Campaign Finance & Elections

Proposals for a New U.S. Electoral System

“There are several remedies. Perhaps in order of increasing chance of adoption, they are: (1) to elect the president by the national popular vote instead of the Electoral College; (2) to choose the winner in the general election according to the preferences of a majority of voters rather than a mere plurality, either nationally or by state; and, easiest of all, (3) to substitute majority for plurality rule in state primaries,” Harvard professors Eric Maskin and Amartya Sen write for The New York Review of Books.

Democrats Can’t Win Until They Recognize How Bad Obama’s Financial Policies Were

“…the past eight years of policymaking have damaged Democrats at all levels. Recovering Democratic strength will require the party’s leaders to come to terms with what it has become — and the role Obama played in bringing it to this point,” Matt Stoller argues in The Washington Post.

“Two key elements characterized the kind of domestic political economy the administration pursued: The first was the foreclosure crisis and the subsequent bank bailouts. The resulting policy framework of Tim Geithner’s Treasury Department was, in effect, a wholesale attack on the American home (the main store of middle-class wealth) in favor of concentrated financial power. The second was the administration’s pro-monopoly policies, which crushed the rural areas that in 2016 lost voter turnout and swung to Donald Trump.”

Many in U.S. Skeptical Trump Can Handle Presidential Duties 

Gallup: “As Donald Trump prepares to take the presidential oath on Jan. 20, less than half of Americans are confident in his ability to handle an international crisis (46%), to use military force wisely (47%) or to prevent major scandals in his administration (44%). At least seven in 10 Americans were confident in Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in these areas before they took office.”

Another interesting finding: only 60% believe Trump can “work effectively with Congress to get things done.” 89% foresaw congressional cooperation with President-elect Obama in 2009.

5 Ways of Redrawing the U.S. Electoral Map That Actually Make Sense

Washington Post: “Following the election, an artist and urban planner named Neil Freeman created a fascinating tool he dubbed ‘Random States of America.’ The map randomly generated state boundaries and showed which candidate would win based on the population of those new areas.”

“At the request of Josh Wallaert, senior editor of Places Journal, Freeman then built on the idea to create a new series of five U.S. maps, organized around different systems than our currents states and districts. Part land-use planning and part science fiction, these fascinating maps show how reworkings of U.S. cartography would have resulted in different election outcomes.”

Trump’s Threat to the Constitution

“On July 7, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, met privately with House Republicans near the Capitol. I was present as chief policy director of the House Republican Conference,” former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin writes for The New York Times.

“A congresswoman asked him about his plans to protect Article I of the Constitution, which assigns all federal lawmaking power to Congress… Mr. Trump interrupted her to declare his commitment to the Constitution — even to parts of it that do not exist, such as ‘Article XII.’ Shock swept through the room as Mr. Trump confirmed one of our chief concerns about him: He lacked a basic knowledge of the Constitution.”

“In our nation, power is shared, checked and balanced precisely to thwart would-be autocrats. But as we become desensitized to the notion that Mr. Trump is the ultimate authority, we may attribute less importance to the laws, norms and principles that uphold our system of government, which protects our rights. Most dangerously, we devalue our own worth and that of our fellow Americans.”

Americans’ Support for Electoral College Rises Sharply

Gallup: “Americans’ support for keeping the Electoral College system for electing presidents has increased sharply. Weeks after the 2016 election, 47% of Americans say they want to keep the Electoral College, while 49% say they want to amend the Constitution to allow for a popular vote for president. In the past, a clear majority favored amending the U.S. Constitution to replace the Electoral College with a popular vote system.”

Also interesting: 66% of adult Americans accurately identified Clinton as the winner of the popular vote. The answers did diverge along party lines, with 85% of Democrats and only 56% of Republicans naming Clinton as the popular vote winner.

Republican Anti-Union Efforts Made a Difference on Election Day 

Alex Rowell and David Madland: “As election results rolled in the night of November 8, it became clearer and clearer that the Democratic ‘firewall’ in the Midwest might not hold. While the Democratic presidential nominee had consistently won the popular votes in Wisconsin and Michigan since 1988 and 1992, respectively, Republican nominee Donald Trump would finish the night by narrowly winning both states. There are several reasons for these Democratic losses, but one major contributor is clear: successful Republican efforts to damage unions.”

“These attacks on unions do not just lower workers’ wages and help business interests. They also change the way the political process works, especially for people with lower incomes and less education.”

Fake News May Not Be Protected Speech

Noah Feldman: “In the free marketplace of ideas, true ideas are supposed to compete with false ones until the truth wins — at least according to a leading rationale for free speech. But what if the rise of fake news shows that, under current conditions, truth may not defeat falsehood in the market? That would start to make free speech look a whole lot less appealing.”

“But to take the marketplace metaphor seriously means admitting that sometimes, markets fail. Holmes himself gave us the most famous example of market failure when he said, in a different 1919 case, Schenck v. United States, that even ‘the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.'”

“The question is whether government regulation of fake news would be justified and lawful to fix this market failure. Obviously, it would be better if the market would fix the problem on its own, which is why attention is now focused on Facebook and Google. But if they can’t reliably do it — and that seems possible, since algorithms aren’t (yet) fact-checkers — there might be a need for the state to step in.”

What Americans Can Learn from Britain’s Vote for Brexit

Heather Conley: “For those who are unsure of what will happen in the United States over the coming weeks and months, it’s instructive to watch how the UK has fared over the five months following its shocking referendum, and draw some lessons about what to expect in America after Donald Trump’s stunning victory.”

“Real anger: As soon as they regain the ability to form words, establishment anger will kick in and it will be visceral… In the United States, there will be soul searching on polling and data-driven models; the wrong candidate; the role of the media; Russia’s suspected interference in the election and the FBI’s mismanagement of Hillary Clinton’s private email server investigation. For Clinton supporters, grief will eventually give way to anger.”

“Agents of change meet institutional reality: Members of the Leave campaign who made the case that exiting the EU would be quick and allow 350 million pounds per week ($436 million) to be diverted to the National Health Service now confront bureaucratic and institutional reality. As Trump will soon discover, he and his future administration are bound by checks and balances, laws and institutions. Brexit is entering this balancing act now as parliament seeks to have greater say on the government’s EU negotiations.”

The Stages of Grief in One Chart

Quartz: “In the aftermath of bad news, we struggle to make sense of what we’ve just learned.”

“The chart below is based on a diagram in the foreword by Allan Kellehear, PhD – a scholar on dying and cultural influences – in the book’s 40th anniversary edition. It’s based on a chart by Kübler-Ross and expands on the stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This chart has seven stages: It starts with shock and ends with hope.”

Trump Promises to Bring Back Manufacturing Jobs, but Robots Won’t Let Him

Tech Crunch: “For Americans struggling with stagnant wages, under- or un-employment, one of Donald Trump’s most appealing campaign promises was to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.”

” But technology will make this promise nearly impossible to fulfill. Why? Because manufacturing jobs are increasingly done by robots, not people.”

“…when manufacturing returns to the states, jobs aren’t coming with it in high numbers. Automation has left workers in developing nations without employment, the report notes, and the U.S. faces the same prospect.”