Democrats Should Weaponize Federalism

As the euphoria fades, reality sets in. America remains divided geographically, with no relief from our partisan stalemate on the horizon. If we want to hold the republic together, we need to get creative.

In only five states was the outcome within a 2% range. The overwhelming majority of Americans live in places where the election wasn’t close, well over a 10% blowout in most states. At no point since the Antebellum years has our partisan divide been so entrenched and so geographically defined. This is dangerous, but the framers gave us tools to manage it.

There’s a little-noted firewall protecting Republican politicians from the consequences of their rhetoric. Embedded protections at the federal level mean red-state voters never feel the full consequences of electing idiots. No one pays for the stupidity of Republican economic policy because Congressional stalemate and the Federal bureaucracy block Republicans from creating the dystopia of their dreams.

Want to rescue America? Embrace a soft secession. Frederick the Great once explained, “defending everything defends nothing.” Stop trying to civilize the red states. Instead, embrace the progress that can be achieved at state levels. Remove the blue state welfare system that insulates rural white Republicans from the consequences of their politics. The stark geographic split in our politics is as much an opportunity as a threat. Earn progressive policy wins for blue states by offering Republicans the chance to live in the country they’re trying to create. If Democrats truly believe in the power of their policies, they should be ready to weaponize federalism.

A fault line runs beneath Republican’s regional dominance – all of their policies are wildly unpopular, even with their own voters. Whites in Nebraska and West Virginia are voting for Republicans because they promise to preserve whites’ prestige and power, even while those elected officials vote against every other priority those voters care about.

Voters in deep red states represented by hard-line GOP leaders who opposed the ACA: Utah, Idaho, Nebraska, Missouri and Oklahoma, have passed referendums to embrace the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Florida voted for Donald Trump, and for a proposal to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour. Voters in deep red states like North Dakota and Mississippi have rejected anti-abortion “personhood” referendums. South Dakota and Montana legalized recreational marijuana. Mississippi downgraded marijuana possession penalties. Arizona passed a sizable income tax increase to pay for education.

Use federalism to exploit the disconnect between the priorities of Republican politicians and the priorities of their voters. Pass progressive policies in the House with state-level opt-out provisions. In some cases, sweeten those bills with offers Republican elected officials (and their donors) can’t refuse, but their voters will hate. Bait Republican Senators into passing them.

Pass a national $15/hour minimum wage bill. To lure Republicans into backing it, offer opt-outs that would let Republicans realize one of their most fantastic dreams, elimination of the minimum wage in their states. Republican Senators would jump at the opportunity. Bait Republican Governors or Legislatures into stripping wage protections from workers and watch what happens at election time.

Reform Medicare by allowing Americans of any age to buy into the system on an income-adjusted premium, averaging around $400/month for a family earning $80,000 a year, down to $50 for those under $30,000. It could be as simple as that. Leave private insurance alone. This would also eliminate the need for Medicaid, as the income-adjustment would simply pick up the Medicaid scale and incorporate those patients into Medicare. Pay for that (easily) with an additional 2% federal income tax on incomes over $200,000. Republicans would block this, right? Maybe not.

Offer Republicans a state-level opt out provision which grants those opt-out states the right to pass up the additional upper-income tax increase and receive all of their Medicare & Medicaid taxes as a block grant. In other words, dangle in front of them the chance to eliminate Medicare and Medicaid in their states. Would they turn that down? Hell no.

Don’t miss one of the hidden benefits in this calculus. Cutting red states off from the Medicare system would save billions of dollars in subsidies that currently flow from the much-wealthier Democratic states to poorer Republican states. Not only could Democrats finally deliver affordable, quality, universal health care to their voters, they would make the whole system cheaper.

Most importantly, Republican elected officials would finally face the consequences of their politics. What would happen to Republican politicians in Ohio when voters next door in Pennsylvania suddenly had access to cheap universal health care? What would happen to those voters when no worker in neighboring Pennsylvania was earning less than a living wage?

This policy jujitsu could work all over the issue spectrum in areas where the executive branch can’t operate without legislative approval. Legalize marijuana and include specific opt-out provisions for states (even though that’s a bit of a fiction). Pass a version of the green new deal with aggressive standards and a massive jobs package and let states opt out of it, and its jobs. Even if every red state opted out, in a short time the progress in development of green energy project elsewhere would wreck carbon extraction industries while employment shifted to renewables. Let them have the world they want.

