In this article, Timothy Noah prods the notion that the Republican Party is actively seeking to overturn elections with recalls, impeachments, and redistricting tricks. Or, as Grey Davis said:
Noah looks at five specific cases and draws the following conclusions for each:
[li]Clinton’s impachment – yes, because the impeacehment effort was clearly driven by a desire to overturn the results of the 1992 election.[/li][li]The Florida recount – maybe; an argument could be made that both Gore and Bush were trying to subvert democracy in their own ways, but ultimately Bush was trying to stop the counting of votes, and persuaded the unelected Supreme Court to do that.[/li][li]Redistricting efforts in Colorado and Texas – yes and no, in the sense that while redistricting for political gains is a partisan abuse of the system, it’s really more of an overuse of democracy than an attempt to subvert it. (Note: I don’t quite follow the logic of this argument myself, but present it as written)[/li][li]California recall – yes, Davis is the target of a Republican effort to overturn the 2002 California gubernatorial election.[/li][/ul]
And with a final score of 3.5 yeses to 1.5 nos, Noah concludes that, yes, Virgina, the Republicans are out to subvert democracy when the results don’t fall in their favor. Or, as Al Sharpton quips, “Let’s do it again until I win.”
Needless to say, tossing this into Great Debates is like throwing a hunk of raw meat into a kennel full of hungry chuihuahuas. But hey, it’s Thursday, and Douglas Adams says the Earth will get destroyed by Vogons on a Thursday anyway, so what the heck – what do the politically-minded Dopers on the SDMB have to say about Noah’s thesis?
Well duh. I don’t know how any of this qualifies as abuse though. They are using democratic tools to their own advantage. Sure it’s partisan, but parties exist as a mechanism to use the political process in favor of a particular ideology.
*Originally posted by rjung *
**In this article, Timothy Noah prods the notion that the Republican Party is actively seeking to overturn elections with recalls, impeachments, and redistricting tricks. Or, as Grey Davis said:
Not true. Lying under oath, and all that. Regardless, the result would have been to be Big Al in the Oval Office, not a Republican.
Or are you suggesting Al is a closet Republican?
No argument, based on fact, can be made, other than GW won, fair and square. Mr.Noah is flapping his ass (more than usual) on this one.
The Republicans are trying to undo some of the built-in advantage the Democrats gave themselves when these states redistricted the first time around. What’s good for the goose…
Since the entire process is dependent on votes, it is beyond assine for Noah to infer that the recall is ‘undemocratic’.
Noah is Super-Unsmart. Partisan hack, and not a very bright one at that. I particularily like this ignorant quip from the Clinton memo:
Overturning legal redistricting plans? What wordsmithing! Of course, it ignores the fact that if the Texas and Colorado legislatures create new districting plans, they then become ‘legal’, just like the last time it happened. Another example of the Democrats depending on scare-tactics and obfuscation to get some votes.
And all what? Certainly you’re aware that the Clinton case looked trumped-up to quite a lot of us. As for the succession, you might also notice that a successful removal would have essentially subordinate the president to a GOP-led Congress, whoever it was.
Even you know better.
Once every ten years, by longstanding practice that has the force of rule. Of course, if you don’t respect the rules when they work against you, then you get a Texas situation.
Not when an incumbent can be replaced by someone with much less electoral support. Is there any question about this effort’s existence if the incumbent had been a Republican?
Brutus, you might have a lot more credibility if you’d cut back on the spin. This stuff, you can save for the decembers and Sams of the world.
The current Texas districts were set by a judge. That process arguably subverted democracy. The Republicans now want elected representatives to do the redistricting. That’s representative democracy in action.
Clinton’s impachment – yes, because the impeacehment effort was clearly driven by a desire to overturn the results of the 1992 election. By definition, any impeachment is an attempt to overturn the previous election. This is pretty circular resoning. And besides, as was pointed out, even if WJC had been removed from office, a Democrat would fill the space. It would not have changed the balance of power one iota. It might be argued that it would give the Dems an advantage in the next election since Gore would have been a sitting president running for re-election.
The Florida recount – maybe; an argument could be made that both Gore and Bush were trying to subvert democracy in their own ways, but ultimately Bush was trying to stop the counting of votes, and persuaded the unelected Supreme Court to do that. Both sides tried to bend the law as much as possible. How about the Dems getting the FL SC to overrule the certification deadline? I say it’s a stalemate on which side was the most “anti-democratic”.
Redistricting efforts in Colorado and Texas – yes and no, in the sense that while redistricting for political gains is a partisan abuse of the system, it’s really more of an overuse of democracy than an attempt to subvert it. (Note: I don’t quite follow the logic of this argument myself, but present it as written) S.O.P. for whichever party is in power. Again, stalement.
California recall – yes, Davis is the target of a Republican effort to overturn the 2002 California gubernatorial election. The recall process is a part of the law. Would you expect a Democrat to lead the recall effort to remove a Dem? And how about the recall efforts to get rid of Wilson and Reagan? Was that just the Democrats being saints? The recall ultimately goes to a vote, so it’s a legitimate use of existing law. Again, at worst you could claime a stalemate.
