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Comment Re:Following the Will of Their Voters (Score 1) 494

The two major parties used to be collections of disparate interests that came together to win elections, rather than classical left/right-wingers. If you nibble around the edges you can find that this still holds true with a few issues (abortion and the 2nd Amendment are good examples), but by and large the trend has been for the elected officials in each party to pander to the left or right on all the issues, lest they alienate the primary electorate and find themselves out of a job.

Primary Elections are dominated by the true believers, while General Elections require massive amounts of cash, cash the candidates are most likely to obtain from the aforementioned true believers, so is it any surprise that they cater to them once they win office? Rinse and repeat, election after election.

Joe Q. Public, i.e., the "most" people you're referring to, doesn't religiously follow politics. He doesn't watch MSNBC or Fox, or read Daily Kos or Red State. He has a belief structure that might favor one party over the other, but he doesn't tune into the process until a few weeks before the General Election, at which point it's really a beauty contest in the vast majority of House districts. Joe Q. Public essentially picks the side that he thinks is going to do the least damage, then prays the pendulum doesn't whack him in the head as it swings from left to right and back again.

Comment Re:Following the Will of Their Voters (Score 1) 494

Interesting that you seem to assume I'm a member of the GOP, when I never used the word "we" to refer to them. You do get some points though, the words you choose to describe yourself are words that I might have chosen to describe my own belief structure.

In any case, apostates don't interest me that much, be they recovering Democrats, Republicans, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, etc. There's a quote that comes to mind, which seems very appropriate in this context: "No one is more righteous than the fallen man reformed."

Comment Re:Following the Will of Their Voters (Score 2) 494

No, I stopped reading at "cult". Your "insider" picked the wrong media to spill his guts to if he cared about winning people like me over. I'm about elevating the dialogue, which means we don't use pejorative words like "cult" to describe political parties that claim tens of millions of our fellow citizens as members. I tuned him out with the same ease that I tune out Ann Coulter and Keith Olbermann.

Comment Re:Gerrymandering (Score 1) 494

That's an interesting and valid point. I guess my hope would be that retail politics would negate some of the effects of gerrymandering and political machines. Not sure if it would work out that way in the real world, history suggests that it would not.

It would be interesting to see what would happen with a computer driven algorithm, say (just thinking out loud here) that you start West to East, aiming for equal population districts that follow defined political boundaries and geographical features (rivers?) to the extent possible. You'd still have uncompetitive districts and flukes of geography, but perhaps there would be less of them.

I just don't know, smarter people than me have tried and failed to solve these problems. It'll probably take a combination of different things, gerrymandering reform, more representation, term limits, etc, and even then we'll be lucky if it buys us a few decades of semi-functional Government before the partisan asshats screw it up again. Jefferson was on to something with the tree of liberty, as was Washington when he condemned political parties, but the former would require Americans to get off the couch and give a damn, while the latter's advice was ignored before he was even in the ground.

Comment Re:Following the Will of Their Voters (Score 1) 494

Barack Obama is not a Centrist in the American political spectrum. He might be when compared to the left-wing parties of Europe, but when looked at through an American political compass he falls to the left. In fact, he beat someone closer to the Center than him (Hillary) during the 2008 primaries, almost solely on the basis of his opposition to the Iraq War, a classical left vs. center issue. Bill Clinton didn't start out a Centrist either (though he never as far to the left as BHO), in terms of policy or platform, that change was forced on him after the 1994 mid-terms. To his credit he actually listened to the electorate, which is more than you say about BHO and Nancy Pelosi, who rammed the ACA down the throats of the American public after a Republican managed to win a Senate Seat in the bluest of the blue states while running against it.

I'll defer comment on Ted Cruz because I know little about him. As far as Rand Paul goes, I'm not certain I'd qualify him as an 'extremist', on a lot of issues he's managed to figure out the pulse of mainstream America (polling against our interventionist foreign policy commands majorities of both parties and Independents, but non-interventionism has scant support among the elected officials in either party). To answer your question though, I think he's a household name for the same reason Charles Schumer is. He's got a good PR operation, the media loves to cover him, and he never turns down the opportunity to be in front of a camera.

Comment Re:Gerrymandering (Score 1) 494

New Hampshire is great in that it's small enough for retail politics to be effective (one of the few good arguments for allowing it to keep the first Presidential Primary, IMHO), and to keep the formation of political machines at bay. One could try and replicate that experience for the larger States by increasing the size of the House, though that's going to run into the same roadblock (nobody in power wishes to see their power diluted) as those proposals that seek to do away with Gerrymandering.

In reality I think we need to see both things happen, a reform of the district drawing process, and an increase in representation. I'd say increase the size of the House to at least one thousand members, which can be done with a simple Act of Congress. I would also argue for giving each State three Senators instead of two (this would require a Constitutional Amendment), so that each State would have a Senate seat at play in every Federal election.

