We’re So Fucked: Voters Unwilling to Punish Politicians for Tactics and Positions

Ever see survey results reporting over 70% of the American people support x, y, or z like keeping abortion safe and legal or enforcing LGBTQ+ rights or common sense gun laws, but then come the next election, the candidates who are actively campaigning on and working against all of them get elected by substantial margins. Ever wonder about the disconnect between survey and election results? Well, if you’ve ever spent time scratching your ass over this, Ye Olde Blogge has the answer, and the answer is MEH!

We’ve been reporting on the results of a Bright Line Watch survey that we first found on Mock, Paper, Scissors and later found discussed on the Politics Podcast on FiveThirtyEight with Bright Line co-founder, Brendan Nyhan. It covered a lot of ground from the opinions of expert political scientists to rank and file Democratic, Republican, and Independent voters on everything from what they called hardball constitutional practices (more on that later) to experiments on who would support which policies espoused by Republican politicians and opinions on secession. Most of the results spelled one conclusion to Ye Olde Blogge: We’re so fucked. And, we’re going to offer you one more nail in our democratic coffin courtesy of the Bright Line Watch June 2021 surveys.

Constitutional Hardball Practices

Constitutional hardball practices are political strategies that fit into our constitutional framework, in some instances, barely, but break our constitutional norms and usual ways of doing things These include many of the things that you probably think they include: gerrymandering, the filibuster, adding states, expanding the courts, impeaching presidents, refusing to increase the borrowing limit, refusing to consider a Supreme Court nominee, passing voter suppression and nullification laws, refusing to certify elections, and state legislatures picking slates of electors contrary to the state vote. You know all the shit we’ve seen either done — by the Repubes or threatened by the Dems, well, except for impeaching a president — over the past decade or so.

Sure, we can gerrymander our districts so that our party gets 60% of the legislative seats with only 40% of the vote, but should we? Sure ,we can refuse to extend the debt ceiling, but should we? Sure, we can filibuster every bill that the other party presents in the senate, but should we? Sure, we can write up articles of impeachment for Clinton in October 2016 and Biden in December 2020, but should we? There’s lots of stuff we can do, but that doesn’t mean we should do it, right? Not if we want a healthy vibrant functioning democracy. Not if that is what we want, but what if it isn’t what we want, well, then… hmmm… maybe? Maybe let’s see what the voters will let us get away with.

Most voters tell pollsters that they are against these practices. Very little of it is approved of by anyone, even the experts. It just doesn’t seem fair or right or sensible to use these constitutional hardball tactics, yet, we’ve seen all of them used in the past decade and the politicians doing them getting re-elected by substantial numbers.

The constitutional outrages keep stacking up, but the voters keep responding with MEH! Remember, authoritarians test the limits of what will be tolerated. It is how democracies devolve into autocracies.

Survey Says…

Let’s take a look at the results of the Bay Watch Live, er, I mean, Bright Line Watch 2021 surveys. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll post their graph of their results. If they want me to take it down, I will. Hopefully, no hard feelings will be had.

As can be seen with some difficulty for those of us who have difficulty seeing small things, the survey respondents have been broken down into three affiliations, each associated with a color: Experts, green; Democrats, blue; and Republicans, red. The respondents were asked whether they agreed with the policy positions. The positions were presented in a random order.

As you can see, most of the positions did not get a majority approving of them from any of the groups. Only five of the policy positions got a majority of any group to agree with it. We’ll list them here:

  1. DC and Puerto Rico Statehood: Experts overwhelmingly thought that adding DC and Puerto Rico as states would be okay with 80+% in agreement and a large majority of Democrats, 60+% agreeing.
  2. Abolishing the filibuster: Smaller majorities of experts and Democrats agreed that abolishing the filibuster would be okay, with 70+% and 50+%, respectively, agreeing.
  3. Impeaching the president due to unfitness: Note that by unfitness, they mean not being fit for office and not having committed high crimes and misdemeanors as Trump has done on multiple occasions and has been impeached — in a bipartisan way — for twice. Barely a majority of Dems thought it was okay and less than 40% of experts thought so.
  4. Refusing to increase the borrowing limit: Only Repubes thought this was okay with 55+% agreeing. 55+% think it is okay to threaten the full faith and credit of the US and default on our debt.
  5. Routine filibusters by the minority party: Just over 50% of Repubes thought it was okay for the minority to routinely filibuster bills.

