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So You Say You Want Me to Want a Revolution?

By Matthew Yglesias on July 30, 2009 at 12:13 pm

"So You Say You Want Me to Want a Revolution?"


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Nick Baumann at Mother Jones and the mystery blogger behind Democracy in America both see my various complaints about American politician institutions as a sign of incipient radicalism. Well, not really. I’m very skeptical about the utility of violence in bringing about positive political change and am thus a poor candidate for revolutionary. But I do want to see reform of the political process. In particular, I would note:

— The House shifted in the past from a strict seniority rule for committee chairmanships to one that allows for change (see, e.g., Waxman vs Dingell) and I would like to see them shift in the direction of routine contestation of committee and subcommittee top spots.

— The Senate could and should peacefully effectuate a similar shift.

— The Senate has, in the past, altered the filibuster rule and should do away with it.

— The electoral college is a sick joke and the National Popular Vote movement offers a plausible way to end it.

— As best I can tell, absolutely no rule is preventing states from experimenting with electing their House delegations via proportional representation.

— The District of Columbia ought to be a state, and nothing is stopping the current Democratic congressional majorities from admitting us as one.

— There’s no practical way to get rid of the Senate, but we can at least try to have a public political culture that acknowledges that it’s an unfair and anachronistic system.

It wouldn’t take a “revolution” to achieve any of that. But it would dramatically transform the context in which legislative activity takes place for the better.

I also would like it noted, for the record, that my interest in political reform does not stem from any “disappointment” in how Barack Obama isn’t able to get anything done. I was writing about this back in December because I always knew that Barack Obama wouldn’t be able to get anything done.

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