The Many Scenarios of a Republican Civil War

Members of the Texas delegation listen to a speech at the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota, September 2, 2008
Members of the Texas delegation listen to a speech at the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota, September 2, 2008 (PBS/Tom LeGro)

In August 2016, I was penning an article titled “The Coming Republican Civil War”. The premise was simple: after a self-inflicted Trumpian defeat in November, the party of Lincoln would tear itself asunder assigning blame and shedding factions.

But Hillary lost. For a few brief months, the Grand Old Party looked triumphant.

Not so much anymore.

The long-term trajectory of the Republican Party isn’t great; factional infighting has already sunk several attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act and by the end of the month we’ll know just how deep the divides go should tax reform and the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill fail. Read more

Trump Treats Foreign Policy Like Reality TV

American president Donald Trump waits to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 19
American president Donald Trump waits to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 19 (UN/Eskinder Debebe)

American president Donald Trump has made a decision about the future of the Iran nuclear deal — but he isn’t sharing it with anyone yet.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed on Wednesday that the president has made up his mind. But he also revealed that Trump had refused to share his decision even with America’s closest allies.

“Prime Minister [Theresa] May asked him if he would share it with her. He said no,” Tillerson said.

What is this, a cliffhanger? Read more

Democrats Should Campaign for Dutch-Style Health Reforms

Dutch girls cycling in Amsterdam, June 13, 2014
Dutch girls cycling in Amsterdam, June 13, 2014 (Shirley de Jong)

The other day, I explained that the reason Americans can’t get a European-style health-care system is not opposition from insurance companies but the fears of 155 million Americans who currently get health insurance through their employers. They worry that a single-payer system, like Britain’s, would mean higher taxes and lower-quality care.

Such fears — largely unfounded — would undoubtedly be amplified by drug companies, health providers and insurance companies if the Democrats campaigned for “Medicare for all”.

So instead of having an abstract, and probably pointless, debate about which health-care system is superior, why not look at what advocates of single-payer hope to achieve and see if this can’t be done without eliminating private insurance? Read more

Why Americans Can’t Have European-Style Health Care

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders takes part in a protest in Washington DC, November 17, 2016
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders takes part in a protest in Washington DC, November 17, 2016 (Lorie Shaull)

Sixteen Democratic senators, led by the 2016 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, have called for reforms that would make all Americans eligible for public health care.

Such a system — the Americans call it “single-payer” — would be uncontroversial in Europe, where most countries guarantee health care to their citizens.

But it seems impossible to get done in America. Why? Read more

Consolidate Congressional Districts to Make Elections Fairer

The 111 Huntington Avenue skyscraper in Boston, Massachusetts, October 22, 2010
The 111 Huntington Avenue skyscraper in Boston, Massachusetts, October 22, 2010 (Thomas Hawk)

Last month, I made two arguments for a more proportional voting system in the United States:

  1. Politics should not be reduced to two options.
  2. Proportional representation discourages regional factionalism.

I recognized at the time that a full switch to proportional representation is unlikely but argued that adding runoffs could allow third parties to flourish without playing spoiler.

Another, easier way to accomplish the same goal would be to combine single-member congressional districts into multi-member districts. Read more

America Goes the Way of Europe: Christians Become Minority

View of the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 26, 2009
View of the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 26, 2009 (Jon Dawson)

America is going the way of Europe. There are fewer Christians. Young people in particular are losing faith. White Christians have become a minority.

The Public Religion Research Institute interviewed more than 100,000 Americans across all fifty states and found that:

  • White Christians comprise only 43 percent of the population anymore. As recently as 1976, that was 81 percent.
  • Catholic and mainline Protestant churches have gradually lost flock. A decline in evangelical Christians — once thought to be bucking the trend — has been more sudden. They went down from 23 percent of the population in 2006 to 17 percent today.
  • The Catholic Church is undergoing an ethnic transformation. A quarter century ago, 87 percent of Catholics were non-Hispanic whites. Today that’s 55 percent.
  • 38 percent of Americans under the age of thirty call themselves unaffiliated with any church. Only 12 percent of seniors do. Read more

Trump Is Right (For Once): The Debt Ceiling Must Go

A worker does maintenance on top of the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington DC, September 8, 2014
A worker does maintenance on top of the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington DC, September 8, 2014 (Architect of the Capitol)

Finally a good idea from Donald Trump.

The Washington Post reports that the American president has agreed with the leader of the Democratic opposition in the Senate, Charles Schumer, to find a way to abolish the debt ceiling.

When asked by a reporter, Trump said “there are lots of good reasons” for eliminating the measure.

Trump’s own Republicans, who have often used the debt ceiling as leverage to negotiate spending cuts, are appalled. Read more