Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 31, 2009

CALIFORNIAFICATION.... I'm on the other coast, but from afar, California seems to have a basic problem when it comes to governing. Part of it is a public expectation of strong governmental services and benefits, coupled with revulsion to paying for them, but the structural issues are arguably more important.

On the one hand, Republicans in the state have moved to almost comically conservative levels, and can't win legislative victories outside their stronghold areas. On the other, Democratic struggle to actually govern, because of mandatory super-majorities needed to advance an agenda.

If you're starting to think this sounds familiar, there's a good reason.

Nationwide, the electorate has high expectations on public services, but are generally resistant to tax increases. The GOP contingent in Congress has shrunk badly as the party has moved sharply to the right, but Democrats aren't able to govern as they'd like, due in large part to a procedural, structural straightjacket.

Rich Yeselson proposed a thought experiment yesterday. Imagine if President Obama, as chief executives of yore used to do, was able to pursue his policy agenda by having a majority of the House and a majority of the Senate approve legislation he proposes. (This is old-school thinking, I know.) The stimulus would have been stronger; the health care bill would be more ambitious; the climate change bill could be further reaching, etc.

Except, that doesn't seem to be on the table.

We are living through the Californiafication of America -- a country in which the combination of a determined minority and a procedural supermajority legislative requirement makes it impossible to rationally address public policy challenges. And thus the Democratic president and his allies in Congress are evaluated on the basis of extreme compromise measures -- supplicating to dispassionate Wise Men like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman, buying Olympia Snowe a vacation home, working bills through 76 committees and countless "procedural" votes -- rather than the substantive, policy achievements of bills that would merely require a simple majority to pass.

It is sheer good fortune that the Democrats had 59/60 Senate seats this cycle and thus were able to pass any stimulus at all, albeit the inadequate one they did. Think about it: With a robust 56 Senate Democratic seats, the stimulus would have failed -- and otherwise, Galston/Brooks would be talking not about Obama's "going too far," but, rather, about a "failed Obama presidency." And they would be wrong. What we would be witnessing -- and are still witnessing -- is a failed system of democratic governance. It's something procedural liberals should be deeply concerned about and should remedy as quickly as possible.

In the abstract, the landscape probably seems a little ridiculous. After extraordinary failures, Republicans were pushed into a tiny, humiliated minority. Democrats received a mandate unlike any we've seen in a generation -- a major presidential win (365 electoral votes), a huge House majority (256 seats, or 59%), and the largest Senate majority in decades. The GOP quickly became a small, discredited minority, and Democrats were positioned to do largely as they pleased.

And yet, the Californiafication issues persist.

Kevin Drum added, "In Washington DC, federal deficits have become enormous, Republican tax cuts have made them even worse, healthcare costs are skyrocketing, unemployment is about to break double digits, and it's nearly impossible to seriously address these problems because the Republican Party has adopted a policy of making the filibuster a routine tool of state. If you can't get 60 votes in the Senate, you can't pass anything of consequence these days."

With 58 Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats, it means necessary legislation to address pressing crises stalls every time Joe Lieberman starts to feel unloved or Ben Nelson has a bad day.

There's a lot of talk in the political world about "reform" - - health care reform, energy reform, education reform, etc. When Americans elect a political party to deliver on an agenda, and it can't because the system undermines democratic governance, it's time for "structural reform" to be part of the conversation.

Steve Benen 4:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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The problem is money in politics and the eternal campaign.

The first step is to overturn the concept and practice that corporations are entitled to free speech protections, and eliminate corporate ownership of legislators. The second step would be total public financing of elections.

Posted by: elbrucce on October 31, 2009 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Everything will be fine when the number of Republicans in the Senate gets down to around 20 or so. Then it won't matter what the Lieberman's and Nelson's do. I hope.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on October 31, 2009 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

I agree totally with the above!
Corporate "personhood " is destroying our democracy
And by the way, why are candidates paying retail to advertise on OUR airwaves-ads should be FREE and they should be at least two minutes long so they actually say something.

Posted by: sue on October 31, 2009 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't the Senate Dems just kill the filibuster, on the grounds that it is unconstitutional (or extra-constitutional because it is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution)? They have the power to do it, just as the Republicans had the power to do a few years ago.

