The Bad Ideas of Tom Steyer

Term limits and referenda may sound good, but they are terrible ideas

Jonathan Bernstein has a piece at Bloomberg Opinion that is worth a read (and is on point): Term Limits for Congress? That’s a Terrible Idea.

Today’s Congress is historically weak, and one reason is the relatively short tenure of many members. As it is, short-timers allow themselves to be bossed around by experienced leaders or by the White House. That’s bad enough, but if experienced leaders were eliminated, Congress would find itself bossed by the White House and by large organized interest groups. That’s not just the logic of the situation; it’s also what political scientists who have studied term limits in state legislatures have found.

Politicians who want long careers in Congress tend to work hard to represent their constituents. Politicians who know they’ll be seeking a different job soon won’t have any incentive to care about the people who voted for them — and won’t develop the skills needed to represent them even if they want to try.

Also, referenda:

As anyone who has been following U.K. politics or California politics surely knows, asking people to vote directly on policy just seems like a way to empower them. In fact, it’s just like Congressional term limits: It’s a way to transfer influence away from regular voters and toward organized interests. 

That Steyer could watch Brexit and still think national referenda are a good idea should be disqualifying on by itself.

I do not have time to go into all of this, but wanted to point out the piece. Bernstein, a political scientist, is on point.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. 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

Comments

  1. KM says:

    Term limits is essentially forced retirement and staff turnover. It’s not necessarily a bad thing per se if it’s not happening naturally on its own. Every enterprise needs both young blood and old wisdom with too much of either causing problems. We currently see the problems that constant turnover has caused but nobody wants a House membership that have all been there half a century then decides to retire all at the same time.

    I can see term limits being a good thing for a place that’s had the same Senator for 30 years. At that point, they’re not voting for him because he’s good for them but rather to keep the status quo. Kind of like just mindlessly pulling the party lever, many will just pick the name they recognize instead of the better choice. If we were to set term limits, it should be at something like the 20 year-mark so they’re long enough to learn the job and pass those skills on to the next generation. That would be 4 terms for a Senator and 10 for a House member. A 20 year career is a good run considering the current average is about 4 terms for the House and 2 for the Senate.

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  2. Teve says:

    Another billionaire white guy who thinks his inexperienced musings must be real smart stuff. At least Howard Schultz had the sense to pull the plug.

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  3. That Steyer could watch Brexit and still think national referenda are a good idea

    Well, apparently more or less half of the British thinks Brexit (and, by extension, referenda) is a good idea.

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  4. Kari Q says:

    Term limits are terrible.

    California has term limits and the result has been a loss of expertise in the legislature to the extent that legislators are often no longer writing the bills themselves. Instead, they rely on lobbyists. The lobbyists are the only ones around long enough to have a thorough knowledge of issues. Also, legislators are all too often immediately looking toward their next job, instead of focusing on their current responsibilities.

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  5. @Miguel Madeira:

    Well, apparently more or less half of the British thinks Brexit (and, by extension, referenda) is a good idea.

    You miss my point. Regardless of one’s position of leaving or staying, I don’t think anyone can say that the process is a good one to emulate.

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  6. Kari Q says:

    Referendums are another thing that Californians have far too much experience with. We wind up voting on all kinds of things that we have no way of really understanding. I wouldn’t want to do away with them completely, as there are rate cases where the referendum process can be used to solve problems in the face of intransigence by both parties (gerrymandering, for example). But getting a referendum on the ballot should be a difficult process.

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  7. Kathy says:

    1) There are downsides to everything.
    2) Things like referenda and term limits need not be all or nothing propositions.

    The big problem with plebiscites is that the people who vote on them do not, and largely cannot, weigh all the implications of their decision. Not that professional politicians do all the time, but they are in a better position to judge.

    As to term limits, perhaps it would be appropriate for some offices but not all. There are term limits on the US presidency.

    But perhaps the problem lies more in how candidates for offices are chosen, as well as how campaigns are financed, and less in how long they can serve once they win. For instance, are Republican Senators representing the interest of their states, or those of their electoral base, or those of their party?

    Alienating the base means likely losing a primary. Alienating the party means losing substantial funding and support. Alienating the state’s voters, minus the base, may mean an electoral loss. I see a tricky, shifting balance. And I’m not even considering donors.

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  8. Kari Q says:

    Continuing the thought in my previous post (I can’t edit for some reason)…

    That is strictly referring to the state level, of course. National referendums would be a far more complicated idea, given the lack of genuinely national elections and the Constitutional obstacles to enacting a law by national referendum. I suppose non-binding referendums could be interesting, but it would not be worth the expense.

    I can’t see an upside to a national referendum process.

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  9. Barry says:

    @Miguel Madeira: “Well, apparently more or less half of the British thinks Brexit (and, by extension, referenda) is a good idea.”

    Actually, about half of those who voted/were allowed to vote thought that a set of BS promises was a good idea.

    As things became even somewhat more clear, most votes went against it, and the Tories won with 43% of the vote.

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  10. HelloWorld! says:

    @KM: Term limits do not mean staff turn over at all. Congressional election to congressional election see’s the same staff term to term unless there is a party change. I live in DC, don’t work politics – but have many friends who’s bosses don’t run but they just transition directly to the new member. In fact, part of the new blood of the “tea party take over” was BS because they mostly re-hired the former members staff.

    Term limits are nothing but good, imo. Nothing stops an elected official from grooming the next guy, if there needs to be some sort of cohesion.

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  11. Andy says:

    Berstein makes some questionable claims in that piece:

    Today’s Congress is historically weak, and one reason is the relatively short tenure of many members.

    This didn’t sound right to me, so I looked up the relevant CRS report. Figure 4 shows that since the end of WWII, on average, about 25% of House members had 12 or more years experience and less than 20% were first termers although there have been occasional big spikes in each direction. The tenure and length of service today looks almost the exactly same as it was in the early 1950’s.

    Secondly, Congress is a chamber that works on seniority, so the longest-serving members are in all the key positions that determine the agenda. If Congress is weak it’s because of the action (or inaction) of these senior leaders.

    Politicians who want long careers in Congress tend to work hard to represent their constituents. Politicians who know they’ll be seeking a different job soon won’t have any incentive to care about the people who voted for them — and won’t develop the skills needed to represent them even if they want to try.

