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Everyone is delivering post-mortems on Tuesday’s elections, so for what it’s worth, here’s mine: Despite some bitter disappointments and lost ground in the Senate, Democrats won a huge victory. They broke the Republican monopoly on federal power, and that’s a very big deal for an administration that has engaged in blatant corruption and abuse of power, in the belief that an impenetrable red wall would always protect it from accountability. They also made major gains at the state level, which will have a big impact on future elections.
But given this overall success, how do we explain those Senate losses? Many people have pointed out that this year’s Senate map was unusually bad for Democrats, consisting disproportionately of states Donald Trump won in 2016. But there was actually a deeper problem, one that will pose long-term problems, not just for Democrats, but for the legitimacy of our whole political system. For economic and demographic trends have interacted with political change to make the Senate deeply unrepresentative of American reality.
In mob movies they call it “going to the mattresses” — getting ready for war.
One day after voters put an end to unaccountable, strongman-style, one-party rule in Washington, Trump moved to cover his flank. He shoved out Attorney General Jeff Sessions and installed a replacement, Matthew G. Whitaker, who has publicly warned special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to stay away from Trump family business dealings. The sudden switch was clear proof of who was the big winner in Tuesday’s election — and who was the big loser.
Trump understands power. He knows now that the resistance has a lot of it.
Pay no attention to anyone who whines that “well, yes, the Democrats did manage to take the House, but they didn’t . . . ” and then goes on to bemoan Beto O’Rourke’s loss in Texas or one of the other near misses. A bigger wave would have been nice, but control of the House was the big enchilada of this election, and Democrats grabbed it. Trump’s life is about to change in ways he will not like.
We hold elections so that voters can make a choice between alternatives. Therefore, the most fundamental task in counting votes is to produce a result that voters are confident is the choice that they collectively made, even if individually they preferred a different result.
For the most part, American democracy has passed this basic test this year. We may have ongoing concerns about the gerrymandering of House districts. We may even doubt that it’s fair for each state to have two senators regardless of population. But those issues concern the structure of the elections, which should be determined in advance of the elections. When it comes to the integrity of the elections under those structures, the candidates who won on Tuesday generally received the most votes in their respective races.
But “generally” is not the same as “always.” There is one high-profile election in particular for which the verdict remains out: Georgia’s race for governor.
The acting attorney general of the United States is a crackpot.
Matthew G. Whitaker, installed in the job by President Trump to replace Jeff Sessions, was asked in 2014, during an ill-fated run in the Republican senatorial primary in Iowa, about the worst decisions in the Supreme Court’s history. Whitaker’s answer, to an Iowa blog called Caffeinated Thoughts, was chilling.
“There are so many,” he replied. “I would start with the idea of Marbury v. Madison. That’s probably a good place to start and the way it’s looked at the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of constitutional issues. We’ll move forward from there. All New Deal cases that were expansive of the federal government. Those would be bad. Then all the way up to the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate.”
Reasonable people can differ over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Maybe there’s some space to debate the New Deal-era cases that cemented the authority of the regulatory state. But Marbury? This is lunacy. For any lawyer — certainly for one now at the helm of the Justice Department — to disagree with Marbury is like a physicist denouncing the laws of gravity.
source link Victoria SAnford: ‘Criminals?’ Hardly. That’s Who the Caravan Flees.
As thousands of Honduran migrants seeking asylum in the United States trek northward through Mexico, President Trump has pledged to stop them at the border by militarizing it with armed federal troops, under the guise of protecting Americans from “criminals” and an “invasion.”
What he fails to recognize is that cruelty won’t solve the current refugee crisis. Neither will buddying up with authoritarian leaders in Central America. Instead, those two strategies only deepen the crisis, because criminality and misrule are exactly what the caravan is fleeing.
What Mr. Trump calls an invasion is actually the visible face of a deadly crisis of governance and violence in almost all of Central America — a retreat from the rule of law in favor of rule by corruption and criminality abetted by officials with impunity.