Why Georgia has runoff elections

“At first glance, Georgia’s law requiring majorities for an outright victory seems inoffensive — the person who wins has to be chosen by most of the people who cast their votes. In theory, this would force candidates to appeal to more voters instead of winning with a large plurality of votes while holding views anathema to the majority of the electorate.

But Georgia’s runoff system has a darker origin: Many historians say it was designed to make it harder for the preferred candidates of Black voters to win, and to suppress Black political power.”

“It effectively began in 1962, when the Supreme Court struck down Georgia’s old electoral system. That older system, called a “county-unit system,” was created 45 years prior to amplify rural voters’ power while disadvantaging Black voters’, and was “kind of a poor man’s Electoral College,” University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock told Vox.

Forced to come up with a new system, Georgia created one intended to continue undermining Black voters’ influence. That was the runoff system”

“”In 1963, state representative Denmark Groover from Macon introduced a proposal to apply majority-vote, runoff election rules to all local, state, and federal offices. A staunch segregationist, Groover’s hostility to black voting was reinforced by personal experience. Having served as a state representative in the early 1950s, Groover was defeated for election to the House in 1958. The Macon politico blamed his loss on “Negro bloc voting.” He carried the white vote, but his opponent triumphed by garnering black ballots by a five-to-one margin.

Groover soon devised a way to challenge growing black political strength. Elected to the House again in 1962, he led the fight to enact a majority vote, runoff rule for all county and state contests in both primary and general elections. Until 1963, plurality voting was widely used in Georgia county elections””

“Groover wanted to stop Black Georgians from voting as a “bloc” — that is, overwhelmingly for one candidate or party — while white Georgians split their votes among many candidates. In a plurality system, if Black voters were able to keep a coalition behind one candidate, they wouldn’t need the support of many white voters for their preferred candidate to win elections.

The method was popular across the former Confederacy: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas all have general election runoffs. As the Washington Post reported, just two non-Southern states have runoff rules, and those “almost never matter””

“There are some, like Bullock, who don’t believe this was designed to be a racially discriminatory institution, pointing out that the use of runoffs began at a time when Black voters had already been largely eliminated from the voter rolls. Others have said there were good governance reasons for implementing the runoff system.

However, Cal Jillson, a professor at Southern Methodist University, told the Washington Post that most of the states that adopted runoff systems did it to “maintain white Democratic domination of local politics. Letters and speeches that survive from the period show race was very much on the minds of those Democrats who advocated the primary-runoff process. ‘People had no misgivings about stating their real intentions and stating them in racial terms,’” Jillson told the paper.”

“As if to simplify the historical record, decades after Groover fought to institute run-off elections, he admitted: “I was a segregationist. I was a county unit man. But if you want to establish if I was racially prejudiced. I was. If you want to establish that some of my political activity was racially motivated, it was.”

Groover also confirmed that he “used the phrase ‘bloc voting’ as a racist euphemism for Negro voting.” A DeKalb County representative who supported Groover “remembered Groover saying on the House floor: ‘[W]e have got to go the majority vote because all we have to have is a plurality and the Negroes and the pressure groups and special interests are going to manipulate this State and take charge if we don’t go for the majority vote.””

Americans and Their Foreign Entanglements

“Like many historians, Kupchan repeats the standard claim that George Washington’s famous warning against “foreign entanglements” represented the views of the Founders and was followed by American leaders until the mid–20th century. In fact, the Founding Fathers were aggressive, unapologetic imperialists who fantasized about the creation of a global America.

Long before he entered politics, John Adams developed a theory of historical change that predicted America would become the next Rome. He wrote to a friend in 1755 that “the great seat of Empire” had been transferred from Rome to Britain and would likely move “into America.” The new country would “obtain the mastery of the seas, and the united force of all Europe will not be able to subdue us.”

