The Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes: 2022

David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic via AP

It’s high season for the Resistance. Early voting has started across much of the country. Signs are up. Canvassers are out. Energy is high as Democrats, or more accurately “anti-Trumpians,” see a golden opportunity to retake Congress. We even have a slight chance at taking the Senate.

Yes, the stakes are high and yes, every vote counts and yes, we need to take this very seriously. But no, this is not the most important election of our lifetimes and we’d be wise to remember that. Those desperate to roll back the damage of the Trump disaster and build a brighter future for our country face a marathon, not a sprint. What lies ahead is a three-stage contest, and the ’18 Election is the easiest hurdle. To win a solid future without a war, the Resistance has to sweep three consecutive elections, culminating with the most difficult challenge in 2022. Nothing ends on November 7th. Brace yourselves for a long, painful slog.

Three things have to happen in the US to restore democratic order without a war. Democrats must retake the House in this election and force authentic accountability on Trump. Second, they must coalesce around a sane, progressive candidate for the 2020 Presidential Election. Finally, they must secure their gains from this campaign by doing something nearly impossible in our system, winning the first midterm under a new president. Buckle up buttercup, because after the ’18 Election, things start to get more difficult.

A president’s party almost always loses ground in Congress in their first midterm. Adding to our ’18 advantage is the fact that Trump actually lost the ’16 Election by a shocking margin, earning a vote percentage in line with Dukakis or McCain. Combine that with the historic hatred inspired by his character and you have every advantage you could ask for in a midterm election. Next month’s election is a cakewalk. If we can’t win here then it’s time to brace for an grimmer future than we can imagine.

Ahead looms the challenge of uniting a Resistance around a Presidential candidate, a test made more difficult if Trump is gone. 2020 may not be the most important election of our lifetimes, but it will probably be the ugliest and most miserable. Trump or no Trump, there will still be enough stench in the air to lend fortitude to Democratic efforts, but 2020 is the year when intra-party division probably peaks on both sides. There will likely be a primary candidate (or 6) for every zoological classification of each party’s voters. In such a fractured field, the power of a few whackjob celebrity candidates will be hard to match. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough time for an ideological consensus to jell among Democrats.

The worst thing Democrats could do in the 2020 primaries is also the most likely thing – nominate some version of Oprah or George Clooney. A celebrity president with little interest in policy and no idea how anything works would be a crippling burden in the fights that lay ahead.

The second worst thing Democrats could do is relatively unlikely: select a geriatric centrist in the mold of Joe Biden. Someone crafted by the Democrats’ many years of late 20th century decline will be a mealy-mouthed waffler who will fold every hand. 

A real win, not just placing a random Democrat in the White House, would mean electing an aggressive, combative reformer. If the Democrats in 2020 fail to nominate a candidate who places my teeth on edge, and pushes the rest of their temporary centrist allies to the breaking point, they will win the battle only to lose the war. The president capable of winning the longer-term fight to more-or-less peacefully restructure the country will have something tangible to offer working class white voters, something attractive enough to be worth swallowing their racist bile and voting for a reformer. Half-measures will fail.

On the Congressional level, 2020 has potential to be another watershed year much like 2008. Advantages Republicans are enjoying this year in the landscape of Senate races are reversed in ’20, and they face a steep battle to remain relevant. Thanks to demographics, it is unlikely that Democrats could see another 60 vote Senate majority, but a substantial margin is easily within reach. Win these two contests, and the trifecta lays within sight.

Again, a new president’s party almost always loses ground in their first midterm election. All the excitement and goodwill that will meet the new president on day one will have evaporated by February of 2021.

A Washington press corps, grown fat and lazy on a rich diet of daily outrage will be itching to convert the slightest slip into Whatevergate. Right wing disinformation networks will be flooded with foreign and domestic money, operating with all the intensity you feel right now. As usual at the outset of any Democratic administration, right wing militias will be ramping up their activities and earning sympathetic commentary from major media. If those who fought to destroy the Trump administration take this moment to breathe easy, we will fall right back into our old rut.

The most important election of our lifetimes lies ahead in 2022, if we win enough fights to get there. A new president will pressing for reforms while frightened old white people shriek in primal terror. All the natural energy and enthusiasm coursing through the Resistance right now will have shifted to the other side. There will be aspects of the new administration that are disappointing. There will be personality conflicts and failures. Consolidating gains from the previous two elections will be difficult, but this is the election that will shape the 21st century.

Why mention this now? Recognizing that the most important election of our lifetimes still lies years ahead is a necessary discipline. Think hard about what you are doing this week to prepare for the upcoming election. Consider the contacts you’ve made, the volunteer efforts you have joined, the money you’ve donated. Many of us have never been this engaged in politics and may not find it pleasant. Remember what you did now, with special attention for what seemed most effective, and prepare to continue these efforts for the long haul.

Maintain the contacts you established in this cycle and prepare to build on them. Consider how you can do more in the next election. Start preparing mentally for a process that will not end on Election Day. Most of all, do not expect too much from a single election.