    No, politicians who want long careers tend to do whatever it takes to stay in office, which is not the same thing as representing constituents well. I think if our elections were actually competitive then his statement would be true. But the truth is that most of them aren’t competitive at all and increasingly the only threat to many incumbents come from primaries. So politicians in safe districts really only have to keep a portion of their base plus key power-players in their district happy to prevent a primary challenge in order to maintain their seat. Many representatives have a de facto sinecure and in some cases, state governments have carved out districts to ensure one particular incumbent will get that seat. That is probably going to happen with redistricting next year – states will likely redraw maps to protect partisan incumbents.

    Anyway, my personal opinion is that we should not have lifetime legislators. If we had a system with more competition, then that would only happen in exceptional, meritorious cases. But we don’t, so term limits are a kludge. However, in many cases, I do agree that term limits are too short for the reasons cited – I pretty much agree with KM’s comment that 20 years is a good ballpark number.

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  12. Michael Cain says:

    I was a non-partisan permanent state legislative staffer after term limits had been in place long enough to reach “stable” turnover status. Every two years the General Assembly had 20-25% first-term members. The several days of training for new members run largely by the permanent staff was enough to make you cry. Term limits were an enormous shift of power from the legislators to the staff.

    I am an advocate of state-level ballot initiatives because they provide an alternate path on individual policies that don’t come with all the party-level baggage. Eg, a state like Arizona with a Republican trifecta can pass a redistricting commission or higher minimum wage opposed by the Republicans, but without all the other policies a Democratic trifecta would try to implement. National initiatives or referendums are a disaster looking for a home, particularly in a continent-spanning country.

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  13. Kit says:

    What about Switzerland? Citizens there are subject to no end of referenda but seem to do ok.

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  14. KM says:

    @HelloWorld!:
    Apologies, I wasn’t clear – the turnover I’m referring to was the elected Congress critters themselves. After all, we are hiring them to represent us as a job. While you expect to have a certain percentage of new employees at any given time, having too many is a really, really bad sign. Professional jobs tend to run with 10% turnover rate as the high end so 100+ members of the 435 in the House or 10 Senators (less when you consider only a 1/3 is up for grabs at any time) is significant.

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  15. JohnMcC says:

    The repeated calls from many ideological corners of the electorate for term-limits and such, might or might not be arguing for a good idea. Won’t argue yes or no. But the message to hear is that those corners do not feel represented and do not believe they are well governed. I will argue that point; they are correct.

    Watching the national government today is like being a first hand observer of war and realizing that the generals and politicians running the damn war have NO f#cking idea what they are doing.

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  16. Andy says:

    @Kit:

    What about Switzerland? Citizens there are subject to no end of referenda but seem to do ok.

    Switzerland only has a population of 8.5 million and much higher social cohesion than we do in the US. I think those factors explain why referenda work better there compared to here.

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  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:

    No, politicians who want long careers tend to do whatever it takes to stay in office, which is not the same thing as representing constituents well. I think if our elections were actually competitive then his statement would be true. But the truth is that most of them aren’t competitive at all and increasingly the only threat to many incumbents come from primaries.

    Yep.

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  18. Kit says:

    @Andy:

    Switzerland only has a population of 8.5 million and much higher social cohesion than we do in the US. I think those factors explain why referenda work better there compared to here.

    Absolutely! I was just pushing back a bit on Steven’s blanket statement.

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  19. A side note to all of this: our main problem, as I oft argue, is that lack of competitive elections and representative outcomes.

    My bottom line on term-limits, as appealing as they sound on the surface (throwing the bums out, dontcha know) will only make our representativeness problems worse and will do nothing about competition.

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  20. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    We’ve had term limits on Presidents for quite a while, and it hasn’t stopped the executive from accumulating more power, or led to the end of America As We Know It.

    The devil is always in the details. For example, I would be happy with term limits of 12 years in the House and 18 in the Senate. One person could serve up to 30 years. The intent is to roll leadership a bit more frequently (since the 30 years would be split between the House and Senate) and slice off the outlier extremes of people who have calcified in office and haven’t had a new idea this century. Similarly, I would be against short term limits of 4 years in the House and 6 in the Senate for the reasons described above.

    Now referenda…yeah, those concern me. Like many things what started out as a reasonable, even good, idea has morphed into abuse. I live in Washington State and every election we have to deal with nonsense from a POS named Tim Eyman, who makes a living causing problems and smirks all the way to the bank (from stealing contributions, which he’s been convicted of but is somehow still allowed to file and lead more ballot proposals).

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  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    The problem is not ‘Washington.’ That’s just pandering and reductionism. The problem is voters. I wasn’t nearly as concerned by Trump qua Trump as by the fact that 46% of Americans are sufficiently stupid, reckless, spiteful, racist and misogynist to defile the White House with a man catastrophically unsuited for the job. Trump is not the poison in the system, the voters are. They’re the ones destroying the country. And 42% of them, having seen the damage done, are crying for more.

    What can you say about an electorate that allows Vladimir Putin a vote? These people can’t even manage minimal levels of patriotism. What do you say about voters who just open their idiot mouths and gobble up whatever lies Rupert Murdoch wants them to swallow and then turn around and bitch about billionaires? Deplorables is the kindest word.

    The single biggest mistake in US history was not allowing the south to fuck off out of the country. They’ve been a millstone ever since.

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  22. @Kit: It is worth noting that the Swiss system was deliberately designed to include referenda, rather than it being layered onto a system. It has been a while since I looked into the Swiss system, so I won’t comment further at the moment.

    I will say that I stand by the notion that trying to govern via national referendum is a bad idea. Trying to reduce complex issues to yes/no questions often leads to disaster.

    And the experience with ballot initiatives in CA just underscore Bernstein’s thesis: they become a vehicle for specialized interests who are good at manipulating outcomes rather than being some true manifestation of popular will.

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  23. @Michael Reynolds: It would be nice if the process of electing the president was actually reflective of popular sentiment…

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  24. gVOR08 says:

    My recollection is that term limits became a thing nationally in the 60s and 70s when Rs were underdogs and was a pretty nakedly partisan effort to eliminate long term D incumbents. Over time, without term limits, but with race and money, Rs became the overdogs, but conservatives believe their own bullshit, so term limits linger on as the panacea for…something. It was never quite clear what they were supposed to accomplish. And I have no idea how Steyer latched onto it.

    @Kathy: Democrat FDR had been elected to four terms and when they got the chance Republicans made sure that never happened again.

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  25. @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    We’ve had term limits on Presidents for quite a while

    What point of a presidential career is the apex?

    When does the power start to wane?

    Is there a special name for second term presidents? Why is that?

