Gerrymandered districts reflect identity.


"Some may rightly blame politicians in Washington for behaving badly, but in reality the clashes in the nation’s capital reflect conflicting attitudes and values held by politically active, rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats across the country. Add to that a faction of conservatives in the House who are determined to disrupt business as usual and the current stalemate in Congress becomes almost unavoidable.
The bonds that once helped produce political consensus have gradually eroded, replaced by competing camps that live in parallel universes, have sharply divergent world views and express more distrust of opponents than they did decades ago. Many activists describe the stakes in apocalyptic terms."  Dan Balz


If I understand Balz correctly, his main point is that the increasingly separated thinking of the blue and red areas cause the re-districting into gerrymandered House districts and not the other way around.

If true this is an ominous portent for the future.  pl



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54 Responses to Gerrymandered districts reflect identity.

  1. Agree with the Balz analysis and PL’s conclusion

  2. PirateLaddie says:

    Yes, well much of the dysfunctionality of the current voter districting system reflects the “echo chamber” effect. Folks aren’t comfortable with alternative visions of reality & seek out their ideological kin. Politicians at the state level, seeking out a simple way to separate the sheep from the goats, are happy to comply.
    In an earlier time (say, the generation that led up to the Treason of the Southern SlaveMasters), folks in Dixie couldn’t get their minds around the idea that many valued the nation over the state, even to the point of undertaking a serious war to maintain the Union. They were wrong, or at least premature.
    LBJ’s civil rights efforts opened the door to a GOP take over in Dixie. This in turn led to the hijacking of an urban, industrial and modernizing party (remember TR?) by rural and retrograde folks, now hermetically sealed into the 80-odd districts, scattered across the country, under the sway of the Tea Party. Dixie has metastasized.
    Given the GOP’s historic aversion to democratic principles, there may be no solution short of a court-mandated and even overseen attempt to de-gerrymander the country as a whole. (That, or the random assignment of voting districts to folks in a state, regardless of where in the state they reside, an even more disconcerting scenario.)
    It’s not likely that the Tea Party will learn from its own mistakes — as “the Lost Cause Regained” proved, hard beats soft in politics nearly every time.

  3. Eliot says:

    We’ve created parties which thrive on regional polarization. We’re pitting states and indeed whole swathes of the country against each other. As we saw in the 1850’s that’s a recipe for toxic gridlock.

  4. confusedponderer says:

    This trend may lay the foundation for ‘winner take all & scorch the earth for the rest’ zero sum politics of the sort we can observe in the Middle East today – to the hilt, and with blood spilled ‘lest they win’.
    It’s a dangerous development.
    If true, this indeed spells death for the idea of a loyal opposition. It may just not be politically feasible any longer. And if Robert Parry on ‘October surprise’, then the loyal opposition started dying a long time ago.
    The question is really about whether the union still exists in unity, let along it being on a road to perfection. If not, that indeed is a point over which US politicians think hard and serious about.
    Where America is at now is government of the people, by the people – but not for the people – which is the really hard part, and the part that requires compromises for the common good and precisely that loyal opposition needed to make such compromises work.
    Every unthinking partisan dolt can vote some other unthinking partisan dolt into office. It’s just that partisan dolts usually suck at good governance, and, if they are Republicans, they may just pride themselves on having finally drowned government in the bathtub. Yay.
    The unravelling of New Orleans when disaster struck was to me something very disturbing to behold. It showed many things, and one of them was the utter dementedness of Republican contempt for ‘goo-goo Syndrome’, the idea of providing good governance.
    Anyone with two eyes to see could witness the inability of a gutted FEMA to provide aid in times of need – and the state that was supposed to fill in wasn’t doing that either, because it wasn’t in the budget.
    Police and first responders just went home. Which indicated to me a general fragility of US state institutions under pressure. Internal cohesion and lack or institutional resilience may be America’s weak spot.
    The old Iraq vanished as a state in two weeks of looting. The USSR disappeared also with astonishing speed.
    What I fear is that politicians in DC atm will just think about it in terms of continuity of government (and that would in times of crisis in light of executive emergency power be autocratic, at best), and not in terms of constitutional reform or constitutional reassessment.
    Good luck.

  5. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel: You did note we are heading towards a constitutional crisis. This would underline that there is more driving it than just a small minority of tea party Republicans, and that it will return worse and worse until resolved.
    Hmmm, Apparently I had over-credited the creators of the gerrymander-ing Republican effort who were riding a larger socio-spatial trend….
    Somewhere I think the stagnation of the US economy for the general population for several decades, also plays a role in pushing voters towards more radical (left or right) solutions and political positions.

