If there is one thing this election has made clear is that Republicans cannot be trusted. They are a crazy death cult of the Trump and the Karen’s. And a threat to America’s survival as a democratic state. The poll defying margin came about because Biden made the same mistake Hilary did, he appealed to the republicans better nature, hoping that he could win them over. Well it didn’t work, they dithered and voted for Trump anyway.
The RNC meet to discuss the election results
Which just tells me that any talk of bipartisanship is wasted breath (other than to lay a trap for the republicans and force them to expose how fanatically crazy they now are). If the democrats want to save America from lurching towards some dystopian future (Handmaiden’s tale, Man in the High Castle, Black Mirror, take your pick), then they need to act quickly.
Packing the Supreme court…or more precisely unpacking it of nutters
Predictably the republicans, having spent 2016 arguing that under no circumstances should a supreme court justice be sworn in during an election year, while complaining about the ideology of Obama’s picks. Then, being their usual hypocritical selves, they go and appoint an wholly unsuitable nut job as to the supreme court in the dying days of a Trump administration that’s going down in flames. This will leave conservatives with a 6-3 majority and raises the risk of policies such as Roe v’s Wade being overturned or Obamacare being undone in the middle of a pandemic.
And to be clear, this is a very deliberate strategy on the part of the American right. They know that demographics are against them. The GOP represent an ageing and ever decreasing pool of angry racist boomers. By contrast, a significant proportion of Americans actually support many left wing policies. The GOP can only hold power in the US due to the decidedly unfair way its election system works. Trump finished behind Hilary by 2.5 million votes and still won. And few thousand votes here and there he could have finished 5 million votes behind Biden and still clung to power. The republicans have gerrymandered congressional districts to make sure they can similarly gain control of congress with a minority of votes. Rigging the supreme court ensures they can block unfavourable legislation even after their voting base has shrunk to the stage that they can’t hold onto power anymore.
In most countries politicians vet and/or veto supreme court justices, they don’t pick them (a panel of legal experts do that). Indeed one of the situations where they are supposed to veto a justice is if its clear the nominee holds particularly strong political views on a controversial topic such as abortion. In Ireland for example, government’s have collapsed and the careers of leading politicians have been ruined by efforts to get an inappropriate justice on the bench (because its understood by all parties that this is beyond the pale of acceptable behaviour).
Now granted Biden Mr Vanilla could look at impeaching some of the justices Trump has appointed (they have pretty shady pasts) or otherwise force them out, but frankly that takes too long and could get messy (they’ll run down the clock hoping to get enough control on the senate at the mid terms to stop it). It is a case of fighting fire with fire. Straight out of the block in January, I’d pack the court with new justices, neither liberal nor right wing, but some sort of genuine commitment to law and order, 4 more should do it, that would make it an even 6-7 split (between sensible people and nutters).
FDR famously used the threat of court packing to convince several biased justices to resign and restore balance to the Supreme Court
And too be fair, its a fool’s errant to repeal Roe v’s Wade. What would be the outcome? Some states would ban abortion yes, meaning back alley abortion clinics would open the next day (you’d be going from a regulated setup to an unregulated free for all, who’ll give an abortion even after a mother’s waters have broken). And legal ones will pop up just over the state line, in the nearest blue states or across the border in Canada.
Worst still by re-opening Roe v’s Wade would set a dangerous legal precedent. It means any other ruling can be re-evaluated. And while the democrat’s don’t want that, the republican’s really don’t want that. Have they considered what would happen should the court ever return to liberal control? For example we have Santa Clara v’s Southern Pacific (which establishes the person-hood of corporations) or various rulings that allowed the carrying of firearms in public (as I mentioned in prior posts, in the old west many towns had strict gun laws, indeed open carry laws are really only a recent phenomenon). If Roe v’s Wade can be overturned, so can anything.
And I’d say the democrats should make it clear, they won’t spare the rod, if Roe v’s Wade goes, then as soon as they’ve got control again, every other ruling will be up for review, especially if it relates to conservative sacred cows like gun control.
