NOW TOO MUCH FOR US? Not until this afternoon!


In the meantime, this: Can our struggling nation—the slightly misnamed United States—possibly find a way "back out of all this now too much for us?"

You're asking an excellent question! That said, we're losing a chunk of time this morning. We won't be posting until this afternoon, probably on this topic.

In the meantime, this:

If Tennessee’s Legislature Looks Broken, It’s Not Alone
State legislatures around the country—plagued by partisan division, uncompetitive races and gerrymandering—reflect the current pressures on democracy.

It's a front-page report in today's New York Times about our broken state legislatures. 

Can we find a way "back out of all this?" If so, how do we do it? How do we get on that path?


  1. "Can our struggling nation—the slightly misnamed United States—possibly find a way "back out of all this now too much for us?""

    Why not; we're pretty sure it can.

    May we suggest: less unitarianism, more federalism. Or, even better, confederalism. Let individual states figure it out; or split further, if they can't...

    1. May we suggest you get lost?

  2. We have transpeople advertise guns. Then Kid Rock will be throwing knives at his gun collection.

  3. Yesterday was turned into a really bad day to
    go to bat for Fox. Not much left for Bob except to go after the judges’s wife. Yes, let’s go
    back to generalized piety.

  4. If you read the linked article about gerrymandering of TN, the problems have been caused by Republicans, not Democrats. Maybe Somerby is preaching to the wrong audience. These are the same Republicans who don't believe in bipartisanship any more and who have forgotten how to compromise. Where they have power, their governance is scorched earth against Democrats. That isn't any way to run a united country.

    1. This is a Republican problem:

      "Thomas Edsall has a long piece on the radicalization of the GOP. This is the point most people don;t want to admit:

      Theda Skocpol, a professor of political science and sociology at Harvard, contended that many of the developments in states controlled by Republicans are a result of careful, long-term planning by conservative strategists, particularly those in the Federalist Society, who are developing tools to build what she called “minority authoritarianism” within the context of a nominally democratic system of government.

      Skocpol outlined her thinking in an email:

      The first-movers who figured out how to configure this new “laboratory of democratic constriction” were legal eagles in the Federalist Society and beyond, because the key structural dynamic in the current G.O.P. gallop toward minority authoritarianism is the mutual interlock between post-2010 Republican control, often supermajority control, of dozens of state legislatures and the SCOTUS decision in 2019 to allow even the most extreme and bizarre forms of partisan gerrymandering.

      These organized, richly resourced actors, she wrote,

      have figured out how to rig the current U.S. system of federalism and divided branches, given generational and geographic realities on the ground, and the in many ways fluky 2016 presidential election gave them what they needed to put the interlock in place. They are stoking and using the fears and resentments of about half or so of the G.O.P. popular base to undo American democracy and enhance their own power and privileges. They are doing it because they can, and they believe in what they are doing. They are America’s G.O.P. Leninists.

      Skocpol did not pull her punches:

      This situation, locked in place by a corruptly installed Supreme Court majority and by many rotten-borough judicial districts like the one in Amarillo, means that minority authoritarians, behind a bare facade of “constitutionalism,” can render majority-elected officials, including the president and many governors, officials in name only. The great thing from the minority authoritarian point of view is that those visible chief executives (and urban mayors and district attorneys) can still be blamed for government nonfunction and societal problems, but they cannot address them with even broadly supported measures (such as simple background checks for having military assault weapons)."

  5. The second amendment is evil.

    1. If we actually followed it, it would not be so bad.

    2. Every government can form a militia. There’s no need to “guarantee” it.

  6. ‘“Can our struggling nation—the slightly misnamed United States—possibly find a way "back out of all this now too much for us?"’

    Back to what?

    From The NY Times article:

    “We’re just not in a normal political system,” said Kent Syler, a political science professor and expert on state politics at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. “In a normal two-party system, if one party goes too far, usually the other party stops them. They put the brakes on.”

    The South (for example, including Tennessee) is not exactly known for its robust two-party system. It was called the “Solid South” for a reason: from 1865 to around 1965, the Republican party, the party of “Northern aggression”, was practically nonexistent in all the southern states.

    And naturally after the passage of the civil rights act, the south switched from being mostly Democrat to mostly Republican. This history is well known to practically anyone, I would think.

    Only recently are we beginning to see states like North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Florida becoming less monolithic politically, as evidenced by the election of two Democratic senators from Georgia in the last election.

    The problem cannot be solved by looking backward to some mythical, mostly non-existent halcyon days of the past. The growing Democratic vote in the south (such as in Georgia) is being suppressed by authoritarian Republicans who want to exert monolithic control. Also, as the article points out: “Nationwide, candidates for roughly four of every 10 state legislative seats run unopposed in general elections.” The toxic politics of the Republican Party, plus the lack of Democrats willing to run in states like mine (Arkansas) compounds the problem.

    However, despair and nostalgia, not to mention Somerby’s daily excoriation of the Democratic Party, are not a way forward.

  7. Frost’s poem “Directive”, from which Somerby takes the line “back out of all this now too much for us”, starts out like this:

    “Back out of all this now too much for us,
    Back in a time made simple by the loss
    Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
    Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,”

    Frost is not saying olden times were simple, but that they are made simple.

    And that, as Frost might say, makes all the difference.

  8. I would also point out that, for people of a certain age, such as Somerby, who look back upon the FDR years as a time of unity and consensus, the tendency is to forget that FDR had massive Democratic majorities in the Congress to work with for most of his four terms. You had northern progressive Democrats in the same party as the southern Jim Crow Democrats, which made for an overwhelming majority. The national republican party was practically nonexistent during those years. Not much evidence of a robust two-party system here either.

  9. From Digby:

    Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making. Under these fantastic terrors of sect and schism, we wrong the earnest and zealous thirst after knowledge and understanding which God hath stirred up in this city. What some lament of, we rather should rejoice at, should rather praise this pious forwardness among men, to reassume the ill-deputed care of their religion into their own hands again. A little generous prudence, a little forbearance of one another, and some grain of charity might win all these diligences to join, and unite in one general and brotherly search after truth; could we but forgo this prelatical tradition of crowding free consciences and Christian liberties into canons and precepts of men. I doubt not, if some great and worthy stranger should come among us, wise to discern the mould and temper of a people, and how to govern it, observing the high hopes and aims, the diligent alacrity of our extended thoughts and reasonings in the pursuance of truth and freedom, but that he would cry out as Pyrrhus did, admiring the Roman docility and courage: If such were my Epirots, I would not despair the greatest design that could be attempted, to make a Church or kingdom happy.

    Yet these are the men cried out against for schismatics and sectaries; as if, while the temple of the Lord was building, some cutting, some squaring the marble, others hewing the cedars, there should be a sort of irrational men who could not consider there must be many schisms and many dissections made in the quarry and in the timber, ere the house of God can be built. And when every stone is laid artfully together, it cannot be united into a continuity, it can but be contiguous in this world; neither can every piece of the building be of one form; nay rather the perfection consists in this, that, out of many moderate varieties and brotherly dissimilitudes that are not vastly disproportional, arises the goodly and the graceful symmetry that commends the whole pile and structure.

  10. In 2044, Biden would not be running, but it would be nice to have Obama back.

  11. Legislative gridlock is superior to what we have in California. Thanks to one-party government, we have perhaps the highest taxes of any state along with poor highways, bad schools, and generally mediocre government services. I don't know where all the tax money goes.

    1. Yeah I hear California is such a hell-hole, two bedroom houses there cost $1,500.

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