Comment Re:Following the Will of Their Voters (Score 4, Insightful) 494

Thank you, for providing the MSNBC point of view, which has immeasurably enhanced the dialogue, and for completely missing the point....

Please complete the picture by bringing one of your Fox News watching friends (assuming you keep company with those disagree with you politically) to the conversation.

Comment Re:Following the Will of Their Voters (Score 5, Interesting) 494

would rightfully get them primaried in the next election?

And therein lies the problem. Primary elections are the "true" election in most Congressional districts (Democrat and Republican), thanks to gerrymandering. Primary elections are universally low turnout affairs that are dominated by the true believers, the types that get all of their news from MSNBC or Fox, who are least inclined to seek accommodation with the other side. The consequence of this is that we end up with hyper-partisan hacks that don't even represent the mainstream of their gerrymandered district, much less the country as a whole.

I'm not blaming the GOP, the exact same thing happens in gerrymandered blue districts. Nancy Pelosi doesn't represent the mainstream of the Democratic party, much less the United States, yet she is the voice of the Democrats in the house.

I don't know what the solution is. Some will argue that we need a third party, but that's no guarantee of a different result. Indeed, it makes it possible for the same hyper-partisan hacks to win as before, only now they'll have won with 40% of the vote instead of 50.1%. My hometown (Binghamton, NY) ended up with a left-wing asshole as Mayor, who won two three-way elections, and pushed his asinine left-wing agenda despite 60% of the city voting against him. (Hint for Matthew Ryan if your egotistical self finds this post with a Google search: People don't vote for Mayor to make statements about the Iraq War, they vote for him to fix the fucking potholes, keep the parks clean, and to try and attract employers to the area)

Comment Re:ACA a tutorial (Score 1, Insightful) 494

I don't understand why the "exchanges" were necessary to meet the goals of the ACA. Subsidies for the poor can be provided without the Government being a gate-keeper (I don't have to buy my groceries from a Government run "exchange" to use food stamps) and the individual mandate/minimum coverage requirements would have worked equally well with insurance sold directly to consumers. Indeed, group policies don't come from the exchanges, and you can still buy individual policies directly from insurance brokers (albeit without the option of a subsidy), and both still have to meet the minimum essential coverage requirements of the ACA.

The exchanges are a great example of the Progressive tenancy to favor centralized Rube Golberg solutions, rather than just setting the parameters of the marketplace and getting the hell out of the way. Say what you will about private enterprise, but any halfway competent for-profit corporation would have figured out how to deploy a rating website with four years of lead time for testing and development.

Comment Re:Following the Will of Their Voters (Score 5, Insightful) 494

I think that most Americans can be found in the middle of the two extremes (far-left/far-right) but our political system is set up to reward those who pander to the extremes (Gerrymandering + closed primaries in most states), so we wind up with this system that swings back and forth between the two, rarely settling in the middle where most of the electorate lies. Divided Government used to bring outcomes in the middle (Reagan/O'Neil, and Clinton/Gingrich) but now it just seems to bring grandstanding and stalling (Bush/Pelosi, Obama/Boehner), as each side waits to beat the other in the next election, while kicking the serious issues of the day down the road, to be dealt with after they have a "mandate" from the voters. Each side misreads the smallest win as a "mandate" for their platform, ignoring the fact that 49.9% of the country voted the other way. BHO's "mandate" in 2008 can be boiled down to three words: "Don't be GWB", not "Dust off every Progressive idea that's been on the bookshelf since the 60s." Similarly, John Boehner's "mandate" in 2010 was "Don't be Nancy Pelosi", not "Give the keys to the Tea Party."

There are some benefits to the two party system in the United States, compare the (relative) stability of our system to some Parliamentary Democracies, but we're in pretty big trouble if we can't take the two parties back from their respective extremes. I'm not sure how this happens, when each party keeps bleeding elder statesmen, House primaries are dominated by rabid partisans living in echo chambers, and even the Senate (where gerrymandering is a non-issue) looks to be on a downward spiral wherein statesmen are out and partisan hacks are in.

Comment Re:First sandwich (Score 2) 730

We're much more likely to end up with Hitler.

What makes you think Hitler would have been selected to rule in a monarchy? He had no formal education, a fairly unremarkable military career, and didn't come from royal blood or a well-connected family. Many of the classical Conservatives in Germany (particularly those with a Prussian background) disdained him for these reasons. They supported him because he was better (in their eyes) than the Wiemar Republic, and his initial bloodless successes were enough to silence those who wished for a return to the monarchy and who might have had the political connections to stop the NSDAP from taking Germany over the cliff.

Comment Re:Geothermal power (Score 2) 78

I hope you pointed out to her the impact she's having on the environment by drawing breath and suggested a few painless ways that she could immediately and permanently reduce her carbon footprint. If suicide is too much to contemplate, people like her are always free to give the hunter-gatherer lifestyle a try. Something tells me that civilization would look pretty good after a few days of persistence hunting.

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