Just do it.

It's time the Democrats stop acting like battered spouses, always trying to please those mean Republicans.

Posted by: daveb99 on October 31, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

The thing is that the straight jacket on the Dems in DC is one they put on voluntarily (and one they would rarely consider putting on Republicans). And you assume Obama would have liked a more liberal and ambitious agenda. All indications are that he's not even comfortable being as liberal as he has been. The stimulus was preemptively negotiated down, and so was single payer. And it looks like Obama would have preferred to be forced to drop the public option. The problem is not the Republicans alone. It's the fact that conservative so called moderate Democrats like the way things have been going too.

Posted by: tc on October 31, 2009 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

When is someone going to call the filibuster's bluff?

MAKE the jerks get up for a couple of weeks and talk about - well, anything - and see if they have the stamina to do it. Make them pay.

Right now, the threat makes everyone fold. Screw that! If Lieberman and Nelson feel so strongly, then let them and their fellow PofNO members get up and draw attention to themselves for a couple of weeks. Let the news media cover it night after night. Let's see how the country goes.

I think it will look a lot like the government shutdown strategy the repubs used. Bad for them.

Posted by: Sedona Sam on October 31, 2009 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

The democrats will be blamed for this failure of governing before the republicans will. The republicans aren't likely to be reduced much further; most republicans left are from deep red states where no democrat but a Blue-Dog has a chance of winning (who will caucus with the GOP anyway).

History will remember the mandate and momentum of the Obama election that quickly slammed into the immovable object that is GOP ignorance and obstructionism. Given the predictable and disingenuous "reporting" from the MSM, who will remember the sincere efforts of the handful of progressive democrats?

The GOP lost control of congress after Newtie's antics, but how quickly did they regain it? How quickly did dear Monica and the "War on Terror" blind the voters?

Posted by: Twiist on October 31, 2009 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

You also have to keep in mind that the senate -- BY IT'S VERY NATURE -- is undemocratic. Wyoming has the same number of senators as California. If you add the sixty-vote rule, it becomes even more undemocratic. It becomes a tyranny of small states.

Posted by: inkadu on October 31, 2009 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Twiist, the Democratic party will be blamed for this lack of leadership. The Republican party is clearly out of power.

Posted by: Glen on October 31, 2009 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

The 100 ugliest human beings in America

When is someone going to call the filibuster's bluff?

Come now. You don't expect the rich boy's club to actually require its members to stand up and do some work do you? Every single one of these Senators is on the corporate dole. Every single one. Combine the corrupting influence of fame with getting money for nothing and you create horrible misshapen human beings with bloated opinions of self worth. And you expect these princes of industry to condescend and actually filibuster?

Ancillary thought of the day: Lieberman's haul

How much money future corporate money (under the table, of course) has Joe Lieberman been promised if he supports the lazy man's filibuster? We will never know. But I expect at least several millions will find their way to a secure bank account in Joe's name. Beyond the reach of prying government eyes of course...

Posted by: koreyel on October 31, 2009 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

You're absolutely right, but don't doubt for a minute that if the Republicans were to gain back the House by a slim majority and (God forbid, but it will happen eventually) the Senate by a slim 52 or 53 votes, the media will extol how it's a center-right country and the conservative agenda must be enacted as per the will of the people, and the Democrats are just obstructionists...and the Dems will bend over, as the Repubs never do, and be easily steamrolled into enacting massive tax cuts and cuts in services, etc...

Posted by: bruce k on October 31, 2009 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Better get used to this tune. Moderates, in and out of government, will be in full CYA mode until the democrat party is mercifully removed from power. Maybe they can streamline government for the thugs. Americans will take crazy over wimpitude. It's embarrassing.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on October 31, 2009 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

While the non-democratic nature of the Senate has kept President Obama from enacting a stronger stimulus or more robust health care reform plan, it's important to remember this same system also kept President Bush from doing even more damage. Imagine if he had been able to privatize Social Security, make the tax cuts permanent or pass more of the things on his agenda, needing only 50 Senators to do so.