Restoring a just, honorable, sane government without a war is a daunting challenge, calling for a level of sustained political engagement unprecedented for Americans. If all goes as expected, November 7th should be a day to celebrate. Then it’s time to get back to work, because the damage we’ve inflicted on ourselves over the past two decades will not be fixed in a single election.

71 Comments

  1. Me and the wife early voted in Orlando Florida mid morning. Close to the University. Steady flow of 5 to 10 people processed in minutes.Pol worker told me heavy voting every day of early voting. UCF is a hotbed of progressive politics. If I was a Republican strategist I would plan for a blue wave in Florida.

    1. I mentioned a few days ago that I mailed my ballot here in Seattle last weekend. Straight D and liberal positions on all issues.

      As an aside my granddaughter voted for the first time last weekend. She is 18 and a frosh at San Diego State U, her parents had flown down to visit her and took the ballot with her. My understanding is that she also voted straight D, but differed from her parents on one congressional district. In that race there are two D’s on the ballot. She voted for a young very liberal D, while her parents voted for the incumbent. For those of you who may not know, WA is a top-two state. They live in a different CD from us.

  2. The Federalist had a headline that said “2018 is the Most Important Election of Our Lives” and I realized that Chris’ logic here for progressives in 2022 would technically apply to conservatives this year.

    So, by extension, if the Democrats are shut out of federal power again, especially during the ‘easiest hurdle’, what do we conclude?

    FYI this is just off the headline, I didn’t read the article so I don’t know it’s argument for why this election is the most important.

    1. I may be wrong, but I believe Chris understands better than most of us that Dems’ chances with a mid-term win (assume limited to House and state positions), are really about building for the future. The democratic infrastructure was so thoroughly neglected that more time will be needed…My concern is morale, not justification for the effort. It takes incredible energy to pursue change even within one’s own party much less to overtake the opposing party.

  3. “Do you think mcconnell et al will suddenly wake up one day and think “you know, what we have created is unfair, and dangerous, and we will reverse it because that is the right thing to do.” ?

    Absolutely not.

    Or will they double down as dictators do and enforce their will through the military?

    Typically that is how minority rule over the majority remains in place, particularly in Presidential systems, though it typically comes in the form of military coup.

    Too many people are complacent. I have an uncle who believes because there was no military coup during the Great Depression it will never happen here.

    A minority desperate to hold on to power will do anything. Don’t be so foolish to think otherwise.

  4. “But how do you “trash the Constitution”? By what mechanism?”

    By 2040, 70% of Americans will live in 15 states. This means 30% of Americans will have 70 Senators.

    Minority rule over the majority will be the mechanism. As the majority continues to be frustrated election after election that legislation after legislation cannot get through the Senate and if it does gets struck down by a far-right SCOTUS, they will lose any belief that the structure of the federal government is legitimate. Which will lead to a crisis.

    The crisis will either be resolved by an agreement to “trash the Constitution” and rewrite it to reflect 21st century American or the quote I pulled from the Vox.com article I link below will occur.

    But Stein’s Law – If something cannot go on forever, it will stop – will come to fruition either way.

    Vox.com: “At some point, people will get so angry that they will either talk about secession or start engaging in more direct measures, whether it takes the form of rioting or violence,” says Sanford Levinson, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas Law School.

    Political systems depend on all sides believing in the legitimacy of outcomes. In America, that legitimacy is in danger. And it’s only going to get worse.

    “In countries where we see a lot of minority rule, it comes with a lot of violence,” says Mason.”

    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/10/16/17951596/kavanaugh-trump-senate-impeachment-avenatti-democrats-2020-supreme-court

      1. I am not endorsing violence. I am only saying that history shows that minority rule is not sustainable. So either the leaders will recognize this before the crisis gets out of hand and they remedy the situation or they do not.

      2. OK, I will bite, What leaders in particular? The ones that created the situation and are benefiting from a financial and ideological perspective?

        Do you think mcconnell et al will suddenly wake up one day and think “you know, what we have created is unfair, and dangerous, and we will reverse it because that is the right thing to do.” ?

        Or will they double down as dictators do and enforce their will through the military?

      3. I believe mid-terms will tell us a great deal about the political landscape going forward. It is obvious from reporting that Republicans are turning out in force as are Democrats. Should Republicans dominate the purported Blue Wave, my concern is how this will impact morale and momentum of those who are working so hard to change leadership. Will many people simply give up? This would be a terrible outcome.

  5. I’m glad that I’m capable of voting for Beto. Early voting’s begun and I plan on going tomorrow.

    Out of every other reason I’m voting against Ted Cruz, my primary reason is that the man’s stances on technology and Internet issues are far out of touch.

    He called Net Neutrality “Obamacare For The Internet” and supports Ajit Pai’s massive deregulation and rollback of rules. This runs counter to manner in which Net Neutrality has broad bipartisan support. People across the political spectrum opposed Ajit Pai’s repeal of NN Regulations:

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180418/10080639655/another-survey-shows-massive-bipartisan-opposition-to-net-neutrality-repeal.shtml

    He opposed the full transition of control of the IANA functions to ICANN. My understanding is that removing a single government from control of such critical things is very much in-line with conservative principles. But still, Cruz went through with his opposition anyway. Luckily, he and his allies failed and now the core functions of the domain name and numbering system of the Internet are now in the hands of a multi-stakeholder organization which includes non-profits, private individuals, and corporations that helped build out the Internet in the first place. As well, one of the stakeholders in this group is a council of multiple governments in which the United States plays a role.

    https://www.icann.org/news/announcement-2016-10-01-en

    Ted Cruz either doesn’t understand how the Internet works, or he’s being paid not to understand how it works. Either way, his words and actions on this subject run counter to the policy goals that I believe need to occur in order for the Internet to work in a positive way for everyone.

