Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ain't No Party Like a Conservative Party...Oh Wait

Michael Brendan Doughtery's take on what passes for conservatism is a worthwhile read. Having Aspergers, I'm not always aware what is totally being tongue in cheek and what is the stone cold truth, but I can tell that a goodly portion of it is pretty hilarious.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Health Care and the Moderate Republican

It can be hard at times to be a Republican that supports health care reform, because you are immediately tagged with wanting some kind of massive state system ala Canada or the UK. There are shouts of wanting "liberty" and a "free market" in health care without really putting forward real plans.

Shay over at Booker Rising, assumes that because I want a "government takeover of health care:"

Opposing a government takeover of health care (which Mr. Sanders believes is the only type of health care reform) - 1/6 of the U.S. economy - is quite different than opposing health care reform in general. Almost all libertarian, conservative, moderate-conservative and/or Republican critics of the current bill want reform, but one that honors individual choice, liberty, and America's cultural tradition of free markets and not European nanny-statism. If I wanted to be European, I'd move to Europe.

My guess is she read way too much into my previous post on health care and the GOP. In that last post, I said that there is incentive for Republicans to be very serious on health care. Somehow that got interpreted to mean that I supported the Democratic plan (which I didn't). My intent was to make it worth the Republican's while to come to the table with plans that are not massive intrusions into the American economy.

I would rather have a system that use the free market as much as possible and has limited state intervention. We will probably never have a totally free market system for the simple reason that the Federal and State governments already have a hand in the health care system through programs like Medicare and Medicaid. While those two programs are not perfect, they do provide a service in making sure that the elderly and the poor are taken care of.

But the question remains: how do we help the rest of the population? Well, being a conservative, I would like to see the free market have a role. But living in a democracy, I know I won't get everything. There are some real health care plans out there that conservatives should be supporting to make sure people have proper access to health care and also keep costs down.

The Wyden-Bennett bill was one that was able to provide the choice that Shay talks about and also was able to hold costs down. It is a bill that I think conservatives should support. It's not the whole loaf, but it's a good two-thirds of a loaf.

Another idea is to basically challenge the whole concept of health insurance and make it acutally health insurance. Think of this one as a free market model with a catastrophic program as the cherry on top. This was explained in the great essay by David Goldhill called "How American Health Care Killed My Father." His idea is as free market as you can get:

For years, a number of reformers have advocated a more “consumer-driven” care system—a term coined by the Harvard Business School professor Regina Herzlinger, who has written extensively on the subject. Many different steps could move us toward such a system. Here’s one approach that—although it may sound radical—makes sense to me.

First, we should replace our current web of employer- and government-based insurance with a single program of catastrophic insurance open to all Americans—indeed, all Americans should be required to buy it—with fixed premiums based solely on age. This program would be best run as a single national pool, without underwriting for specific risk factors, and would ultimately replace Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. All Americans would be insured against catastrophic illness, throughout their lives.

Proposals for true catastrophic insurance usually founder on the definition of catastrophe. So much of the amount we now spend is dedicated to problems that are considered catastrophic, the argument goes, that a separate catastrophic system is pointless. A typical catastrophic insurance policy today might cover any expenses above, say, $2,000. That threshold is far too low; ultimately, a threshold of $50,000 or more would be better. (Chronic conditions with expected annual costs above some lower threshold would also be covered.) We might consider other mechanisms to keep total costs down: the plan could be required to pay out no more in any year than its available premiums, for instance, with premium increases limited to the general rate of inflation. But the real key would be to restrict the coverage to true catastrophes—if this approach is to work, only a minority of us should ever be beneficiaries.

How would we pay for most of our health care? The same way we pay for everything else—out of our income and savings. Medicare itself is, in a sense, a form of forced savings, as is commercial insurance. In place of these programs and the premiums we now contribute to them, and along with catastrophic insurance, the government should create a new form of health savings account—a vehicle that has existed, though in imperfect form, since 2003. Every American should be required to maintain an HSA, and contribute a minimum percentage of post-tax income, subject to a floor and a cap in total dollar contributions. The income percentage required should rise over a working life, as wages and wealth typically do.