So when the Special Prosecutor was appointed in 1994, he already knew that Clinton would lie under oath in 1998? Conservatives are clever, but not that clever. It was a fishing expedition from the outset. They failed to prove anything with Whitewater, they failed to prove anything with Paula Jones, they failed to prove anything with the White House travel office, then they finally caught him in a lie about a blowjob fours years and $40 million later. To suggest that the investigation was always about Clinton lying under oath is ridiculous.
That isn’t what he said. He said the impeachment was about lying under oath. Which is true.
The investigations were, in toto, about a number of things. One can reasonably argue that it would have been better to appoint separate independent counsels for each investigation, rather than simply expanding the scope of Starr’s initial investigation into Whitewater – although doing so would have made the total cost of the investigations even higher, since there would necessarily be duplicative costs (multiple office space leases, receptionists, etc instead of one).
I know you misspoke and meant to say 1996, so I’ll go off of that. The impeachment effort was an effort to get a perjurer out of office. Say what you want, deny it all you want, he lied under oath. Period. I’ve maintained that since the beginning, and I maintain that now. Winner: Republicans.
2)Enough has been said about that and at such length that it’s silly to rehash it here. At this point, I am willing to recognize that both sides had a legitimate case, but ultimately Bush ended up in the Oval Office. I would hardly call it theft. Also, persuasion is what you’re supposed to do at the Supreme Court, and they were persuaded that by the letter of the law Bush was the winner. Sorry. Call that one a tie.
Yes, the Republicans are playing the game to their advantage. The Democrats do it as well when they can. Is it legal? Yes, despite Elvis’ contentions. If it ain’t written down it doesn’t exist, Elvis. Winner: Republicans
All Davis has to do is get 50% of the vote to head it off. The people can either toss him or reaffirm him. It’s perfectly fair. The recall was done legally, everything to this point has been done legally, and it is fair, democratic, and within the laws as written by the legislature of the state of California. Winner: Republicans.
So, the score in favor of the Republicans is 3-0-1. Once more, we have a case of sour grapes on behalf of a party that, due to the national exhaustion brought on by Clinton, is reeling from the loss of the first sitting Vice President in a Presidential election since Nixon and is showing no signs of recovery.
At least the guy had an argument, though. He’s better than most.
I’m not seeing the point of numbers 1 and 4: Clinton’s impeachment and Davis’ recall.
The OP points out that “the Republican Party is actively seeking to overturn elections with recalls, impeachments, and redistricting tricks.”
Ok. You’ve given us an example of a recall and an impeachment. So what? What makes them “tricks”? They are both legal and proper. What these things do is to change the results of an election. However, it’s silly to describe them as “overturning” elections with “tricks” like it’s some sort of crisis.
The recall and the impeachment are not subvertions of democracy. It’s our laws and procedures that the Republicans are using in these instances. I don’t see how democracy is harmed by the use of them.
Perhaps you have a problem with the fact that mechanisms exist at all for removing elected officials from office? That would certainly make more sense than being bothered by the Repubs using them.
C’mon, Rjung, this is all standard political maneuvering, and you know it. There’s no “subverting” of Democracy going on, other than what has become proper practice over the course of the past two hundred years. Republicans are power-hungry assholes… Democrats are power-hungry assholes that are in denial.
That may be a fair description of the California recall. It’s also a fair description of the recounts allowed to Al Gore in Florida.
Both situations involved maneuvering that was legal. However, some of the Florida recounts were allowed by state judicial decisions, whereas the Calif. recall happened because of widespread citizen participation in the petition drive. So, although both were legal, the basis for the California recall is arguably more *democratic *than the basis for the Florida recounts.
Rush Online is not a credible source, since it is likely to be full of the typical GOP lies and distortions. But this is ironic:
“What’s happening in Florida is
exactly the game plan laid out to
me by an attorney who
represented the Democrats in a
recount in California where they
stole a seat from us,” former
California Assemblyman Pat
Nolan told WorldNetDaily.
A staunch conservative
legislator, Nolan served in the
California Assembly from 1978 until 1994,
when he was convicted, along
with several other lawmakers, in
a federal corruption probe."
I would say that 5 out of 5 examples are correct, and would add another mechanism by which the GOP subverts democracy is through corruption, fraud, influence peddling and other forms of white collar crime. For example, the Reagan presidency saw 138 members of his government investigated, indicted, or convicted of various crimes, the most corrupt government in recent history. Well, I take that back, that is not fair to Bush, since he is likely to exceed that record.
This summary leaves out some important details. Here is a more detailed version of events:
"The Texas Constitution states that our maps will be drawn by the state legislature following the U.S. Census. Not surprisingly, whichever party is in power when the maps are re-drawn will try to insure that the districts favor their side – this is called gerrymandering, and it happens all over America.
