Thursday, August 5, 2010

If It's Thursday... must be Election Day, and so it is.  In Tennessee, this time.  I've been negligent with regard to primary election blogging this week, with the Senate so busy and all, and the nothing from the Tuesday primaries this week in Michigan, Missouri, and Kansas really caught my eye, at least outside of this nice sidebar.  Oh, wait, Thursday?  Yup. 

For whatever reason Tennessee seems to be holding its primaries today, on a Thursday.  I don't have anything in particular to tell you about these contests, other than that several of them have been highly entertaining, but I know who does: I recommend reading Ed Kilgore's roundup of the bizarre, the race-baiting, and the downright crazy that is Tennessee politics, 2010.  Read him here and here.

And it's always worth noting: we sure do have a lot of election in the USA.  For those of you who don't realize it, this entire round (that is, primary elections open to mass electorates) is rare by world standards.  Only a few nations that have adopted the American direct primary for any office, and as far as I know no other country combines a long ballot with the direct primary.  I like it; I think it's a useful part of permeable political parties, which in turn I think is absolutely critical for real democracy (although I certainly don't think that the direct primary is the only way to get there).  But, yes, we sure do have a lot of elections.


  1. As entertaining as these races are to bloggers the country over, people here in Tennessee generally have real issues to worry about, as they affect us regardless of the amount of laffs generated. Nice to see that the rest of the blogosphere finds it completely uninteresting save the ravings of perennial and losing candidates.

  2. Hi big fan of the blog. JB, here's a question: why haven't the explicit raced-based appeals to black representation been more effective in TN-9? I used to live in TN and I've watched this for a couple of years now. Racial representation is important and I wonder why it's not been a bigger issue.

  3. I don't pay much attention to TN politics even though I live in Memphis (where my iphone tells me it is 100 degrees today, and with our humidity it feels worse). I'm much more concerned about national politics. So I haven't seen any of what I no doubt believe is some crazy stuff from campaigns.

    The rural areas of TN are pretty conservative. Even on the outskirts of Memphis its very conservative. I can throw a rock in any direction and hit a church. But the urban areas are big enough that you can get some Democrats elected.

    Memphis itself is a majority black city. The district to the north of the Memphis district is pretty evenly split, though it will probably go Republican after the popular Democrat incumbent is retiring.

    Anyway, it is a shame that what national attention the state gets is some nut reinforcing the southern stereotypes.

  4. This touches on a larger subject that I hope you will say more about. I sense a fairly widespread view that the US political system as a whole is 'the 18th century state of the art,' as Matt Yglesias puts it. A sort of beta version of self-governance, with the implication that the standard modern release is a parliamentary system including some element of proportional representation.

    You seem considerable more favorable toward peculiarities of the American system, from the multiplicity of elections to the structural favoring of interest groups over 'ideologues and technocrats.'

  5. Politician,

    My guess is that it's pretty simple: Cohen is good at representing the district.


    Obviously too big a question for comments, but you are correct -- I think the American system is a good one, at least for the US and, perhaps, in general. To generalize way too much, I think the 18th century thinkers, who were obsessed with process and forms of government, were on the wrong track, while the 19th century thinkers, who were obsessed with ideology, were on the wrong track. Anyway, as far as elaborating on all that, well, stick around -- or check the archives, especially things tagged "democracy."


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?