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  26. gVOR08 says:

    @Kari Q: Congress doesn’t have term limits, but lobbyists still write the bills. I think it has more to do with campaign finance than with longevity.

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  27. Teve says:

    The increasingly poor decisions of Tom Steyer.

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  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:
    The inhuman three strikes law in California was passed by referendum.

    Prop 13, which still hampers the state, was passed by referendum.

    Prop 8, a stain on California’s honor, passed by referendum.

    There’s a reason we have representative democracy, we are meant to elect people better informed and more judicious than the hoi polloi, who then make these decisions on behalf of the people. The idea is supposed to be that a mass of people with of average intelligence could manage to elect people a wee bit smarter than the average. That hasn’t worked well, but it hasn’t worked well because people can’t be bothered to actually think about their votes, which does not argue for giving the people still more direct power.

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  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    That, too, but our brilliant semi-divine Founders have locked us into a broken system.

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  30. @Michael Reynolds: Well, the gods must be crazy.

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  31. Kari Q says:

    Term limits have been studied and found not to deliver the hoped for results. Legislators rely more on lobbyists and special interests for information instead of developing their own expertise. They defer to bureaucrats who have been around longer, because they don’t have the expertise to know if that bureaucrat is serving the public interest or their own.

    If making representatives responsive to voters is the goal, then addressing gerrymandering should be the goal. Once districts are no longer drawn to protect incumbents we can then assess whether further steps are needed.

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  32. barbintheboonies says:

    I am not in favor of term limits, but I wish people would look around to see if things are actually being done by these people to better the people they represent, if no, they need the boot. If they are doing a great job then they should stay.

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  33. gVOR08 says:

    Reynolds et al, I haven’t had occasion to be in CA during election season for a long time. Are referenda still as bad as it once was? Last time was probably in the 80s and it seemed like every phone pole had six signs, “YES on 132”, “NO on 106”, “STOP 126” with nary an explanation or even a slogan. There seemed to be dozens. I stumbled across that one of them was a water rights dispute between two adjacent real estate developers. The rest seemed to be equally consequential, state-wide issues. Has it improved?

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  34. barbintheboonies says:

    Three strikes are inhuman? How many chances should people have before we say enough? I’ll bet the person who’s kid was killed or their daughters raped would say differently.

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  35. Scott says:

    The term limits discussion is fundamentally the same power balancing question that has existed since the Articles of Confederation and Constitution debate.

    In San Antonio, we have City Council/City Manager form of government were the elected council member, including the Mayor, meet and set policy and priorities. These are then executed by the City Manager who is hired to do the job. A couple of years back, term limits were put on and sure enough, many were complaining about the power the “unelected city manager” had to run the city. Nothing terribly significant since she was an excellent city manager but it created grumbles nonetheless. Well, another ballot initiative was placed which kept term limits in place but expanded the length of the terms.

    Whether this will be the best balance time will tell. BTW, it is not only about power balancing but minimizing the under the table petty backslapping and wheeling and dealing.

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  36. Kari Q says:

    @gVOR08:

    No, it hasn’t. Still as bad as ever.

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  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    @barbintheboonies:
    You don’t understand the law. It wasn’t about three murders. All it took was a burglary and two subsequent shoplifting charges to condemn a person to die in prison. That is inhuman by any decent standard. But people voted for it because – like you – they did not understand the law. After ruining countless lives unnecessarily and pissing away billions of dollars, voters finally figured it out and reversed themselves.

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  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:
    I haven’t seen anything very exciting on the referendum front this go-round.

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  39. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The single biggest mistake in US history was not allowing the south to fuck off out of the country. They’ve been a millstone ever since.

    If we let Jesustan fuck off, we’d share a huge border with a third-world country which would immediately start generating historic levels of pollution. Anyway, once they figured out that all their disability checks, medicare, highway funding, farm welfare checks, etc was about to go bye-bye, they’d refuse to secede.

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  40. gVOR08 says:

    Term limits are trivia. To coin a phrase, money is the root of all evil. If we want to reform politics we have to take out the money. End of story.

    Somehow, I don’t think Steyer will support this solution. Or Bloomberg, or Wang. Or, more importantly, the Republican Billionaire Boys Club. Democratic billionaires (and whatever Bloomberg is this week) are highly visible and give the impression that politically involved billionaires are reasonable people who back good government. These guys are the tip of the iceberg. The bulk of billionaires keep their political views and activities well hidden, and for compelling reasons. Their positions: fwck the climate, a little arsenic in the water is good for you, only poor people should pay taxes, sanctions on Russia are bad for business, turmoil in the ME is good for business, etc. would be very unpopular, if known.

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  41. Kari Q says:

    Before deciding that term limits are a good idea, you should read the literature about the effects in the states that have them.

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  42. Neil Hudelson says:

    Somewhat related to this post: Fox News just released two polls, one showing Steyer in 2nd place in South Carolina, and one showing him in third place in Nevada.

    I can’t find a good source now, but I believe Steyer has simply dominated SC airwaves with his ads, beating the other candidates combined. Just shows you that, while money may not ensure you win the race, it sure helps you out of the gate.

    And Bloomberg is just starting to turn on his fire hose of money.

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  43. Teve says:

    @gVOR08:

    Term limits are trivia. To coin a phrase, money is the root of all evil. If we want to reform politics we have to take out the money. End of story.

    You know how there was that rash of shows about like the Tudors, and the Medicis, etc? I was watching one of those, and the politicians or the Pope was getting his instructions about what to do from the patriarch of the big banking house, and the obvious thought popped into my head, “oh yeah. The rich always buy political power.”

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  44. Kit says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I will say that I stand by the notion that trying to govern via national referendum is a bad idea. Trying to reduce complex issues to yes/no questions often leads to disaster.

    I agree, but simply wanted to point to an exception.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Is there a special name for second term presidents? Why is that?

    Do you think that the rise of party politics over checks and balances could make lame ducks waddle again? A second term Trump could rewrite some old rules.

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  45. Teve says:

    A lame duck is not a politician in their final term, it’s a politician who is still in office after his/her successor has been elected but not sworn in.

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  46. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The single biggest mistake in US history was not allowing the south to fuck off out of the country. They’ve been a millstone ever since.

    I dislike alternate history for the same reason I dislike time travel stories and holodeck stories, no rules. But I do occasionally contemplate what would have happened had the North let the South go. The South did not seem to have a strong hand.

