Friday, October 29, 2010

Why Constitutional Monarchy Rocks

There are a lot of Yglesias-haters in the comment box, but I would like to point out that he makes a damn good case for constitutional monarchy.

There is glamour in power. That's an irreducible fact about human nature. But democratic politicians shouldn't have access to that glamour.

Also, for some purposes, we need someone who can make gestures on behalf of the nation. Active politicians can't sensibly do that, because about half the population (give or take) hates their guts.

Unfortunately, Yglesias is too sanguine about actual Canadian practice. Liberals don't understand the monarchy, and have spent a lot of time trying to undermine it, so it isn't as unifying as one would hope. Quebec can't really get into it. And first ministers want the glamour, for the very reason they shouldn't have it, so they try to marginalize those in possession of vice-regal authority.

The crazy thing is that people who should know better think the vice regents are a bigger threat to democracy than the desire of the Prime Minister's Office to presidentialize our system.

Bottom line: You should totally be allowed to call the premier or prime minister "dude."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Midterm Prediction

In the House, I say Republicans 235, Dems 200.

Senate goes 50-50 (counting Lieberman and Sanders as Dems).

Update (October 29): I'm going to have to back out of the 50-50 prediction on the Senate. Can't see the Republicans doing better than 48, counting Murkowski as a Republican. I'll stick with my House prediction.

As for a pre-mortem, if these numbers are about right, I disagree with those who think they are all the result of a bad economy. The primary drivers that the Democrats could not control are (a) regression to the mean after two good cycles for the Democrats and (b) the general tendency for the midterm electorate to be more Republican than the presidential year electorate.

The other major factor is that conservative America is energized, while it was demoralized in 2006 and to a lesser extent in 2008 (although this is part of "regression to the mean"), while the progressive coalition is at more-or-less ordinary levels of unity and energy.

The only way the Democrats could have changed this would have been to govern in a way less likely to anger conservative America. I disagree with those who say this would be impossible, but it would have required not using a once-in-a-generation shot at major legislative change. If the Democrats hadn't pulled off the "stimulus" (mostly liberal wish-list spending) and health care, the conservative base wouldn't be as fired up, and the results would be less one sided. On the other hand, the whole point of political power is to do things, so it may have been a worthwhile choice from the Democratic perspective.

I suspect there won't be much legislation in the next two years, but there may not be a huge blowout between the President and the House either. Just a lot of sniping on the edges, as everyone prepares for the real showdown in 2012. In other words, 2006-2008 with the roles reversed.