In 2001, the Texas Legislature had the job of redrawing the maps based on the 2000 Census. The
Democrats had the majority in both chambers at the time; the Republicans were not satisfied with the
results of the first drafts of the maps. The Legislature could not agree on maps in time to meet the federally-set deadline, and so the maps were turned over to the courts to decide. Our current maps were drawn by three federal judges (all of whom were appointed by Republicans). The U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the 2001 maps and declared them constitutional. Even Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, has said that the maps drawn in 2001 are suitable to stay in place till the next census."
The first draft of the redistricting maps was arrived at by the process of representative democracy. The Republicans didn’t like it, so the maps had to be drawn up by 3 federal judges (all Republican appointees) and was reviewed favorably by the Supreme Court. Where is the subversion of democracy there? Be careful how you answer, because it was the same Supreme Court who appointed Bush as President. The subversion of democracy comes from the Tom Delay’s pesticide-poisoned brain and his perverted desire to eliminate the Democratic opposition.
Gray (that’s Gray) Davis is opposed to the recall because he’s the current governor. He is trying to make this into an issue of subverting democracy because that is politically advantageous. If it were a Republican facing recall, Republicans would be complaining of democracy being subverted, and pointing to allegations of Democrats subverting democracy.
First of all, the results of the 1992 elections were that Clinton would serve as president from 1992 to 1996. This took place, and nothing, not even impeachment, could reverse it. During the impeachment, there were Democrats whining about Republicans trying to overturn two presidential elections, which was ridiculous. There was only one election that mattered, and the introduction of the 1992 election was simply an attempt to obfuscate the issue. One might as well call Clinton’s original run for President as trying to overturn the 1988 election (after all, if Clinton being elected in 1992 gives him the right to serve in 1998, then Bush being elected in 1988 gives him the right to serve in 1994).
So of course there is the charge that the impeachment was an attempt to overturn the results of the 1996 election. Well, yes, in a sense they were. But it was an attempt to do so democratically. So I don’t see how that’s subverting democracy. In a parlimentary system, when the parliment gives a vote of no confidence, is that “subverting democracy”?
The votes had already been counted. Bush was trying to stop the votes from being counted again. Gore was trying to have the vote count thrown out. Seems to me that in this case “Let’s do it over until I win” applies to Gore. not Bush. If one wishes to present this as an example of a Republican proclivity for subverting democracy, one would have to assert that had Gore won the election, but with numerous irregularities and suspicious activities, Gore would have demanded a recount anyway, just for the sake of fairness.
This is an attempt to exploit democracy, not to subvert it.
But, again it is an attempt to democratically overturn the 2002 election. One might as well call it a subversion of democracy anytime any party tries to repeal a previously passed law.
Hmmm. Noah gave four examples. 3.5 plus 1.5 is 5. I’ll second John Mace’s conclusion that Noah has a problem with math.
BTW, some incidents that Noah apparently forgot (I’m sure he’s been very busy defending democracy, I mean, it’s not really possible that he cherry picked examples that look bad for Republicans, is it? Naaah.):
[li]California voters decided to eliminate state sponsered affirmative action. The ACLU went to the courts and had a judge substitute his judgement for the will of the people, claiming that there was something unconstitutional about treating everyone equally.[/li]
[li]It’s generally accepted that there will be a greater turnout at the primaries than at a special election, and the Democrats benefit from greater turnout. So the Democrats tried to hold up the certification of the recall petition, and when that didn’t work, they argued that punch card ballots are unconstitutional (!) and that the election should therefore be postponed until punch cards are replaced (which conveniently enough is right around the primaries).[/li][/ul]
I think that his statement would be true if he had left out the “fair and square” part. No serious argument can be made against the fact that Bush won the election, and that Gore tried to have a new one. So Democrats are therefore stuck arguing that the election wasn’t “fair”, and that candidates should have the right to ignore the rules if they do not fulfill some arbitrary defintion of “fairness”.
Or a Florida situation.
Poorly designed democracy is not the same as an absence of democracy.
Airman, are you asserting the old chestnut that anything that is legal is also right, and vice versa? Much of what we follow as rules of life, every day and on a broader scale, isn’t written down as law but is nonetheless traditionally agreed upon. But that’s the position you have to take to reach the conclusion you want. Lord save us from people with your sense of morality.
TheRyan, there most certainly is a serious argument that “Gore tried to have a new election”. That’s a new one, even for me. When is trying to have the votes actually counted “a new election”?
For several of you, the other old chestnut that “The other guys would do the same if they had the votes” is hypothetical, and not derived from history. No, friends, the tactics mentioned in the OP are all either historically rare or simply unprecedented. But you have to ignore all that in order to feel just as righteous as those fellow citizens in whose screwing you are participating.
PS: Dewey, I think it was clear to most of us that the impeachment was only nominally about “lying under oath” (despite the nonspecific nature of the predetermined charges). It should be clear, after all those years of fruitless attempts to get him for something, that it was simply about getting him.