    Economic development would likely have disfavored the South even more than it did post bellum. The plantation system wore out soil and required constant expansion. The North would likely have retained control of the West and Southwest. The South hatched “filibustering” schemes for expanding in Cuba or Mexico or Central America that seemed dubious at best. France was in Mexico with Emperor Maximillian. The Royal Navy was actively suppressing the slave trade. The South had a long border with Mexico. They had an even longer coastline and a toy navy (which, unlike the Army of Northern Virginia, came to proudly fly the Second Confederate Navy Jack). It’s hard to see how an independent South could have done well in the late 19th century world.

    And the Confederate Constitution made effective government impossible, even without Jeff Davis. (Had to have an institutional problem in Dr. Taylor’s thread.)

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  47. @Teve:

    A lame duck is not a politician in their final term, it’s a politician who is still in office after his/her successor has been elected but not sworn in.

    The terms has grown to encompass a politician who it is known will not face re-election. It becomes acute for presidents after the mid-terms because they no longer have any electoral influence whatsoever.

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  48. @Kit:

    Do you think that the rise of party politics over checks and balances could make lame ducks waddle again? A second term Trump could rewrite some old rules.

    It is an experiment that I do not want to run, but I would predict that Trump’s influence over the party would start to wane in his second term, and especially after the 2222 mid-terms.

    Keep in mind: at the moment, the GOP is seeking to save a scandal-plagued president because he is their best bet to win the White House in 2020.

    A scandal-plagued second term is another story.

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  49. Michael Reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:
    I’ll demur on one point, having written some alternative history: there are rules, they’re just the rules imposed by the writer. When I went at FRONT LINES I had to decide on those rules. My approach was to postulate a Supreme Court decision that made women subject to the draft and eligible for all military roles. And I advanced the combat involvement of black troops by a year. And that was it – I had to live within that reality. All spec fiction lives or dies by world-building and you cannot world-build without rules. (Or in Tolkien’s case half a dozen fully-developed original languages, FFS.)

    That aside, I agree with your prognosis for the south. They’d have become another Mexico. They thought they could leverage cotton, but no, the Egyptians fed the market. Which left them with exactly one real economic asset: New Orleans. They could have embargoed northern goods coming down from the midwest, but that would have been cutting off nose to spite face. And railroads were already starting to offer work-arounds. The south would have been poor and weak – not a good look when the north was swelling its numbers and moving into the industrial age. They’d have been an economic colony without votes.

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  50. @gVOR08: I think that the CSA would have developed along the lines of Latin American states–the basic economic and political parameters were similar.

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  51. Michael Reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:
    An addendum: All fiction lives by the author’s rules. But the same is true to an extent in non-fiction where it’s often all about the framing. In fiction you know it’s fake, in non-fiction you can only hope it’s not.

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  52. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: I recently read Bertrand Russel’s A History of Western Philosophy. For a long time western philosophy was a product of the Catholic Church, so he has to do a fast history of the Church. Turns into a blur, but it’s hard to not see it as a comic opera. Competing popes, sometimes in France, shifting alliances, married popes, papal mistresses, essentially hereditary popes. And yes, always very political.

    Obscure bit of history. I sometimes amuse myself by following links in WIKI, and one let me to the Papal Zouaves who up to 1870 fought for the Papal States against Garibaldi.

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  53. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: interesting economic history there. The south was selling cotton-backed bonds in Europe. All that cotton was shipped outta one port—New Orleans. As soon as the North got control of it, the bonds became too risky to buy. No money, no army.

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  54. Barry says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Which left them with exactly one real economic asset: New Orleans. ”

    In other words, Louisiana would have prospered, from that location. The other Confederate states bordering the Mississippi would have very prosperous cities. The rest would have boomed or busted with cotton, and the British Empire was playing with that internally.

    In addition, the infrastructure would have been nonexistent, and the USA/UK would have held their debts, with the bankers colluding to enforce onerous terms.

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  55. Andy says:

    @Kit:

    Absolutely! I was just pushing back a bit on Steven’s blanket statement.

    Ah, thanks for the clarification, I missed that.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I agree that a national referendum here in the US is a bad idea. But it’s unconstitutional, so is not much of a concern.

    I don’t have as much of a problem with state-level referendums.

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  56. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Agree. At least good writers set and follow rules. I recall Asimov talking about the difficulty of writing scifi mystery and having to keep it fair for the reader by setting the situation then not dragging out the detectives tricorder to get the key evidence.

    If a peacefully separated South was smart they’d have done everything possible to maintain friendly relations with the United States, including keeping the Mississippi open and collecting tariffs. Might have been better business than cotton. But, as you note, they’d have had to compete with the railroads, and the Erie Canal/Great Lakes. And I’m hard put to come up with an example of the Confederate states doing anything smart.

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  57. Christopher Osborne says:

    @Michael Reynolds: My favorite ballot initiative in San Francisco was Brendan O’Smarty: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Geary_(police_officer) It was even better than the horse meat one….

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  58. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You miss my point. Regardless of one’s position of leaving or staying, I don’t think anyone can say that the process is a good one to emulate.

    With single representative districts, and all the problems that come with that (especially with many parties and no run offs), I don’t think the parliament is entirely representative of the people’s will either. (I’ve read the posts of one Steven Taylor on that subject… 😉 )

    The Brexit referendum was terribly done — a bare 50%+1 required to commit the country to an unknown pipe dream — but I think a referendum or two should have been part of the process. Perhaps one to authorize the government to explore the process and work out the deal, followed by another to ratify the agreement. Require Supermajorities if you like.

    As it is, Brexit will happen because of one bad referendum and people really hate Jeremy Corbyn.

    I generally think referenda are annoying (we have legislators for a purpose, after all) and often cause more problems than they are worth (you don’t need to think through the consequences when writing a referendum), but for major national issues… I think they have their place.

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  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kit: Does the term “outlier” carry any significance for you?

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  60. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Christopher Osborne:
    So very San Francisco. Or at least pre-tech San Francisco.

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  61. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Barry:
    You’d think, wouldn’t you? But Louisiana has had the river forever and has still not managed to achieve prosperity. Instead they’ve focused on supplying the national appetite for drunk women showing their tits. I do like a good beignet though.