  6. VietnamVet says:

    I think that America’s current politics is a reflection that our government has ceased to work for the people but is wholly owned and controlled by the wealthy and corporations; many residing outside of the USA.
    We live in a bubble in the DC area. Only here, do federal workers get furloughed; but, five days into the stoppage, the House passes a bill to give them back pay for being stuck at home for the duration of their squabble. Here we tend to believe the propaganda from the media how wonderful everything is. Yet, reality keeps seeping in on how bad it is in the USA from our families outside of the cocoon and the weird events happening in DC; the Navy Yard shotgun shooter, Black Infiniti Mom, and self immolation on the Mall.

  7. Joe Citizen says:

    It is not either one causing the other, or vice versa. It is a feedback process. Ideologues seek advantage through the redistricting process, then the process works on its own to reinforce the extremist tendencies.
    The stronger factor seems to be the redistricting process though – given how the Democrats actually won the majority of votes cast in House races, but the GOP won more seats.

  8. Eliot says:

    Obama’s coalition resembles Lincolns and it’s had the same toxic effect nationally. He bypassed much of the country, cutting them out of the discussion on the major issues of his presidency. That’s exaggerated rural urban divides, and conflicts between competing regional identities. It’s a recipe for toxic gridlock.
    Creating truly national parties that submerge these conflicts would help. That means reviving the Republican party in New England. It means rebuilding the Democratic party in the South and in the West – and not by commanding the urban districts, but by reaching out the rural and suburban ones.

  9. Medicine Man says:

    I agree with Joe Citizen. There is a chicken and egg element to this phenomenon. To some extent the two parties collaborated with one another to gerrymander their districts for the purpose of incumbency protection. In the process of doing this they have become more beholden to the political fringes.

  10. Richard Armstrong says:

    One thinks that the victor who has won the right to accept or decline the surrender of the defeated at no later time is bound to accept said surrender in perpetuity.
    Perhaps now is the time to allow the still obviously dissatisfied Confederate to go their own way.
    Of course in the name of National Defense it would only make sense to continue to maintain, occupy and utilize the many US military installations in the newly freed Confederacy.

  11. SCOTUS did rule one man one vote. But due to the Great Compromise giving all States two Senators and other factors some votes are worth more than others.

  12. JohnH says:

    Identity may well explain the divergence on social issues. But corruption explains the current attitude of Republicans, who are following their wallets: “The current budget brinkmanship is just the latest development in a WELL-FINANCED, broad-based assault on the health law” by conservative think tanks and business groups.
    Simply put, the rich and powerful are obsessed with themselves and could care less about others. Research confirms this:

  13. nick b says:

    Dan Balz is a real pro. I have enjoyed his insight for decades on Washington Week in Review, on Friday nights. He was on this past Friday, and discussed this topic briefly.
    I think the recent emphasis that has been put on ‘gerrymandering’ as a problem is a canard, and can be attributed to successful Democratic campaign messaging. Say what you like, but elections to the House of Representatives have rarely been very competitive. Since 1964, between 85% and 98% of incumbent House members are reelected each cycle. There are not that many competitive house seats in any election year, and if you consider it, gerrymandering can actually lead to more moderate thinking. The few competitive house seats that exist are in ‘purple’ areas. Gerrymandering them to make them more ‘red’ or ‘blue’ means the office holder can’t go hyper partisan, or they will have a tough time being reelected in the general election.
    Nate Cohn at the New Republic has five quick paragraphs that explain this far better than I do:
    I believe that the two main factors driving today’s hyper partisan divisions are 1. the pervasive effect of large sums of money in elections, and 2. The information avalanche that keeps people more informed, yet segmented by opinion at the same time.
    Solving issue 1 could easily be done by legislation (if anyone could ever agree again), but that seems unlikely at the present. Watch carefully the decision from SCOTUS this term that could overturn parts of Buckley v. Valeo which allow the government to set limits on political contributions. The Conservative wing of the SCOTUS could conceivably open the faucets for unlimited money from anyone. Perhaps things must get worse before they get better?
    So far as combating the tsunami of information people are presented with each day and how it segments them by opinion is for minds greater than my own. I think it’s human nature to look for information that informs our own prejudices. I’m not sure how this is overcome.

  14. Fred says:

    How much of this is a creation of ‘political science’ in changing the election process?

