Thursday, February 11, 2010

2012 and beyond

These are not predictions; I'm just speculating on a more-or-less worst-case scenario.

The economy takes a double-dip recession in late 2010, and unemployment is still above 9% or perhaps rises above 10% again. The Democratic party loses more seats than expected, hanging onto a slim majority in Congress. More importantly, several existing and new Republican seats in the House go to ultra-right "Teabagger" sympathizers.

The economy worsens between 2010 and 2012. Civil unrest grows, especially in the inner-cities (read "Black"*) and among industrial labor. A charismatic and strong leader of the ultra-right Teabagger faction gains national prominence. His or her platform rests squarely on oppression, expulsion and barely-concealed eliminationism of immigrants, socialists, Muslims and atheists to purify America of the corrupt elements that are holding us back. (Add a healthy dose of racism and misogyny on the side.) He or she also promises to put America back to work (by intensifying and expanding the wars in the Middle East). The Teabaggers act violently, often against other protesters, but also against a few select (relatively) moderate or especially recalcitrant Republicans.

*i.e. I expect black people to get screwed by the economy extra hard.

President Obama is severely weakened by the mid-term elections. He tries to become more confrontational and combative, but it's too little, too late. Additionally, in a series of PR blunders, the existing Republican party leadership alienates the Christian right. The Republican party, with severe internal divisions, nominates a dark horse candidate. Neither Obama nor the Republican nominee have a strong popular showing in 2012, with the incumbent Obama having a slight plurality. The Teabaggers run a third-party candidate who secures about 20% of the popular vote.

One of three things might then happen: The Teabagger candidate might actually win a state, giving him or her representation in the Electoral College. It's possible too that state-level Teabaggers might get proportional representation passed in one or more red states, giving the Teabagger candidate at least one electoral vote. It's also possible to directly suborn one or more of the Electors: at least some are not legally compelled to vote for the candidate they're pledged to. If the election is close, just a few votes in the Electoral College would be enough to deny both the Democratic and Republican candidates a majority.

The election is thrown to the House of Representatives, who consider the top three candidates from the Electoral College vote: a Republican, a Democrat and a Teabagger. This is the moment for the big putsch.

The 12th Amendment structures the House vote for president weirdly. The congressional delegation as a whole from each state has one vote. Because there are fewer, more populous Democratic states, it's virtually impossible for Obama to win... unless the Teabaggers, who have enough representation in enough states, throw the vote.

They make a bold bluff, and threaten to vote for Obama unless the Republican states vote for the Teabagger. A near-riot crowd of Teabagger supporters surrounds the Capitol, and there's demonstrations and rioting around the country. There are also hints of violent retribution for "recalcitrant" Republicans. The Republicans turn to the conservative Democrats, to no avail: they hope that the Teabaggers aren't bluffing. With partisan animosity and what little party discipline remains to the Democrats, it's not enough. The mainstream Republicans must choose: the Teabaggers or Obama.

The mainstream Republicans blink. Of course they blink. They respect power. A few phone calls, perhaps from Hindenburg Rupert Murdoch or Tom Monaghan, cliches the deal: we can do business with the Teabaggers.

Why not? Hitler's machinations were no more plausible.


  1. By 2012 the National Popular Vote bill could guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

    The bill is currently endorsed by over 1,707 state legislators (in 48 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska – 70%, DC – 76%, Delaware --75%, Maine -- 77%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 74% , Massachusetts -- 73%, Minnesota – 75%, New York -- 79%, Washington -- 77%, and West Virginia- 81%. Support is strong in every partisan and demographic group surveyed.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 29 state legislative chambers, in 19 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon, and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes -- 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


  2. I'm a communist, so I'm not inclined to believe a popular vote for the Presidency would be particularly transformative.

    Still and all, the Electoral College appears to be the second stupidest idea in the Constitution.

    I wish you the best of luck. If it comes up for a vote (before the Revolution, of course), you'll have mine.


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