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  62. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @barbintheboonies: Clearly, you were away and missed this post: https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/the-problem-with-mandatory-minimum-sentencing-laws/. I offer it now as a service to you. The problem with any kind of mandatory program (and 3-strikes laws are mandatory minimum sentencing schemes at their root) is in the details and our lack of ability to predict when their execution will result in overreaction. (Sort of like the 5-year-old who was expelled from school in Spokane because the picture he drew had a gun in it, thereby violating the district’s zero tolerance gun policy. 😉 )

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  63. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: For some reason, being a television streamer in the Portland, OR media market has created a barrage of Bloomberg and Steyer commercials on the shows I watch. I really like what both of them say (except for the term limits commercial). If only I believed a single word either one is saying and/or believed an outsider like Steyer could get anything done, I’d be sad that their not getting more traction.

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  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    the obvious thought popped into my head, “oh yeah. The rich always buy political power.”

    Always have, always will. As it was in the beginning, it is now and shall be forever.

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  65. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I think we are in agreement regarding referendums. What was a sometimes useful check on rule by the rich in the early years of the 20th century turned into a disaster by the latter half. And we’ve ended up in an even worse spot as the rich buy referendums with purposely misleading titles and advertising.

    I don’t think the presence or absence of term limits will make a big difference either way myself. Gerrymandering reform and systemic reforms to force Congress to accept more responsibility (around war powers, oversight, and finances especially) and yank power back from the executive–which of course won’t happen–are what is needed.

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  66. JohnMcC says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Wow, that’s from my favorite poem. Since poetry was chatted around on some thread at this address, I’ll share from memory:

    Dowb, first of his race met the mammoth face to face
    on the lake or in the cave,
    stole the steadiest canoe,
    ate the quarry others slew,
    died — and took the finest grave.

    Ere they hewed the Sphinx’s visage favoritism governed kissage,
    as it does in this age.
    When they scratched the reindeer bone,
    Someone made the sketch his own,
    Then, even in those simple days,
    Won a simple viceroy’s praise,
    Through the toil of other men.

    And who shall doubt the secret hid under Cheops’ pyramid
    Is that the contractor did
    Old Cheops out of several million,
    Or that Joseph’s sudden rise,
    To comptroller of supplies,
    Was a fraud of monstrous size,
    On King Pharoh’s swart civilians.

    Thus the artless songs I sing do not deal with anything
    New or never said before,
    As it was in the beginning
    Is today’s official sinning,
    And shall be evermore.

    My favorite poets are found in the Juvenal section, I know.

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  67. mattbernius says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    Three strikes are inhuman? How many chances should people have before we say enough? I’ll bet the person who’s kid was killed or their daughters raped would say differently.

    Since you’ve been complaining about being attacked, this feels like a teachable moment.

    What you just put forward is an “opinion” based on essentially feelings/moral panic (i.e. crime is on the rise and can’t we think about the victims).

    Edge cases and moral panics like this make very bad laws — like 3 strikes. Anyone who has read the rather vast substantive literature on the topic of 3 strike laws (in particular in how they have been applied in CA – see for example: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0011128797043004004) demonstrate that they have little to no long-term significant deterrence effect. They also are responsible for bankrupting states due to a swelling prison population and tend to show strong racial disparities in terms of their application (helping further decimating communities of color and over-policed communities).

    More studies can be found via the Wikipedia page (or Googling): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-strikes_law#United_States

    So while you are entitled to your opinion, this is a prime example of how there is no substantive foundation to said opinion other than feelings. Which isn’t a particularly strong departure point. And pointing that out isn’t intended to be hateful.

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  68. Mister Bluster says:

    I have stated this before and I think it bears repeating.

    15 of our United States have legislative term limits.
    AR AZ CA CO FL LA ME MI MO MT NE NV OH OK SD.
    If anyone can demonstrate that legislation passed through these chambers is somehow wiser or more efficient than bills passed in the 35 other non term limited States I will consider that term limits may be useful at the Federal level.
    —–
    As a point of information it is here noted:
    The following six legislatures have had their term limits nullified:
    Idaho Legislature: the Legislature repealed its own term limits in 2002.
    Massachusetts General Court: the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overturned term limits in 1997.
    Oregon Legislative Assembly: the Oregon Supreme Court ruled term limits unconstitutional in 2002.
    Utah State Legislature: the Legislature repealed its own term limits in 2003.
    Washington State Legislature: the Washington Supreme Court voided term limits in 1998.
    Wyoming Legislature: the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled term limits unconstitutional in 2004.

    Apparently per several comments on this thread there has been research into this matter.

    From January 3, 2009 till January 3, 2011 the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch of the United States Government were both controlled by the Democratic Party.
    From January 3, 2017 till January 3, 2019 the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch of the United States Government were both controlled by the Republican Party.
    As far as I know neither party did anything to take action that would have resulted in limiting their own terms or the terms of their successors.
    Maybe they just did not want to.

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  69. mattbernius says:

    @Andy:

    I don’t have as much of a problem with state-level referendums.

    Can you unpack that logic? Especially getting back to your earlier correct observation around some of the reasons why a Swiss system might work (beyond governmental structure):

    Switzerland only has a population of 8.5 million and much higher social cohesion than we do in the US.

    While we do have a number of smaller, more culturally cohesive states, our larger states are arguably small countries to themselves with a high degree of diversity in terms of their populations (not to mention often deep cultural fissures well beyond urban/rural divides).

    That’s before we get into how well ballot referendums fit into the planned structure of their governments (to Steven’s point).

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  70. barbintheboonies says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I do and I know many people get a few passes before they go to jail. Most are drug charges, and theft yes. What I see all around me are people getting away with petty crimes over and over. They are in a revolving door system. and should have spent time in jail long enough to get off the drugs. In Or. many people who do seek treatment are only allowed 30 days and kicked out. The Salvation Army has asked repeatedly to allow 6 months, and even that is not always enough. Now instead we just have said we will not do anything unless they ask for help. This is why our cities are over run with filth and disease. How is this a compassionate way of doing things. I was glad when that woman who was a drug addict and was on her third strike let out of prison, she was clean and deserved a chance outside. We do need to hold accountable these drug addicts and pushers and people who destroy other people’s property. Give them a sentence that will scare them enough to stop their bad behavior. When I talked about rapist, many have started as kids, and when they get caught they get the slap on the wrist. When they get out and are now adults, they up their game and maybe start beating their victims, until they choose to kill. Then when they get caught we find out they had been doing this horrible stuff since they were kids, and we wonder why were they allowed back on our streets. That’s how I feel.

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  71. barbintheboonies says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Yes or underreaction, that is what I fear. Stupid things never should see inside a courtroom. They need to talk to the parents, but most people are hyperpolitical and have an agenda to push into the phony histrionic people in the media

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  72. @barbintheboonies:

    I know many people get a few passes before they go to jail

    Citation?