Like Adams, Benjamin Franklin dreamed of an infinitely expansive America empire. In 1751, he provided a rationale, derived from John Locke’s theory that property belongs to those who mix their labor with nature, for conquering and occupying all the land held by indigenous people in North America. Industrious Anglo-Saxons, who Franklin expressly preferred as the inhabitants of the new republic, were to replace the Indians with a new empire: “Hence the Prince that acquires new Territory, if he finds it vacant, or removes the Natives to give his own People Room; the Legislator that makes effectual Laws for promoting of Trade, increasing Employment, improving Land by more or better Tillage; providing more Food by Fisheries; securing Property, &c. and the Man that invents new Trades, Arts or Manufactures, or new Improvements in Husbandry, may be properly called Fathers of their Nation.”

As president, George Washington, whose heroes included Caesar and Alexander the Great, allowed Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson to push for a buildup of the Navy and the creation of a Marine Corps, as well as for continued expansion westward across North America. Jefferson called for sending troops and warships to attack pirate ships operating from the northern African Barbary states that had captured and plundered American commercial vessels. Jefferson’s rival, Alexander Hamilton, agreed that the United States was “the embryo of a great empire,” even predicting that the U.S. would one day hold overseas colonies.

Within days of Jefferson’s inauguration in 1801, four U.S. warships set sail for Tripoli. Throughout his first term, American ships patrolled the Mediterranean, blockading the ports of several north African states and sinking or capturing Barbary pirate corsairs and Tripolitan ships. By the summer of 1804, virtually the entire U.S. Navy was deployed to the region—23 war vessels in all—including a squadron of gunships that remained anchored in the harbor of Tripoli, bombarding the city with impunity. The next year, Jefferson sent ashore a fighting force of Marines and mercenaries who besieged the pasha’s palace and replaced him with his brother, who had sworn to cooperate with the U.S.

In 1801, Jefferson told James Monroe of his vision for a totalizing and universal Americanism, calling it “impossible not to look forward to distant times, when our rapid multiplication will expand itself beyond those limits, & cover the whole Northern, if not the Southern continent with a people speaking the same language, governed in similar forms, & by similar laws.” The United States established an extensive network of formal representatives in the Mediterranean, with American consuls and Navy personnel stationed in more than a dozen cities. Jefferson also negotiated the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, which brought a swath of 828,000 square miles of land, with all the diverse peoples living on it, into the United States. In an instant, the country’s territory had doubled.

Noam Chomsky’s Green New Deal

“we’ve been in a new situation for 75 years. As soon as the nuclear age began, it was evident that humans had reached the intelligence and capacity to effectively destroy human life on Earth. That’s what we’ve been living with for 75 years. What wasn’t known at the time, but is now understood, is that it was also the beginning of what the World Geological Organization calls the Anthropocene, a period in which human activity is having very significant and deleterious effects on the environment.

So for 75 years, we’ve been living with a unique situation in human history. We have the means to destroy organized human life on Earth. That’s never been true before.”

“What history teaches us is that we have no idea. There are all kinds of lessons. Just take Germany. In the 1920s, Germany was the peak of Western civilization, in the sciences and the arts. And if you look at political science literature in the 1920s, the Weimar Republic was regarded as the peak of democratic achievement. Ten years later, it was the worst place in human history. And years after that, getting back to where it was.

Those are the lessons of history, namely, we don’t know.”

The Fall of the Roman Republic and the Fall of the American Republic: Sources

Donald Trump On Paying Supporter’s Legal Fees Meet The Press. 3 14 2016. NBC News. A look back at Trump comments perceived by some as inciting violence Libby Cathey and Meghan Keneally. 5 30 2020. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/back-trump-comments-perceived-encouraging-violence/story?id=48415766 Presidents Have Declared Dozens

The racist history behind the 10 US Army facilities named after Confederate leaders

“the South. Mike Jason, a retired Army colonel who commanded troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, told me the region had lots of cheap land, which is why the Army in the early 1900s built bases and other facilities there. As a way to appease racist white political leaders and locals who didn’t want a more integrated military nearby, the Army named bases after Confederate “heroes” who were popular among these leaders and locals.

That’s why all 10 facilities named after those men are in the South: three in Virginia, two in Louisiana, two in Georgia, and one each in Alabama, North Carolina, and Texas.

