly know where the problem lies, why can’t term limits be achieved? Balanced budget amendment? Most states have at least an attempt at that. In the 1990’s the balanced budget amendment got within one vote of going to the states, or am I wrong? Anyone campaigning on such structural changes? People don’t change much so if you want a different outcome, the rules must be changed, no?


  11. Over at the Cato Policy Report, Lee Drutman calls our current path that of a partisan death spiral. Unfortunately, the oligarchs won’t like his proposed solution because it might lead to actual democracy, and the people don’t care enough to push for reform because they’re too distracted by bread and circuses. As Xennady says, this is how things end.

  12. Death,
    Surely you know the reason that term limits won’t be adopted is that it’s the people who’s terms would be limited that would have to enact them.

    I believe that the states that have them, like California, did so by initiative. So far, it doesn’t seem to help that much.

    The Supreme Court has said that any term limits on Congress will have to be by Constitutional Amendment. They threw out attempts by individual states to limit the terms of their own Representatives and Senators.

    A Constitutional Convention would be a possibility but I’m not sure we’d like what came out of one. There is no way to limit one.

  13. There’s a problem with the “term limit” concept, and that’s the same one that existed with Proposition 13 in California: It doesn’t address the actual issue, which is voter apathy and an utter lack of systemic accountability.

    The problem that Prop 13 was supposed to address was government growth and overspending. That’s how it was sold–Cut off the politician’s money. Theory was, they’d have to rein in spending if they couldn’t just raise property taxes. Right?

    Well, that didn’t work, and the same crooked bastards kept right on spending money on their pet projects, while cutting things like road maintenance and the schools. The voters didn’t notice, ‘cos they were frogs in a slowly boiling pot of increased “other” taxes and fees; all they saw were that their property taxes were remaining the same.

    Meanwhile, California got more and more hollowed-out. The whole thing looked like an organized crime bust-out, with the willing connivance of the firm’s accountants in the form of Howard Jarvis, et al.

    Term limits are the same damn thing. What will happen is that instead of figurehead elected “representatives” and “senators”, we’ll just have the same-old thing in the form of the unelected staff members/lobbyists running things from the back room, while their clueless idiots serve as temporary figureheads and vote just how they’re told.

    The real solution? Get the fucking power out of all of their hands. You can’t micromanage this shit the way we have it set up, and the only solution is to get rid of the jobsworthies seeking power over us. You can’t abuse power you don’t have.

    Far too much power has accrued to the state, and we either rein it back in, or we wind up as chattels to our unelected “betters” who work inside the machine. Shut this crap down, because it isn’t working–Name one damn thing that government has done that actually functions as it is described on the tin. There is nothing that does, and it’s about damn time we recognized this fact.

    Call me an anarchist, if you like, but if you want liberty, you’d better recognize the truth of what I’m telling you. Either that, or fit yourself out for shackles.

  14. I think there are some measures to regain some degree of popular control of the Leviathan.

    One way to break up some of the power of the national parties would be to repeal the 17th Amendment (specifying direct popular vote) and return selection of senators to the states. Let each state figure out how to do it (I favor making your case before the state legislature, and then let them vote). That would remove the massive amounts of spending for senatorial campaigns, which are now necessary to sway the rubes. This *might* reduce the power and influence of the national parties to some extent.

    Secondly, we need to revisit Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims. In the former, SCOTUS rules that redistricting qualifies as a justiciable question, thus enabling federal courts to hear redistricting cases. That got the judicial branch involved in micromanaging redistricting. In the latter, SCOTUS ruled that the electoral districts of state legislative chambers must be roughly equal in population. This had the effect, in rural states, of allowing big cities to dominate state elections at the expense of the less populated regions (see: Colorado, Montana). Both of these are state matters and should be left to the states to decide. If Reynolds v. Sims can be reasonably addressed, we might be able to restore some balance in rural states. Some blue states might turn red.

    As for the rest of Leviathan, I favor an across-the-board 50% reduction in budget, effective within 6 months.

    Finally, the crew at Conservative Treehouse have pieced together the timeline, actors, and evidence of the Deep State conspiracy to undermine and overthrow Trump. I’d act on that and start hanging people.

  15. Another frustrating thing about the Leviathan is that’s becoming increasingly obvious that there are two tiers of justice in the US: one for the DC denizens, and another for everyone else. DC has become a lawless zone right out of a western novel or sci-fi space opera. Apparently you can commit sedition, perhaps even treason, and nothing will happen to you. You can use the most scorching language against your opponents (“enemies of the state”) and no one blinks.