  15. Mark Logan says:

    A possible solution might be proportional representation. New Hampshire is experimenting with “multi-representative” districts already. California is messing around with “top two” districts, which makes it possible for a two Republicans or two democrats to have to run against each other in the general election, whick at least makes it more likely moderates will survive the primary’s.

  16. Jose says:

    The unravelling of New Orleans when disaster struck was to me something very disturbing to behold. It showed many things, and one of them was the utter dementedness of Republican contempt for ‘goo-goo Syndrome’, the idea of providing good governance. – confusedponderer
    If my earlier post made it, this one might be redundant. Windows crashed and came back to the Mac…lol
    Cheap shots like that are part of the problem, you did not hold the Orleans Parish democrats responsible for not executing their emergency plan. Plenty of blame on that disaster, but you focused only on liberal excuse for all of government problems. Will you also blame Republican Governor Snyder for the bankruptcy of Detroit?

  17. Eliot says:

    “I think the recent emphasis that has been put on ‘gerrymandering’ as a problem is a canard”
    Absolutely agreed.

  18. Fred says:

    The US is a Federal Republic, surely you know the Constitution better than to that. Proportional representation is in the House, just like its been for 200+ years. (Except for all those illegal immigrants being counted for representation – something the founders didn’t foresee or intend.)

  19. jon says:

    Given the court’s unwillingness to functionally restrict gerrymandering, it becomes essential for a party to hold the governorship in a given state, following the Census.
    The House Tea Party caucus would be notable, but not decisive, in other Congresses. They are not tempered by other Republicans, they are allowed to set the agenda, and under current House rules, they can determine if legislation advances or succeeds.
    This Congress has been less productive than any other Congress since the Civil War. They have found the time to vote to rescind the ACA 42 times. In this, they are very similar to congressional Republicans who opposed the creation of Social Security.

  20. bth says:

    It is critical that we re-establish a sense of common national good and civil discourse. Party politics and particularly the out of district financing of congressional races and the polarizing impact of the party primary process constantly pulls the parties to the edges of the political spectrum. This is reflected in the rise of independents leaving the party process altogether. It may be that a new party forms in the vacuum. Alternately we may see leadership emerge from a govornors office in the next presidential race as opposed to Washington politicians increasingly detached from the real world. Gerrymandering limits choices but ultimately the public at large may choose to throw the incumbent bums out. There must be leadership that pulls the center of this country together or else we may lose it altogether.

  21. twv says:

    What’s a “productive” Congress?
    More laws written by lobbyists and 25 year old staffers who want to grow up to be lobbyists?
    The most productive Congress is in recess.

  22. jamzo says:

    determining congressional districts has been beleaguered by partisan power plays since the three-fifths compromise of the 1787 constitutional convention and is enshrined as part of the “to the victors goes the spoils” of political party warfare
    from Redistricing The Nation website
    “Who is responsible for drawing district boundaries?
    Though the process varies from state to state, redistricting is usually a partisan endeavor. In most cases, a state’s district lines–for both state legislative and congressional districts–are redrawn by the state legislature, and the majority party controls the process. Some states require bi-partisan or non-partisan commissions to oversee the line-drawing. However, the state governor and majority party leaders often control who is appointed to these commissions. At the local level, city council presidents and/or council members usually oversee the redistricting process.
    Some states are moving toward involving citizens in the redistricting process and creating truly independent redistricting commissions. In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 11, a referendum establishing an independent redistricting commission made up of citizens. This commission will draw state legislative districts–though not congressional districts–for the 2012 elections. In Illinois, a state representative has proposed legislation to open the redistricting process up to public submissions.”
    it would probably take a constitutional amendment to alter our traditional process

  23. Bill H says:

    California’s “top two” open primary doesn’t do much to defeat incumbency. In the first Senatorial primary using that system Diane Feinstein got over 90% of the vote on a slate which included something like 20 candidates.

  24. Fred says:

    What ‘Confederate’ are you talking about? The US Citizens in the State of Florida, perhaps? That would include a few million retirees from other States. The same would be true of Texas and North Carolina. Don’t forget the fine Yankee state of Michigan, where the current Governor and have the Congressional delegation are modern republicans who are part and partial of the current D.C. paralysis.
    Perhaps I should be asking which ‘victor’ you are talking about, since all those from the war between the states are dead and said states that tried to seceed were readmitted to the union.