Pass a sweeping COVID-19 response including a mask mandate, a temporary targeted lockdown, higher unemployment subsidies, contact tracing and job supports. Let red states opt out. Watch what happens when Mississippi voters don’t get their check. Pass plans to make college education and community college free and slash student debt while letting red states opt out of this dirty socialism. Place bait on that hook by offering opt-out states compromises on charter schools or some other stupid Republican priority. Adopt Biden’s impressive unemployment insurance reforms by offering Republicans an opt-out allowing them to gut their states’ unemployment insurance systems.

Would it be cruel to let red states fall behind? No, it’s democracy and it’s entirely fair. At some point it becomes a message of simple respect for democracy and the continuation of the American project. One of the reasons racist whites sit beyond the feedback loop, immunized from the consequences of their choices, is that Democrats haven’t let them experience the consequences of their choices. Let red states live in the country their leaders want to create, to the extent possible without dragging down other states.

Will consequences fail to change the minds of red state voters? Who cares, as long as the rest of the country is set free to build a future. Besides, there’s an arrogance in assuming that California’s way is the only way. It makes sense that states, and their voters, should have more freedom to set their own course where that course doesn’t undermine others.

We can hold the country together and potentially soften the impact of our political divide by granting states more rights and more consequences. Odds are, this will inspire a revolt in Baptistan as soft R voters wake up to the consequences of their choices, but perhaps it won’t. It doesn’t matter. Win where you can win. Achieve progress where it’s available, and let Republicans live in their own mess. It’s a small price to pay to avoid a second Civil War.

51 Comments

  1. If there is one thing that rings true after watching for decades the world as a whole slowly settle into the morass it is the tragedy that democracy does not work.

    There have been bright spots over the decades, like the Berlin Wall falling, and all that signified.

    But ultimately, humanity’s political and economic world is a nightmare, let alone the biosphere. Two of the three largest military forces are in the hands of dictators, and the 3rd is teetering towards permanency. It is already too late to fight global warming, which is going to have consequences that will lead to nuclear war (yeah, Pakistan and India will get on great when the Indus River systems really start drying up). Most of us will see the first trillionaire in our lifetime, while billions starve.

    Is democracy, in a purely academic sense, the best system we have? Of course. But the laboratory conditions needed for democracy to function just don’t exist in the real world.

    Is there a well-educated electorate with at least a decent floor of knowledge in history plus current events?
    Are “news sources” beholden to only report verifiable facts to the electorate?
    Is there the potential for every person’s vote to actually matter?
    Is there the potential for upward mobility, because the economic and political system is egalitarian?

    The irony is that to create the true conditions for democracy to flourish an utterly ruthless tyrant must take charge and do oh so many undemocratic things, horrible things, to sweep away the rot, at least for a little while:

    A huge arbitrary redistribution of wealth.
    Universal health care.
    Mandated standardized and higher standards of minimum education.
    The obliteration of many sources of lies pushed out by “news sources”.
    A return to fewer sources of news, but all mandated to provide only fact checked articles, or be treated harshly.
    The permanent removal of all social media platforms.
    Mass executions of fascists and religious fanatics, who would fight these changes tooth and nail.
    And lastly, after doing all this, the tyrant then must relinquish all that power to the masses.

  2. So, my two counter-arguments to these are as such:

    The Republicans will take the block grants and exceptions in law. They _will not_ activate them. The entire point of taking away benefits is to take them away from blue states, not their states. So they’ll claim they did the work they did, without actually fundamentally changing any of the distribution. Then they get to claim that the block grants and exceptions work, even though they were never used, and that their solution was the correct one the entire time, and was only held up until the Democrats saw the Lord and finally changed their mind, proving that Republican obstructionism is the way to go.

    The Republican voters, not losing a single thing but hearing that they won everything, continue to support the Republicans, and the blue states continue to support the red.

    Meanwhile the liberals and progressives are furious at the Democrats for conceding on ‘fundamental labor and health rights’. So long Blue Wall or even building one for the future.

    OR;

    say the Republicans actually do do the dumb thing of actually removing benefits from their constituencies. Firstly, those constituencies don’t seem to be particularly eager to connect “my life falling apart” with “my Red Team giving the taxes meant for my healthcare to his rich friend.” They just refuse to do that, as DECADES have shown.