    People outside the Beltway are noticing it. Most concerning is that what was formerly a lunatic fringe is now taking the language seriously.

  16. Kirk: “At the rate we’re going, senatorial office is going to become a lifetime appointment, which is just plain wrong.”

    Sadly, it is worse than that. Take note of Lisa Murkowski, occasional Republican senator from Alaska — she inherited the seat from her father. And let’s not even talk about the Kennedys. We are well on the way to a true Political Class which inherits “elected” offices – unless the collapse comes first.

    This is a problem in any system of government. The Soviets had their nomenclatukra, and the Chinese are stuck with their princelings — spoiled brat children of senior Communist Party officials. I am beginning to think that Caligula got a bad rap for making his horse a senator; was that any worse than what the people of New York State did with Hillary!?

    One solution would be to disqualify incumbents from running for election to any office, including the one they currently hold. But the incumbents would never vote for such a law. There is no alternative now to chaos and revolution.

  17. Prop 13 wasn’t supposed to shrink government, it was just supposed to curb property taxes, which an idiotic court decision had severed from school funding.

    It is true that one person, one vote is a, perhaps the, cause of all our current problems. Blue states like NY, IL, and CA would still be sane if they still had a legislative house controlled by rural interests. The drive to amend the constitution to fix that abomination fell one state short, to all our detriments. We need to make sure not to act now to prevent further national destruction. Changing senatorial selection back to how it was envisioned will never happen, but we could:
    – term limit federal elected officials
    – require them to actually live in their home district/state, rather than in thd distant capitol
    – scatter federal agencies around the country
    – allow states to have a legislative body not based on population

    Here’s my radical idea for the Supreme Court: a 15 person court, with 10 year terms, vacancies picked in turn by state legislatures. The current court system is beyond saving. I think John Roberts has tried to save it but has only hastened its destruction.

  18. The “Balanced Budget” thing was a sham in the 90s. What happened was Congress used the Social Security surplus, temporary because of the Baby Boom, to fund a bailout iof the budget. Now, the surplus is gone and the Boomers are retiring.

    We will have an economic reckoning that will affect my grandchildren, most likely. I assume it will involve seizing retirement accounts and outlawing the possession of gold, just like 1932. Subsistence farming might be a good idea.

  19. If we are at the point where the Kurfürsten are denying the legitimacy of what the “subjects” vote for, eventually we will have the “subjects” deciding that the Kurfürsten themselves have no legitimacy. The end process is well known and is a basis of much of human history. While liberty can be the result, the odds are absurdly long.

    Subotai Bahadr

  20. @ Brian,

    I was around when the Prop 13 debate was going on, and I clearly remember the arguments, the main one being that the primary idea was to shrink government by attacking its funding. That is how they sold it, talking to people. The main selling point was the freeze on property taxes, but when they explained the “Why?”, that was the deal–Reduce government growth by cutting off funding.

    Unfortunately, as I point out, the real problem wasn’t the money; it was the people they were putting into office and then not maintaining control of. If you don’t watch what the elected officials are doing, and then throw them out of office when they don’t do what you want them to? Guess what? That’s why all this crap doesn’t work–They’re just going to keep doing what you don’t want. Indirect means of “control” simply do not work, because they’ll spend all their time working around your will and intent. Just like the California legislature and bureaucracy did.

    Professional political classes are uncontrollable through voting, ‘cos “…ain’t nobody got time for dat…”. Once you get to the point where there’s that much power and wealth available for scam artists on the prowl, you’re basically screwed when it comes to keeping them from raping the public fisc. This has been an observable fact, every time we’ve tried it.

    The only solution that I can see is to limit power and the wealth that goes with controlling that power. If what we think of as “government services” were not also “government monopolies”, there would be recourse to dealing with the abuse. Don’t like what the local law enforcement entity is doing? Don’t contract with them or give them any money. When you’ve got a government monopoly running all that crap, what recourse do you have? All you can do is leave, and then when the same BS takes place wherever you finally finish running to, you’re screwed.

    Human beings do not do hierarchy or power at all well. You build a power sink, and someone will eventually come along to abuse it, no matter how virtuous you were setting it up, or how virtuous the first generation of power-wielders were. Look at the most innocuous Federal agencies–No matter what, they’re all eventually going to go corrupt, and that’s exactly what they’ve done.

    Only real answer, long-term? Don’t create those agencies, or give them the power. I would lay you long, long odds that even for something like the FDA, if we’d just let things the hell alone, the number of lives lost would balance the ones saved through regulation.

