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“Here’s A Shocker”: Republican Voters Really Don’t Care For The Idea Of Party Elites Picking The Nominee

It’s understandable that everybody’s absorbed with figuring out the various ways Republican Party elites could find to screw Donald Trump and/or Ted Cruz out of the presidential nomination and impose on the GOP a candidate more to their — and general-election voters’ — liking. After all, the whole “contested convention” thing is pretty novel, as is the white-hot antipathy of so many prominent Republicans to their party’s most likely nominee in a year when they thought they were going to have a downhill path to the White House.

What most of this speculation ignores is the growing evidence that actual Republican voters would not take too kindly to being shoved out of the decision-making process for a nominee. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post points to two emphatic data points:

A new Bloomberg Politics poll finds that 63 percent of Republican voters nationwide think that the winner of the most delegates should get the GOP nomination, even if he does not win an outright majority. Only 33 percent say the delegates at a contested convention should pick the nominee instead …

  [A] CNN poll earlier this week … found that by 60-38, Republican voters think the candidate with the most delegates should get the nomination, even without a majority.

As Sargent notes, both polls also showed Trump losing to Hillary Clinton in a general election, which will be the party elites’ excuse for taking over the nomination process if they can — and if they dare.

But they could be courting disaster if they do so. An even more emphatic indicator of rank-and-file antipathy to a bossed convention comes from a HuffPost/YouGov survey, which shows only 16 percent of self-identified Republicans and leaners being “satisfied” with a nominee chosen from outside the current field, while the idea makes 55 percent angry. The second-worst idea, respondents to the survey say, would be to nominate John Kasich, the closest thing to an acceptable-to-the-Establishment candidate left in the field and the brandisher of many a general-election poll. Seems Republicans who keep passing up opportunities to vote for Kasich may mean it.

There is, of course, more than a little irony in the insistence of Republican voters on intra-party democracy. This is, after all, the party that’s busy creating potholes in the path to the ballot box anywhere it can. And you could make the argument that latter-day “constitutional conservatism” is all about creating iron-clad protections for conservative governing models (and the interests that benefit from them) against popular majorities acting through Congress or the presidency to enact progressive policies. There’s very significant support among conservative activists for repealing the 17th Amendment to take away direct election of U.S. senators in favor of returning the privilege to state legislators.

In that context, this sort of opinion expressed by North Dakota RNC member Curly Haugland isn’t so surprising:

“Do the primaries choose a nominee or do the convention delegates?” he asked. “It can’t be both.” “Democracy is pretty popular,” he added, “but it’s simply not the way we do it.”

I suspect party leaders like Haugland are in the process of finding out that Republicans want democracy for themselves even if they are occasionally willing to deny it to those people who are presumed to want to live off the hard work of virtuous older white people, or murder their own babies, or force bakers of conscience to create same-sex-wedding cakes. And a “brokered convention” that ignores this sentiment may soon find those sunny general-election polls showing some non-Trump or non-Cruz candidate winning may be premature.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 25, 2016

March 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Voters, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Obamacare Resistance Regroups”: Delving Even Deeper Into Denial

The 16th Amendment to the Constitution, authorizing the federal income tax, was ratified in 1913. Still, every once in a while, the news will report the arrest of some right-wing kook who has failed to pay his income tax on the grounds that it’s illegal. Also in 1913, the 17th Amendment, requiring the popular election of senators (who before then were often appointed by state legislatures) took effect. And yet many conservatives still want to repeal it — and not just kooks, or at least influential kooks and not just completely marginal and obscure kooks. And those things happened more than a century ago.

So how long will the Obamacare resistance live on? A long, long time.