    This means the red states get meaningfully poorer. Their fault? We who sit on this site just shrugging and saying “We told you so?”

    Maybe. But poverty has a way of bringing down everything else around it as well. It’s not really possible to ‘ghettoize’ it the way it tends to be treated. In those pockets of poverty develop even more rapid and rabid terrorists, for one, who would be very very much less interested in debating ‘opt-in/opt-out’ legislation and more interested in digging mass graves for those Satanist pedophile Blue Team.

    What’s the difference from now? Comfort. It’s easy to prance around the woods pretending you’re some heroic soldier when you’re fat and happy. Start actually starving, and now you want to kill someone.

    As their lives become more brutal, so they will extend that brutality beyond their borders.

    ———————–

    I don’t have a solution, mostly because even though I was emotionally girded for the possibility of 45 being re-elected, it’s meaningful that 70million Americans would vote for someone so clearly, obviously bad at everything AND malevolent that it shows I personally cannot understand them on an emotional or political level. Why would I pretend to know how to deal with them either way, punitively or productively or otherwise? I don’t know.

    What I know is that no matter what happens, my job is protecting my communities. I will not settle for a Democrat who sells anyone I care for out for a political win, and I will not let the Republicans continue to target them.

    1. My husband and I just had this argument. He agrees with you that some voters are too stupid or deluded to connect the consequences of their vote with their own suffering. He is also more convinced of an eventual ‘spiral to civil war’ on those grounds. I am a little more hopeful that giving the states more power may motivate the millions sitting on the bench to step up and make better choices for their communities.

      But let’s say I’m wrong.

      In that case, if I am going to face the prospect of a red v blue civil war, then I would rather fight it by providing prosperity to blue country and see it face off against poor, starving and sickly red country.

      On your Blue Wall note, I consider myself a leftist and I live in deep red Tennessee. I am perfectly ok with this plan, despite the fact it will hurt this state. It is what they think they want, so let them have it. Who know, maybe it will wake up the ~2 million eligible voters who aren’t registered.

  3. Looks like you will be a busy writer of posts in the coming days Chris. So barr walks into mcconnel’s office, and comes out tight-lipped. A couple hours later the psycho from kentucky states on the Senate floor that he is 100% behind the tyrant’s efforts.

    Given that mcconnel is way smarter than the tyrant, and any of the dem’s, and plays the long game version of politics, what does this mean? If much of the establishment republican apparatus is supposedly peeling away from the tyrant, why is the master of evil sticking with him?

    My only interpretation of this is that this “election” is a long way from over, and like I have said before, SCOTUS is going to settle it. Are there other possible outcomes?

  4. Not everyone in the red states votes red. Not everyone in those red states is white, nor is everyone in those states rural.

    I don’t like the idea of throwing the blue-voting people oppressed by red states under the bus for 2-4 years. I especially don’t like that the idea is based on a gamble that white working-class Republicans will unite with the people who vote blue to give their elected leaders the boot and turn the red states blue.

    There’s arrogance in assuming California’s way is the only way, yes. But there’s also arrogance (not to mention more than a hint of malice) in this sort of “Screw Jesusland”, “Red States Get What They Deserve” rhetoric. And your gamble is also assuming that the people in red states who voted blue in this latest election would vote blue again, or at all, after the blue party threw them to the wolves. Based on the rising left-populism here in the U.S., I’d say that these next bunch of years are the Democrat’s last chance. The electorate wouldn’t look kindly on a bunch of Democrats who “compromised” in political gamesmanship that they knew would screw over a ton of poor people in red states in pursuit of long-term gain.

      1. Condemning millions of people to serfdom and second-class citizenry through blatant “screw you, got mine” pragmatism and political gamesmanship, the likes of which those millions of people will be able to see clear as day, won’t save anybody either.

    1. Personally, I think states that wish to govern should focus on what they need to do so. There are limitations, but I think they’re rather smaller than what people might think.

      Medicaid is pretty good, Nevada was trying to do Medicaid buy-in (died at the hands of a Republican governor) and try again. But it needs a tax exclusion, as private insurance gets, to be on a fair playing field. Allow for supplemental and/or duplicative insurance and you have a pretty decent floor for insurance quality and coverage. It would be nice if ACA credits, Medicare funding, and CHIP were likewise consolidated into a grant to simplify, but I’d think there’s wiggle room here.