And the Confederate officers the Army chose to name the bases after weren’t just selected at random or because of their military prowess during the Civil War. Most were specifically chosen because of their local ties. For example, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Maj. Gen. George Pickett, both Virginians, have bases named after them in the state.”

“Experts have offered three main explanations — some more convincing than others — for why those 10 facilities haven’t had their names changed: 1) the pervasiveness of the Lost Cause myth in Army culture, 2) bureaucratic inertia and competing problems, and 3) courting controversy.”

“Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, one of the service’s most celebrated leaders before an ignominious fall, wrote an op-ed in the Atlantic on Tuesday describing how Confederate culture has persisted in the Army.

“When I was a cadet at West Point in the early 1970s, enthusiasm for Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson was widespread,” Petraeus wrote. “We were not encouraged to think deeply about the cause for which they had fought, at least not in our military history classes. And throughout my Army career, I likewise encountered enthusiastic adherents of various Confederate commanders, and a special veneration for Lee.””

“Perhaps that inaction had to do with the final explanation, which is one the Army has repeatedly used: that changing the names would stir up immense controversy within the ranks. Take, for instance, the response to a request from Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) in 2017. She asked the Army to rename two streets at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn: General Lee Avenue and Stonewall Jackson Drive.

When the Army wrote back, Diana Randon, who was at the time the service’s top official on these issues, said the two men were “an inextricable part of our military history.” Such a move would be “controversial and divisive,” she continued, and “contrary to the Nation’s original intent in naming these streets, which was the spirit of reconciliation.”

Of course, as discussed above, that is a blatant misrepresentation of why these individuals’ names were chosen. They were deliberately chosen to appease racist people, particularly in the South — not to achieve some kind of national “reconciliation.””

Why we can’t build

“America’s system of checks and balances requires unusual and even extraordinary levels of consensus to pass legislation. First, you need the agreement of the House, the Senate, the White House, and, increasingly, the Supreme Court.
More granularly, congressional power is diffused across committees. The Senate has built in a supermajority requirement, known as the filibuster, which effectively raises the threshold for passage from 51 votes to 60 votes.

This raises the question: If the problem is embedded in the structure of the US government, how did the US ever do anything big? The short answer is that for most of our political history, two unusual conditions held. First, the parties were ideologically mixed, which made compromise easier. Second, one party was usually electorally dominant, which gave the party in the minority a reason to compromise: If you can’t win, you may as well deal.

Both those conditions have dissolved. America’s political parties are more ideologically — and demographically — polarized than ever before. We’re also in the most competitive period American politics has ever seen. In a system like that, both sides utilize the system’s bias toward inaction to foil their opponents. You can see this in the rise of the filibuster over time. The rule has been around almost as long as America, but it’s only been deployed as an omnipresent veto in recent decades”

“The result is a system biased toward inaction.”

” This is representative democracy at its worst: A democracy that only represents those who know to show up at meetings most people never hear about, and so ends up handing power to special interests and aggrieved NIMBYs.”

“some of Andreessen’s examples really can’t be blamed on the government, at least not in a traditional sense.

America doesn’t have more ICU beds because hospitals have budgets to balance. You can’t both run a profitable hospital and maintain enough spare capacity for a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Similarly, the companies that make ventilators are private companies. They didn’t make more ventilators because there wasn’t demand for more ventilators. Same goes for surgical masks, eye shields, hospital gowns. Now, you can argue the government should’ve been stockpiling more of this stuff all along — and definitely should have been ramping up production in January and February — but a capitalist logic of efficiency prevails both inside and outside the market.

Take, for instance, the wildly successful Obama administration program to loan money to renewable energy companies that became infamous because one of those companies, Solyndra, was a bust. That program led to a slew of successes (including Tesla) and turned a profit to taxpayers. As Michael Lewis argues at length in his book The Fifth Risk, the problem, if anything, was that it was too cautious — so afraid of a Solyndra-like story that it wasn’t funding sufficiently risky investments. But they proved right to be afraid.

If even the government is forced to turn a constant profit on its programs and to avoid anything that might look like a boondoggle, you can imagine the pressure actual private companies are under.”