    There is a sub-species of human being that just cannot bear to let other people live their lives. And, the sad fact is that most of that sub-species inevitably winds up running government agencies, mostly for what they are certain is “our own good”. The people who gave us entrenched organized crime were all certain that “Demon Rum” was bad, and that by enacting Prohibition, we’d all become perfected human beings. Same-same with smut and narcotics–And, now look at us.

    The people with these sorts of mindsets need to be kept away from power, period. They think they are gods, to make decisions for the rest of us, but the reality is that they’re merely very flawed humans, and the law of unintended consequence always wins in the end.

  21. Anon: I wasn’t there, I confess. My parents were. I can’t say how it might have been oversold. But it explicitly addressed the problem that as soon as property taxes went to Sacramento instead of going to local schools thanks to the geniuses at the CA Supreme Court, they absolutely exploded. If the idea was to shrink government obviously it needed to attack all sorts of taxes, and do like what Texas did and amend the constitution to make it basically impossible for the vultures to ever impose an income tax.

  22. I was around for the Prop 13 debates, too. Howard Jarvis said, “You can’t ask pigs to step around from the trough’ you have to kick it away. The other reason it passed was the tax rates were really high. I had a friend who had a house valued at $250,000, a lot of money for those days. His annual taxes were $7,000, nearly 3%.

    Jarvis worked for the apartment owners’ association and has been criticized for this but he was right. It would be difficult to make the economic argument so he made the practical one.

    What the state subsequently did was to take the cities’ property tax revenue and make them dependent on sales taxes.

  23. Over at the Cato Policy Report, Lee Drutman calls our current path that of a partisan death spiral.

    My God. No offense, and I respect that your opinion can differ from mine- but I read through that report. I won’t claim to have read it closely, but I think I read it closely enough. It was filled with awful ideas that won’t work. Here’s one:

    The winner is tabulated through an automatic series of instant runoffs until one candidate secures a majority, avoiding fears of wasted votes and plurality winners.

    First, I don’t see how this is any improvement over what we have now. Most commonly two candidates run along with an assortment of fringe nullities, and one candidate or the other usually wins a majority of the votes and is declared the winner. You know, because that candidate won. Game over, and this is why people accept election results. When this doesn’t happen, some states have run-off elections, if they believe sending a candidate to office without winning a majority is unacceptable, or they give the win to the candidate who gets the plurality of votes. I’m fine with this, as I don’t think it has anything to do with our present difficulties- and I think the overwhelming majority of voters are fine with it as well.

    Who isn’t? Why, the fringe nullities who get nowhere, that’s who. I figure the actual goal with these sort of proposals is to wreck the present system in such a way that they’ll actually have a chance to take power, which they certainly don’t have now. They seek a system where the political incentives do not align with the need to get 50% plus one vote, thus resulting in a swarm of splinter parties. Then, with ranked voting or something like it- perhaps a series of automatic instant runoffs- will result in their Chosen becoming The One, somehow. I suspect that proposals for this sort of thing include the requirement that voters must rank all candidates and not just their pick favorite- but I don’t claim to know.

    Meanwhile, the mass of voters who aren’t particularly interested in politics will wake up the next day find out that they are being represented- or worse, governed- by someone they’ve never heard of and quickly learn they don’t like. This is not an improvement over the present system, in my view.

    Why would the Cato Institute advocate for this? Hmmm. From their website, describing themselves:

    Libertarians have a cosmopolitan, inclusive vision for society.

    Oh. Oh no. They’re a swarm of fringe nullities who know they can’t win. That’s why. Their case is not helped by this, which is the very next sentence after my first quote from this report:

    Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco have already used it in mayoral elections, as well.

    Is there any person reading this- or living in those cities- who would argue that these places are examples of any sort of good governance, or even moderately competent governance, at all?

    I suspect not. In fact, how could any reasonable author not notice what has been happening in those places and perhaps reconsider listing them as examples to emulate? Just how oblivious do you have to be, to note them as success stories for your awesome plan to fix America?

    How crazy are you, Lee Drut- oh. Libertarian. Never mind.

  24. Xennady,
    He’s a Libertarian, it doesn’t have to work, he only has to imagine it will.

    Political parties started here before the Constitution was ratified and have continued ever since. Except for a couple of brief periods, we have never managed to have even the appearance of more than two viable parties at the same time. Even the Whigs were replaced by the Republicans in little more than a single Congressional session. The experience in England over about the same period is similar. There just doesn’t seem to be much demand to split the difference.