I agree that California's system is really unworkable, but I don't know that the US Congress is quite that bad. At least not yet. The real problem isn't so much the filibuster/blocking strategies of the GOP, it's that the Democrats have to negotiate with themselves as much as the GOP.

Posted by: cptspalding on October 31, 2009 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

I can't help but remember a few years back, when Frist and company were threatening to use the nuclear option over Bush's judicial nominees. At the time, the entire liberal blogosphere painted the move as an unjustified power grab. Nowadays, the meme seems to have flipped (almost 180 degrees) to the need for simple majority rule -- exactly the same bullshit the Republicans were peddling back then. So the present outrage seems a tad convenient.

At any rate, I think the main problem is that the Democrats in the Senate (and to a lesser degree, the House) just don't have the spine to stand up to the wingnuts on the Right. Numerous people have made this point in the past, but it bears repeating: the Republicans were able to get through two series of massive tax cuts, invade two countries, gut Bankrupty Chapter 7 protections, and get two ultra-conservative members on the Supreme Court with less legislative power then the Dems have now. And that's just the stuff I can remember off the top of my head -- most of which the Dems probably could've stopped if they had more than a pair of guts between all of 'em during Bush's reign.

Two things need to happen: first, the Dems need to actually start punishing their own members for all of the backstabbing on major legislative initiatives. I'd like to think the party is a big tent and all, but there has to SOME point where loyalty to basic Democratic principles demands that people close ranks. Second, the way the filibuster works needs to be changed: most folks seems to have the misperception that the manuever is something like Strom Thurmond standing up and talking 'till he collapses. That's just an urban myth, and right now, a few Rethugs can just show up and block anything from passing. So let's make them ACTUALLY filibuster something -- pack all the senators who want to filibuster into the chamber, and make them actually sit down and talk the bill to death.

Hate the player, not the game folks.

Posted by: Barrick Arnold on October 31, 2009 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Structural reform is needed, not merely the procedural reform of eliminating the 60 vote supermajority. We would do well to treat the Senate as the British have treated their House of Lords, namely by weakening and eventually eliminating its powers to obstruct. All legislation, for example, might originate in the House, with the Senate restricted to delaying legislation for, say, no more than a year, rather than having the power to kill it outright. Our system may need a Senate to restrain a House that is responsive to the volatile will of the people, but it does not need one so unrepresentative, heavy handed, and obstructionist as the present one.

Posted by: John P Hewitt on October 31, 2009 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

As a lifelong Californian, I can tell you that one of our biggest problems is the Ballot Proposition system of having voters constantly approve more spending (the money for which is usually BORROWED rather than raised through taxes). But the same voters almost never approve tax hikes or spending cuts.

They expect the Legislature in Sacramento to somehow balance the budget when most of the spending is constitutionally outside their control.

Posted by: Speed on October 31, 2009 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Instead of worrying about changing voting laws or campaign finance, why not think about what the maximum percentage of the GDP that the government can consume in the long term, what level of GDP can the U.S. spend on entitlements, and whether the population of the future will be able to compete in the world market to fund the government.

Posted by: superdestroyer on October 31, 2009 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it, "Californication" as in, "We're f**ked"?

Posted by: BroD on October 31, 2009 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

The needed reform is a small and simple one: Instead of 60 "yes" votes to end debate, the Senate should require 40 "no" votes to continue it. Then, if the minority party wants to filibuster, they can -- but it will literally take 40 people occupying the Senate floor, 24 hours a day, to keep the filibuster going.

Posted by: Scott Forbes on October 31, 2009 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

For when the system completely breaks down, about when the dollar implodes, here is an idea on budgeting:
The process of budgeting is to prioritize needs and desires, then decide where to draw the line between what can be afforded and what cannot. In the US, some years ago, there was a discussion about the "line item veto," where the president could delete any item he wished from spending bills. Obviously this would remove all power of the purse from the legislature and likely be unconstitutional. In the spirit of actual budgeting, a possible solution would be to break these bills down to their constituent lines and then have every legislator assign a percentage value to each line and then re-assemble them in order of preference. The president would then draw the line at what would be funded. This would divide responsibility, allowing the legislature to prioritize, while giving the president final authority over total spending. Since making the cut would be graded on a curve, there would be much less incentive to trade favors and the percentage system would allow legislators to fine tune their granting of favors to other legislators and lobbyists.

