Friday, July 27, 2012

Question Day

It's Plain Blog's birthday -- three years of doing this, now. I'm celebrating by declaring it Question Day. Haven't had one of these for a while...you ask, I'll try to answer. Whatever you have -- the elections, budget, Senate reform, parties, the press...I'll try to get to as many as I can. Leave them here in comments, or email, or twitter. I can't promise that I'll get to all of them, but I'll do what I can.

Meanwhile, some thank yous are in order: to readers, to commenters, to everyone who has linked to my stuff over the last three years. I very much appreciate it. Thank you! Thanks also to Greg, and to the folks at Post Partisan, and Salon, and all the other places I've been found recently. Looking forward to all sorts of election-year fun here over the next few months, and I hope everyone will stick around.

But for now: anyone have any questions?

22 comments:

  1. What is the case for the electoral college? I'm familiar with the pragmatic arguments (a national recount would be a nightmare, voting fraud in one municipality could have a massive effect, etc.), but what is the principled reason why an electoral college is superior to a national popular vote?

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  2. First, a word of thanks: As someone who follows science and trusts the scientific method, it is very nice to have a place to get real, data based political science. While I had abandoned most other forms of political information simply because I didn’t have the energy anymore, now I know that, for the most part, I’m not missing anything important. How nice!
    I come from a very conservative/Republican family, for no apparent reason from what I can ascertain. My father picked a side and won’t give it up for anything and because of that upbringing, I voted for Reagan in my first presidential election in 1980. But by 1984 I was questioning that and have never voted Republican again. I’m wondering if there is any data out there describing what it takes to get people to change their political views and how often it happens?

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  3. All the discussion over VP candidates focuses entirely on their effect on the election, but I wonder: What do you think is the ideal type of person to do the actual job of VP? Their only important function is to be able to take over as head of state if the president is incapacitated, so I would look for an experienced legislator who is squarely in the party's orthodoxy, someone who can serve as a caretaker head of government, carrying on the previous president's goals while not doing anything headstrong or far from the mainstream.

    In that sense, I think Biden is an excellent VP. Cheney was a good choice too, although I wonder if his personal goals might have differed significantly from Bush's. Palin, Edwards and Quayle, though, were poor choices, and I think Rubio would fall in that tradition. What do you think?

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  4. you've written a lot about lazy mendacity and, more generally, how the conservative political environment incentivizes GOP policy makers to make no policy and to behave as if facts aren't facts. Is this proof that democracy, as set up in the United States (or maybe democracy in general) is fatally flawed? More specifically, how does the country get past this? Will the GOPers suddenly drop the act if they dominate the federal government next year?

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  5. If President Obama lost to Romney in November, do you think there would be any possibility down the road for him to pull a Grover Cleveland and win the presidency again? He is a relatively young man and still the most charismatic Democrat at a national level. Could he plausibly win again down the road or would the narratives of him as a defeated one-termer and party pressures make it too much of a challenge?

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  6. Another related question on VPs: Do you think the emphasis in the media on the VP's home state is overblown? The last candidate to be picked in large part because of his home state was LBJ 52 years ago. Biden, Palin, Edwards, Cheney, Lieberman, Kemp, Quayle...they were all picked with an eye either towards how they would play nationally, or how they would help govern. Do you think it's a mistake for the media to focus on a VP's home state during the Veepstakes?

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  7. QUESTION DAY!

    Question Day is so awesome, its like really awesome

    What do you make of the whole poli-sci tradition of trying to come up with "Party Systems" that was so big in much of the 20th Century? ( if you don't know what I'm talking about it's okay, neither do I in a lot of ways but its probably best described as: American Political Science was big at trying to classify eras in American Politics through the idea of a political party dominating politics through elaborate systems based on the evidence from elections, for example the Fourth Party System is a description of how Republicans dominated the political life of America from 1896 to 1932 {with the exception of Woodrow Wilson}. There are five agreed upon systems, from the 1790's to the 1960's, but no new system has been agreed upon to describe American political life since 1968, although there are a lot of theories.)

    Is it just something you aren't interested in? Do you have a grand idea of how to explain American politics for the last 50 years or so? Or is trying to categorize eras in American political history as chronological list of "systems" just to simplistic?

