Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Congress Will Be Broken for 10 Years

@oreillyfactor @AliVelshi @edshow When a Republican on a cable news show says "we have a mandate", why don't the talking heads ever call them out on "gerrymandering"? (And I mean, to their face, on live TV.)

While although the Democrats picked up a few more seats in both the Senate and the House in the 112th Congress, Republicans still hold a majority in the House, leaving us with a still-divided government.

As the new Congress convenes, Republicans are claiming that their party has as much of a mandate as President Obama because "voters returned them to power in the House".

The Republican's misleading mantra has been intoned by the likes of John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Newt Gingrich, and Grover Norquist. They claim that by giving Republicans the House, the voters were asking for a divided government.

But the Republican's and Tea Party's claim to represent the voters' will just doesn't add up; and whenever Republican politicians or their emissaries are interviewed on cable news channels (Fox, CNN, and MSNBC), the host never call them out on the "gerrymandering". Why is that?

The final results from last November's election were recently completed, and they definitely show that Democratic candidates for the House far out-polled Republicans nationwide by nearly 1.4 million votes and more than a full percentage point.

And a new analysis (conducted by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report) finds that even if Democratic congressional candidates had won the popular vote by a full seven percentage points nationwide, the Democrats could still not have regained control of the House.

Because of redistricting (gerrymandering) based on the 2010 census, House Republicans may be protected from the will of the voters for the next ten years.

And because the House Republican majority isn't sensitive to political pressure and public opinion, in a very real sense, the Republican House majority is totally impenetrable to the real will of the people.

The Democrats had 59,645,387 votes for House candidates, the Republicans had 58,283,036 votes for House candidates -- a difference of 1,362,351 favoring Democrats. On a percentage basis, Democrats won the House votes 49.15 percent to 48.03 percent.

Knowing that they don't, the Republicans still claim they have a mandate, which shows that the Republicans are also liars. (Politifact.Com found that the Republicans lied much more than the Democrats. Mitt Romney's pants were always on fire!)

Computer-aided gerrymandering is helping to make such un-Democratic results the norm -- to the decided advantage of Republicans, who controlled 21 state governments after the 2010 census, compared to only 11 for Democrats (even though many times the Democrats had won the popular vote).

But the Republican advantage isn't entirely because of redistricting; Democrats have majorities in urban centers (big cities), so non-partisan redistricting would only partially close the gap (such as where rural voters in Southern states would most likely vote for a Tea Party candidate).

But the 2012 House results show that the redrawing of districts to optimize Republican representation clearly had an impact.

The Republicans don't have a permanent House majority yet, but they will go into the next several election cycles with an automatic head start. For many Republican candidates, the biggest political threat comes not from Democrats, but from conservative primary challengers (not only is Congress divided, but the Republican party is also divided).

In theory, the Supreme Court could have decided long before now that this rigged election system denies Americans fair and effective representation, but this won't happen anytime soon. (Not when corporations are people).

For now, we will need to recognize the fact that the Republican House majority will always obstruct the majority will of the people, and that Congress will remain broken for a very long time to come.

That is, unless of course, many more Republican voters (earning less than a million dollars a year) wake up, come to their senses, and finally realize they've been voting against their own best interests for years.

The filibuster is an antiquated provision in Senate procedure that has given a minority of right-wing senators the ability to paralyze the Senate. It's the reason there was no public option in health care reform, why financial reform didn't end "too big to fail," and why the DREAM Act never made it to the Senate floor.

Every two years, at the beginning of a new Congress, there's an opportunity to fix the filibuster. Two year ago, there was movement to do so. But then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cut a bad deal with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

We need to speak out and make sure that the Senate doesn't take a pass on reform like they did last time. I just signed a petition telling the Senate to fix the filibuster. I hope you do, too.

Related: Some in Congress Exist in Unreal World

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