Posted by: John Merryman on October 31, 2009 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Corporate Personhood?
The Filibuster?
Democrats acting like battered spouses?
Lack of Democratic leadership?


None of those are the core issue. They are symptoms. Not until inkadu has anyone hit the essence of the problem. First there is the structural problem that "...the senate -- BY IT'S VERY NATURE -- is undemocratic."

And why is that the case? That system was set up by the plantaion slave-holders to protect their dispicible institution that even they recognized was undemocratic and immoral. But it made slave-holding plantation owners the single wealthiest group in America even as early as 1787. They were selling the first major commodities - sugar and cotton primarily - into the earliest form of global trade. They were selling to the earliest forms of the factory system in England that created the industrial revolution.

Consider the second problem which has kept this tyranny of the wealthy minority in power. Americans don't trust government and always want the ability to stop it from acting even if they are in the extreme minority. That belief exists primarily because the oligarchy of the wealthiest Americans spread the propaganda that government is untrustworthy and that it cannot work without destroying the essence of America.

That same oligarchy spreads the belief that only by letting them control government will America's wealth be maintained. And so the wealthiest 20% of Americans own most of the wealth in America, and democratic government doesn't work for the American people.

John P. Hewit above is quite correct. The House of Representatives has to be made supreme over the Senate as the British have spent the last century doing with the House of Lords (soon to be renamed the British Senate and as the hereditary Lords eliminated. Check Wikipedia.) But at the same time the Representatives have to be made directly responsible to the people instead of to the moneyed powers. That will mean at a very minimum government funding of elections. The current form of electoral success largely by money leaves the wealthy in power in America.

The American life-Barons (consisting of all 100 senators and of House Chairpersons) need to have their wings clipped. A representative that keeps getting reelected every two years is simply too powerful, and since they set the rules for power in Congress, they have set seniority as the standard of power. Every significant form of antidemocratic protection in office as Congresspersons and Senators needs to be removed. Do Senators really need six years in office? Why not four? And why should Senators be appointed for the remaining part of a term when someone dies or resign? What about an interim appointment by someone who is then forbidden to run for the office, then an immediate special election within six months?

All of which runs the risk of adding to the institutional power of the President, of course.

I'm sure there is more that needs doing, but that's the best I can come up with off the top of my head.

Posted by: Rick B on October 31, 2009 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: Aaron on October 31, 2009 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

We don't need to amend the constitution, and probably couldn't if we wanted to. What we need to do is to say, "Won't grant cloture? Then debate mother fuckers, debate!!!" Let the people see Republicans acting like assholes while Democrats talk about all the business they want to accomplish, but can't. Harry--grow a set. We have not had filibusters, we have had threats to filibuster. And everytime we wet ourselves. Filibuster assholes. Ga head. Talk. And talk. and talk. And when they are done, break them like twigs.

Posted by: Charles Gerlach on October 31, 2009 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

Hooray for cptspalding, but I don't think Bush could have gotten enough GOP votes to cram through Social Security privatization. It was flat unpopular. It is time for the filibuster to go. It will help reduce the power of the undemocratic senate. As a Californian, I hate the fact that we have more people that most of the red states combined, but each of them gets two senators.

Posted by: Michael Carpet on October 31, 2009 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Since Reagan people take as an article of faith that deficits are only caused by spending, not by tax cuts. Cut taxes, Republicans say, and not only will you force spending down you will actually increase government revenues by stimulating the economy.

It's a lot easier to campaign on a "cut taxes" platform than it is on a "spend smarter, cut waste" platform. No nuance is needed for "cut taxes." It's the blunt meat axe of campaign themes.

It's much harder to explain that covering uninsured sick people through a public health care option will save the government money over the long run. A big part of the problem is that Republicans take so much money off the table at the start of the discussion -- the subsidies we pay hospitals and insurance companies out of our own pockets for unpaid emergency room visits are a non-factor in the debate.