      Social Security and Medicare are substantially fine, no need to mess with these.

      A UBI is doable, you can couple it with a consumption tax or payroll tax. But you cannot so easily avoid an extra round of federal income taxation this way, unless you route it through TANF, which is substantially state-run but does have that “T”, “N”, and even “F” as a hook for Federal interference. So a tweak there would be nice. It might be even nicer to amortize administrative complexity to Social Security.

      Somewhat harder is labor classification, which deprives states of the useful payroll tax to fund social insurance. Fixing the 1099 is a tougher lift.

      Also difficult is regulation. I think courts, which are immune to election and public opinion (quite well understood by Republican Senators) that have been carefully cultivated by donors will be a problem there.

      Nevertheless, in quite areas of social insurance, all of these things are in principle possible without Republican states or interests conceding much of anything, really. And yet, I’m quite pessimistic that they would play ball.

      1. Medicaid is a nightmare. Just finding a doctor is nearly impossible in many places. Wait times and quality of care are abysmal. Many of the doctors who accept it are…shall we say…not the best.

        Medicare is fine. But the safety net we have in place currently for the poor is a horror show. This is part of the reason the poor are souring on the Democratic Party. The median Democrat has no idea what their lives are like. It’s like being governed by some mostly benevolent empire halfway around the world that doesn’t speak your language.

      2. Medicaid has important structural elements:

        It is run by states substantially, first and foremost. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. That is related to the argument.

        Supply problems, exacerbated by cartel actions by, say, the American Association of Medical Colleges, have more to do with having a tough time finding a doctor in some areas inclined to accept the rate.

        Rates can be increased to improve Medicaid coverage, and will have to be increased in any case because, as-is, Medicaid is informally cross-subsidized by private insurance at the provider end.

        It is also more comprehensive than Medicare, and includes important elements like long term care.

        Medicaid is structurally fine, doubly so for the federalist argument. Apply taxes and put it on even footing with private insurance as far as tax exclusion goes.

        The main advantage of Medicare is it doesn’t rely on sometimes weak state governments (per the post), and that seniors are very good at pressing the “apply money” button.

      3. And of course, the ur-Medicaid weakness is that it *is* for the poor. But a broader base ia buy-in plus responsive state government should fix a lot of it. And sometimes the Federal hook is damaging. California tops up Medicaid another third from our taxes, and harvests another 15% from fees.

        “$98.5 billion in fiscal year 2018–19, with the federal government providing $62.7 billion, the state General Fund $20.7 billion, and other state sources—including funds generated by provider fees and transfers from local governments—another $15.1 billion.”

        You need to do that stuff to make Medicaid any good, but hey, this is the Federalism post. The main thing we need to do is broaden the base (buy-in is a workable mechanism, some policy makers think) and make a smooth system for supplemental and/or duplicative insurance for those who make more and want more, combined with their “public basic” plan, aka Medicaid without means tests.

    2. *I don’t like the idea of throwing the blue-voting people oppressed by red states under the bus for 2-4 years.*

      As one of those leftists/blue voters in deep red Tennessee, I’m going to have to disagree with you here. Things suck for poor minority people in Tennessee now and they always have, cutting off these lifelines and Federal buffers will make things suck for more WHITE people.

      *But there’s also arrogance (not to mention more than a hint of malice) in this sort of “Screw Jesusland”, “Red States Get What They Deserve” rhetoric.*

      Rather than being malicious, I think this proposal is a reasoned turn in strategy. This path would lessen the blue/red tension by giving red states what they want, rather than California telling them how things should be done. It is up to the electorate then to make changes, if they see fit to do so. How many times have we heard red politicians change their tune about a policy when something affects them personally. Perhaps that is the only way certain types of people learn.

      On one hand you say ‘California’s way isn’t the only way’ and also ‘we can’t abandon blue people in red America.’ Pick one. We have been trying to bring progressive policies to red states for decades, and the leadership rejects them. No one is abandoning blue voters. Blue voters have no power in these areas now.

      *The electorate wouldn’t look kindly on a bunch of Democrats who “compromised” in political gamesmanship that they knew would screw over a ton of poor people in red states in pursuit of long-term gain.”

      I think you’re wrong here. I for one am tired of Democrats continually moving to the right in order to placate Republicans when all that does is continue to drag us in the wrong direction on policy. Democrats need to learn to play the long game as well, as the disaster in the judiciary has illustrated.

