Sunday, December 17, 2017

Debt, Deficits, Divided Government and Deja Vu

UPDATED: 12/20/2017
The deficit and debt are unsustainable.
It's easy to understand why Republicans are circling the wagons on the Tax Bill. Given the dearth of legislative accomplishment in the first year of the Trump administration, failure to pass tax reform is truly an existential threat for the GOP.  If a Unified GOP Government can't even legislate every Republican pol's wet dream of tax cuts, then what is the point of the Republican Party?

It's understandable, but inexcusable. The Republican party took control of Congress in 2010 by raising the specter of spiraling deficits and debt, only to support a bill in 2017 that will add trillions of dollars to both.

An understandable vote for GOP partisans? Yes. An inexcusable vote for fiscal conservatives? Yes. And for students of divided vs unified government, unsurprising and completely predictable. The only time our federal government approaches anything that vaguely resembles fiscal responsibility is when the government is firmly divided:

Friday, December 01, 2017

Ranking #Billionaires4President in 2020 -
UPDATED 11/09/19

UPDATE: 09-November-2019
Oprah for PresidentBenioff for President

 Lyndon Johnson famously said "Whenever most Senators look in a mirror, they see a president.” The sentiment has been quoted, plagiarized and paraphrased by politicians and political pundits ever since.  Both Kennedy and Johnson were Senators before they were elected President and Vice President in 1962. While many Senators have run for president since Johnson served, none fulfilled that ambition until the election of Barack Obama in 2008.

In the wake of the election of Donald Trump, it's time to update that maxim:
"Whenever most billionaires look in a mirror, they see a president." 
Mark Cuban for President
And why not? After all, Donald Trump did it. How does a Mark Cuban look in the mirror and not think "If Trump did it, I can do it." Wealthy celebrities have expressed this sentiment directly. Consider Oprah Winfrey on Bloomberg:
“I never considered the question even a possibility,” Winfrey said about her pre-Trump thinking. “I though, ‘Oh gee, I don’t have the experience, I don’t know enough.’ But now I’m thinking, ‘Oh. Oh.'
Or consider Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson at Vanity Fair:
“I wouldn't rule it out,” Johnson, 44, told Vanity Fair with a big smile ...“It would be a great opportunity to help people, so it’s possible. This past election shows that anything can happen.
Dwayne Johnson for President
I'll say it again. Why not? It is worth noting that presidential campaign strategists don’t have a lot of imagination. They mostly fight the last war. Whatever worked in the last election becomes the template for what to do in the next election – only bigger and better. And what worked in the last election is this: A rich, blustering, boorish, but successful huckster/entertainer with absolutely no political experience and limited understanding of governing, foreign policy, or the constitutional framework of the United States was elected President of the United States. That happened. And when that happened the pool of future President wannabes got exponentially bigger.

This is not an original thought. Across social and mainstream media you can find many lists touting billionaires and celebrities who look in the mirror and see the next President of the United States. Examples include CNBCPeople MagazineINC, Observer, and Newsweek. Some will indeed run. In the brave new world of the Trump era, how do we separate the contenders from the pretenders?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Remember the bad old days of divided government?

We Miss Divided Government

We're now six months into One Party Rule - Republican Unified Government.

Hey! Remember all the social and mainstream media cries, lamentations, rending of garments and gnashing teeth about gridlock, divided government and partisan obstruction over the last six years? Guessing everyone is now enjoying our brand spanking new unified government! What? No? Huh.

Look, the Dividist is not one to say "I told you so..." Oh wait. Yes he is...

Americans may have a short memory, but we are once again learning to appreciate the finer points of a politically divided government. It's encouraging to see my fellow citizens coming to that realization much sooner than during the early years of unified government under either Republican Bush or Democratic Obama administrations.

Perhaps this is a good time to step away from the day-to-day West Wing tweet-storm / soap opera and consider some recent thoughtful essays on the nature and benefits of divided government.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

United Coalition of the Divided - 2018 Edition [UPDATED/CLOSED]

UPDATED: 11/06/18

The 2018 Edition of the United Coalition of the Divided is now closed. Thanks to all who participated, volunteers and draftees alike. 

Our government is divided again. Both major parties have a share of power and the views of more Americans are represented in the halls of our government.

This was our most successful membership roll ever. Stay tuned for the 2019 Edition of the United Coalition of the Divided. Coming soon to a blog near you!

