Monday, March 16, 2009

Worthy Reads

Random but relevant political points from recent reading:
  • THE FOUNDERS' GREAT MISTAKE -- "Once the vote is counted, the President-elect (and new Congress) should take office within a week," writes law professor Garrett Epps for The Atlantic Monthly. "Americans accustomed to the current system will object that this would not allow enough time to assemble a Cabinet -- but in England and France, the new chief executive considers ministerial nominations before the election. A shorter interregnum would force the creation of something like the British shadow cabinet, in which a candidate makes public the names of his key advisers. That would give voters important information, and provide the president with a running start." Epps also recommends that a president who loses Congressional majorities in a midterm election should be forced to present a new Cabinet to Congress. Congress would approve the new slate by up or down vote. If the President can't get his team passed after three tries, he should have to resign. Finally, Epps proposes dividing the gigantic executive branch between two elected officials -- a president and an attorney general who would be voted in during midterm elections. Why? "One of the drawbacks of a single executive is that Justice Department lawyers may consider it their job to twist the law to suit the White House. But the president is not their client; the United States is," Epps writes.
  • WHY DEMOCRATS LOSE -- Ok, so they haven't lost recently. But Sen. Chuck Schumer thinks he knows what's caused his party problems in the past: Misdiagnosing who exactly makes up the middle class. As Josh Green writes in The Atlantic profile, "Most of the programs Democrats vociferously tout aim to help people slightly below this economic stratum (the median household income of $48,000): Pell Grants, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the increased minimum wage. Each is worthy Schumer says, but the programs don't reach people in the middle class." "In his 2006 book, Positively American, Schumer notes that Democrats who visit middle-class communities often vow to improve 'crumbling public schools'. This sort of talk exasperates him. In a typical middle-class neighborhood, he points out 'the school is not crumbling; it's just becoming crushingly okay.' Crumbling schools are in poor neighborhoods. So even well-meaning Democrats unwittingly offend by revealing their ignorance of true middle-class concerns. This is why they lose elections," Green wrote.
  • OBAMA-PELOSI TENSION -- According to Newsweek, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been asked to be contacted every time the White House gets in touch with a Democratic House member. She also wants to know exactly what the conversation was about. So far the Obama administration is complying, according to the report.
  • RURAL VOTERS SHRINKING -- In 2008, the percentage of rural voters nationwide dropped to just 21 percent, according to Nate Silver of In 1992, rural voters made up 35 percent of the electorate. Another troubling sign for Republicans: Their margins in rural America are also shrinking. Silver writes for Esquire, "for all their bluster about small towns, John McCain and Sarah Palin beat Obama by just 2.4 million votes in rural areas, actually a bit worse than the 4.3-million-vote margin that Bush racked up in 2004."

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