Another idea that conservatives should consider is how health care is done in Singapore. They use a form of health care savings accounts as the basis of their system:
* There are mandatory health savings accounts: "Individuals pre-save for medical expenses through mandatory deductions from their paychecks and employer contributions... Only approved categories of medical treatment can be paid for by deducting one's Medisave account, for oneself, grandparents, parents, spouse or children: consultations with private practitioners for minor ailments must be paid from out-of-pocket cash..."
* "The private healthcare system competes with the public healthcare, which helps contain prices in both directions. Private medical insurance is also available."
* Private healthcare providers are required to publish price lists to encourage comparison shopping.
* The government pays for "basic healthcare services... subject to tight expenditure control." Bottom line: The government pays 80% of "basic public healthcare services."
* Government plays a big role with contagious disease, and adds some paternalism on top: "Preventing diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tobacco-related illnesses by ensuring good health conditions takes a high priority."
* The government provides optional low-cost catatrophic health insurance, plus a safety net "subject to stringent means-testing."

Yes, there are some things that conservatives would have to swallow such as the "public option," but in the end, this is plan that is not as state intrusive and yet spends less than either Europe or the United States.

Republican legislators have put forth some plans. But in many cases they are pretty vague in how they would both lower costs and provide access to the health care. Mark Kirk, John Shadegg, and the Republican Study Committee have all put forth plans with some good ideas, but they were never forcefully pushed by the GOP. Even if they were good plans, they way they were brought forth showed little seriousness on the issue

Conservatives do believe in the free market. As a conservative, I uphold that principle. But that means nothing if all it is reduced to are platitudes and not about using our principles to provide real and serious solutions.

Random Thoughts on Citizens United v. FEC

I don't think I have the deepest judicial mind, but I do have a few thoughts (and a few links) to share about the recent Supreme Court decision on campaign finance reform

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Health Care Reform Still Matters

M. Scott over at Frum Forum reminds Republicans in the wake of the Scott Brown win that health care reform still matters to many Americans including many Republicans

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Word of Caution to Moderate Republicans

From Mike at the Big Stick:

In thinking about the big win for Republicans I am anticipating some I-told-you-sos from moderate factions within the Party. They will point to Brown's win as evidence that moderate Republicans can win and suggest we run more of them. I think this may be reaching too far.

Friday, January 15, 2010

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Tolerate Government

What has become de riguer among many conservatives and Republicans these days is to express hatred for government (save the military). We have taken what was to be a healthy skepticism of government and metastized it into this deep contempt.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Contrarian Take on the Reid Affair

I don't like Harry Reid.

Now that we got that out of the way, I can say this: I don't like the Senator from Nevada, but I also don't think he's a racist or what he said is racist. 

I don't know if white Americans would have voted for someone with darker skin.  Maybe, maybe not.  I think that is something best left to white Americans themselves to answer and since I'm not a white American, I won't answer.

But the thing is, what he said wasn't racist. 

That said, I am also left wondering what would have happened if a Republican had said the same thing.  I tend to think that said Republican would be in the midst of an even greater firestorm than the one surrounding Harry Reid.

E.D. Kain notes that the reaction on the right is indicative of the state of American conservatism these days,
but I disagree: I think it is indicative of American politics these days.  While Republicans have shamelessly jumped on Reid's comments, Democrats have at times taken any criticism about the President to be a racist assault on Obama.  Meagan McArdle sums it up nicely:

I happen to agree that there's no evidence that either Bill Clinton or Harry Reid harbor deep racial animus.  Clinton's remarks clearly have an alternative, non-racial interpretation, and while Harry Reid may have been flashing back to his political salad days when Democrats regularly congratulated themselves on their openness to Negros, it's more unfortunate than problematic.  I only wish that all the liberals rushing to defend them would apply the same good faith presumption when Republicans are involved.  Even if the president is black, there will be many people who disagree with him vigorously and angrily; this is not, per se, evidence of racism.

A good faith presumption: it's seems to be what we are missing these days.

American conservatism is pretty messed up, but so is the entire political culture. Politicos on both the left and the right tend to automatically see the worst in each other rather than the best. We don't give each other the benefit of the doubt.

What if we were willing to act on faith that the other side isn't always a monster, but just someone we disagree with?

What missing these days is faith...in each other.

A Blog Post About Blue People, A Trash Compactor, Redemption and the Rapture

My husband and I finally saw Avatar last night. The long and the short of it is, that Daniel really liked it and I was sort of "eh" about the whole thing.

Technologically, it was a masterpiece. The CGI was astoundingly real and the whole makeup of the fictional world of Pandora was sight to behold.

But it comes down to the story, I had more mixed reactions.

On the good side, it did have a good take on how indigenous people have been treated over the centuries, how their homes have been destroyed and populations decimated.