    What I see all around me are people getting away with petty crimes over and over.

    In what sense do yo “see” it? Evidence? Citation?

    They are in a revolving door system. and should have spent time in jail long enough to get off the drugs. In Or. many people who do seek treatment are only allowed 30 days and kicked out. The Salvation Army has asked repeatedly to allow 6 months, and even that is not always enough.

    It is unclear on what you are trying to say here. The Salvation Army assertion is pretty specific–do you have any details?

    This is why our cities are over run with filth and disease.

    This simple isn’t true.

    I was glad when that woman who was a drug addict and was on her third strike let out of prison, she was clean and deserved a chance outside.

    But that isn’t how three strikes works. She wasn’t “out” then, was she?

    When they get out and are now adults, they up their game and maybe start beating their victims, until they choose to kill.

    While I am sure there are rapists who have later killed people, you make it sound like an escalatory pattern that can be stopped with three strikes laws. Do you have any evidence for this?

    That’s how I feel.

    All well and good, but that’s not an argument.

    To mattbernius’ point above, you will persuade by backing up calims–not just by making assertions or describing feelings.

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  73. @Gustopher:

    With single representative districts, and all the problems that come with that (especially with many parties and no run offs), I don’t think the parliament is entirely representative of the people’s will either. (I’ve read the posts of one Steven Taylor on that subject… )

    Indeed, the UK House of Commons has representation problems similar to the US House (but ameliorated to a degree by the size of the chamber and the lack of primaries).

    Still, the parliamentary method of policymaking is a different beast than using referenda–but that is a whole post’s worth of discussion.

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  74. Andy says:

    @mattbernius:

    I don’t have a very strong or particularly well-informed view on this to be honest so most of my opinion is based on my experience living around the country as well as my home state of Colorado which, like California, has a very open referendum system. It hasn’t been a 100% success here, but on balance I think it’s worked out ok.

    I think a lot of it comes down to process. Here in Colorado, there are some limitations and hurdles such as a supermajority requirement for passage (55%) and also signatures must be collected from every Senate district in the state (you can’t, for instance, get something on the ballot by only collecting signatures from Denver). It has to pass fiscal review and must be a single subject amendment.

    At least here, the system usually weeds out the bad ones – things may be different in other states. And even then, most referendums (including those that come from the legislature and not a public initiative), are not successful.

    So, I’m willing to be persuaded they are universally bad, but that hasn’t been my experience here in Colorado, especially compared to other states I’ve lived that don’t have them, like Texas.

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  75. Teve says:

    This is why our cities are over run with filth and disease

    I’m not locked in here with you… You’re locked in here with ME.

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  76. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnMcC: I don’t know it from Juvenal. For me it’s part of the benediction of the Magnificat from a vesper’s service we sang at a church I went to years ago.

    But as I noted in that string, I’m not much of a poetry guy. +

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  77. mattbernius says:

    @Andy:
    Thanks for the thoughtful reply (as always). That definitely helps me understand things a lot more. I definitely agree about process being critical in this.

    Signatures must be collected from every Senate district in the state (you can’t, for instance, get something on the ballot by only collecting signatures from Denver).

    This really helps me understand your perspective about why this *can* work at the State level and seems like a well crafted system. I’m also wondering how possible that would be in states with larger and more established centers of control (like New York) retrofitting this into their State structure.

    It will also be interesting to see how this evolves as CO’s demographics continue to shift and urban centers continue to grow.

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  78. mattbernius says:

    @barbintheboonies:
    Again, this post is largely anecdotal and based on your limited sample size. It’s the equivalent of saying it feels like a cold winter where you live therefore global warming is an obvious hoax.

    A few things really stick out and I want to address them:

    How is this a compassionate way of doing things. I was glad when that woman who was a drug addict and was on her third strike let out of prison, she was clean and deserved a chance outside.

    You mention OR earlier in your post — I just want to point out that OR, if you mean Oregon, isn’t a 3 strike state. There are certain mandatory minimums for sex, drug and property crimes that kick in at different levels. But this isn’t the same as 3 strikes. Two really different things (though Mandatory Minimums have a lot of issues too).

    But my bigger issue with your anecdotes is here:

    In Or. many people who do seek treatment are only allowed 30 days and kicked out. The Salvation Army has asked repeatedly to allow 6 months, and even that is not always enough.

    From what I can tell, you are arguing that drug sentences should be longer because jail is replacing rehab. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of incarceration and is a prime example of a dangerous trend where states have gutted their social support infrastructures in the name of low taxes and then have shunted all of that care onto the prison systems.

    Not only does this lead to prison systems bankrupting states but you are asking them to fulfill a function they are fundamentally not designed for. Jail or prison is not intended to be a rehab facility. And burdening people dealing with drug addictions with felony records in the name of giving them rehab is essentially ensuring they they will be marginalized for the rest of their lives. It’s incredibly BAD social policy (and leads to a LOT of death by police, sadly).

    When I talked about rapist, many have started as kids, and when they get caught they get the slap on the wrist. When they get out and are now adults, they up their game and maybe start beating their victims, until they choose to kill.

    And can you actually provide a study that proves this out. NOT a single news article about an individual — hard studies about this?

    BTW, fun fact:

    This is why our cities are over run with filth and disease.

    Actually crime is, on the whole, decreasing per capita in cities (though there are exceptions). Do y0u know where it’s increasing per captia — the boonies? Largely driven by drug crimes, rural areas have seen an overall explosion in crime.

    https://thecrimereport.org/2018/05/14/rural-violent-crime-rate-rises-above-u-s-average/

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  79. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:
    Following up on my point about why using incarceration to treat addition is a bad strategy, I wanted to recommend a few papers for people who are interested in the topic.

    http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/04-01_rep_mdtreatmentorincarceration_ac-dp.pdf
    (note this one is a policy paper from a reform group, so it should be read with that bias — it still provides pretty convincing data and analysis)

    And for the complexities of treatment within the system (i.e. why its so hard) this NIH meta study is really dense but a worthwhile read:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3859122/

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  80. mattbernius says:

    Hey, @barbintheboonies, I revisited your post and wanted to acknowledge that I may have misinterpreted the following statement:

    They are in a revolving door system. and should have spent time in jail long enough to get off the drugs. In Or. many people who do seek treatment are only allowed 30 days and kicked out. The Salvation Army has asked repeatedly to allow 6 months, and even that is not always enough.