    Places like Minnesota and New York have third parties in name only.

    What all of these “enlightened” voting schemes do is give overwhelming advantage to the party that’s best at enforcing discipline and can keep any distracting candidates off the ballot. Notice the “jungle” primaries where there are at most two Democrats and half a dozen Republicans. Guess who advances. That’s real choice.

  25. He’s a Libertarian, it doesn’t have to work, he only has to imagine it will.

    I suppose, but I will admit there are lot of smart people who are libertarians. Good luck to them.

    Anyway, I figure I may as well put down my own thoughts about reform, to be mocked or ignored.

    We have only 435 representatives and 100 senators for more than 300 million people. That is not nearly enough representation for a representative republic, and I think that alone may have been enough to doom the present regime. When the Constitution of 1789 was adopted, there were (I think) 87 reps and 26 senators, for about 4 million people. My calculator tells me that if we had an equivalent ratio of representation now as we did then, there would be about 6500 reps and 1950 senators. Now that might not be too functional either, but I’d certainly say we need more elected officials who have to face the voters- and more states, too. For example, it is ridiculous for New York City to be able to essentially doom the rest of that state to one-party rule forever- and don’t get me started about California.

    But if the government was capable of solving those problems, we wouldn’t be facing the crisis now that we obviously are. The people with the power to fix things are the same people who benefit from the present arrangement. They’ve worked long and hard to get us here, and they certainly don’t want to give up power due to such trivialities as an election result.

    Hence, here we are. Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable, to quote someone long dead.

  26. Drastically increasing the number of Representatives might give an advantage to the West since here is where you would find people with experience herding sheep. 1600 might even be on the conservation end, I think I recall proposals of twice that over the years.

    As it is, with just 100 Senators, all but a dozen fade into the woodwork unless, like Collins or Murkowski, they suddenly decide to get up on their hind legs about something. Maybe reducing the number would make them more accountable. Wyoming must have an easier time keeping track of their one than we in Texas have with forty-something. In theory, all I need to worry about is one, he’s the plank third on your right as you enter the men’s restroom.

  27. “, it is ridiculous for New York City to be able to essentially doom the rest of that state to one-party rule forever- ”

    Remember this is only true because the Supreme Court circa 1960 used a 100 year old amendment to toss 200 years of tradition in the garbage and ban states from having their own Senate be not based on population.

  28. If those decisions disappeared tomorrow it wouldn’t make a difference. I doubt any of the states would revert back to a geographic basis for one house of a bicameral legislature now. Again, it would require that somebody give up power voluntarily.

  29. MCS: Who said it would? Time machines don’t exist. My point was to stress again that that problem is quite recent, and is purely due to supreme court dictate. That being said, amending the constitution now to allow states to go back to the way they used to be allowed to govern themselves will perhaps save plenty of red states from meeting the same fate as CA, NY, IL, etc. For instance, as the big metroplexes grow in Texas, they’re at some point relatively soon going to have all the political power in the state and change things irrevocably.

  30. My point was that most states, probably all that had that sort of upper house, have amended their constitutions to conform. Going back, if a new ruling were made or the U.S. constitution amended, would require the states to re-amend their constitutions which wouldn’t happen in Texas. As you point out, the balance has shifted out of reach. Most places are the same.

    A thought that occurred to me was: What happens if you drastically reduce the number of state senators? If Texas were divided up into four or five districts, each probably would include enough non-urban voters that they would have to be accommodated. Each Senator would have a lot harder time staying out of the spotlight. Of course, my previous caveat applies to this as well, those that like things just the way they are would fight.

  31. As far as I’m aware every single state had “that sort of upper house.”

    Yes it absolutely would happen in TX. It probably wouldn’t in another decade or two though.

  32. Nebraska has an unicameral legislature, it’s also “non partisan”. I don’t know about all the others. Following the national model was at least very common if not universal.

    Looked up the process in Texas:

    It take two thirds of both houses and then a majority of the voters. N.B. It’s been amended 507 times so far. I’m betting the urban/rural balance is already too far gone in the legislature. There is no initiative in Texas.

  33. Yes, Nebraska took the obvious step of abolishing their Senate after the Supreme Court made it obsolete, iirc.

    I’m pretty familiar with TX, thank you very much. I remember very well when the constitution was amended to basically make it impossible to ever impose an income tax, as a partial guard against the libs ever getting in control and starting to tax and spend the state to ruin.

  34. For instance, as the big metroplexes grow in Texas, they’re at some point relatively soon going to have all the political power in the state and change things irrevocably.