  25. nick b says:

    “Will you also blame Republican Governor Snyder for the bankruptcy of Detroit?”
    Jose, Gov. Snyder did bring the City of Detroit into bankruptcy. This is factual. In his own words: “Enough was enough”.
    I make no comment on the merits of his decision or it’s inevitability. Using the word ‘blame’ is subjective to one’s viewpoint on the issue.

  26. It will be interesting to see if Asian immigrants prove red or blue!

  27. Omo Naija says:

    Going my the last Presidential election. They bleed deep blue!

  28. Fred says:

    I certainly do. He brought the court case. He also signed the second, after a voter referendum overturned the first, piece of ’emergency financial managger’ legislation.
    One of Obama’s former funderaisers is the current EFM. The soon to be cut deal will sell of the water treatment system, which will give whoever buys it a guarnteed income stream of hundreds of millions annaully. Meanwhile the smoke and mirrors distraction is the artwork in the Detroit Institute of Arts.
    A great deal of transactional wealth is going to be made. Ethically solving the financial problems of the city? Probably not.

  29. walrus says:

    Viewed from abroad, this is an infantile form of Kabuki that does not reflect very well on America. To put that another way, it is American stupidity on display for all to see and it isn’t a good look.
    There is a stack of petulant posturing going on: The White house closes national monuments, inflicting pain on the innocent, and the Republicans refuse to dignify even the concept of single payer healthcare.
    More and more countries, led by the BRICS, are doing what they can to insulate themselves from the need to engage with the American Empire, to avoid the need to deal with stupid, if not homicidal, legislators and Administrations – McCain, Powers, Rice, etc.
    The endgame to this type of farce should be obvious: the rise of of a Fascist party that promises to sweep away this mess and get things done without the need for compromise and “debate”. As Robert Paxton has pointed out, no country has embraced fascism without first becoming completely frustrated by the workings of “democracy”.

  30. elkern says:

    It (CA’s “Top 2” thing) also makes it even harder for third-party candidates to get anywhere. Lousy system.

  31. different clue says:

    Perhaps the gerrymandering drives the “extremising” in some districts because they are so safe for their party that those Districts’ Reps fear being primaried by someone in their own Party more extreme than they are, so they go further to one side or the other to save their safe seat.
    And in some cases the Extremist Primary Challenger defeats and unseats the same-party Incumbent from his/her same-party safe seat.

  32. different clue says:

    It isn’t just Republicans who refuse to dignify even the concept of single payer healthcare.
    It was also Obama, Baucus, and the Insurance Lobby Democrats who also refused to dignify it. Baucus (a so-called “Democrat”) went so far as to threaten any Doctors for Single Payer who showed up at his Finance Committee hearings with arrest. He may even have had some arrested and removed. And the fact that the first hearings were held by Baucus’s Finance Committee shows that the goals and interests were all financial right from the start with some medical decoration to distract from the financial interests and goals.

  33. different clue says:

    If this polarization is irreversible and gets bad enough long enough it could lead to the sort of velvet divorce that is hoped for by some. If so, it will be all the more difficult because it would involve politically separating the Red and Blue parts of the same states.
    A slow Purpling of all might be a better outcome if enough people agree and seek it.

  34. elkern says:

    Balz! Balz fits Krugman’s “VSP” (“Very Serious Person”) profile: always careful to pretend that “both sides” are equally culpable, no matter how imbalanced the situation.
    Big Money Republicans (ALEC, etc) set out to win State Legislatures in 2010 in order to tilt the House elections thereafter. It worked.
    I’m not saying that Democrats have never tried this, but there are reasons that they haven’t succeeded (recently): their money comes from less concentrated sources; their perspective is shorter; their iddeologies are weaker.
    Deep in the article, Balz says weakly that “Republicans have shifted more to the right than Democrats have shifted to the left, but on both sides passions are stronger than they were two decades ago.” The reality is that the GOP has swung radically to the right, while the Democrats have pretty much sat still.
    Nixon, Eisenhower – even Reagan! – would be considered too liberal for today’s GOP. The Health Care program put forth by Republicans in the 1990’s – and implemented by Romney in MA – is excoriated as Godless Communism by the Tea Partiers. The last few true Centrist Republicans have given up & left the party (or politics).
    I’ve been trying to think of examples of the Democratic party moving to the left, and I’ve got nothin’. Any leftward drift has been a result of Blue Dogs switching to the GOP, not the result of any radicalization.
    Some have compared the Tea Party’s takeover of the GOP with the Democrats’ McGovern tilt in the ’70s. But the “radicals” of that era never made it to Congress; and the liberals who did make it never threatened to shut down the whole government.
    Bottom line: Balz sells false equivalencies.