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  8. Brian Butler at TPM argues that the senate's Bush tax hike vote mattered. I didn't think it mattered legislatively or politically. So, did it matter?

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  9. Why don't more House members and Senators retire after a few terms to make 7 figure imcomes as lobbyists? For House members especially, whose actual power over public policy is quite limited unless they are chair or ranking minority member of a major committee, it seems that most non-wealthy members have a strong financial incentive after a few terms to leave behind the $174K Congressional salary and make real money as lobbyists. Does Congress tend to attract people who care more about fame than money? Or is there some other explanation?

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  10. I've noticed that governors are almost never chosen as VPs, and the ones that have been--Agnew and Palin--are two of the worst choices of all time. Another example would be Rockefeller, who was chosen as Ford's VP but not nominated as his running mate in 76. Is this just a coincidence? Is there a reason why governors would make for bad VPs? If so, why is it presidential candidates seem to have figured it out, but the media hasn't when they debate the Veepstakes.

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  11. If you could propose one constitutional amendment knowing that it would seriously considered and had a good chance of passing, what would it be and why?

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  12. Sort of related to your "When There's No Party for You" post...

    I have mainstream liberal views on most issues but live in a solidly red state and district. The Democratic Party, for instance, makes no effort to find or promote candidates for the district in which I live. Like many people, I also have some narrow goals from government policy. In my case, I want CMS to maintain reimbursement for the physician services that I provide.

    Is it ethical for me to become active in local Republican Party politics (e.g. giving money/hosting fundraisers) to further the narrow goals in which I have a strong interest?

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  13. With regards to the apparent craziness of the Republican party, when do you think it will end? I've read in places that Republicans think that this is their last chance to roll back the New Deal and Great Society programs because of the demographic shifts in society, hence they're going all in to win this election. Do you believe that thesis and is there going to be an "emerging Democratic majority" in the future?

    On a related point, if Republicans do win in November and succeed in controlling all 3 branches of government, will Democrats return fire and play 'constitutional hardball' that the Republicans did throughout Obama's presidency? How does one get around that, because that can't be good for democracy.

    Sorry for the many questions and happy birthday to Plain Blog!

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  14. How would you evaluate Boehner's speakership thus far?

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  15. There have been numerous articles over the last few years about Mike Bloomberg wanting to run for president and going so far as to consult well connected political consultants to guage a run...what are they telling him that keeps him from running? IF he really wanted to run, wouldn't this cycle have been best? A slow recovery hurting the incumbent and a weak challenger should have been a wide-open window, right?

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  16. Do you think the current situation in California (i.e., an uncompetitive state Republican party and a Democratic party that's not particularly unified or effective) could set the stage for a meaningful third party presence (e.g., due to an intra-Dem schism)? If not, what structural factors are preventing it? And what's preventing the California Republicans from moderating themselves? Is California enacting the Emerging Democratic Majority scenario?

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  17. No question here, but congratulations on the anniversary. I've been happily reading for more than 2 of those years and hope to continue to for a good long time. :-)

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  18. Are most website/campaign literature in 1st or 3rd person? Does it make any difference?

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  19. Why isn't there more state-level gerrymandering? That is, when there's unified partisan control of the federal government, why don't parties use that to admit more states to bolster their advantage in the Senate? If New York City (or even each borough) seceded from the state, there'd be two strongly Democratic states instead of one. Texas could split off several chunks to create more Republican states.

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  20. Why don't you give us a few days warning before question day so we have a little time to think about and prepare questions?

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  21. Somewhat related to the shootings that happened last week: How do special interest groups like the NRA get so powerful? My understanding is that groups without any real organized opposition interest usually get that way, but I do recall in the 90s that gun control was, at the very least, a sizable faction within the Democratic party. Is there a well documented process which a political party is willing to throw one of its coalition constituencies overboard for the electoral sake of the party?

    A lot of it still seems weird to me that the NRA has no opposition of note, if only because public safety and law enforcement are a politically active constituency that have a vested interest in higher levels of gun control.

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  22. Will the Republicans ever compromise again? Or will they compromise, at least a little bit, if Obama wins a second term convincingly?

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