    I read this as you saying that prison stays should be longer to serve as drug treatment programs. However, I really don’t understand what you mean by “In Or. many people who do seek treatment are only allowed 30 days and kicked out.”

    What are the 30 days they seek and then get kicked out of? Initially I read that as “jail” but that doesn’t make sense in terms of “are only allowed 30 days” — are you talking about state-sponsored in-patient drug treatment programs?

    If that’s the case, I agree that 30 days of in-patient is probably too little for people with extreme drug addictions. But the solution for that is to advocate for longer in patient treatment programs, not to argue those people should be given extended jail sentences in order to deliver in-patient drug treatment programs.

    So anyway, apologies for a misinterpretation if you were talking about public drug treatment programs rather than jail.

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  81. Kurtz says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    I’m going to preface this by saying that in the other thread, I asked you several questions about potential solutions to homelessness, drug addiction and crime. Maybe I was too confrontational. I will try to be more welcoming.

    In this thread, you seem to be advocating reinstitution of three strike laws. Others have answered that, so I won’t. But I ask again, what has President Trump, or the GOP before Trump, proposed or done to help solve homelessness, crime or drug addiction.

    You make a wholly rhetorical point about victims in relation to three strike laws.

    My answer:

    This is why, in criminal law, victims are represented by the State, and not the personal lawyers of the victims. Our legal system is an attempt to craft a method of prosecuting crimes that is rational and impartial. That is, a system based in facts, not emotion.

    Within a trial, the prosecutors do seek to stir emotion in the jury. They do this in all sorts of ways. But unless the living victims of a crime have facts material to the case, they largely must do this less directly.

    If the victims themselves were conducting the prosecution, emotions would quickly overtake impartial decision making.

    I am reminded of the Central Park 5 case. Trump (a Democrat at the time if I am not mistaken) took out a full page ad in the NYT decrying rampant crime in the city. This was a case where the City itself felt victimized, and what was the result? Innocent people going to jail. Sorry for the cheap emphasis, but I think this is an important point to think about.

    This is exactly the type of situation our system of justice was designed to minimize.

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  82. Kurtz says:

    @Miguel Madeira: @Steven L. Taylor:

    He probably indeed miss your point. But I think a better argument may be that very few people have a justified opinion on Brexit. A British-European divorce is so complicated that the only correct answer is, “I don’t know.”

    I recognize that sometimes, large scale, risky decisions with myriad (ugh I can’t believe I’m typing this unironically) unknown unknowns are necessary. But from what I have seen, the arguments (not too different from many Pro-Trump arguments and explanations of his success in ’16) being had are largely based on vague notions of national identity and stubborn arguments about sovereignty.

    To some extent, this is just how electoral politics work, and plebicites are not immune to it. But most elections, despite the bluster during a campaign, do not ultimately have consequences as far reaching as putting Brexit to a vote of the people. But no one, most of all everyday people with lives and jobs have the expertise to make that call.

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  83. Kurtz says:

    I’m sure at the state level, a system with referenda could be useful. All I know, from my experience in Florida, a poor system can be confusing and nonsensical.

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  84. Teve says:

    @Kurtz: don’t feel bad,

    There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

    That’s a perfectly intelligent comment. It’s a bunch of other stuff Rumsfield fucked up.

    Nobody’s 100% smart or dumb, we are all mixtures. In fact, there’s one thing that Trump seems to be smarter than the average Republican about. I know that’s a low bar, but still. He behaves as if he really understands that big wars are really, really, bad. When he had a way to back down from Iran, he did. Pompeo and Pence would’ve nuked the place just to make Jesus come back.

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  85. gVOR08 says:

    Florida had a referendum on restoring the vote for ex felons who’d served their time. To my surprise, it passed handily. The response of the GOP guv and lege was to slow walk and obstruct. They said any fees and restitution had to be paid off too. Something that’s apparently not generally enforced, and at odds with the referendum.

    However there’s a process for waiving the fees. Last news I saw the big, urban FL counties have set up a court process to fast track the waivers, and when the court grants the waiver, an activist hands the individual a registration form to be filled out in the courtroom. Net effect IIRC is that heavily Dem Dade Cty alone has 150,000 new registered voters. Trump carried FL by 70,000.

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  86. Kurtz says:

    @Teve:

    No, you are 100% correct that it is an intelligent statement. But I can’t help but think that ultimately that is why you don’t launch the war.

    During that era, my debate coach made an assessment of Bush that made me think, and has informed my view of people broadly and politicians particularly. He argued that Bush genuinely thought he was doing the right thing. I didn’t push back. I made a derogatory comment about Cheney, and he replied, “oh yeah, he’s evil.”

    I think it is easy to villify someone like Bush. But I really don’t think he is particularly dumb, and I’m certain he isn’t insincere.

    Even without comparing him to Trump, Bush was not up to the task of the office at the time he was there. I think if you look at his performance in life up to becoming President, we ended up getting what it would suggest–mediocrity. Unfortunately for the world and less importantly, for his legacy, Bush was in office in a time that demanded excellence. I imagine if he had been President in the 90s, it probably would not have been an unmitigated shitshow.

    In contrast, Rumsfeld was just a highly intelligent dude with an outdated, rigid worldview. Cheney cynically pursued naked self-interest, profiting off his position and ultimately the war he helped instigate.

    As the last few years have unfolded, I’ve found myself thinking about how common it is for people to remark how much a President visibly ages during office. In that way, we all implicitly acknowledge how difficult the job is. But I think if there is one thing that we often fail to do is to apply that logic to someone like Bush and taking less aggressively negative opinion on his character.

    I think Trump’s election may be, in some ways, as much about people internalizing the rhetoric that paints Democrats broadly as dumb, and specifically an implicitly racist assumption about Obama’s intelligence combined with kind of knowing that Bush wasn’t exactly an intellectual heavyweight.

    Many may have said that they wanted someone to run the country like a business, but really, deep down, they just stopped thinking that being President is a nearly impossible job.

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  87. Kurtz says:

    @gVOR08:

    Yes, I had that in mind when i posted. I also had in mind the way medical canabis was implemented. And how the drafters of referendums play games by combining seemingly unrelated policies into single items on the ballot.

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  88. @Kurtz:

    To some extent, this is just how electoral politics work, and plebicites are not immune to it.

    Indeed: they focus it. That’s the problem. An election for a legislator does not lead to a specific policy outcome. A new majority in the legislature might, collectively do X, but there is a process to get there, with room to consider the details. A referendum says do X without passing Go.

