The Politics Round-Up

1. Look At This Pretty Map: Iowa Redistricting Begins


So, the non-partisan agency tasked with making the maps dropped their first proposal last night and the loose consensus seems to be that this map probably won't be the map. Maps are also included for State House and Senate districts, but I haven't done a deep dive on those yet, and honestly, if this plan gets shot down, it may be less about the Congressional lines and more about the State House and Senate Lines-- but I gotta say, if I was just going purely on congressional districts, there's a lot to like about this map. 

(Coverage this morning seems to cast doubt on this map because it puts "rising GOP Star Ashley Hinson" at risk. God. Gag me with a spoon if that description is actually true-- what it does put at risk though is the Battle of the Former KCRG TV-9 Anchors, which I was looking forward to as Christina Bohannon has thrown in for the current 2nd District primary, but would get bumped over to the 1st District under this map.)

If the goal of this map was to create balanced districts and competitive districts, I would say mission accomplished! 4 looks solid for Republicans, 1 looks solid for Dems and the other two seem like toss-ups that could go either way. Iowa Prog Twitter was very excited at the prospect of "not running squishy centrists" in say, District 1 but I am a little more... agnostic on that notion. If Democratic candidates run on a spectrum from say, Joe Manchin to AOC (let's call it the Manchin-Cortez line, because that sounds cool) I'd say right now, Democratic candidates in the 2nd District would probably be more towards the Manchin end of things-- this map could open up possibilities for candidates more in the mainstream of the Democratic party- which would be more to the left than what we have now- but the Quad Cities is going to be the kingmaker in that situation. A moderate, Jim Leachish (or at the very least non-Trumpian) GOPer could conceivable keep it tight in Scott and Linn County, sweep down the district and pull out a squeaker here. Probably not any time soon, I'll grant you, given the current state of the GOP, but the 'ideal candidate' profile for all of these districts is going to shift for both parties not just Dems.

This looks like a 2-2 map to me- but you could talk me into a 3-1 GOP split here and a 3-1 Dem split here. In short, it looks like an ideal map and I like it, which probably means it's got a snowball's chance in hell of actually making it.

(And this analysis doesn't include State House or Senate either- the Legislature could have more objections on that front as well. I Will have to dig into that a bit.)

2. The California Recall and the Potential Limits of Trumpism

Gavin Newsom survived! That in and of itself is not that surprising, but what is surprising is how quickly this got away from the California GOP-- I've been listening to a lot of Breaking Points as of late (fantastic podcast, y'all should give it a whirl if you haven't already)- and I more or less agree with their analysis here. The GOP had a shot. When Newsom made it about Larry Elder and Trump and not about his shortcomings, then it sort of slipped away. The more people seemed to hear about Larry Elder, the more the desperate slaps Newsom was giving the Dems in an ultimately successful attempt to waken them from their post-brunch comas seemed to work. Internal California politics aside, this might represent the outline of an interesting hypothesis about the limits of Trumpism:

How effective is Trumpism as a political force if it's both a positive and negative driver of turnout? (If people are going to come out to vote FOR it and AGAINST it, how effective is it, really?)

I don't know when Virginia votes, but if Terry McCauliffe posts a double-digit win there, having tied the GOP candidate to Trump, then there's going to be more evidence to back this notion up. 

It also probably didn't help that both Trump and Elder started in on the whole "it's rigged!" thing the day before the damn election- which doesn't really encourage your supporters to you know, get out there and vote. If the GOP had matched Trump's turnout/vote share from 2020 though? Elder would be governor of California right now.

So, the GOP had a shot. It slipped out of their hands when Newsom made it a referendum on Elder and Trump instead of a referendum on him- I also think Texas and their ridiculous abortion law also helped wake the Dems from the post-brunch comas. Whether this starts to demonstrate some limits to Trump and Trumpism has yet to be seen.

(Also, California should fix this whack-ass recall system of theirs. I'm not against the notion of politicians being subject to recall-- in fact, I think that should be pretty standard, across the board, really- but it should be a two-part thing. A successful recall should trigger a special election or a runoff, it shouldn't be "Recall, yes please." "Okay, now choose from this ginormous list of candidates so that the winner ends up with like 20% of the total vote.")

3. The 9/11 Thesis: How Do We Really Feel?

Another minor inspiration, courtesy of Breaking Points- some thoughts on 9/11. Neither of them (Krystal and Saager) are fans of Dubya and in general, consider him to be far more norm-breaking and far worse than anything Trump brought to the table. They weren't fans of his Shanksville speech (neither was I, to be honest, though I think it was less a condemnation of 1/6 and more a condemnation of the sometimes violent extremism all over the place in our politics these days.) Their thesis is that the War On Terror was a disaster for the region, we spent blood and treasure, crashed our economy, and spent a decade longer in Afghanistan than we needed to and for not much of anything at all. Do I agree?