      1. But how do you “trash the Constitution”? By what mechanism? If the fascists control the Senate, the courts, and at least 30 state legislatures, how does one reform anything? I know how I would start, but I am a nut case.

        And yes, I read that article you linked, and it is horrifying, but inevitable.

  6. If you’re going to publish this anywhere else, it’s “gel”, not “jell”.

    More substantively, do you have a real-world basis for believing that Democrats are likely to nominate a celebrity like Clooney or Oprah? I just don’t see it. Admittedly I mostly stick to a progressive bubble, but all I’ve seen anywhere is speculation centered around D Senators (Gillibrand, Warren, Booker, etc.) and Governors. I really think that as the party that believes that government is a force for good and empowerment, Democrats believe that Presidential candidates must have experience in government.

    1. And I take that back about Jell vs gel. Huh, I wonder if my education (Canada) was a little more old-fashioned English. It seems the modern preference for people forming a cohesive group is indeed jell rather than gel.
      http://grammarguide.copydesk.org/2009/06/23/confusing-pairs-gel-and-jell/
      But, this defines jell (verb) as “to gel”, implying gel came first.
      https://wikidiff.com/gel/jell
      I should’ve googled before I posted 🙂

      1. I’ve been googling that and now I’m fascinated. There doesn’t seem to be a standard. I don’t like “J’s” in general. No idea why. It seems like a frivolous letter. A “g” feels more adult. At the same time, your recommendation looks spot on, though I can’t really determine why. Interesting.

      2. Look up “hair gel”. That settles the discussion. “modern” language sources are essentially garbage. Thanks to auto-correct, how many times has each of us seen “loose” instead of “lose” in now semi-official documents and news reports.

        The bastardization of the English language continues thanks to declining general general education and social media, whether you are talking the Queen’s version or the American one.

    2. I don’t think Democrats are more vulnerable to celebrity politics than Republicans. That weakness is just looming out there beneath the entire system. It just so happens that Democrats have all of the serious celebrity firepower. For the life of me I can’t figure out how Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren could defeat Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a primary. If a single B-list celebrity enters the race I’m afraid they’ll function like a newly introduced virus in the system.

      1. On the one hand, it would be interesting to see that theory tested. On the other hand, while I believe the Democratic commitment to good government would produce a “real” nominee rather than a celebrity, I’m not so confident that I’m not scared to see that theory tested.

      2. NPR today had a great discussion on the impact of celebrity voter stimulus. They noted a corresponding increase in voter registration when celebrities ask their fans to vote. There was additional commentary about the fact that only nine states still offer civics. Is this important to teach our young adults about the political process and their responsibility thereof?

      3. Aaron: “…39 states require at least one course in American government or civics, only eight states administer statewide, standardized tests specifically in civics/American government: California, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. Of those, Ohio and Virginia are the only ones that require students to pass said test in order to graduate from high school.”

        https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/12/circle-study-finds-most-s_n_1959522.html

        More concerning is lack of student understanding about the function of government and the use of multiple choice tests to assess comprehension.

  7. A few weeks back I suggested that a move of a few tens of thousands, maybe only thousands to a western prairie state could upset the political balance of that state. The problems of lack of cultural attractions could be solved if an effort was put forth by people who wanted it to work.

    As far as the weather, it seems if the Democrats held the majority, they could move a government facility to a state. This would mean that people with a financial stake in government who also are highly educated would enter the voter rolls. This would help lower the anti- Washington rhetoric. A research facility next to a university would make sense. Then establish a sister facility in the Virgin Islands that the employees could work in a couple of months of the year. Maybe researching the granularity of beach sand?

    Seriously, there has to be spots in South Dakota, Montana, or Utah that would make a good place to live if you enjoyed winter sports.

    For others, residency usually doesn’t require you spend 100 percent of the year in the state. Adding telecommuting to the mix makes it easier to imagine a state’s political mix moving in a particular direction.

    1. “Seriously, there has to be spots in South Dakota, Montana, or Utah that would make a good place to live if you enjoyed winter sports.”

      I’m a red state refugee. I’m now one of them ‘coastal liberal elitists’ because my home state has crippling unemployment, soaring crime, and public services completely stressed by drug addiction. I could have stayed there and continued ‘building the economy’ that the governor flatlined once elected in 2010, or I could ‘get a real job’ in a place that actually had them.

      Is this scorn for the actual location, the geography? No way. I love my home state. Beautiful mountains, gorgeous scenery, fantastic people, and enough Internet connection and arts and entertainments to keep leisure life vibrant. There’s nothing wrong with the actual state. It’s its government and their policies that suck.