Vote for divided government in 2018
Welcome to the United Coalition of the Divided - the Dividist's social media version of retail door-to-door politicking. 

We advocate voting strategically for divided government. We know why we should vote for divided government. We know how to vote for divided government. In this post we [virtually] gather those of like mind who help [intentionally or not] make the case to vote for divided government in 2018. One voter at a time.

The Dividist initiated this exclusive club during the 2008 election cycle and recycled it in every federal election since. It was an ignominious start, with the Democrats seizing unified control of the federal government. The 2010 edition was barely posted in time for the midterms.  Amidst the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, divided government was emphatically restored. The 2012 membership drive worked out fine with the reelection of Barack Obama and divided government. In the 2014 midterms, it was just a question of how divided we were going to get as the Democrats managed to dig themselves an even deeper hole in Congress.

Then 2016 happened.  The Republicans were in control of  both branches of Congress with no realistic chance of losing majority control in the House of Representative. It seemed like such an easy, obvious choice. All we had to do was elect Hillary Clinton and the government would stay divided for at least four more years.

As it turns out, it was too obvious. Clinton's inevitable victory was so obvious to so many in the punditocracy (including The Dividist), that Democrats did not even bother to articulate the argument for divided government. In fact, so many Democrats and Republicans were so certain that Clinton would win, Democrats delusionally argued for One Party Rule, and Republicans co-opted the divided government argument - asking voters to focus on GOP candidates in Senate and House races in order to keep a legislative constraint on the inevitable Clinton presidency.

We tried. The Dividist patiently explained there was no chance for Democrats to take the House majority in that cycle. You didn't listen.  As a consequence, not only did Democrats lose the executive branch, but they failed to win majority control of the Senate in a cycle where the political playing field was heavily tilted in their favor.

So we've come full circle.  We again have a Unified One Party Rule Republican Government as we had in 2006 when the Dividist started this blog. It's "deja vu all over again".

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Funny, you don't look libertarianish.

 Wherein the Dividist "buries the lede" so deep no one will ever find it.  
Lady Liberty wonders what happened to the libertarians in 2016
 Lady Liberty comments on Lee Drutman Voter Study Group Analysis 
On Sunday, Fareed Zakaria invoked the recent Lee Drutman Voter Study Group (VSG) analysis of the 2016 election.  His opening monologue summarized and repeated the conclusion of his recent Washington Post guest editorial.

The VSG study has become something of a Rorschach Test among the punditocracy. Data on 2016 voter attitudes are distilled into multi-dimensional charts with - sometimes conflicting - analysis of what it all mean. That leaves a lot of room for any good ideologue to find a nugget that will confirm their bias about the election.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The "Pelosi Problem" - If she could turn back time. [UPDATED]

UPDATED: 11/07/2018*
Pelosi brings down the hammer.
Mainstream media are calling it the "Pelosi Problem". Democrats have lost four out of four special elections since Donald Trump was sworn in as President.  A blue-on-blue political feeding frenzy has erupted as Democrats eat their own.  With the President rubbing salt in the woundNancy Pelosi is being blamed by some on the left.  Democratic desperation is palpable and the growing Progressive panic is not limited to the beltway political class.

When even the solid support of liberal entertainment industry icons turn on Nancy Pelosi, a political firewall has been breached. Pelosi lost Cher  ...

... and Cher may be right. Republican strategists credit invoking the specter of - Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House - as a cudgel keeping disgruntled Republicans in the fold and contributing to the GA-06 win. From CNN:
"Why the relentless focus on the Democratic congresswoman from San Francisco? It was at the heart of their strategy to turn out reliably Republican voters who might be queasy with Trump's first five months in office, but did not want to see Pelosi and national Democrats celebrate a marquee victory in their own backyard. Pelosi "consistently polls very unfavorably," said John Rogers, the executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee -- the House GOP's campaign arm. "I think in this instance it had a motivating effect for our voters on the turnout front."
Exhibit A: This right wing Super-Pac ad was one of several mining the Anti-Pelosi vein that saturated GA-06. It was effective and is exactly what we can expect to see in every contested district in 2018:

Thursday, June 08, 2017

What it takes to impeach a President & why we're not remotely close to impeaching President Trump. [UPDATED 08/21/18*: It's getting close.] [UPDATED 02/27/19**: We're there.]