Abolishing the filibuster has seen an interesting change in its support since 2019, when it was roughly the mirror of what it is now. In 2019, when Dems were in the minority only 20% supported abolishing the filibuster and nearly half of the Repubes did. Interestingly, in 2019, only 47% of experts thought the filibuster should be abolished, but now over 70% do.

Expert Predictions

The experts were asked to predict which of those policies would be enacted in the near future. We’ll review them in descending order and make some kind of snarky, sarcasticky, profaney commentary on them:

  • Gerrymandering: Considering that the Repubes already gerrymandered their ways to legislative majorities with a minority of votes in multiple states, of course 97% of the experts expect them to do it again. Democrats will have to get 70% of the vote to overcome the gerrymandering, and voters have already demonstrated that they just aren’t that concerned about it, so with the new Repube voter suppression and nullification laws, they’ve got themselves permanent majorities.
  • Blocking a Supreme Court nomination: 72% of experts think that if there is a Repube majority in the Senate, they will block a Biden SC nomination because they already did and weren’t punished for it. Why wouldn’t they do that shit again? Why not two years? Three years? Hell, with the GQP voter suppression and nullification laws we may never have anything but a Repube majority in the Senate, so there may never be another Democratic president putting another Justice on the Court.
  • Local officials refusing to certify an election: Considering they are already beginning the process in Georgia, I think this one is a little more likely than the 55% of the experts who thought so in June. I don’t know why people are so focused on 2024, the shit will hit the fan in the 2022 election. Georgia ain’t going to certify no Raphael Warnock win. It ain’t happening, y’all.
  • State legislature picks its own slate of electors: Ain’t that cute? Only 40% of the experts think this is gonna happen. They’re wrong. It is 100% going to happen. If a state with a GQP majority in the state legislature votes for the Dem candidate in 2024, they ain’t going to give their electors to them. If you think Clarence “Just Give All the Moneys to Jenny” Thomas, Samuel “The Country was made by and for White People” Alito, Kneel “Suck It, Garland” Go-suck, Brett “Debt Free and I Like Beer” Kavanaugh, Amy “Let Them Use Coat Hangers” Barrett, and John “Post-Racial Society” Roberts are going to say otherwise, you haven’t been paying attention. They’ve been working for, paying for this moment for a long long time. They have finally bought themselves a majority on the Supreme Court and they are going to flex in 2024.
  • Congress refuses to certify the 2024 election: If the Repubes take the Congress or just one of the houses of Congress in the 2024 election — remember, it is the Congress elected in 2024 that will be certifying the 2024 Presidential election, not the one elected in 2022 — they are not going to certify the election. If there is a GQP Speaker of the House, they damn sure ain’t going to be certifying no election. Hell, they’ll even elect Trump Speaker just to give him the presidency. This is 100%. For what it is worth, 39% of the experts thought this would happen. Bah!

The GQP no longer thinks they are constrained by elections, the electorate, or the Constitution, and they may be right. Voters tell pollsters that they hate hate hate with a capital H and an 8 these constitutional hardball tactics, but they don’t punish the politicians who are enacting them by voting against them.

This has always been the problem with liberals puffing out their chests and claiming that a majority of Americans support their various policy positions because polls say they do. The only poll that has ever mattered is the election, and during the elections, the voters don’t support Democratic policy positions at least not in sufficient numbers to overcome the GQP’s gerrymandering and structural advantages in the Senate and electoral college and now in their voter suppression and nullification laws.

Image Attribution

“gerrymander” by Wordsmith.org is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

21 replies »

  1. Yes, it could create a Constitutional crises but the Supreme Court could order the Senate to hold hearings and not delay them. Would the Senate then comply?

    Good sailing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      It is no longer conjecture and prediction; the GQP is doing it right in front of our eyes. I’m afraid that the mainstream Dems are waking up too slowly to this reality, if they’re going to wake up at all. I do feel like that rogue police officer who is the only one who sees the truth and will stop at nothing to prove it in all of the movies, only, my life isn’t nearly as exciting since I am one of many rogue bloggers who see the truth and can only scream into ethernet!