      There’s a term for this and it’s called brain drain. Red states have been suffering brain drain across the board because red states are poorly governed. Moving tens of thousands of blue state people to red states, even if they were direct repatriations, doesn’t acknowledge the fact that they were largely kicked out of those areas in the first place. Peacefully, in a sense, but try telling that to the red state refugees that are gay, transgendered, black, etc.

      The issue isn’t that blue state people don’t see living in red states desirable. The issue is that red states kicked them out.

      1. First off, all this talk should be done on private emails. This is the type of planning that the vast rightwing conspiracy did in the past. And they kept it on the downlow.

        I agree with you on the reasons for the brain drain in red states. I personally would not go back to my home state, just to move back. But to move to a particular location where my vote might change the future of this country, knowing that I wouldn’t have to live there forever or even continuously through out the year?

        How many people moving to Heidi Heitkamp’s state would ensure that we gain a Democratic senator? It’s too late now but if we looked at residency requirements, and had acted earlier, who knows?

        I don’t suggest we somehow convince people to move and take their chances on a fulfilling life. But a thoughtful, organized purposed movement might work. Especially if supported by a few rich contributors or superpacs.

  8. To all,

    Yes the U.S. has serious Constitutional issues at this time, including the senatorial distribution which may require a Constitutional Convention. However, no solutions will be at hand unless the Repugs are no longer in power. The first step is to get out and vote in this election and vote Democratic. Then the bars get higher in 2020 and 2022 as Chris wrote. If the D’s when those elections overwhelmingly and beyond, maybe catastrophe can be avoided. Otherwise, as he wrote there may be a war. That could be a civil war in the U.S. or in the worst case a great power war. In any event this is a critical time in our history and because the U.S. is the proverbial gorilla on the world stage there will be international repercussions.

  9. Hi Guys
    With your senate rules I can only see two options

    (1) (risky!) Let the conservatives call their constitutional convention and then use that to fix your constitution

    (2) – Split your large states up – so each of the new states has it’s two senators – you can have some sort of “combined state” for most things or just split into enough states

    1. I think you’d have better chances with getting people to move to the more sparsely populated states, and that’s where I can see Chris’ thoughts about corporations driving change at work. Bringing in highly educated/skilled people changes things. Even more so when some come from abroad. I see it in the southern and western suburbs of Houston- they are getting bluer each election cycle. Of course the energy curve is a bit higher outside the big cities, as these workers want good schools and arts and culture and interesting eats, etc. But if you can get incentives in place in the cities in flyover country, you could close that representation gap.

      1. That’s the very hurdle I mentioned. There’s a regressive vicious cycle that needs to be broken. If the cost of living is cheap enough, that’s one incentive. If the company involved says- instead of tax breaks, we want the $ to go the the schools, etc., there’s another. It’s not easy at all, but probably easier than a Constitutional convention, given all the entrenched political tribalism these days.

        Wyoming and Idaho do have some gorgeous scenery. Plenty of progressive types like outdoor activities. I freely admit that I do not like cold weather, but plenty of people are fine with it.

    2. If by conservative you mean radicals (there are no more conservatives in the GOP), any convention called by them would be to make the Constitution even more titled towards the radical right that now dominates and controls all aspects of the GOP.

      Breaking states up won’t make a difference. You can split California into 7 states, but as soon as the radicals get control, they would split Texas into 17 states.

      This country has 50 states. In the history of this country, the states have had 230 constitutions. On average, three per state with some states having in the double digits.

      The Bill of Rights are wonderful and some of the amendments thereafter (12-18 or so) are vital, but beyond that the Constitution needs to be trashed and rewritten.

      Voters now vote like is a parliamentary system when it is not. Perhaps we need a parliamentary system since the presidential system we have no longer works. In that regard, a fun fact – the US is the only country that has a presidential system of government that has never had a military coup. Ponder that. Our Founding Fathers were more like the Foolish Fathers in how they designed the government.

      1. Michael, I concur that the U.S, probably needs more of a parliamentary system.

        There may be more to Fly’s comment about getting more population located in flyover country than meets the eye. With modern communication systems it is possible to locate in the more sparsely populated areas. Those areas will be more urban in character than rural. I see that happening in WA state. Our state presently has a heavily populated area around Seattle in the Puget Sound area and a sparsely populated area in Eastern WA. However, I see the Spokane area in far Eastern WA rapidly changing because of high tech and slowly becoming more of a dynamic urban area. That is the reason that McMorris-Rodgers is in trouble in our 5th CD. A similar dynamic is at work in the 3rd CD across the Columbia River from Portland, OR. That happened in our 8th CD. It was originally created in 1981 as a Republican counterbalance to the liberal 7th CD in Seattle. However, Microsoft located in the 8th CD and as it urbanized it has drifted Democratic. In 2011, it was extended East of the Cascades to make it more Republican. However, the urban influence has moved East of the Cascades now due to good communications, and IMHO it will narrowly flip this year.

    3. Or, downgrade the Senate, which can be accomplished without passing any laws and is already happening.

      Most of the power of the Senate comes from an arcane collection of largely unwritten practices and protocols that only retain their force because Senators and the surrounding institutions continue to respect them.