      1. Okay, so what’s the long game? How do you build a progressive voting coalition in these red states that, if this scenario went through, have opted out when everyone has to work 3 jobs just to get by and pay for healthcare, student debt, etc. and doesn’t have the time for campaigning?

        There’s also the issue that LGBTQ+ people, who have had their rights expanded upon, but can still be legally discriminated against in many ways. Trans individuals in particular have it especially hard. LGBTQ+ people were a critical voting segment that enabled Biden to win. For the Dems to then turn around, say “On these issues, the red states can do whatever they want that the Supreme Court and Congress hasn’t already decided on” would be messed up in many ways.

        It’s hard to build a progressive-voting coalition in red states when LGBTQ+ individuals are rounded up and tossed into camps for the sake of “conversion therapy”, or social workers and therapists refuse helping them because they have a right to do so, and so forth.

        Do you expect Dems and progressives from out of state to swoop in with money and resources for state & local campaigns? Why would the blue voters in those red states (if there are any left alive or not in a camp or prison) trust the party that left them to rot? Why would the people that Chris wants to target with this weaponization scheme, the white people who got screwed over by the laws the Dems wrote (that’s the way that the GOP would play it, as I see things) trust them?

        The fact remains that there’s no way in hell that Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, or any Dem leader would go for such plans. This “Federalism Weaponization” scheme feels more like it was written by Chris to get ideas out of his head as well as for the sake of cathartic revenge fantasy than anything.

  5. My primary concern over this idea is that it would lead to a flight of people from red states to blue states, which would lead to further imbalance in the Senate.

    We’ve seen this on a global scale. Instead of working together to overthrow bad regimes in their own countries, people make the decision to flee those countries. That’s what the world immigration uptick is all about. People flee instead of working for reform. And they do it despite huge iobstacles. But there are no obstacles to internal movement in the US. So why would people stay?

    We’ll get massively packed Democratic states, and even more minority rule, no?

    1. Regarding people moving from red states to blue states, there’s also an issue where those most affected by the Dems giving red states the freedom to run roughshod over workers, people who need healthcare, and more would likely limit the ability for the people who’d most need to move to those blue states to actually move. And if those people actually do manage to move, what’s the likelihood of them voting blue, or voting for anybody at all after the Dems just threw them to the wolves like that?

      Heck, those people might not just move states, they might leave the country after seeing how the brazen political gamesmanship that ruins so many lives is truly and factually bipartisan.

      It’s just a bad plan all around, in my opinion.

  6. I don’t know about this take. The poorer people of these states do not vote for the bad policies. Well, not predominantly. There’s this expression, “people get the government they deserve,” but when you break it down, the real tragedies are when individual persons don’t get the government they deserve at behest of those, often much more comfortably situated, that get theirs.

    Once you look at interests that benefit the squire-makers in these regions, like agricultural landlords…also frequently known as “family farms”…the interests hew close to material benefits to them, if not their state as a whole. It’s all too easy to dump run-off onto poor communities working your farm while you reap the benefits, or increase desperation to work for you by cutting social insurance.

    Once these are factored, the space to allow self-injuring feedback to the squire-makers without crucifying those beneath them is a lot smaller. And without a decent local press, it does seem quite easy to lie about who is doing the crucifying.

      1. And how do you propose we do that? Even assuming that Dems somehow manage eke out wins in GA’s 2 runoffs in Jan, that’s probably our last Senate majority for a *very* long time – and it’s not enough to enact any significant reform.

        Unless you think running out the clock for generational change will bring Democrats back into contention (a magical assumption, IMHO), the only argument at that point is whether the damage done in the meantime is enough to tear the country apart or not.

      2. I think we can do some more surgical engineering than this. There are real limitations in democratic states to govern themselves better (most, as you saw me referencing on twitter, in the tax code).

        Another major problem is regulation. I don’t know what to do about that one, the Federalisn’t society will neatly get us stuck in the wedge where “the federal administrative state can’t function” and “states cannot have an administrative state” I’m quite sure. Otherwise, California wouldn’t need a waiver to regulate via CARB that could pretty much have CA, NY, and MA write all the regulations for tradable goods if they so desire.

