I’ve moved to Substack to write about multi-majoritarian democracy. You should join me.

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If you’ve been following me you know that I’ve enjoyed writing about the U.S. Senate, the States, multi-majoritarian democracy and sometimes the media.

Well, I’ll be moving most of my writing over to Substack where I’ve started Statehood, an antidote to toxic political nationalization. I’ll be be writing here less often and to the extent that I do it’ll probably be about the media — another interest of mine as I work to start a new publication that takes some of the problems with journalism today.

That said, I encourage you to visit statehood.substack.com and take advantage of the limited time offer where you can subscribe for just $0.50/cents …


Americans are getting a better look at the crucial function the States serve by design especially, though not exclusively, in the absence of leadership in the federal executive

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At the height of American central authority, a botched response has revealed itself amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The lacking federal response contrasts action states, corporations and the public have taken to band together to “flatten the curve” and save lives. In a hyper-nationalized media environment it can be easy to mistake subnational action as a mere contingency to federal inaction. The states are the heart of American democracy. Contrary to the country’s domestic detractors, federalism is not the holdover relic from the union’s founding, nor ought it be an exclusively conservative value especially in our current moment. Federalism today is the single best check the people have on Washington’s world class, cross-partisan insularity. …


Donald Trump learned to take credit for things he didn’t do as president by a media establishment that falsely attributes authoritarian economic influence to the presidency.

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In a visit last month, Donald Trump tours an Apple manufacturing plan in Austin, Texas with CEO Tim Cook.

One of the distinct features of the Trump presidency is its collision with long-held pretenses, particularly when it comes to the executive’s influence over job creation and the national economy. A telling example was on display last month when Trump visited Austin to tour the re-opening of an Apple manufacturing plant with Apple CEO Tim Cook. Afterward, Trump took to Twitter to claim personal credit for the plant, attributing it to his campaign to return jobs to the United States.

“Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America. Today Nancy Pelosi closed Congress because she doesn’t care about American Workers!” …


The political winds are beginning to again blow at Senate Democrats’ back. Will they seize the opportunity?

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Since 1981, and counting through to January 2021, Republicans will have held the United States Senate for two years longer while Democrats will have enjoyed longer and larger majorities. Democrats will also have been the only party to not once, but twice, earn filibuster-proof supermajorities since Senate rules were revised in 1975. Yet, there’s a perception among some progressives that despite having dominated the chamber nine years ago, Democrats have the deck stacked against them.

The line adopted by mainstream outlets in near unison has been that Republicans have a “structural advantage” in the Senate. Critics posit that since ostensibly Republican constituencies are distributed across more rural states and constituencies ostensibly favoring Democrats are concentrated in fewer urbanized states, this gives Republicans less of a reason to compete in blue states and places more pressure on Democrats to compete in red states. The data points to a much more mundane conclusion insofar as Democrats’ minority status follows contemporary electoral history and is key to understanding how Democrats win back the Senate. …


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A moment I captured in May 2018 when Austinites across the community came out to celebrate Richard Overton’s birthday, who was then the world’s oldest living World War II veteran at 112. Overton passed away that December.

Discord between Americans is already competently being sown by national media outlets across racial, gender and class lines. Belonging to one or another either places one on the right or wrong side of history. Another dividing line has become age. A New York Times article published recently claims the beginning of a generational conflict, but that exists to no discernibly greater extent than the past.

The article represents an approach to invoking generational differences and centers around “Ok boomer”, a retort members of Generation-Z and millennials have deployed against baby boomers who have derided younger generations. One person is selling apparel featuring the phrase. …


America isn’t normal.

There’s a special arrogance that comes with founding, for the first time in human history, a nation based on the premise that for thousands of years civilization had it wrong about the polity’s relationship with authority. What we today conceive of as rights were all but non-sequiturs to a time where nobody even knew they could proclaim the right to rights that limited authority. In smaller words, nobody knew how this shit was going to turn out. …


A modest majority have lived in 20 percent of the States since the Founding — and that isn’t projected to dramatically change in the next three decades.

Is the concentration of people in a handful of states a new phenomenon that’s attributed to mass urbanization over the course of the last few decades? Easily accessible U.S. Census data says it’s been around for a while.

As you’ll see in the chart below, since practically the founding of the country, two-thirds of the country has lived in 30 percent of the states and about half have lived in 20 percent of the states. Though this distribution isn’t as extreme as the 80–20 Pareto principle, it is yet another example of an organic occurrence.

Currently, I’m researching the historical political dynamics of each state. The country is a union of states and understanding past and present trends — and how they contradict our national-level conceptions — will provide a clearer understanding of how the people we elect are representatives of the states and the people who elect them. …


Yes, that’s adjusted for inflation

Bloomberg published a story Thursday going into a little bit more detail about the sorts of middle class tax hikes would be required to fund the Medicare-for-all plan Bernie Sanders’ has been touting since his last presidential run. Those middle-class tax hikes would be in addition to tax hikes on the wealthy and an increase of the payroll tax from 15 percent to 45 percent.

Though Sanders has not explicitly called for a payroll tax hike, it’s nearly impossible to see how Medicare-for-all finds funding apart from tripling the income and corporate tax rate for virtually every tax bracket.

The report mentions that in 2017 Sanders released options for funding the program including “a wealth tax, a bank levy, and having employers and employees pay premiums”. This list amounted to $16.2 trillion, half the cost of the program over 10 years. The $32 trillion figure the Urban Institute estimates includes additional costs required for the existing Medicaid and Medicare systems. …


Biden’s campaign underscores the dissonance between the media’s portrayal of Democratic voters and an actual electorate less interested in identity and ideological politics.

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One of the things that will be different about this Democratic primary is its coverage in a national news environment that is more fragmented, more polarized, more driven by identity politics, more to blame than the president for the nation’s division — and ultimately less reflective of the public than it was three years ago. There’s no candidacy that may better highlight the rift between the media’s portrayal of the electorate and the actual electorate than that of Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

Last week, the former vice president’s announcement to unseat Donald Trump squarely focused on American values, quoting that “all men are created equal” from the Declaration of Independence, and that Donald Trump’s desecration of those words including in his equivocated response to Charlottesville represents a “battle for the soul of America”. …


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Next year, Republicans will be defending 22 seats in the United States Senate versus the Democrats’ 12 seats. Will Donald Trump’s lagging popularity and an especially enthusiastic Democratic Party looking to unseat him have enough downstream effects to help Democrats earn a Senate majority?

It’s too early to tell, of course. But one thing applies regardless: Great candidates can win, and great candidates win when they can both represent a party’s choice for the seat while earning the trust of the people of that state. Ten years ago, Democrats were better at appealing to voters in states including South Dakota, Iowa, Louisiana, Arkansas and Nebraska — all states that once were represented by at least one Democrat in the U.S. Senate. …

About

Robert Showah

Writing about the States and the U.S. Senate, and sometimes the media industry.

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