      Liked by 1 person

      • The Permanent Majority has been the goal since at least the mid 90s. They said it then and they meant it. As has been said by many, “When someone shows you their true colors, believe them.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t know about Biden. Maybe he’s sincere. But, Manchin and Sinema are clearly bought and paid for by lobbyists. They really do mean to stop any real progress from happening.

          Do you listen to Jon Meachem’s podcast, Hope Through History? The latest episode recounts Bloody Sunday and the impact it had. It got me to thinking about proportionality bias. It affected the Civil Rights legislation because it seemed like a big enough and emotionally powerful enough event to warrant sweeping legislation. But, so did the 6 January Insurrection. The GQP has learned how to to blunt the emotional impact of those events so that they don’t have as big and long lasting effects. Coupled with the speed of social media and the news cycle, I think we’ll continually be swimming upstream unless and until we find someone who knows how to use it as well as Trump and Rupert Murdoch and their acolytes do.



          Liked by 1 person

          • The Democrats still seem too trusting of the proposition that “The Institutions Will Hold”. If January 6 proved anything, it was that that ain’t necessarily so. And rational argument rarely wins the day against strong emotional appeal. The Republicans really can’t afford to speak the reality of 1/6/21. They are far to culpable in what led up to it. If put to the question, they would have to take the 5th.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Howdy Bob!

              Too many in the Senate and the WH seem to think that we can either return to the comity of yesteryear or that we are still living in anything that remotely resembles normal, the prospect of a bipartisan infrastructure bill notwithstanding. Subpoenas are going to be an interesting fight that might win Dems some points, but it will be lost on the vast majority of Americans and not inspire anyone to vote for or against any party. The GQP is just playing for time on all fronts.


              Liked by 1 person

              • On so many fronts people from national leaders to the general population are not getting it that normal times are over and gone, and not coming back in the life time of any human currently alive. And that goes for our political, social, and economic systems too, not just the climate and pandemics. The GOP is playing for time, and if they win they will pursue their dream of going back to a mythical golden age, guaranteeing that things will only get worse faster. (in that regard this article is interesting: https://www.salon.com/2021/08/02/terrorism-expert-sara-kamali-on-jan-6-white-nationalism-and-the-rise-of-vanilla-isis/ ) Perhaps, Mother Nature, in her rage and pain will prove more persuasive than human words, and more persistent in delivering the message.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!

                  It is definitely going to help to take the long view in this fight. I’m coming to the conclusion that we lost before we ever fully realized that we were fighting.

                  The concentration of wealth is an age old problem, but there is something about the magnitude of wealth that the .01% have amassed that I don’t think anyone can really comprehend. A billion is a thousand millions, a trillion, a thousand billions or a million millions. The buying power of even a hundred billionaire is so much greater than a billionaire. Seriously, I think we’ve woefully underestimated what the concentration of that much wealth in the hands of so few really does mean. You and are still scrapping over thousands.

                  Every political calamity has occurred after the disparity in wealth in a country has gotten to be large. I’m betting that the Koch Bros and their ilk are betting that they can ride the coming political upheaval and still thrive. There will be no beheadings of the wealthy in their bought and paid for future. There will be no unwashed masses invading the palaces and living in them in squalor as have happened in revolutions past. There will be no world wars fought over resources and ownership.

                  I think we just can’t comprehend what they’re able to pay people to do for them and that there are people willing to do it.


                  Liked by 1 person

                  • It is true that those of us who see $1,000 or $100,000 as a lot of money really can’t comprehend that there are those who see $1,000,000 as less than pocket change. We are not good at dealing with large numbers in general.

                    Liked by 1 person

  2. If the Senate won’t advise and consent, i.e., hold hearings, a President should just go ahead and install (McConnell vs Obama/Garland) the candidate as if the Senate had already approved the said candidate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Jerry!

      If it comes to that, perhaps Biden will, but it will trigger a constitutional crisis that the Supreme Court will have to resolve. I’m not holding my breath that this time in 2023 we’ll actually have a democracy since we barely have one now.



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