UPDATED: 02/27/2019**
What it takes to Impeach a President
 Graphic Updated after Michael Cohen Hearing 2/27/2019* 
To Impeach or Not to Impeach...
Conventional wisdom informs us that impeachment proceedings against a sitting President will not happen while the legislative branch is in control of the same party as the President. History bears this out, as impeachment actions against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were all initiated when the House of Representatives was controlled by the opposition party. But with President Trump, history and conventional wisdom may be steering us in the wrong direction, as many establishment Republicans would far prefer Mike Pence as President. Regardless, it is certainly true that divided government would make impeachment easier and the 2018 midterm election looms large.

The unfolding James Comey testimony, and in particular his opening statement published a day earlier, has precipitated predictably contradictory analysis of whether the threshold for impeachment has been crossed or not.

That is the Question
For those of us of a certain age, the question of what it takes to impeach a sitting President, or force a President to resign under threat of impeachment, is not a hypothetical historical exercise. We've seen it twice in our lifetime. We saw President Clinton impeached but not convicted. We saw President Nixon resign under threat of impeachment. In both cases, congressional leadership from the party of the President calling out the President were critical factors.  In both cases, there was an evidentiary Rubicon that had to be crossed before impeachment became a realistic possibility.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Dear Democrats - about that 2018 House election - Here's your silver lining playbook.

UPDATED*: 18-August-2017 
Divided Government and GA 06
Democratic hopeful Jon Ossoff came close in his initial bid to win the reliably Republican Georgia 6th congressional district. He finished first in the April election with a large plurality over a fractured Republican field but failed to secure a majority. Ossoff will face faced and narrowly lost* to second place finisher Republican Karen Handel in a June 20 runoff. Promoted as a proxy for Democratic resistance to the Trump administration, the mixed results gave both parties plenty of "spin" space. Whether it was a victory, loss, moral victory, repudiation of President Donald Trump, bellwether for the 2018 midterms, GOP wakeup call, or some mix of all the above can and will be debated.

In the bigger scheme of things, it's just one district that should and probably will stayed* Republican. By itself GA-06 is not all that important. What is important - very important - is what happens in the 2018 midterms. Can Democrats can wrest majority control of the House of Representative from the GOP, restore divided government, and provide real oversight of the Trump administration?

On that score, the Dividist can show Democrats a silver lining around the dark cloud of 2016 and offer a ray of hope for 2018. But to explain it, we must first digress through a bit of history.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Six pundits and one poll that got the election right and what they've said since - seriously & literally.

 They got it right. 
Let's get this out of the way: The Dividist got the 2016 Presidential election wrong. It is not unexpected for the Dividist to advocate for a continuing divided government state and vote. That is, after all, the raison d'etre for this blog. But the Dividist went beyond advocacy in 2016. We confidently predicted that we would continue to see a divided government in 2017 and into the foreseeable future. The Dividist even considered declaring victory and shuttering this blog post-election. We fantasized about triumphantly proclaiming "Our job here is done".  Yeah, that didn't happen. We now have One Party Republican Rule, a Unified Government and the Dividist has work to do.

With the passage of time, and with judicious use of Third Person Plural, the Dividist has created enough distance from the election to get back to work and begin posting again.

Misery loves company. Company is comforting. Who else got it wrong? Besides the Dividist, pretty much everybody:

 They got it wrong. 

The reader may recall that in the closing days of the election the most respected polling analysts in the country were fighting flame wars over whether Clinton had a 71%, 85% or 99% chance of being our next President. In case you didn't notice, she finished with a 0% chance of becoming President. We'll let Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball represent all the failed pundits, pollsters and prognosticators with this straightforward Mea Maxima Culpa:
"We heard for months from many of you, saying that we were underestimating the size of a potential hidden Trump vote and his ability to win. We didn’t believe it, and we were wrong. The Crystal Ball is shattered. We’ll pick up the pieces starting next week as we try to unpack what happened in this election, where there was so much dramatic change from just four years ago. We have a lot to learn, and we must make sure the Crystal Ball never has another year like this. This team expects more of itself, and we apologize to our readers for our errors."
Credit where it is due. Not everybody got it wrong. There were more than a few voices from across the political spectrum that saw the writing on the wall. Those of us who "knew" Trump was going to lose either dismissed or laughed at them when we should have listened. So let us listen to a few notables who got it right. Let's listen to what they said before the election and what they've said since.