This is the second in a series of two posts building off Something got you down, FOX News? (The first addressed the article The war on men.) Specifically, it explores another article trending on FOX at the time that post was written, Three words to define Obama 2.0. The author, Michael Goodwin, never specifies what the three words are, but after a careful reading, I believe they are “evasive, strident, and pugnacious.” OK.
I’m open to other suggestions.
I’m less interested in the gist of his argument – the piece advances a specious conspiracy theory regarding a media coverup of what happened re: Benghazi – and more interested in its conclusion:
It will be up to Republicans to persist, proving already that voters were wise to elect a divided government and keep the constitutional system of checks and balances vibrant.
I have no doubt that Republicans fully intend to persist. But Goodwin’s claim that voters were wise to elect a divided government is just wrong.
I imply that they lacked wisdom not in the sense that I would have preferred a Democratic House majority, but in the sense that attributing the Republican majority to wisdom of any kind is sort of absurd. Wisdom implies the exercise of choice, and as I have previously explored in completely non-original fashion, voters were given remarkably little in voting for their representatives. Here’s the Wonk Blog graphic once again:
In words, which party won the House majority depended on the decisions made in 74 Congressional districts — just 17% of the total number. In the other 361, voters could only cross their fingers. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: The problem with democracy is that you can’t vote out the guys from places you aren’t. And it didn’t work out – the party that won Congressional ‘popular vote’ ended up with a 201-seat minority.
Michael Goodwin might approve of what the Congressional split means for the constitutional system of checks and balances, but that doesn’t mean it involved choice or wisdom on the part of the electorate. To present the Republican majority as reflecting – in any way – the will of the people is disingenuous at best… and also at worst. It’s just disingenuous. And its the kind of self-interested thinking that stands in the way of reform.
And in case you read this as sour grapes from someone who simply doesn’t like how the election turned out — that’s partially true, though I am trying to focus on Goodwin’s representation of the split rather than on the split itself — gerrymandering and safe districting should concern even those pleased with the outcome in the House.
These make for more than just a partisan issue: they’re part of why every issue is so goddamn partisan in the first place. The twin practices make for less accountability, and less accountability makes for a more divided Congress — or if you prefer reputable news sources, here’s the AP: New Congress: Fewer moderates make deals harder:
When the next Congress cranks up in January, there will be more women, many new faces and 11 fewer tea party-backed House Republicans from the class of 2010 who sought a second term.
Overriding those changes, though, is a thinning of pragmatic, centrist veterans in both parties. Among those leaving are some ofthe Senate’s most pragmatic lawmakers, nearly half the House’s centrist Blue Dog Democrats and several moderate House Republicans.
That could leave the parties more polarized even as President Barack Obama and congressional leaders talk up the cooperation needed to tackle complex, vexing problems such as curbing deficits, revamping tax laws and culling savings from Medicare and other costly, popular programs.
I guess that’s a good thing if you prefer a government that does nothing, or if you’re secretly hoping we go over the fiscal cliff (I guess not-so-secretly now that I’ve said it), but I think, in general, we would mostly prefer a Congress populated by moderates than dominated by radicals.
And right now, democracy is getting in the way.