    Maybe so- but why? Why can’t the non-leftist party prevent the left from wrecking things? That’s what gets me- that the so-called right is such a shambling miserable failure at winning votes.

    A thought that occurred to me was: What happens if you drastically reduce the number of state senators? If Texas were divided up into four or five districts, each probably would include enough non-urban voters that they would have to be accommodated.

    How about to zero? What function does a state senate really serve now, since the courts gutted their reason for existing?

    If fact a thought occurred to me- the states would be better off under a parlimentary system, since the government could fall and be replaced if it did something sufficiently unpopular, unlike now.

    Yes, Nebraska took the obvious step of abolishing their Senate after the Supreme Court made it obsolete, iirc.

    Forgive me for being pedantic, but I think this was actually done during the Depression.

  35. Here’s the Nebraska story, Xennady is right:

    As far as abolishing the Texas Senate, First they’d have to sit down and vote themselves out of office. Then we’d have to amend the constitution a few hundred places because the Senate has somewhat different prescribed duties and powers. As is, there’s a slightly different perspective between the two houses as well as political balance.

    The Texas Constitution is an example of the framers trying to nail everything down which is why a lot of the amendments concern purely local matters like whether a particular county will have a constable and or a town a marshal. The regular sessions of the legislature are limited to 30 days every other year. Special sessions are at the pleasure of the Governor with him setting the agenda. This and the veto are nearly the total of the governors power with very few appointed state officers.

  36. Looks like my iirc was in fact incorrect on NE, and that was due to prairie populism, not response to the one person one vote atrocity.

    “Why can’t the non-leftist party prevent the left from wrecking things? ”
    Because as the population density goes up, people naturally can’t do as much for themselves, and so they expect and demand more government services, which requires more taxes, etc. Imagine telling someone living in a city or suburb that they have to set up garbage collection for themselves, they’d get the vapors. And since one person one vote, political power is drawn to more populated areas, so they get what they want, which draws more people and power to them, etc.

  37. When I moved to Texas in ’79, the the Democratic primary was the only one that mattered outside of a few counties. By ’94 I went a couple of cycles where there wasn’t a Democrat candidate for Congress in my district. Every two years since, we’ve been told that it was about to change and Texas was going blue. I’d bet money that 2020 isn’t the year either.

    Here are three maps of the U.S Congressional districts, the Texas House and the Texas Senate:

    You’ll notice that the blue patches are all in the same place. There are 31 Senators and 150 Representatives. The Senatorial districts are mostly too big to be contained in a single city. There are 7, two in Dallas, one in south Tarrant county, one in San Antonio and three in Houston. All the other blue districts include a lot of ex-urban territory. This illustrates my point that even under one man, one vote, the Senate and House are different and that most State Senators have a much more diverse district than the Reps.

    Actually, the Republicans and Democrats in the Texas government have tended to get along with each other fairly well. Of course not many of them spend much time imagining themselves as President or even Governor, they tend to have real jobs. I can remember George Bush all but endorsing the incumbent Democrat Lieutenant Governor during one of his runs. Under the peculiar State constitution the Lieutenant Governor largely controls the agenda of the Legislature during regular sessions and was elected separately then so it was more than an empty gesture.

  38. Because as the population density goes up, people naturally can’t do as much for themselves, and so they expect and demand more government services, which requires more taxes, etc. Imagine telling someone living in a city or suburb that they have to set up garbage collection for themselves, they’d get the vapors.

    I admit upfront that this may well be completely true, but I think more is going on. I recall years ago reading a book about how Nelson Rockefeller put New York on the road to ruin by borrowing money to fund his agenda, because he apparently couldn’t get it any other way. If I recall his schemes were restrained both by the legislature and by the state constitution- but he found a way to get around them.

    That’s the key problem- these idiots are clever enough to find a way to get around restraints put in place by people who knew better, specifically to stop their sort of idiocy, because circumstances have changed in ways the competent people didn’t expect.

    In this example what changed was that the government somehow obtained the ability to borrow without end. Hence the demand for more services was not restrained by the compulsion to pay for them. But that will eventually end, one way or another.

    I remember very well when the constitution was amended to basically make it impossible to ever impose an income tax, as a partial guard against the libs ever getting in control and starting to tax and spend the state to ruin.

    Remember how well those amendments put into state constitutions to stop gay marriage worked? I wouldn’t doubt eventually leftists could engineer a similar SC decision declaring that restrictions against state income taxes are unconstitutional too, because shut up bigot.

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