      For example, the President can seat cabinet officials, judges etc without so much as a phone call to the Senate and the Senate can’t do a damned thing about it. Recess appointments are entirely legal. If the Senate tried to rescind a recess appointment the President and that official could simply ignore them. Their only recourse would be impeachment.

      Senators are allowed to put a hold on any presidential appointment, sometimes anonymously, for any reason. That’s just a practice that the Senators jointly adopted and continue to respect. Any president could smash that with recess appointments.

      The filibuster rules are stupid and need to be abolished. If Democrats controlled the Senate for one day they could get rid of them. And as the Senate declined in power by virtue of its declining democratic legitimacy, Senators would be forced to adopt more parliamentary practices to retain their power.

      We have a million different levers we can pull before it becomes necessary to go to war or change the constitution or do anything truly dramatic. If Democrats ever decide to take seriously their desire to change the country, they could do far more easily than they think. What Democrats are missing more than anything else is just resolve.

      1. I once read a political fantasy in which there was a hung election. The House being tasked with selection of the president, decided that the Preamble to the Constitution (quoted below) overrode the remainder of the Constitution and took control. The House essentially established a parliamentary government. I wish I could recall the author (a professor somewhere) or the title, so I could search for it. If anyone has any suggestions, I would appreciate them.

        The Preamble reads:
        “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish
        Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the
        general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do
        ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

        Anyway, you are correct in that it may be possible for the Senate to be downgraded. The term “Advice and Consent” is not explicitly defined in the Constitution. Grassley has already essentially eliminated the blue slip requirement except where it suits him. However, the recess appointments clause has essentially been eliminated by keeping the Senate in continuous session.

        The Senate might be bypassed. As an example, in the U.K., the House of Lords essentially had a throttle hold on Parliamentary action, thus preventing liberalisation until early in the 20th Century one Prime Minister was cleverly able to eliminate it. I do not know the details, perhaps Duncan can enlighten us? To me that was a crucial step for the U.K.

      2. I had an interesting discussion with a New Zealand native (married an American and resident of US for last fifteen years so he’s seen American politics up close. ).

        He touts the parliamentary system NZ has…. noting it is a smaller version ( meaning – fewer parties than others) and works better than the two party system in the U S in his opinion. He feels it offers a more “democratic “ process and limits the influence of big money and lobbyists.

        Current events are getting more extreme with the power of the executive branch unchecked by congress or influential leadership. America s grand experiment may have run its course.

      3. Tmerrit15: I don’t disagree with Chris’ comments. I am only trying to point out that it is going to be very very difficult to get people to move to flyover country.

        I live in the northern suburbs of Chicago. I live here because the City of Chicago has so much to do and experience. And while my real estate taxes are high, my children go to top public schools.

        Moving downstate changes nothing in terms of the Senate. Millions will have to move from California, Washington, Illinois, New York, etc to flyover country to make a difference. But what you miss is that people live in those areas because they want the experience and activities of a major metropolitan area. I know with technology I could live in a rural area and be more in touch with the city then ever before. But its still a four plus hour round trip drive to see a professional sports event or a museum or the opera or eat at a fine restaurant. No thanks.

      4. Chris: Not sure I agree. Yes, recess appointments are legal, but both parties prevent them by having pro forma Senate sessions. I am sure the Democrats will hold pro forma sessions over the 2018 holidays to prevent recess appointments. Republicans will do the same when a Democrat next controls the presidency and the Dems control the Senate. And of course the Supreme Court has said that such sham sessions are entirely legal.

        I agree on the legislative filibuster, but that is on its way out soon anyway once one of the parties decides to take the next step. And that will be soon.

        But neither issue above gets to the heart of the problem. Mike Enzi (R) Senator of Wyoming represents approximately 287,000 people. Kamala Harris (D) Senator of California represents approximately 20 million people. And Enzi’s vote in the Senate is just as powerful as Harris’ is. It’s outrageous. And reducing representation in the Senate requires approval from all 50 states.

        Trashing the Constitution (save the Bill of Rights and other amendments however) and rewriting how our government works is imperative. We won’t ever see a civil war as some worry about because most folks have too much to risk and truthfully, people will tolerate a lot politically and don’t uprise against the government unless they can’t afford food to eat, but you will see more and more Democrats just throwing the towel in and deciding the government is illegitimate as the demographics continue to overwhelming go in their direction while the Republicans win more and more elections and Congressional seats with less and less votes due to the spread of where voters live.

        I recently heard something which is a very big concern – Putin will not destroy US democracy, our US Constitution will.

      5. Michael, I totally agree regarding the amenities of urban living. Afterall I live in central Seattle an area with very narrow streets that was platted early in the 20th Century with the horse and buggy in mind, but I do have an affinity for nature and the outdoors.

        However, what I am pointing out is that in the more rural areas, typically known as flyover country, there are urban centers, i.e. smaller cities, where considerable growth can occur at a relatively inexpensive cost. As the big metropolitan areas, such as the Bay Area, LA or Pugetopolis become more crowded and expensive, these smaller urban areas have a lot of attractiveness to many people. With modern communications and transportation, people can work in those areas and have a good life, even work in the high-tech field, particularly where there are major universities. Accordingly, I think there is some potential for the population in those areas to increase. Those people will be more highly educated and tuned in to an urban culture and likely more democratic.