      3. The right wing or the Confederacy did not take control overnight. They built institutions, won primaries, won elections, got people to contribute money. They also took advantage of their opponents mistakes. They built it until they took control of the nation with Donald Trump and corrupted the courts. Copy the process and keep hitting them. You start small and build out

      4. Republicans did not arrive in this position by virtue of some grand plan. They simply tapped into the dark thread of racist bile that has always run just beneath the surface. It took time only because there was a lot more resistance inside the GOP from relatively elite, Bush/McCain/Romney-esque quarters than most people realize. That’s all over now. Those folks lost in 2008 and have been replaced.

        This is America. This has always been America.

        If you fail to carve out some corner of 1st World civilization inside this country there are only 2 potential fates ahead. 1- Civil War. 2 – the Confederates take control of the whole project and suffocate the remaining democracy until the country looks like Argentina or Brazil.

        You’re not going to come up with some master electoral appeal that’s going to flip the votes of people who think QAnon is sending them coded messages. People convinced that Jesus hates taxes aren’t on the verge of voting for Democrats. And as this rot sits in place longer and longer, the bigots, religious nuts and grifters in the minority populations will carve out little fiefdoms in the Republican tent.

        We have a federal system for a reason. If you want to rescue Mississippi then pour your efforts into winning the Governor’s race there instead of holding California and New York underwater waiting for a miracle. If the candle goes out there, it goes out everywhere.

    1. I might be able to go along with your suggestion, Chris, if Republican Senators would budge to make better government possible, if possible. You seem to assume they would. I am not so sure. I guess it never occurred to me that a deal was on offer from McConnell’s Senate. It is not run on ideological grounds so much as on a strategy of obstruction that somehow results in election and re-election.

      1. You think so? Medicare especially, given the strong constituency among the older voters. Well, if there’s a deal on offer, there’s something to discuss. I rather presume the Republicans don’t want a deal for exactly the reasons you discuss in this post. But their donors, who are richer than they are wise, may force their hand.

      2. If putting seniors on the proverbial chopping block via COVID didn’t move them away from Trump, they’re no threat whatsoever. Let red states have their precious Medicare block grant; some may hue and cry, but they’ll be weak and will lack the numbers to mount any kind of a serious revolt against Republicans.

        Seniors have revealed themselves to be the political equivalent of a whipped dog. Let them throw themselves under the bus while blue states build a future.

      3. I think there’s probably some kind of plausible deal to be hammered out. Plausible, but I think Republican Senators like the posture-heavy status quo. So the real question is what very large Republican donors would like the most, these are the people that would be enlisted into a mistake.

        I think with robust voting protections and even some relocation assistance, there’s an ethical deal to be made here. But even just the first (or maybe zero) concessions may yield the empty set. And that’s before we get into policy adjustments that would allow states to run themselves as well as, say, Finland, another jurisdiction with open borders to a variegated mega-jurisdiction, and no independent currency or central bank. Or regulation, which the Republican Senate has handily removed themselves from via the courts.

  7. As a New York State resident, every time I saw my governor taking the virus seriously, I thought of a plan like this. Let us keep more of our federal tax money and let the states that don’t want to believe in science follow their own leaders. I’ll stick with mine.

    1. Texas v White determined that a state cannot unilaterally secede from the broader US solely by an act of the state itself; which, of course, leads to the necessity of it being approved by Congress, which is never going to happen.

      My answer to that? F*** the Supreme Court. The Trump Era proved just how fragile our institutions and the rule of law really are – concepts that only have strength insofar as the country itself believes in them. Take that confidence away and the power goes away with it.

      If you’re determined to tear the country apart as a state, particularly one with such outsized power like California or New York, then go ahead and do it. All you need is the consent of your own population with you. Somehow I don’t think the good people of Arkansas are going to put their bibles down and start a war to try and force them otherwise.

  8. I like the idea that a state only gets back in federal funds what it puts in the federal coffers. Almost all red states are “moochers” and depend on blue state money to survive. New Mexico (a blue state) is the most federally dependent state and the one exception, but you do not get to another blue state on the list until Maine at number 13. Nos. 2 through 12 are populated with the states you would expect – Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, etc.