Another big problem is that Republicans place no value on wellness and the public seems to accept this. Reducing infant mortality with better prenatal care offers no value to Republicans even though they say they are Pro Life. Infant death happens to people "over there" in poor parts of the city or out in the country in places that Fox News doesn't cover.

Republican economic policy is like a credit card scam that no one notices because we're being fleeced discreetly $10-$50-$150 at a time by insurance companies and others. By contrast, federal budgets and federal deficits are single, huge chunks of money. They get debated in front of cameras in Congressional Hearing Rooms, complete with all the political theatrics.

The annual budget debates on the Hill are like jet fuel for Republicans -- a constant source of outrageous claims. What about trying a two-year budget cycle? Cut the amount of debating about the budget by roughly half. Agencies would certainly appreciate the slightly more predictable availability of funds. Hold emergency budget sessions as necessary to discuss wars, disasters, economic recovery, etc.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on October 31, 2009 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

No filibuster is required in California to debate why the state government does not get its financial house in order. It just takes a united front from a determined small minded minority and a governor who has a vision to match them. The only good coming out of the current quagmire is that the governor isn't going to get to go to Washington as a US Senator. Our pain is the nation's gain.

California will only fix its financial problems through structural reform at the constitutional level. The best opinion piece I've read about how to do it says the state needs to choose at random the folks who will rewrite the constitution, probably limited to financial matters (but with a random pool I'd like to see us for all the gold ), given the obvious problems with the other two alternatives: by appointment or by election. A 2006 poll has 73% of those surveyed favor the random selection of delegates. Imagine that: By the people and for the people.


Posted by: gone_west on October 31, 2009 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

The Problem is.......

The Problem is we somehow have managed, both in California and the U.S. Congress to have evolved into a decision making process that requires anywhere from 60% to 66.6% majority votes to get anything passed.

How did this happen, and why? It is killing my state and it is killing our nation. Bat-sh..t crazy whack jobs can put holds on appointments, claim there is no climate change, bleat about death panels, vote against renewal of benefits to the jobless, and claim they have their own health reform bill.......and it really doesn't matter what they do, because all they need to do is hang tight together and get a few Democratic dogs to lie down with them.

Posted by: dweb on October 31, 2009 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

The thing is that the straight jacket on the Dems in DC is one they put on voluntarily (and one they would rarely consider putting on Republicans).

Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. Everybody is assuming that the Dems in the Senate want to pass something. They don't. By saying they need 60, they can not pass anything that helps the people and hurts the corporations. There is no needed majority of 60 needed when the GOP is in charge. Oh sure, for a judge or 2 so the Dems can pretend they care. Look at all the horrible crap passed for Bush with 52 votes.

Posted by: gttim on October 31, 2009 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Californicators,

You ought to split -- into Southern and Northern CA -- thus getting yourselves two more Senators...

Posted by: exlibra on October 31, 2009 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Prop. 13. That's the problem in CA, and the GOP is intent on having it in DC too. They're already halfway there.

But what first put CA in the hole was the $9B that Enron gouged them for.

Posted by: JPS on November 1, 2009 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

Why on earth would there ever be structural reform?

There will be no real reform of any kind domestically. Obama hasn't got the balls or even the inclination. I have no idea who the man really is. He talks a good game, then goes along to get along. He sacrifices the progressive platform everyday to placate the DC cesspool. Namby-pamby Obambi. Unless he playing 200 -dimensional chess, which I doubt very much.

He's become the Rodney King of American politics.

I think he's cowed by the defense contractors and controlled by BIG MONEY, just like your average politician.He is either weak or double-crossing and reports of his high IQ and political savvy have been greatly exaggerated, AFAICT.

In my gut, I felt strongly that Obama's ties to the Milton Friedman-Ronald Reagan School of Economaniacs would be a huge gamble not worth the risk. He's as much a protector of the status quo as Mitch McConnell.

I'll never ignore my intestines again.

Posted by: becca on November 1, 2009 at 6:47 AM | PERMALINK

And besides, just about anyone, save Sarah Palin , would look good after 8 years of Bush Jr. That was just a temporary advantage.