        I have witnessed this phenomenon, throughout the West. Years ago Denver was considered essentially a flyover city. Now it is becoming a dynamic urban center and is forcing Colorado to become a purple state. The same is true of Salt Lake City in Utah and Phoenix in Arizona.

        In my own state of WA, Seattle and environs of course is the big kahuna. Approximately 60-70% of the population lives in the Puget Sound Basin. Spokane in Eastern WA was for years considered flyover country. However, Washington State University is located nearby and it has a major branch campus in Spokane. Spokane is the major urban center for northern Idaho, Montana and parts of Oregon. As such it is becoming a major medical center for the region. WSU opened a medical school there last year. It is accredited and is attracting considerable regional attention. Likewise from WSU, a spinoff hightech company, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories has developed. It is essentially the world leader in development of electrical power system protective and control systems having displaced such behemoths as GE and Westinghouse. It competes successfully against such companies a Siemens in Germany. True it is not a behemoth such as Google or Apple and is a niche market. But, it is still significant. As a result of this development, the WA 5th CD, which has a Cook PVI of R+8 and has been controlled by the R’s since 1994, could flip this year. The same is true of the 3rd CD, which is just across the Columbia River from Portland. The 8th CD in the suburbs and exurbs of Seattle has never had a D since its creation in 1981 and is where Microsoft located its main campus is close with the D candidate being slightly favored.

        All this leads me to believe there is potential for significant development in the areas dismissively known as flyover country and perhaps some changing of the political orientation of those areas. Perhaps over time the senatorial disparity may become less of a problem. That combined with an effort to downgrade the Senate could contribute to a workaround to the Senatorial disparity problem. As Chris points out much of the Senate’s power comes from customs and not directly from the Constitution. Many of those customs were developed in the Antebellum period and the Remediation period enabling the white supremacists in the South to maintain control. Since the South took control of the Republican Party, they have abused those customs to the point they have become major obstacles.

      6. I mistakenly used the term “Remediation period” above. I should have used the term “Redemption period”. That is used to describe the period immediately following “Reconstruction” when Southern Governments were “redeemed” and is generally lumped in with the “Gilded Era”.

      7. “As the big metropolitan areas, such as the Bay Area, LA or Pugetopolis become more crowded and expensive, these smaller urban areas have a lot of attractiveness to many people. ”

        That’s the problem for many cities. San Francisco is one of my favorite cities to visit (best walking city I’ve ever been too), but people with a 6-figure salary struggle to make ends meet, and there’s lots of NIMBY pushback against expanding housing. So I’d never even consider living there. Even Houston is not as cheap as it used to be (buying inside loop 610 is a dwindling option for middle income people). Austin is even further along in getting priced out of reach.

      8. TMerrit15 and Flypusher:

        I am in real estate. The company I work for leases office and manufacturing facilities to Fortune 500 companies. We do not lease in flyover country. Why? Because the companies that could provide a sufficient number of jobs do not want to locate to new areas where they must draw the talented employees they need; rather, they want to lease in the areas where the talented employees already are. This is why the properties we own are in or near LA, Houston, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Philadelphia and NY.

        We don’t even look at markets in Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Arkansas, the Dakotas, etc.

        I like the idea to get people to relocate to flyover country, but it has been flyover country since before airplanes existed for a reason – there is no ports or hubs or sufficient rail to draw manufacturing and the employee base is less educated than in major cities. No corporation is moving their American or regional HQ to these areas as a result.

      9. “Because the companies that could provide a sufficient number of jobs do not want to locate to new areas where they must draw the talented employees they need; rather, they want to lease in the areas where the talented employees already are.”

        I don’t dispute any of that. I have a PhD in biochemistry. In order to have a job in that field, it is necessary that I live in (or within an acceptable commuting distance of) a large city, or a college town. Reversing the brain drain out of flyover country has a very steep energy curve, for the reasons you listed. But I think a major overhaul to the Constitution right now is an even heavier lift. As mentioned elsewhere in the discussion, someone is going to give. The GOP minority rule, as it stands right now, isn’t sustainable. Any number of ways it could break, and both best and worst case possibilities have already been pretty much covered.

  10. While you ponder how to win three elections in a row, ponder this. Within 22 years (2040), 70% of the US population will live within 15 states. This means 30% of the US population will have 70 Senators. And that 30% will be older, whiter, more rural, more Evangelical and more male than the rest of the population. They will block ALL legislation the moves this country forward.

    In other words, our problems are much much bigger than can be solved by winning three elections in a row. We are at the point that we need to trash our Constitution and draft a new one to balance the playing field.

