A Suggested Response to GOP Abuses

Jacob T. Levy has a column worth a read.

From a piece in the NYT:  The Democrats’ Best Response to Republican Power Grabs.

… Democrats can use the Republican hardball against them by weaving together the Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina cases into a larger story to take to voters in 2020: the indictment of Republican attacks on democracy accompanied by an aggressive reform agenda for strengthening constitutional norms and democratic procedures.

Normally voters don’t care about procedural questions. One state and complaint at a time, they’re unlikely to remember or understand sharp dealing from two years before. If one party goes to the electorate complaining about the other’s behavior, it’s usually met with a shrug that all politicians cheat.

But a very clear narrative or popular revulsion — or both — can change that. Examples are found in the Progressive Era around the turn of the 20th century and again in the immediate aftermath of Watergate, when procedural reform gained traction, for better or for worse, and both term limits and campaign finance reform had moments of widespread popular enthusiasm. There’s good reason to think that the next two years offer the opportunity to create such a corruption narrative and to take advantage of what’s likely to be growing revulsion.

In terms of political options, I think Levy is correct.  Tit for tat is not going work for a number of reasons, several of which Levy notes in the piece.

I recommend the whole thing.



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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. de stijl says:

    Normally voters don’t care about procedural questions.

    In a quite literal sense their votes are being invalidated.

    Make it a centerpiece of the next campaign. Hammer it.

    People who voted against these fools will be incensed.

    Folks know between technically legal and right and wrong. Because something is not prohibited, but is clearly “wrong” *and it is forcefully and repeatedly called out* will resonate.

    This is utter disrespect and petty spite. The antithesis of a democratic republic.

    Poisoning the well may easily rebound on the poisoners. Point some smart media / PR folks at this and let them have at it.

  2. de stijl says:

    Dr. Taylor,

    What are the top five threats to US democracy today (forced ranked)?

    How do we eliminate / ameliorate those threats?

  3. de stijl says:

    Isn’t this just basically vote nullification?

  4. Kylopod says:

    One important example Levy leaves out when talking about the history of procedural reform is the fight to expand voting rights–including the 15th, 19th, and 26th Amendments, and the Voting Rights Act, which Levy only mentions in passing when he discusses proposals to restore the VRA from its recent gutting by the Supreme Court. Why was it gutted in the first place? Because the whole vote-suppression effort we’ve been seeing is a leftover from Jim Crow, used specifically and intentionally to keep minorities from voting while adopting the same wide-eyed innocence as their forebears did when pushing poll taxes and literacy tests and depending on a judiciary more than willing to go along with the thin excuses and look the other way.

  5. SC_Birdflyte says:

    This goes along with my thinking. While the allure of impeachment is strong, the Democrats will soon be in a position to choke off funding for Trump’s wild hares. At every turn, they should hammer the message, “Make the politicians work for you, not for their campaign contributors.”

  6. Kathy says:

    The Democrats ought to do to this issue what the GOP did to immigration. Make it the cause of all ills and all problems, and keep it constantly in the news.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @de stijl: I wouldn’t presume to speak for Dr. Taylor, but both the Bible and Joel Gray agree on the root problem, “money money money money money money money money”.

  8. de stijl says:


    There’s also the active vote suppression thing.

  9. de stijl says:

    @Resistance Ron:

    But hey. Let’s all clutch each other’s pearls over the GOP legally taking some power away from these people.

    Let me get this straight. You’re okay with this? You think it’s fine?

    Would you feel the same way if a weaponized lame-duck D legislature employed the same tactics against a newly elected R government?

  10. de stijl says:

    @Resistance Ron:

    Naked aggression and moral relativity based on tribal affiliation. We’ve progressed far as a species.

  11. Guys,

    RR is just a banned troll. I have removed his comments.

  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “What republicans are doing shifts the powers within a govt to do strikes at specific individuals.”


    ETA: Rats! He’s not going to get to see what I did to help him. So sad 🙁

  13. Mister Bluster says:

    Rats! He’s not going to get to see what I did to help him.

    My understanding of being banned from this site is that the offender can not post comments here.
    Maybe there is a way to prevent the culprit from reading OTB items as well.

  14. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:


    Go with “Folks,” next time.

  15. @de stijl: I will take that under consideration.

    I will blame my time in SoCal. wherein “guys” was inclusive (although, sure, I get how it might not be taken as such).

  16. Kari Q says:

    I don’t know if this would work, but it’s certainly worth trying. We need to do something.

    @de stijl:

    In my neck of the woods, “guys” is a gender neutral term. Don’t you love the way language changes?

  17. Kylopod says:

    @Kari Q:

    In my neck of the woods, “guys” is a gender neutral term.

    Yeah, same here–particularly the phrase “you guys.”

  18. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I will blame my time in SoCal. wherein “guys” was inclusive

    FWIW, ‘guys’ was gender-neutral in my Maryland high school in the 70s. I can’t imagine it has become less inclusive since then.

    Of course, the etymology of ‘guy’ is bizarre to begin with…

  19. Teve says:

    even in the hillbilly North Florida guys is no longer a gendered term unless it’s used in a specific oppositional way like “girls and guys”.

  20. de stijl says:

    “Folks” is inherently more inclusive than “Guys” from the get go and no chipping from the peanut seats.

    Like from Steven L. Taylor, or Kari Q, or Kylopod, or DrDaveT, or Teve.

    Y’all know what you did!

    “Folks” is clearly the better choice over “Guys” regardless of your unconventional parenting and subsequent shenanigans.

  21. de stijl says:

    Fun’s over.

    Go with “Folks” rather than “Guys”

    “Folks” is both anodyne and ungendered. Anecdotally, “Guys” might be also anodyne and ungendered where you grew up when you grew up, but that understanding *is not* universal.

    Would you ever call a mixed group of professional people “Gals”?

    I would never try to get the attention of a group of people with “Guys!” If you enjoy your current employment situation attend to what I’m saying – this is now just basic communication skills.

  22. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I will take that under consideration.

    Check with your communications office where you work. Ask them. You will be surprised how quickly they will tell you, professional person we’re maybe responsible for defending legally against a potential future lawsuit. DON’T USE “GUYS” YOU MORON!

  23. @de stijl: You know that thing where you get annoying unnecessarily?

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Still, I can see his point. Gender dominance is both baked in to the colloquial language and tacitly (and, in this case overtly) endorsed, explained away, and validated in situations where it clearly doesn’t need to be. An interesting conundrum at the very least. Potentially telling if one has trollish instincts.

  25. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You know that thing where you get defensive unnecessarily?

  26. Mister Bluster says:

    @de stijl:..DON’T USE “GUYS” YOU MORON!

    That was pretty rude. Dr. Taylor is no moron by any measure.
    I use guys to address all genders. So call a lawyer and sue me.

  27. @Just nutha ignint cracker: @de stijl: I politely acknowledged the point, and explained myself.

    I don’t feel three additional admonitions were necessary.

  28. @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Gender dominance is both baked in to the colloquial language and tacitly (and, in this case overtly) endorsed, explained away, and validated in situations where it clearly doesn’t need to be.

    And to be clear, I get that.