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Monday, December 01, 2008


The "two-party" paradigm

How strong is the two-party paradigm in the U.S.? Over and over I read how if the Democrats win the recount in Minnesota (Al Franken) and the runoff in Georgia, they'll have 60 seats in the Senate. They will not! They'll have 58 seats. There are two independents being counted in that 60, and one of them, Joe Lieberman, defeated a Democrat to get into the Senate (not sure about Bernie Sanders; he may have as well). They may "caucus" with the Democrats, whatever that means in practice (bloody little as far as I can tell). But they are not Democrats! One of them even claims to be a socialist!

Then there is the myth that if only these two elections go their way, the Democrats will have a "veto-proof majority." Really? Why on earth would they think that Joe Lieberman, just to name one, a guy who not only endorsed but very actively campaigned for the Republican candidate in the recent election (and trashed the Democratic candidate in the process), could be counted on to vote with them on any critical veto or cloture vote? And Lieberman is hardly the only example. If there were such a thing as "party discipline" which would ensure that 60 Democrats means 60 votes for a critical item, Joe Lieberman wouldn't have been the only one kicked out of their caucus. Clearly, "party discipline" isn't a concept the Democrats know anything about.

Of course, with the exception of such things as Constitutional amendments (California take note, where things are bass-ackwards), the whole idea of super-majority votes is completely undemocratic. The Democrats could be fighting for eliminating the undemocratic filibuster. That would require that they be democrats, though. The same thing that would require them to support instant runoff voting and proportional representation. None of that is forthcoming.

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