Monday, January 28, 2013

Trench mouth


By Bill Kraus

The 10th rule of government (circa 1980) is “A stalemate must be broken before there is time to dig a trench.”

This rule is no longer operative.

Most legislators now live in trenches.

These trenches were dug for them by their fiercely partisan supporters.

Most legislators, somewhat paradoxically, have been gerrymandered (actually have gerrymandered themselves) into districts where they are unassailable from their traditional, other-party adversaries.

Their new natural enemies are the trench-supplying, aforementioned, fiercely partisan supporters who want them to be as unyielding and uncivil and uncompromising as they, the fiercely partisan supporters, are.

This full explanation of the system comes to you courtesy of a member of the now despised and denigrated minority known in Republican circles as RINOs (Republican In Name Only), more generally as “moderates.”

Moderates in their heyday were courted because their support was considered crucial to electoral success. No longer. Moderates are no longer regarded as important except in the few areas where neither side has a stranglehold on a rabid and/or docile majority.

We are told that “the people” want a return to civility and compromise and the weird kind of camaraderie that once existed where adversaries spent their daylight hours excoriating and ridiculing each other and the evenings having drinks and dinner together.

One notable exception to the trench-ridden majority told me that the people who elected him told him they wanted him to come to Madison and become a part of the ruling, moderate majority. He came. There not only wasn’t a moderate ruling majority, there weren’t enough moderates to be worth counting to say nothing of organizing. No man’s land, to continue with the analogy, is virtually unoccupied.

The fiercely partisan are in charge. They vote and they watch and they demand.

They get by with this because the elections that count are the primaries, and they are disproportionately represented in those low-turnout events. They vote.

The aphorism that elections count is still true. The only change is that the primary elections at the legislative level now count more than those general elections do.

Every once in a while the moderates rise. They showed up in the governor’s recall election where they voted not for the governor but against the recall process itself.

So maybe the moderates are more dormant than dead.

Maybe the sentiment they expressed in the 2011 recall election can be ridden to a reform of both the recall and the redistricting systems so votes on the important contested issues are discussed, debated, and moderated not preordained.

If they are not, the supposedly abhorred status quo is in for a very long ride...maybe to perdition of our once truly representative, if divided, democratic system.

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