  35. bth says:

    I’m in India this week. Clear to them here is that we are bailing on Afghanistan, Pakistan is shifting to terrorizing India again as a result and
    China will press down again on India. What is not clear is what the heck is happening in Washington. The further geographically I am the more confusing the USA’s self destruction appears to all observers including myself. Have Americans given up on America?

  36. Mark Logan says:

    Bill H,
    Just an indication some people are seeking and experimenting with fixes.
    One thing I like about proportional representation is it makes more political parties viable. I suspect the ability to form new parties would increase public interest in participation. I think the reason we aren’t getting many of our best and brightest is due to cynicism. Having to join either of our two existing “clubs” IMO is chasing away many of them.

  37. The Twisted Genius says:

    I suspect the current condition is largely due to a failure of our education system. Look at this Kentucky exam for graduation from grammar school. That’s eighth grade for many of you. My wife considers me to be a quaint throwback for referring to these early school years as grammar school.
    I seriously doubt I could pass this test if I had to take it tomorrow… and I had a damned fine grammar school education. I learned how our town government worked, then our state and national governments. In geography we studied how people lived in different parts of the United States and in other parts of the world. We were taught respect for these different cultures. Naturally, we learned our New England history in great detail. We also studied the Civil War during the centennial commemoration of that war. We learned the good and bad of both sides and were forced to acknowledge the honorable nature of the Confederacy and their struggle. That was quite a feat considering our town war memorial is a Union soldier on the town green and we were but mere children. Our literature studies reinforced our studies in history, civics and geography. We learned toleration, respect for others, the meaning of community and critical thinking as children. I doubt grammar schools in the United States, or most high schools are near this rigorous today.
    What passes for education today is cable news… mind rotting propaganda for the most part. What do we learn now? The other guy is always the bad guy. Our side deserves everything it can get away with. It’s “Lord of the Flies” on a far grander scale. Gerrymandering is just one symptom of the illness that plagues us.

  38. nick b says:

    “Balz! Balz fits Krugman’s “VSP” (“Very Serious Person”) profile.”
    I don’t think you mean Krugman, he’s delightfully partisan. Perhaps, Tom Friedman?

  39. nick b says:

    Balz mentions the Cook Political reports partisan voter index in the article. It’s worth looking at. If you read the whole thing, you’ll see that the redistricting really didn’t change all that much. Some to be sure, but not enough to warrant the hype it’s received in this election cycle. Here’s the link:
    This quote from the report is quite telling. It’s a great example of shifts in the American electorate that change the make up of various congressional districts, with out redistricting:
    “In many minimally altered districts, the local electorate has simply become much more homogeneous. For example, the boundaries of West Virginia’s 2nd CD haven’t changed much since 1998, but its PVI score has shifted from EVEN to R+8 as voters have moved away from the national Democratic brand. Likewise, Albuquerque’s migration to the left has bumped the PVI score of New Mexico’s 1st CD from R+1 to D+5 in ten years.”
    Something else is causing the shift. ‘Gerrymandering’ is just getting the blame.

  40. Omo Naija says:

    This example runs counter to established science that says measured intelligence increases over time – The Flynn effect.

  41. Omo Naija says:

    Its Krugman. VSP is his derogatory designation for the beltway types that regurgitate conventional wisdom and end up on most cable news shows or the opinion pages of the Washington Post.

  42. Edward Amame says:

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with “increasingly separated thinking,” the problem seems to me that there’s now a very noticeable lack of ideological diversity in the parties. That would be perfectly OK, even probably desirable, in a parliamentary system, but in presidential system like ours, a sharply divided parties can only lead to breakdown.
    Mike Lofgren (former congressional staffer to Ohio’s John Kasich) describes the crew behind the shutdown as “basically neo-Confederate insurrectionists.” If true, that would indicate that the problem appears to be intractable and we should consider the long-term viability our system of gov’t. (Please note, I am not suggesting secession).

  43. Fred says:

    ALEC has been after changes to push it’s agenda for years, it did not start in 2010.

  44. elkern says:

    Yes, of course; they are a great example of the long-term political planning which works for the big-money right… only.

  45. nick b says:

    Thank you, I misunderstood.