Obamacare has survived when it appeared to be dead in Congress in 2009, then even more dead the next year, and then survived a Supreme Court case, a presidential election, a rollout crisis, and another Supreme Court case. National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar has lovingly tended the flickering flame of health-care repeal for years. In 2013, he predicted that barring “an unlikely fourth quarter comeback,” Congressional Democrats would soon join with Republicans to repeal the law over a presidential veto. In the wake of the King v. Burwell verdict, Kraushaar regroups with a new column laying out a path. Kraushaar refers repeatedly to the law’s “unpopularity,” which is … barely correct:

Proceeding from this shaky premise, he argues that, if they win the presidency, enough Senate Democrats might join Republicans to create a filibuster-proof supermajority:

The third group, which Sasse labels the “Replacement Caucus,” would make significant changes to the law after campaigning on a reform-oriented health care agenda in the presidential election. That’s the most tenable approach — and the fact that Sasse, a hard-line Senate conservative, is calling for something other than outright repeal is telling. (Sasse still supports repealing the law but only with a replacement plan in hand.)

If Republicans win the presidency, the political momentum — and votes for rolling back core elements of Obamacare — would be in place. In that scenario, Republicans would have won three out of four elections, and a depleted Democratic Party would be in disarray. Republicans could credibly claim a health care mandate, given how prominently the issue played in recent elections.

Kraushaar allows that these “significant changes” to Obamacare would fall short of repeal, though he does not indicate what those changes would entail. He links to a National Review column by Republican Senator Ben Sasse, which also fails to describe what changes should be implemented. The closest Sasse comes to specifying a proposal is calling for an “understandable, common-sense, patient-centric alternative.” Of course, Republicans have been urging other Republicans to come up with a common-sense, patient-centric health-care plan since the health-care debate began six years ago. They have remained stuck in the same unsolvable problem: Their actual health-care policy ideas are either all less popular than the specific policies in Obamacare, unworkable, or both. When Republicans start naming actual policy changes they would implement, they would do things like let insurance companies deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions, or stop covering popular services like maternity care. That’s why the only specific partial changes Republicans actually want to vote on simply attack the law’s financing provisions. They’re not willing to eliminate Obamacare’s benefits, but they’re happy to stop paying for them. That plan (keep the benefits, oppose the taxes) is pretty much the party’s approach to other established social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security. If Republicans win the presidency, they may bite the bullet and repeal Obamacare because their base demands it, but they won’t have Democrats on their side and it won’t be popular.

Even farther into denial is Michael Cannon, a Cato Institute scholar who played a leading role in promoting the King v. Burwell lawsuit. The basis for that lawsuit was seizing on an errant line of text implying that tax credits would be available only for customers using state-established exchanges, ignoring many other parts of the law, as well as massive amounts of evidence before, during, and after the debate implying the opposite. For a while, Cannon, the founder of the anti-Universal Coverage club, nurtured hopes of un-insuring 6 million Americans. He finds himself in the position of a despondent young Montgomery Burns mourning the destruction of his biological weapon (“My germs, my precious germs! They never harmed a soul. They never even had a chance!”)

Cannon, unlike Burns, does not seem to be accepting defeat. His Twitter bio continues to describe him as “the man who could bring down Obamacare,” a now-moot prediction. His new column argues, “Even in defeat, King threatens Obamacare’s survival, because it exposes Obamacare as an illegitimate law.” Cannon bases this claim on the fact that he believes, or purports to believe, that Obamacare is not what the Supreme Court says it is but a chimerical, never-implemented, doomed-to-fail alternative that will live on forever in his dreams. A century from now, right-wingers will emerge from their fortified mountain compounds, clutching Cannon’s writings and claiming to be following the True Obamacare.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 10, 2015

July 11, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, King v Burwell, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Rolling Back A Century”: What Sort Of “Conservative Populist” Besides Ted Cruz Would Want To Do That

I was looking around Google today to see if Ted Cruz had ever come forth with the Obamacare Replacement proposal that was supposed to be imminent back in November, when I saw some other News of the Cruz I had missed:

Sen. Ted Cruz, elected 13 months ago by actual voters, said Thursday he’d prefer to see state legislators pick U.S. senators – as they were until a century ago, when the 17th Amendment came along.

