Category Archives: Elections

Uncivil discourse

Sen. Tom Cotton, center, and Rep. French Hill at the town hall.
By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

There’s regular intelligence, and there’s emotional intelligence, which is the ability to recognize and control your own emotions and to influence the emotions of others. If you’re a member of Congress, you need both, but if you’re a member of Congress participating in a town hall, and you can only be blessed with one, it’d better be emotional intelligence.

I write that paragraph after attending Monday’s 2 p.m. raucous town hall hosted by Sen. Tom Cotton and Rep. French Hill, where it didn’t matter what kind of intellectual arguments they made because they weren’t going to change many minds among the 750 attendees – some of whom totally supported them and many of whom were totally opposed. All that mattered was that they kept their cool amongst the booing, jeering, shouted interruptions and personal attacks, and they did.

British States of America

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

In 1776, the United States declared its independence from the British monarchy. In 2017, the United States government looks like the British Parliament.

In Britain’s parliamentary system, there aren’t really separate legislative and executive branches, and partisanship is designed into the system. Voters elect members of Parliament (MPs) based largely on the MP’s party affiliation. The party winning a majority (or leading a majority coalition, because there are more than two) forms a government. The party’s leading MP becomes prime minister – currently Theresa May, who represents the town of Maidenhead. Other leading MPs administer parts of the government, much like our Cabinet. The other ruling party members, known as “backbenchers,” go along with their leaders on important matters unless they feel compelled to engage in a “backbench rebellion” – enough of which can bring down the government. The minority party, meanwhile, functions as a loyal opposition with limited power as it awaits the next election.

Could Democrats become states’ rights party?

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

People tend to think about how things work in relation to how well they’re working for them. That’s why some Democrats, who’ve won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote in two of the last five elections, want to get rid of the Electoral College, while many Republicans say it’s a pillar of democracy. If the results had been reversed, so would have been the arguments.

Which leads us to the 10th Amendment, sometimes known as federalism or states’ rights.

The 10th Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” As the national government has grown in recent years, it has been the most ignored amendment outside of the 18th, the one that prohibited the sale of alcohol, which was repealed by the 21st.

All politics is now national

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

“All politics is local,” the late U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill used to say, but that’s no longer the case. Now, all politics is national.

That’s according to Dr. Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political science professor who spoke at the Clinton School of Public Service Thursday.

Abramowtiz said straight ticket voting, where voters choose candidates from the same party in all races, reached its highest level in 2012 in the 60 years that it’s been studied, and preliminary research shows 2016 no doubt followed that trend. That’s increasingly true whether voters are strong partisans, weak partisans, or independents who lean toward one party or the other. Most of those last folks are just “closet partisans” who won’t admit to themselves or to others that they are really a Republican or Democrat.