  46. elkern says:

    I strongly disagree. I think the decline in ideological diversity is almost entirely an effect of the radicalization of the GOP. If anything, there are fewer “radical” Democrats in office these days (with Kucinich, etc, gone).
    The Democratic party has been shifting to the Right since Reagan (I was there – I’ve got an old Gary Hart t-shirt to prove it) – at least on economic issues, and even on (some?) social ones.
    There are anti-abortion Democrats in Congress; how many pro-choice Republicans are there?
    There are pro-gun Democrats in Congress; how many Republicans advocate any kind of Gun Control?
    Reading TAC this AM, I found a link to a different Wa-Po article which I think explains our current governmental gridlock far better than Balz does:

  47. Richard Armstrong says:

    I find it difficult to signify the “tongue in cheek” when writing.
    When a sufficient number of the populace of any region of this country so strongly desire to “shrink [the size of the United States Government] down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub” that they take active measures to cause great harm to this country, then they might very well be considered to a “belligerent power”. That’s the same term that Congress used to refer to the rebellious state in their declaration of war in 1861.
    It is to the Constitution of the United States of America that all military and federal law enforcement and elected officials take an oath to protect and defend. Serious attempts to cause harm to this government of this republic must be defended by those bound to those oaths.
    The “victor” I spoke of was the Government of the United States of America which declared war against the southern belligerent power and prevailed. Governments declare wars and order military actions, it is men who fight them as the Colonel and others on this board will attest.

  48. Richard Armstrong says:

    You and I both agree that “A great deal of transactional wealth is going to be made.” Yes, indeed.
    The extremely wealthy and their corporations, especially the multi-nationals are never ones to let a good crisis go unexploited.
    But let’s all be honest here. The decline of Detroit began with the decline of the auto industry that virtually every part of the economies connected to Detroit were dependent on. As the auto industries declined so did the other interdependent economies and so did the tax base.
    The government of Michigan tried to delay the inevitable through credit and that chicken came home to roost as it eventually had to. I really don’t know if Detroit would be better or worse off today if the previous state governments had chosen a different path.

  49. Richard Armstrong says:

    Perhaps the administration knew that single payer would be politically impossible to implement and have used the Affordable Care Act to “get the camel’s nose under the tent” so to say?

  50. Fred says:

    You have perfectly described the hardening of attitudes that is coming about amongst many Americans yet you seem not to realize that all virtue is not on one side. This is no longer a North South division but a metropolitan/rural one with allot of overlap.

  51. Fred says:

    I work in that industry and am well aware of the political games played with the tax code amongst other things. The complete lack of any industrial policy in this country, coupled with an ideological focus on ‘free markets’, for a couple of decades, were major factors. Lots of blame to go around, with allot of it at the top where the majority of ideas are generated or pushed into policy. The current approach to, amongst other things, wiping out pension obligations while maintaing multi-million dollar tax breaks for a trio of billionaires is one example of transactional wealth.

  52. Fred says:

    The Democratic Leadership Council, isn’t that the Clinton’s organization that has been around since the 90s? Then there are the multiple variations of Obama for America. I believe they are following the wrong strategy and are thus not as effective but still a force in politics.

  53. Fred says:

    Sadly all this technological change puts information at ones fingertips, which provides a heavy incentive to stop remembering. It equally makes easy the multiple choice testing and scoring that is so beloved by those selling tests. (GMAT/GRE/SAT). Then the ‘rankings’ of which little of meaning is measured. Teach and test trivia. Like rating a soldier by testing the number of pushups, sit-ups, timed runs and the like.

  54. different clue says:

    “Single Payer” may well have been impossible to pass. But the actions of Obama and Baucus and perhaps others in pre-emptively suppressing so much as a mention of it in so much as one hearing make me think that they and their private insurance company sponsors were afraid that it might well pass. Their actions make me think that was a chance
    that Obama and Baucus and others simply did not want to take.
    Letting Single Payer be discussed and fought for by the lefter side of the D Party might at least have created pressure and a space for legislating individual free-choice access to Medicare for those below 65 years old who would have wanted it. Of course the insurance companies, and therefor Obama and Baucus etc. did not want that either.
    It seems to me that the ACA further strengthens the power and revenue streams of the private insurance industry. I suspect Obama has a long-range vision of Medicare itself being degraded and attrited in preparation for voucherising it and driving all “Vouchercare” recipients into the Market Exchanges at some point. (I wonder if there is a hidden agenda to try someday privatising and voucherising VA Medicine as well? If any such agenda becomes visible, I hope it can be beaten down completely.)
    I don’t believe ACA was meant to be the camel’s nose under the tent. I believe it was meant to “suck the oxygen out of the room”, “poison the well”, etc. so completely as to deter revisiting the issue for several decades. But events could prove me wrong.

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