To an extent, yes, I do.

There are two threads of thought in my brain about this- the first is the rose-colored glasses naive take: namely that the Neocons were convinced they could democratize the Middle East just through sheer force of American-ness. It honestly seemed like they were trotting out old occupation manuals from Germany and Japan post-WWII and trying to run that playbook at times. Was the rose-colored view of the world naive and ultimately wrong? Yes. But in people's zeal to be against the War In Iraq- of which there are many reasons to be against- what tends to get lost in the shuffle is that Saddam Hussein wasn't exactly Mr. Sunshine or a benevolent dictator in any way shape or form. The dude got put on trial and hanged in a super grainy, low-quality YouTube video that seemed to be in a closet or a warehouse or a windowless room of some kind. Hardly the ending of a beloved leader. (And surely better than Qaddafi who was, if memory serves, found in a sewer pipe and raped with a knife.)

The cynical thread: attempting to democratize the Middle East by overthrowing Saddam and the Taliban in Afghanistan was incredibly destabilizing for the entire region which kept militant terrorism bottled up there and limited their ability to plot attacks here in America. Whether the Arab Spring would have occurred regardless of the US Invasion of Iraq I don't know- but if there is an accomplishment to two decades of war that might be considered a good thing, it would be that thus far, we appeared to have limited terrorism back a bit. Whether that will hold up over the next two decades, I don't know- but an attack on the scale of 9/11 seems remote and unlikely these days. 

The erosion of civil liberties and the executive power grab are things we won't ever get back, I agree with Breaking Points on that. And I'll go a step further: Gitmo is a constitutional abortion that should never have been opened- but it also makes sense why they did it. You can't go on a quasi-imperialistic quest to spread FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY to the ENTIRE WORLD (don't forget LIBERTY) and treat terrorists like the common thugs that they are. (To be fair: policymakers post 9/11 might have had reason to worry we were entering into an age of large scale, 9/11 type of attacks as a general matter, of course, so treating it as a crime if the scale is so big might maybe justify the whole enemy combatant thing, but...  not really. It certainly doesn't excuse torture and rendition.)

The thing that I go back to, especially since we withdrew from Afghanistan is the lack of accountability in all of this. So many died. So many came back and still live with the wounds both physical and otherwise to this day. We need things in this country and we get told, "well, there's no money for that" and it's because both parties have been complicit in two decades of spending our money overseas. Everyone was wringing their hands over how "we lost Afghanistan" and that's really not true. Only some people lost Afghanistan. Other people made obscene amounts of money off it. Those people are the ones that need to be held accountable.

But this is America, so they never will, because the powerful people never are.

(But: I might be wrong, because Taliban going to be Taliban, but twenty years of things like electricity, schools, and development of some kind might have planted more seeds in Afghanistan than we think. I've seen reports that the Governor of Herat won't prosecute folks for listening to music. Women are apparently going to be allowed to go to admittedly gender-segregated- universities. There's a generation of Afghans over there that grew up with some of the trappings of quote-unquote modernity and if the Taliban tries to go back to pre-2001 Afghanistan, they might find more resistance among the population than they think.

They might just take their time about it and gradually take Afghanistan back there, but it wouldn't surprise me if they ended up looking more like Iran than North Korea.)

4. Fine, I'll Talk About The Damn Dress

God damn it.

Do I have to?

I don't care. I don't even know what the Met Gala is except a bunch of rich people walking up a set of stairs in fantastically ugly suits and dresses. This won't hurt AOC in the slightest. It made all the people she wanted to make mad, mad and it got all the clicks from her online army of fans. 

But!

This is illustrative of the problem that the Democratic Party faces and it also goes a long way to explaining why the Establishment was so terrified of Bernie Sanders. Bernie may have money- because if you're of a certain age in this country and have worked long enough, you're going to start accumulating some wealth- but I also feel pretty confident in saying it'd be a cold day in hell before you would see Bernie Sanders at the Met Gala. If the Progressive Left ever figures out how to ditch performative, cocktail party leftism for actual leftism that connects with the actual working class in this country then lookout, because the people (and not corporations) might actually reap some benefits from the government for once.

But they won't figure that out, because... you know, this is America and our Establishment is garbage and far too busy going to events like this to pull their heads out of their asses. If other rich and well-heeled progressives tell you how brave you are, then damn, it must be the height of courage to wear a dress with TAX THE RICH plastered all over to an event where the majority of people are going to publically at least, agree with you. The boys of Pointe Du Hoc would be proud.

So yeah, I don't care. It's an admirable and canny social media move that gets a shit load of clicks and hey, look, I'm writing about it on my wee blog in the dusty corner of the internet. 

Well played.

(Go read Glenn Greenwald's take on all this. It's 100% correct.)

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