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  89. mattbernius says:

    @Kurtz:

    I think Trump’s election may be, in some ways, as much about people internalizing the rhetoric that paints Democrats broadly as dumb, and specifically an implicitly racist assumption about Obama’s intelligence combined with kind of knowing that Bush wasn’t exactly an intellectual heavyweight.

    Funny, I’ve always taken it as the opposite. For years Democrats were painted as the party of feelings over facts. I think part of the rejection of the Democratic party is recent years has had more to do with a perception that they have increasingly become “too intellectual to be effective” and disconnected for what real people feel/experience.

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  90. KM says:

    @mattbernius:
    I think @barbintheboonies is a great example of someone who has just enough knowledge to be dangerous and forms opinions based on vague notions like “somebody ought to do something”. In other words, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    Her assertion that there are certain people who seem to get away with the same crime over and over again isn’t necessarily incorrect – offhand, I could point out several drunk drivers who’ve been caught numerous times but never actually did jail time until they hit someone…. and not even then. The news is full of stories like that – a repeat offender offended again and here’s the rap sheet. Now, the news isn’t a comprehensive listing of facts but a snapshot of a particular story. It is enough to notice, however, that these incidents do happen and to ask why.

    Now combine that with vague notions of drug treatment facilities, who’s eligible and who pays for it. Druggie gets arrested – who’s paying for it, paying for what and why? Private ventures ain’t cheap to operate. Even if the answer is “the state”, the devil’s in the details. Frankly, drug rehab is almost universally criminally underfunded, stigmatized and in need of more resources. 30 days and out is because of America’s Greatest Flaw – we love money more then we love our fellow citizens. Dare to suggest raising taxes to help pay for these things (directly or through grants) and watch the nastiness fly.

    Next comes the last part – agency vs good of the community. “We do need to hold accountable ” and “we will not do anything unless they ask for help” are actually two mutually exclusive concepts. Accountability requires independence and free will – you can’t hold someone accountable if they cannot chose to do something or are made to do it. At the same time, you cannot force “help” on people without violating their rights, including the right to be a hot mess as long as you aren’t hurting anyone other then yourself. You have the right to ruin your own life. America has decided long ago that we value free will over common good and people’s lives. We don’t sanction the mentally ill unless there’s an active threat even when it would be advisable for their own safety or health to do so. We don’t lock up drunks even when we *know* they’re going to drink and likely drive drunk again. You can’t take someone’s agency in this country without specific reasons…. and that predicatively leads to preventable tragedies and frustration. You can watch them self-destruct but aren’t allowed to do anything but offer a hand you hope they take.

    Combine all this with a vague notions of things like 3 Strikes and you get @barb’s comment. It’s definitely emotion-based but at the same time understandable. From her POV, there’s some nebulous force stopping things from getting better and that force can manifest as a lib on the internet saying bitchy things like “3 Strikes is inhumane”. It puts bad people in jail and they may get help there – what’s the problem and why are you attacking me for it?? Corrections get perceived as personal attacks because we’re essentially telling her that her understanding of the world is flawed. If compassion is the goal, calling her a big ole’ meanie doesn’t solve it. She gets mad then leaves without the corrections having stuck but rather the impression we’ve been picking on her.

    Tl;dr – @barb’s worldview is feelings-based and thus we’re hurting her feelings when we say the world doesn’t like like that. For her, it does and there’s some validity to her claim that petty criminals often get away to re-offend. I think you did a good job trying to lay down some counter-facts while still trying to address a confrontational statement.

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  91. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Just so. Steyer and Bloomberg are the only ones putting ads on the air in South Carolina now.

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  92. al Ameda says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Somewhat related to this post: Fox News just released two polls, one showing Steyer in 2nd place in South Carolina, and one showing him in third place in Nevada.

    I can’t find a good source now, but I believe Steyer has simply dominated SC airwaves with his ads, beating the other candidates combined. Just shows you that, while money may not ensure you win the race, it sure helps you out of the gate.

    No kidding.
    Basically, Tom Steyer bought himself a seat at last night’s debate, and it was completely at the expense of Andrew Yang.

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  93. grumpy realist says:

    @KM: The problem is that @barbintheboonies is just flailing around in the standard “somebody gotta do something!” without looking at the instances where states in fact tried to implement the policy that she is so enamoured of and discovering that it’s got a LOT of problems.

    Also she’s blaming the lack of a 3 strikes rule in order to fix other completely unrelated problems; namely, that we have almost no mental health services available for poorer people and what is available is difficult to get into and usually doesn’t last long enough to in fact fix the problem. So we take all sorts of mentally ill people, scream that they are “committing crimes!” and throw them in the slammer.

    I still think that if we had sufficient mental health facilities available for all that we’d see a drop in crime….

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  94. mattbernius says:

    @KM:
    I totally agree on all points. And I realize that’s the case. Its a hard topic to try and approach from a semi-objective perspective.

    What also complicates the issue of criminal justice — in particular with women, but not exclusive to them — is the issue of the simultaneous victim/defendant. These are people who are victims in one crime (often domestic abuse) who also are facing charges in another crime. That is a particularly difficult nut to crack. Outside of tools like diversions whose use varies from county to county and state to state (emblematic of our patch work system).

    Additionally we as a nation tend to be addicted to a toxic combination of moralism and media juiced fear about crime statistics. That leads to incarceration being the hammer to solve all ill (even as it bankrupts states).

    @grumpy realist:
    100% that.

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  95. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think that the CSA would have developed along the lines of Latin American states–the basic economic and political parameters were similar.

    Or South Africa. But I live close to Americana(The city that was founded by Confederate landowners) and these Alabamians seems to have assimilated in the local population pretty well.

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  96. Linnestra says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Prop 13 was passed because rapidly increasing property taxes were forcing increasing numbers of taxpayers, particularly retirees, out of their homes. Greedy legislators are always scheming to concoct laws to steal more money from taxpayers, just as they were doing in 1978 when Prop. 13 was passed by voters who wanted to stay in their homes. Even with the statute, CA property taxes still continue to rise insanely because of skyrocketing property values. It was the only tool available to property owners to tell Sacramento: “STOP!”

    California has been infiltrated way too deeply by Left extremists that want to steal every last dime from the public, micromanage everyone’s lives and allow illegals and homeless from here and all over the U.S. transform the entire state into a Third World sewage pit.

    Voters need effective tools to combat the goons who control Sacramento, including the mentally impaired Governor (News on) who desperately needs an early retirement from his duties (the sooner, the better)!

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