Just two things

From today’s NY Times. This explains a lot about why our two-party democracy is so broken.

Today’s Republican Party is less concerned with national public opinion than it used to be — or than today’s Democratic Party is.

The Republican Party of the past won elections by persuading most Americans that it would do a better job than Democrats of running the country. Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower each won at least 57 percent of the vote in their re-election campaigns. George W. Bush won 51 percent, largely by appealing to swing voters on national security, education, immigration and other issues. A party focused on rebuilding a national majority probably could not stay tethered to Trump.

But the modern Republican Party has found ways other than majority support to achieve its goals.

It benefits from a large built-in advantage in the Senate, which gives more power to rural and heavily white states. The filibuster also helps Republicans more than it does Democrats. In the House and state legislatures, both parties have gerrymandered, but Republicans have done more of it. In the courts, Republicans have been more aggressive about putting judges on the bench and blocking Democratic presidents from doing so. In the Electoral College, Democrats currently waste more votes than Republicans by running up large state-level victories.

In other words, the Electoral College’s mapping of land (states) to votes, rather than a purely democratic mapping of individuals to votes, gives the Republicans (translate: rural white conservatives) a permanent structural advantage. They’ve realized it and they count on it, not worrying about the pesky opinions and needs of a majority of voters.

It only takes two things to rebuild the foundations of our democracy: (1) Term limits on Congress, so octagenarian Senators can’t impose their will on the country forever, and (2) Get rid of the Electoral College and let an individual’s vote be a vote.

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