    Democrats will not implement this however because Pelosi’s majority will be slimmer than before and she will be depending on Democrats that won in states like New Mexico and Maine to keep the majority. These representatives from New Mexico and Maine are not going to vote against their constituents’ interest even if the intention is to vote to punish red states because they will fear (I believe rightly) that they will also pay the price at the next election. The same is true of the Sherrod Browns, Joe Manchins and Jon Testers in the Senate who face really difficult times winning re-election in 2024 in states that are getting redder by the day. They are not going to do anything that will make it harder when they already are fighting uphill battles.

    Additionally, I don’t have any faith that the white working class voters in red states will punish their representatives much anyway. In 2008, the economic world was collapsing. It would have been the perfect situation in which to punish the incumbent party for all of the economic misery. Yet voters in states like Alabama, Idaho, Kentucky, and Mississippi re-elected their senators rather than elect a Democrat. “Opt-out” programs for Medicare, Medicaid, the ACA, etc. don’t rise anywhere near to the level of the Great Recession. And if they won’t vote out their representatives in the middle of the Great Recession, they won;t do so due to those same representatives choosing the “opt-out” for the social programs they depend on.

    Why?

    These white working class folks have been voting against their own economic interests for decades. Because while everything else in their life might be horrendous – their job, their house, their marriage, their children’s future, their debt, their retirement, they knew their hierarchy and place in society was at the top as a white person and that was solid. But now that is slipping away in society as well as Asians, African Americans, women, Latinos, gays and homosexuals are getting and demanding rights. And do you know who took that place at the top away from them? The Democrats.

    1. Insofar as red state Dems are concerned, let’s not kid ourselves. Sherrod Brown, Jon Tester, and Joe Manchin *especially* are all dead men walking, politically speaking, heading in 2024. Not a single one of them has any real chance at being re-elected. 2018 was their last hurrah; so best to at least go out having accomplished something significant would my argument to them.

      1. I agree they are likely going to lose in 2024. But what accomplishment are you thinking they will obtain in the minority? Mitch McConnell is not even bringing any of these potential “opt-out” bills to the floor of the Senate if he thinks that it would hurt his members. And it would.

      2. Probably not, so we’d better hope for a miracle in GA next January. If by some chance we get it, at least we’ll have better odds with hoping 10 Republicans are dumb enough (not a bad bet to make) to go along with cutting off their own voters at the knees.

      1. @Michael: McConnel estopping Chris’ idea from reaching the floor of the Senate would be ideal. Then no real harm would be done to citizens, but it would be a bludgeon to wield in the next election—“We offered legislation that would allow each state to make its own choice, and those weasels wouldnt even let it come up for a vote.”

  9. Chris, to a large extent that is already happening. This is far from a perfect measure, but look at the names of the states with the top 10 median incomes, and the names of the bottom 10.

    But you already know this. You know which ones are red, which ones are blue, and which ones are irretrievably 3rd world nations.

    CNN has already posted an article stating how the senator from kentuckystan will dominate any agenda. That psychopath is way way smarter than the tyrant, and any opponent the loser party can throw at him. That guy will most certainly see through any of the ideas you have, and essentially veto them.

    We know the typical cult member is too dumb to not vote against their self-interests. But mcconnell, he is a different animal. It is totally logical that he would have the fascists actually vote against the ultra-conservative agenda, because of the reasons you have detailed.

    And that is before the leaders of loser party would tear the party apart because none of them have the political savvy to recognize the fatalistic wisdom of your idea. Idealists lose in america, or get assassinated. Ask MLK, or the Kennedy’s.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_income

    https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/08/politics/democrats-mcconnell-veto-biden-agenda/index.html

      1. Oh, I agree that Chris’ idea about Romney running the Senate and this idea are both better than the status quo. But they are pipe dreams, for all the reasons people have laid out.

        The dems are the loser party because they are not ruthless, nor politically savvy enough to ever pull off anything that actually would transform a country.

        They used to have leaders that had both brains and balls. Not any more. That being said, I think Harris has the smarts and anger to do something, and I really don’t expect Biden to make it through 4 years. But by then, the House will be in the hands of the fascists as well, and it is lights out for any progressive legislation.

        But this entire conversation can still be a moot point. The tyrant and his cult are not done yet.

  10. Compared to the dystopian alternative, I suppose that’s as close to a solution as we’re going to get. Not that I’ve any faith in the likes of Pelosi or Schumer to think along these lines, but perhaps Biden might if he could only read this. Something to keep my political mind occupied now that the election’s over, I guess.

    If anyone else is game, the more the merrier.

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