Posted by: becca on November 1, 2009 at 6:51 AM | PERMALINK

Start by cutting out the practice of PORK addenda.

Posted by: Lou on November 1, 2009 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

When Americans elect a political party to deliver on an agenda, and it can't because the system undermines democratic governance, it's time for "structural reform" to be part of the conversation.

None of this is new, for god's sake. We thought we elected a president who understood all this. But he didn't or wouldn't get it.

He has wasted his first year in office pursuing his conceit that he could change the way things are done in Washington. He was warned he couldn't; he would NOT listen.

He cut backroom deals with the enemy, almost childishly negotiated with himself up front, and would still sell his soul and ours for the approval of some asshole like Olympia Snowe.

Yes, we may have been up against long "structural" odds -- Californiafication, as Steve calls it. But the American people gave us our time at bat, and our cleanup hitter (who acts like a coach on the sidelines) continues to take third strikes. And appears to millions of his supporters to be on the take from those moneyed interests we so often complain about.

The "fierce urgency of now" has become a sick joke, transformed into "It's the best way, I support it, but I won't insist on it." He is quite willing to sign a bill will mandate that victims of an industry will be further victimized by that industry. He gives speeches about financial reform but supports legislative actions that would exempt those practices and practitioners that victimized Americans the most.

He insists that we don't need another stimulus when it is quite obvious that we do -- because that might suggest his first wasn't large enough.

Sure, we face structural problems. But our single biggest problem is a lack of political will and courage. A lack of leadership.

Posted by: Econobuzz on November 1, 2009 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

-ads should be FREE and they should be at least two minutes long so they actually say something.
Really? Which band? All of them? Utterly unworkable.

The democrats will be blamed for this failure of governing before the republicans will
That's not what the polls say. Republicans in Congress aren't as low as they could go but damn close.

why not think about what the maximum percentage of the GDP that the government can consume in the long term, what level of GDP can the U.S. spend on entitlements
At present, we're not even at the long term average of tax revenues as a % of GDP. The deficit would be $260 billion less at 20% than 18%, which is where we are now. More than enough to pay for health care reform with little or no incremental whining.

Republican economic policy is like a credit card scam that no one notices because we're being fleeced discreetly $10-$50-$150 at a time by insurance companies and others.

Posted by: Tom M on November 1, 2009 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

"We need to..."
"They should just..."
No one should be surprised by the fact that, despite the demonstrable and costly failings of our health care system, Congress' answer is an insipid bill that largely reinforces the status quo. Economists rarely agree on anything but most of them agree that the financial collapse was largely made possible by Congress' repeal of Glass-Steagall and its passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 yet there hasn't even been a suggestion that the one will be reinstated and the other repealed.
Congress is comfortable. Senators and Representatives live a life that many corporate CEO's and almost all other Americans can only dream of. They are immune to any consequences for their actions: the re-election rate for incumbents is still over ninety percent. Why rock the boat when things are already working out so well for them? The only time most of them leave Congress is when they can use their influence and connections to make huge amounts of money in the private sector. Congress is comfortable. No matter how bad things get for the rest of us Congress will still be comfortable and they'll still have their jobs for as long as they want them.

Posted by: Dennis-SGMM on November 1, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent post Steve. Good government reform will have to come first before progressive social reform can be enacted. The Senate, the Electoral College, the lobbyists, campaign finance, redistricting, the role of money in leg. referenda . . .. it's a very long list. Imagine the HCR process without the medicine lobby.

The situation is not unlike what it took in the 1890s-early 1900s to get done (direct election of senators, initiative and referendum, secret ballots, woman's suffrage) before the big progressive reforms could be enacted. Most of those changes happened first at the state level. Probably the same has to happen now.

It's your move California.

Posted by: angler on November 1, 2009 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

The filibuster is essentially a genteel riot.

Posted by: cld on November 1, 2009 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

There's a lot of talk in the political world about "reform" - - health care reform, energy reform, education reform, etc.

War is peace.
Ignorance is strength.
Corruption is reform.

Posted by: Linda Re on November 2, 2009 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Lilah on March 4, 2010 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK



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