Direct election of senators has eroded states’ rights, Cruz argued, speaking to a ballroom filled with conservative state lawmakers from around the country.

“If you have the ability to hire and fire me,” he said, “I’m a lot less likely to break into your house and steal your television. So there’s no doubt that was a major step toward the explosion of federal power and the undermining of the authority of the states at the local level.”

Most of the limited coverage of Cruz’ December 5 ALEC appearance focused on his choice of the words “Stand your ground!” in defending the lobbyist-driven source of right-wing cookie-cutter state legislative proposals from recent criticism, some of it derived from the organization’s heavy responsibility for the spread of “Stand Your Ground” laws of the sort that made George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the killing of Trayvon Martin much more likely.

But repealing the 17th Amendment, ratified 100 years ago? Taking voters out of the process of selecting senators? What sort of “conservative populist” would want to do that?

Technically, Cruz didn’t endorse any particular repeal proposal, and technically, ALEC’s own idea is to create a “soft repeal” of the amendment, whereby state legislatures would be allowed to sponsor Senate candidates on general election ballots.

It so ain’t happening, of course, but it says a lot about Cruz’s notion of his “base” that he felt compelled to talk about rolling back a 100-year voting rights precedent.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, December 18, 2013

December 20, 2013 Posted by | Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“If You Can’t Beat’em, Change The Rules”: Georgia Republicans Seek Repeal Of The 17th Amendment

In the latest example of the GOP’s selective reverence for the Constitution, six Georgia Republicans are trying to end the election of U.S. senators by popular vote — just as a new poll shows that the GOP’s footing in the state’s upcoming Senate election is less secure than previously thought.

The Douglas County Sentinel reports that state representatives Dustin Hightower, Mike Dudgeon, Buzz Brockway, Josh Clark, Kevin Cooke, and Delvis Dutton — all Republicans — have introduced a resolution to repeal the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The 17th Amendment, which was adopted in 1913, mandated that senators be elected by popular vote; before its passage, senators were selected by state legislatures.

Cooke, who authored the resolution, told the Sentinel “It’s a way we would again have our voice heard in the federal government, a way that doesn’t exist now.”

“This isn’t an idea of mine,” he added. “This was what James Madison was writing. This would be a restoration of the Constitution, about how government is supposed to work.”

Successfully repealing the amendment would require two-thirds approval by both houses of Congress, followed by ratification by at least 38 states — giving the Georgia lawmakers next to no chance of accomplishing their goal. After all, most voters would prefer to keep the power to elect their own representatives — especially considering the pervasive corruption that has characterized the election process within state legislatures.

Still, the timing of the move is interesting. Coincidentally, on the same day that the Sentinel reported on the Republicans’ repeal plans, Public Policy Polling released a new poll showing that the GOP is in real danger of losing another Senate seat in 2014.

Despite the fact that Democrats have not won a major election in Georgia in 13 years, PPP finds that the race for the seat currently held by retiring Republican Saxby Chambliss is a complete toss-up. Democratic congressman John Barrow trails five likely Republican candidates — U.S. Representatives Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, Tom Price, and Jack Kingston, and right-wing activist Karen Handel — by an average of just 0.4 percent.

If former senator Max Cleland (D) jumped into the race, he’d start out with a lead over all five Republicans.

Republicans should be deeply troubled by their weak numbers in Georgia, ostensibly a deep-red state. If they lose Chambliss’ seat, it would all but end their hopes of capturing a Senate majority in 2014. The six Georgia lawmakers’ solution to the problem appears to be taking the decision out of voters’ hands, which fits a broad pattern of Republican behavior since the 2012 election. Once again, the party’s prevailing strategy appears to be “If you can’t beat them, change the rules.”

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, February 20, 2013

February 21, 2013 Posted by | Senate | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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