The stranglehold on our politics

Low turnout and state races that allow the Republican base to dominate.

The difference in the turnouts for presidential and midterm elections means that there are now almost two different electorates. Typically, the midterm electorate is skewed toward the white and elderly. In 2010 the youth vote dropped a full 60 percent from 2008. Those who are disappointed with the president they helped elect two years earlier and decide to stay home have the same effect on an election as those who vote for the opposition candidate.

Little wonder, then, that there can be such a gulf between the president and Congress, particularly the House of Representatives—but also between the president and the governments of most of the twenty-four states over which the Republicans now maintain complete control; almost half of these were elected in 2010. Democrats have complete control over fourteen states. The Republican-controlled states include almost all the most populous ones outside of New York and California. Since the midterms of 2010 the Republicans in most of these states have pursued coordinated, highly regressive economic policies and a harsh social agenda. Thus, while there’s largely been stalemate in Washington, sweeping social and economic changes that are entirely at odds with how the country voted in the last presidential election have been taking place in Republican-controlled states.

As a result of the relative lack of interest in state elections, we now have the most polarized political system in modern American history. It’s also the least functional. Many state governments’ policies are not just almost completely divorced from what is going on at the federal level—but also in some cases what is prescribed by law and the Constitution. Systemic factors based in state politics explain more about our national political condition than tired arguments in Washington over who is at fault for what does or doesn’t—mainly doesn’t—happen at the federal level. The dysfunction begins in the states.

Thanks to DUI Attorney Karin Riley Porter.

2 thoughts on “The stranglehold on our politics

  1. This “dysfunction” is bad how? The fact that people don’t go to the polls and vote is not a good thing. But that’s a seperate issue. Do we need a fnctioning government? Sure. But only if it functions in favor of the 99%. Which it doesn’t do these days. It functions only for the 1% who have bought and paid for it.

  2. The 2014 election cycle may be the real test of whether this is transitory or a permanent condition. The electorate has seen or felt the lash, do they turn or reelect the tyrants? If the latter, the Republican Party might just have more success in national elections by taking campaigns even more deeply negative to drive away the fair weather voters.

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