Also there could be procedural benefits to having extra justices. It would mean that the court can hold more cases, with smaller groups of justices presiding, only referring the case to a full sitting as and when needed (and my guess is that as this involves a lot of hard work, and many of Trump’s appointees are dangerously under-qualified, they’ will quickly be out of their depth and retire early).
Subverting the electoral college
Longer term the priority for the democrats should be reform. Once the court is balanced again, take away the president’s power to nominate justices (he/she is reduced to simply vetoing an unsuitable candidate on the advice of the senate, as is the case in most other countries). And swap the US electoral system to one using proportional representation rather than First-past-the-post. Plus henceforth the person who gets the most votes (as Hilary did in 2016 and Gore did in 2000) gets to be president, no more electoral college.
But of course, that would require constitutional amendments, which the GOP will block at the state level. And, like I said, there’s no point appealing to republican’s better nature, they don’t have one. So again we fight fire with fire. There is for example a sneaky plan to subvert the electoral college (NPVIC) and turn it against itself (as states are free to vote for whomever they want as president, it means a controlling number of states can simply agree to all vote for the winner of the popular vote, regardless of which way the vote goes in each state). Democrats should make it a priority to drive this through.
NPVIC does actually enjoy some bi-partisan support, which will likely be enhanced by the recent election results, of course the RNC will still oppose it!
The more the merrier….and less crazy!
Next we could look at adding more states. DC could be granted state hood, along with Puerto Rico. But why stop there? What about American Samoa, Guam, or the Virgin Islands? In short you could add 10-12 extra senate seats that will almost always go democrat (or at worst a sensible republican). This would mean that the natural buoyancy of the senate, which is currently tilted towards the republicans, would instead now tilt in favour of the democrats.
Of course the GOP can still filibuster certain bills. So we might need to add a couple more senate seats. There was a proposal to split California into 6 separate states. A perhaps less radical solution would be an even split down the middle mid-way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. This would basically create two California’s, which both predominantly still vote democrat adding two extra senate seats.
A lot of red states have the strange situation where you’ll have a large liberal leaning city (Kansas city or Austin Texas being good examples) in the middle of red-neck Trump country. How about encouraging those cities to secede from their states and become their own mini city-state? And the supreme court trying to overturn Roe v’s Wade or Obamacare would be the perfect excuse to do so (as such cities could argue they want to allow both of these policies within the city limits).
Kansas city, which represents nearly half of the state’s population (including those technically in Arkansas its actually closer to 70% of the state’s population) tends to vote democrat, but gets drowned out by the rural red voters, so all of the electoral college votes and senators end up being republican. How is that fair?
This could create another few dozen senate seats, pushing things towards a default two-thirds majority for the democrats (or more accurately a 2/3’s majority of sensible people v’s nut jobs). Meaning the democrats will not only control the appointment of supreme court justices (and if the GOP block attempts to reform it with sensible justices, then I’d recommend appointing the youngest liberal left wing loonies you can find just to wind them up). And the democrats will also be able to override filibusters and pass bill after bill without delay, undoing several decades of republicanism in a few short months.
And adding more states, some of them quite populous and left leaning, means that the natural buoyancy of the electoral college will also change. While, as noted, republicans can now win without a majority of voters (well short of one in fact). In this scenario, there will be far more electoral college votes in the safe democrat column. Meaning the GOP will have to get a majority of votes to win (and pretty much take all the swing states too), while the democrat’s won’t have too.
No more Trump’s
Of course, all this would mean, soon it would be republicans scrambling to pass NPVIC, judicial reform and pushing for proportional representation. Which is precisely the point of all of the above – get the GOP to sabotage their own dirty work. But that only gets the GOP back to a level playing field. Which is the problem for them. They can’t win on a level playing field, not if while fielding extremist candidates that only appeal to angry racists and boomers.
The only way they’d stand a chance after such reforms would be with moderate republican candidates, who have enough broad appeal to win (you know like the candidates they used to field before the southern strategy). In other words, there will never be another Trump, nor any other alt-right or religious right candidate.