Karmamandering

God bless the Freedom Caucus.

No, really.

Well, okay, sorta. Thanks to the House Deplorables, who resisted Ryancare because it didn’t drown enough puppies, the whole bill came crashing down, and we’re enjoying a bout of tantric schadenfreude that even Sting would envy.

Heck, we may yet escape this Administration alive.

We’ve seen from the start that Donald Trump sucks at running the government. We didn’t see until this week that Paul Ryan sucks at running the House. All those fire-breathers, free at last to turn These United States into scorched earth, and all they can do is immolate themselves, bless their shriveled hearts.

Which leads us to wonder whether this was ironically inevitable: Is extreme gerrymandering, the source of Republican power in the House, also the source of its weakness?

Our intern took the night off, so we don’t have research at hand to back this up (or doughnuts, damn intern), but let’s play out the psychology.

Republicans swept state legislatures in 2010, just in time for redistricting. Always a Dark Art in American politics, by this decade it had become Dark Science, aided by computer programs designed to draw wildly tentacled amoebas across the continent. The aim was to create not merely traditional Safe Seats, but Impenetrable Seats, seats so red a Baboon would fuck them.

Hence arose a new fear in the paranoid Republican heart: Getting Primaried. The general election might be a formality, but the primary was now fraught with terror, nightmares that someone even more rabid might come at you — and in primaries, there are no centrists to protect your rosy flank.

Power shifted Right, as intended — but in some places it shifted wayyyyy right. The Freedom Caucus only claims some three dozen members, but Paul Ryan can only afford to lose twenty-one votes for a given bill. And if he appeases hardcore demands, he loses votes at the Blush end of the spectrum, Republicans who still need to squat closer to the middle for their own survival.

To update Marx — yes, let’s go there! — Republican power contains the seeds of its own destruction.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. While we were growing up, the dominant political theology was two-party centrism: In the competition for power, both parties would run toward the middle to claim the most votes, giving swing voters an effective veto against extremists at either end. Play too much to your Party Loonies, saith the Gospel, and the Fickle Middle flees to the other team.

Thus, Barry Goldwater and George McGovern were trounced, and the Gods were appeased.

(Oh, and LBJ and Nixon were subsequently dashed upon the rocks, but that’s a different chapter.)

The corollary was that both parties would also hold the center while governing, even to the point of — please, sit down — compromising with their opponents to achieve at least some portion of their desired goals. This is the source of enduring Pundit Wet Dreams about Grand Bargains that we’ve been suffering for decades.

Honestly, incessant Gipper & Tip anecdotes make us want to drown puppies.

But if you paint your opponents as the Devil Incarnate for the sake of achieving power, you’re not going to see compromise as a welcome solution in a pinch. And if you’re successful enough to change the conditions of your future elections — not just through gerrymandering, but by denying the Franchise to voters you don’t like — you won’t have to worry about compromise to begin with.

You also won’t get anything done, but that’s somebody else’s problem.

As it happens — as we’re seeing — even with all the power our Constitution affords a party with sole control of all branches of government, that power is still not unlimited. Judges can get in the way, citizens cannot be ignored entirely. and mere competence still counts for something. The system may not be functioning as intended, but its dysfunction is sparing us the worst consequences.

And besides, if it comes down to it, there’s always heads on pikes.

16 comments:

9:24 am • Saturday • March 25, 2017

“None of you seem to understand. I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with *ME*!”
-Every numbskull extreme RW Voter to GOP (from Watchmen actually)

11:15 am • Saturday • March 25, 2017

1. Racism is the most powerful political force in this KKKountry. There’s simply no other explanation for how a party as corrupt, incompetent, and destructive as the GOP continues to win elections on the backs of far-white voters who’re voting against their own interests and sanity. Exhibit A: Kansas and Oklahoma. Both are in apocalyptic budget crises due to tax cuts for the rich and are one recession away from becoming failed states.

2. Maybe the media will now stop pretending that Paul Ryan is a “policy wonk” rather than a 1% shill or “a stupid person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like.”

3. The emperor has no clothes, obviously. Epic, coked-out twitstorm ‘sploding at 3 am.

As a bonus, it sure will be fun watching Tantrum Spice ragesplaining his way outta this one.

11:27 am • Saturday • March 25, 2017

Aw, man. Hating on Drunkard Tip? Damn.

1:23 pm • Saturday • March 25, 2017

@JNOV: Not Tip himself, but the constant, contextless recital of his dealings with Reagan as a standard by which all else is measured.

It’s like the constant treatment of Ryan as a Policy Wonk, when everything he does is simply redistribution to the wealthy. Conventional Wisdom gets tiresome.

1:46 pm • Saturday • March 25, 2017

@nojo: Yup. I like his stories about getting drunk, paying cards and smoking cigars with Rs. That there is true bonding, possibly being less inhibited and definitely bitching about the job.

Meanwhile, I’m in a fucking flame war with my cousin’s husband. They praised God on their walls when the 49ers lost because God punished Colin Kaepernick because he took a knee during the National Anthem. For people who love liberty so much, they’re kinda confused.

1:50 pm • Saturday • March 25, 2017

AND THEN HE TOLD ME TO READ THE BIBLE. I was like, how do you think I became a Progressive?

Matthew 25:40 King James Version (KJV)

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

1:51 pm • Saturday • March 25, 2017

FB BREAK!

2:08 pm • Saturday • March 25, 2017

@JNOV: I love quoting KJV. RSV takes all the grandeur out of it. And the fun.

2:24 pm • Saturday • March 25, 2017

@¡Andrew!: It appears Ezra Klein remains among the Ryan fluffers, which helps explain why I’ve never trusted his judgment. He specializes in Vacuous Earnestness masquerading as insight.

5:00 pm • Saturday • March 25, 2017

Shields & Brooks was pretty funny last night. UCLA basketball, not so much.

8:39 pm • Saturday • March 25, 2017

@nojo: I raised him well:

JNOV JR: It’s also worth it to note that the Bible not only condones free handouts, but mandates them.

“When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.”

-Leviticus 23:22

Me: You better have been using the KJV. That doesn’t sound like KJV to me, son. May I call you that? [my cousin was pissed a friend called him “son”]

Jr: UGH

Jr: FINE

Jr: “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God.”

“And, verily, the Lord said, unto [our cousin]: Swive thyself, my son.”

::mic drop::

Nothing like trolling your cousins. One of them likes the banter. The uber religious one? Not so much.

9:08 pm • Saturday • March 25, 2017

@JNOV: We did Skin of Our Teeth in high school. Near the end, one of the characters recites some KJV Genesis as things come crashing down, and the duty fell upon me. In retrospect, that may have been what hooked me: Like all good poetry, you have to feel it in your mouth.

1:21 am • Sunday • March 26, 2017

@nojo: I love it. I do tire of the begatting, but, you know, gotta trace the lineage back to King David.

DUCKS! And y’all thought I was crazy.

2:23 am • Sunday • March 26, 2017

@JNOV: Well, no cable or Internet at the time, so they had to stretch their stories.

12:04 pm • Sunday • March 26, 2017

@nojo: Dude. The Trilateral Commission Duck guy’s name is John Dick.

12:05 pm • Sunday • March 26, 2017

And he’s very tall…

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