Wed Jan 2, 2013, 09:57 AM
DonViejo (15,235 posts)
What California Can Teach America About Stopping Extremist Obstruction
by: Robert Cruickshank
Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 16:13:53 PM PST
If you read Calitics at any time between 2007 and 2010, you'd have seen a site focused on the same problem now facing the country as a whole: how to keep a government, an economy, and a society functioning in the face of Republican obstruction. The latest nonsense surrounding the so-called "fiscal cliff" shows that the House Republicans have learned well from their Sacramento counterparts. The method is the same: make Democrats do what they otherwise would not do by threatening to block passage of crucial legislation, then up the ante by rejecting initial deals and demanding even more once Democrats have shown they will make concessions to avoid the predicted disaster that comes with legislative inaction. The resulting deals were destructive to the state's economy and safety net, worsening the already bad financial and social crisis.
For a long time, Sacramento Democrats argued they had no other choice. We heard from Speakers of the Assembly and Presidents of the Senate that unless concessions were made to obtain Republican votes, budgets would not be passed and people would suffer. Republicans made good on their threats and delayed budgets - the 2008-09 budget was three months late. Now we're watching a similar script play out in Congress.
Here in 2013, California is in a very different place - precisely because of the lessons learned from the era of Republican obstruction. Voters approved a tax increase to help schools. The state budget is headed toward surplus. Budgets are passed on time and without hostage tactics. State government is starting to become functional again.
That did not happen by accident. It happened because Democrats and progressives decided they had enough of Republican obstructionism and developed a plan to stop it for good. The plan included smarter legislative tactics, but the real keys were changes to the political process as well as an unprecedented organizing effort, all aimed at the same core goal: restoring political power to the people, not allowing it to remain concentrated in an extremist fringe.
The first step requires being honest about how politics now works. Another veteran of those California political wars, David Atkins, observed that expecting Republicans to act rationally is to misunderstand how the party operates:
The Republican electoral chips are stashed safely in gerrymandered hands, and any losses over fiscal cliffs or debt ceilings only hurt the President and the nation's perception of government. There's no downside for the GOP in bluffing every time in the hopes that the President will fold. Why not? When you're playing with house money, it makes sense to go all in on every hand.
9 replies, 1247 views
What California Can Teach America About Stopping Extremist Obstruction (Original post)
Response to DonViejo (Original post)
Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:14 AM
Bluenorthwest (36,456 posts)
1. CA is my home State and it does show signs of remembering who it is, slowly
After Prop 8, I lost all hope for CA Democrats, who voted for that hate bill in numbers large enough to pass it.
Response to DonViejo (Original post)
Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:38 AM
mrdmk (2,663 posts)
3. A referenced article from the OP's link
If the country falls into a recession caused by House intransigence and universal tax increases, these Republican voters won't blame conservatives or the GOP. They'll happily blame the President for the biggest tax increases in American history and the sour economy to boot. And they'll love their representatives for standing firm against Kenyan socialism.
It's now up to the Left to respond and adjust its tactics accordingly. It would be great if the President had taken a stronger negotiating stance. But it ultimately wouldn't have mattered, and in fact would have made it easier for the Village press to blame both sides. Not that the Village won't do that, anyway, of course.
The first lesson here is that nobody is "negotiating" or "playing poker." A fair game of poker demands that each side actually have something at stake and be playing with their own chips. The Republican House isn't doing that: they're pleasing their own base to protect their own electoral reserves, while going all in on every hand using the American economy as collateral. The only way to win that game is not to play. Every "negotiation" isn't a game of policy trading: it's an opportunity for extortion while they cater to an ever-more extremist electorate in their home districts. California voters have already seen this dynamic in action as a slim minority of Republicans took the entire state economy hostage for decades rather than negotiate fairly.
The advantage Democrats have in this situation is that majority public opinion and the majority of actual American voters are on their side. The only thing that allows Republicans to take their hostages in the first place is a series of arcane rules that give the minority undue influence. Among those rules are:
Gerrymandered Congressional districts
Dysfunctional filibuster rules
Disproportionate Senate representation
Corrupt lobbying laws
Campaign finance laws that give outsized (sp?) political influence to a few billionaires
Archaic electoral college rules
Discriminatory workday elections
The four items above I totally agree with are: Corrupt lobbying laws, Campaign finance laws that give out-sized political influence to a few billionaires, Archaic electoral college rules, and Discriminatory workday elections. Unfortunately, this has been they way the country was set-up from the onset.
Some of the discriminatory voter laws have been abolished, many new laws to reduce the voter pool are being put into place by Republicans and heralded by the media as necessary. To deal with many of these laws, the judicial review has dealt with them appropriately. That takes time to correct.
The lobbying, campaign finance, and electoral college laws/rules have seem to go from bad to worse as of lately. To fix those we need to set-up and present a plan of action as stated in the original OP. That is what was so scary to the PTB concerning OWS. The plan and presentation was a collective of persons that did not have a hierarchy more-or-less a known communication structure.
Response to bemildred (Reply #4)
Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:57 PM
ROBROX (392 posts)
5. REDISTRICTING WAS DONE NATION WIDE
The effect has been positive in California and back east the GOP is in office. There is much work to be done in California to cash in the work which can be done by the majority who are democrats. Moon Beam may veto anything he feels is out of step with what he wants to accomplish as a democratic Governor.
California will be the experiment which can show the other states how to accomplish something positive. The state has many who vote GOP and the area in California that is GOP is larger than some states back east.
Response to bemildred (Reply #4)
Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:33 AM
Zorro (5,505 posts)
7. I think you're right
I had my doubts and didn't vote for that proposition when it was on the ballot, but it's looking like the results turned out better than I expected.
Response to Zorro (Reply #7)
Thu Jan 3, 2013, 08:39 AM
bemildred (82,682 posts)
9. Well, I'm not assuming somebody won't try to game the system.
Somebody always does, but it's an improvement over partisan gerrymandering (IMHO), and we seem to finally have the state moving in a positive direction again forty+ years after Raygun started it moving backwards.