    1. I’ve written this before and will repeat myself. When the D’s do regain control major Constitutional changes are required. The great majority of the dysfunction in Washington DC is due to Constitutional deficiencies dating to the compromises made at the Constitutional Convention. The revisions that I think most important are:
      1. Doing away with the Electoral College. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a potential workaround.
      2. Set definite standards for all federal elections. I would interpret that to mean redistricting, i.e. elimination of gerrymandering, voter qualifications. i.e. elimination of voter suppression, standards for vote counting, and others. As I interpret the Constitution, Congress already has that power under Article I, Section 4 and other places.
      3. Rectify the disportionment of Senate representation. This is a major problem because the distribution of 2 senators per state is not subject to Amendment per Article V.
      4. Revise the Supreme Court by limiting justices to a definitive term and revise the confirmation process. The proposal that is currently being discussed to limit the terms to a single 18 year term staggered so that the terms expire on July 31 of each odd numbered year, enabling two justices being appointed during each 4 year presidency provides a good basis. This could be accomplished by amendment.

      The senatorial distribution of two seats per state is a major stumbling block and could well require a new Constitution. However other states that are governed by formal written constitutions have had to redo them periodically. That time may be due for the U.S. The UK is the only major liberal state of which I am aware that has a constitution that is older than ours, and theirs is not a formal written document, rather it is a collection of various documents and parliamentary acts that have been modified and continue to be modified as required.

      1. “When the D’s do regain control major Constitutional changes are required”….

        I know this sounds insulting. Please don’t take it that way. But if you think the Dem’s will ever control the Senate again, you are delusional. And even if by some miracle they did get even 51 seats, it is still irrelevant, since 34 states have to ratify changes to the constitution.

        That will never happen, at least for Democrats. The fascists, different story. The koch brothers now control something like 30 or 32 states, and when they reach 34, well lights out. Hell, it is already lights out, if you think the democratic process is enough.

      2. 1. Yes getting rid of the Electoral College would help. It would not only prevent the radicals from winning elections they should not (see GWB and Trump), but would make it possible for third parties to win the Presidency. Our political duopoly will not allow this as a result so good thought but never happening.

        2. Congress has the authority but the radicals will prevent it.

        3. Trash the Constitution and write a new one that reflects the problems of the 21st century not the 1700’s.

        4. The Supreme Court is used as the body to solve the problems the American people refuse to solve through the appropriate boy – the legislature. I suggest a different solution to the Supreme Court. Reduce the seats by amendment to 8 seats. The Democratic Party (or any future successor party) will own 4 seats. The GOP (or any future successor party) will own the other 4 seats. This will force the justices to meet somewhere in the middle to pull over one justice from the left or the right to get a majority decision. And I would add to the amendment that if McConnell or any other scumbag like him refuses to seat a judge for a seat owned by the other party, their party loses two seats permanently.

  11. I worry about the damage being done right now. Let’s assume democrats take the House but not the Senate – the Gop will continue to pack the judiciary, dangerous policies impact our environment and democratic institutions. Can we survive the post-2018 push from republicans which is we know is “in the hopper” and sustain the drive necessary to complete the task at hand? That is the question.

    1. You are absolutely correct Mary. I have no idea how to stop the GOP from packing the judiciary in the next two years, under those assumptions. The only thing I can hope for is that the D’s win the House by a very significant majority and that a few moderate R senators will suddenly develop spines, i.e. they are scared enough of 2020 that they quit drinking the WH Koolaid, but with McConnell being able to maintain ironfisted control that is a far hope.

  12. I have one quibble with this column and that is I do not that that winning three consecutive elections will be enough. The Repugnicans will not change their ways with just three elections. I personnally think that at least four and maybe five will be required for the core fanatical group (Freedom Caucus and similar in the Senate) is to actually change. After three the more sane ones might begin to realize that they are doing something wrong. The Repug party must be totally destroyed. Only then might a more sane version or another party emerge.

    As an example, I offer the elections in the 1930s and 40’s during the Great Depression and WWII:
    1930: Senate – +5D; House – +52D; R’s lost control of House by 1 Seat and retained control of Senate with R VP
    1932: Senate – +12D; House – +97D; D’s gain control of government
    1934: Senate – +9D; House – +9D
    1936: Senate – +5D; House – +2D
    1938: Senate – -7D; House – -72D; D’s retain control
    1940: Senate – -3D; House – +5D
    1942: Senate – -8D; House – -45D; D’s retain control
    1944: Senate – -1D; House – +20D
    1946: Senate -11D; House – -54D; D’s lose control of both chambers

    As you can see the Congress was effectively tied after the 1930 election and the D’s maintained control until 1946, though there were setbacks in 1938 and 1942. So the D’s won 4 straight elections and had control of government from 1932-1946. Even with that string the R’s did not really moderate until Eisenhower won the Presidency in 1952. With R’s being as hard right and white supremacist as they are at present, I feel that a similar run will be necessary now.

    Other than that quibble, I totally concur with your thoughts. 2022 will certainly be one of the most crucial elections in our lives. But the intensity must be maintained beyond 2022.

    1. “With R’s being as hard right and white supremacist as they are at present, I feel that a similar run will be necessary now.” What happened to the claim that the “parties” reversed after the Civil Rights Act in 1964? Are you saying that the D’s were NOT the party of Jim Crow, Segregation, and the KKK back then?

  13. “If the Democrats in 2020 fail to nominate a candidate who places my teeth on edge,…..”

    That line right there sums up beautifully why I started reading the old GOP-Lifer blog, why I still come here, and why I respect Chris. It is the unfortunately rare sort of honesty that realizes that 1) sometimes you have to smack your own 2) sometimes your side does stupid/ill-advised things 3) because of that sometimes you’ll have to take 3 (or more) steps back before you can move forward again 4) Even the best ends can NEVER justified by certain means. In 2016 I grossly underestimated the number of GOPers/conservatives who would be principled like Chris, and it is a sorrow and a disappointment that I have carried ever since.

    1. A lot of more progressive people got angry because they did not get their way with Bernie and stayed home 2016 election or voted for third party candidates who had no chance of winning. You have to play the hand dealt you as well as you can. GOPers/conservatrives are not alone in blame.

      I voted for Gwen Graham in the Democrat Florida Govenor primary but Gillum won. So I will support him and vote for him in the general Election. I never ever voted for her Ms Graham’s Dad. But I thought a woman would shake things up. Voters have to learn a little pragmatism in their politics. And BTW Andrew Gillum is the kind of shack em up smart talent politician who will have old white people shrieking in terror. This old white man would be pleased to have him for Govenor.

      1. Stephen, what are your current thoughts for the FL Governor and Senate Races?

        Regarding WA, I am bullish on CD-08; I believe Schrier will eke out a narrow win. For CD-03, I think that could easily flip. Long is running a strong campaign. For CD-05, though Lisa Brown is also running a very strong campaign, the district has a Cook PVI of R+8, so I think McMorris-Rodgers will probably pull it out. Still there is a good possibility that WA will end up flipping 3 CD’s, but we may not know until 1-1 1/2 weeks following the election. Regardless, a strong blue wave appears to be developing in WA.

      2. Gillum I think will bring the Obama coalition out. Plus the conservative north Florida could be hindered by the hurricane from voting. The red tide problem is being correctly blamed on Govenor Rick Scott and the GOP controlled Legislation branches. Many people’s income are being adversely affected. Govenor Rick Scott has narrowly won by 1 % or less in midterm elections which the govenor race always falls on. This time people who do not vote in mid terms (Democrats) are angry and will vote. Gillum will bring out the black vote and while they vote for him will vote for Senator Nelson and other democrats. Gillum winning the governor democrat primary was very bad news for Scott who is running for Senator. This could be a blue year for Florida.

      3. Stephen, good to hear that your thoughts of several weeks ago have not been revised.

        My ballot arrived today and has been filled out. I will walk to the corner mailbox tomorrow and deposit it. I voted straight D, and voted the liberal line on several issues. That includes an initiative to impose pollution fees on fossil fuels. If it succeeds, it will be the first in the nation to do that. The opposition this time does not seem to be as strong as on a similar proposal in 2016. BTW, the return postage is being paid by the state now.

      4. I remember a conversation I had with some 20 and 30-something Bernie supporters at my favorite bar 2 years ago. They were very down on HRC (they had some valid reasons) and wondering if Trump would be so bad (spoiler alert, he is!). I told them to think about the judicial picks. I have no idea if they voted or how they voted, and I wonder. I do hope that all of Bernie’s people are appalled and angry and preparing to vote out Republicans. Right now the best chance of that is to vote for the Democrat, not the Green, or the Socialist, or the Libertarian, or any other 3rd party. Be like Chris and acknowledge that you can’t have your ideal candidate right now.

      5. Not true. Bernie did well real well with Democratic independent leaning voters. Actual members of the party voted for Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly.

        I don’t want a Bernie Sanders type to win. It’s not that I oppose his positions (I think he is right on all of the economic ones), but he would be an ineffective President because The Democrats in Congress (not to mention the GOP) would never implement his policies. For every Ocasio Cortez in Congress, there are fifty who oppose her policies.

    2. I think it is fair to say that Chris is neither a “GOP=Lifer” or a “Political Orphan” anymore. His thread is as hyper partisan Democrat as are his commentors’ posts. When you read repeatedly that what is needed is to, “Trash the Constitution” here, there is no debate.

      1. I disagree. Chris (like many other intelligent people) is in a “no man’s land” politically. We euphemistically call them “Independents”. What Chris is trying to help us understand is that Democracy vis a vis the established two-party system, is failing. The reasons don’t really matter. What matters is what the process and solution are. When Americans continue to support an agenda that is tearing down democratic norms and institutions despite the impact it will have on their own lives, intelligent solutions are going to have a tough time.

        There is already violence, denigration, and voter suppression. The authoritarian agenda of Trump aided and abetted by the GOP, is in high gear. I expect the post-election period to result in ratcheted up plan to implement even more egregious policies and laws. The rumors circulating about the delay by the judge to rule on the ACA unconstitutionality appeal led by 19 GOP attorney’s general point to how carefully timed the Republican gameplan is. If there is one thing I am certain about it is that Republicans are very organized and have lost any pretense of propriety and shame for the actions they are taking that hurt people outside their base.

        If it takes changing our Constitution and form of government to make our country function more fairly again, I’m all for it.

      2. You have to have a super majority of states 38 to amend the Consitution. 34 to call a constitutional convention and 38 to ratify . Not going to happen. We have to work within our current system. I do not waste energy debating something so improbable.

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