But while it highlighted that issue, it did it in a very surfacy way. The native population of Pandora, the Na'vi were basically perfect people- they all were attractive and thin, they were in tune with nature and there wasn't a bad one among them. Maybe it's me, but I like some gray in my heroes and villians. The Na'vi were so good, it was hard to really relate to them at all. Maybe there was a reason that a recent parody of Avatar on South Park made the Na'vi into Smurfs- they were about as annoyingly perfect.

But maybe what really bothered me about the movie was the lack of hope for humanity. There was not sense of redemption. The Earth of the future was a horrible place of war and ecological devastation. Save for the scientists, the bulk of the humans on Pandora were basically savages and at the end of the movie the are defeated, but unchanged.

Maybe its me but I think that there was another movie on the environment that gave humanity a lot more hope: Wall-E. In that movie, the robot WALL-E is a trash compactor that continued to do his work centuries after humans left Earth an ecological mess. The humans lived on ships and had grown fat and lazy. Through Wall-E, they come back to earth and start anew, this time respecting the world they once took for granted. That movie had a condemned humnaity for its sins but also gave a shot at redeeming itself, and humanity did. But in Avatar, there was no chance.

I like my movies to have some sense of hope. That doesn't mean I want a "happy ending," however. Hopeful endings mean that there is a chance that redemption will take place.

In some ways, Avatar reminded me a liberal version of the rapture. For the uninitiated, this is the belief popular among some Christians, that the faithful will be taken into heaven, while the unfaithful will be stuck on earth and face God's damnation. In Avatar, the humans go back to dying planet to face their damnation, while a few good humans got to stay on Pandora and if they were really good, they could like the young protagonist Jake Sully, leave humanity altogether and become a Na'vi.

I'm not as upset as some conservatives are about the implied pantheism- people are entitled to their spiritual viewpoints. But I wanted more nuance and gray in this movie. As E.D. Kain notes in a post today, a movie like The Mission, dealt far more in the grays of life and gave a fuller picture of the good and bad of humanity than Avatar ever did.

So, I chalk this up as an okay movie. It wasn't a waste of my three hours, but I did want something a bit more hopeful.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Return of Glass-Stegall?

With all the talk of partisan rancor and all the talk about how Wall Street is not learning the lessons of the near economic disaster, this little news story is kind of slipping under the wires. Kudos to Senators Cantwell and McCain for trying to right the ship and try to reign in the banks.

The blog, the NextGOP gives a good reason why Republicans should support this bill.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Gays, Uganda and "The Man"

I've been causally following the whole issue of the anti-gay bill being considered in Uganda. I've seen how bloggers have asked American evangelicals to denounce the law and upon hearing that some evangelicals have been to the East African nation comparing gays to the worse of humanity there has been a swirl of righteous indignation. A few people have started to say that this story tells us that white evangelicals want all gays dead.

In all this talk there has been something that has distrubed me: the sense that there is someone missing from this argument. That missing person or persons are the Africans themselves. Even though this is taking place in Uganda, it seems as if the Ugandans are the minor characters of what is the ongoing American culture war. This seems a bit odd, since it was the Ugandan government or rather a member of Parliament that proposed this bill. This MP could have decided not to, but did it anyway. Also, as a piece in the Advocate notes, it's not like Uganda was a gay paridise before this bill was introduced:

The current law in Uganda states that anyone who identifies as a homosexual, bisexual, or transgender should be sentenced to a minimum of 14 years imprisonment. While 14 years is the stated term, being convicted as an LGBT person commonly results in a life sentence.(emphasis mine) While it has never been safe to identifying as a gay person in Uganda, the bill introduced October 14, if passed, would make a nonstraight lifestyle impossible in the African country. The new legislation calls for a life sentence as a minimum punishment for any LGBT person and further states that anyone who fails to report a homosexual to the government within 24 hours will be sentenced to three years in prison. The final part of the bill is perhaps the most shocking, given Uganda’s history of HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. It states that death by hanging is the punishment for “aggravated homosexuality,” which is defined as any of the following: a repeat offender of the homosexuality law, having homosexual sex when any intoxicating substance is involved (for instance, if two men meet at a bar, buy each other a drink and then have sex, both of these men would be sentenced to death,) if one engages in homosexual activity as an authority figure, and finally, having sex if you’re HIV-positive.

The Uganda story is not simply about hateful white people going to Africa to infect the innocent black folk there. Yes, the conservatives who went there to spread their schlock did pour gasoline on a fire, it is important to remember that the fire was already there in the first place. In many parts of Africa it is difficult to be gay. Just this week, the world saw a gay couple in Malawi jailed for being gay. According to Wikipedia, about 38 African nations still outlaw homosexuality. Amnesty International reports that last year Burundi outlawed homosexuality. A report on BBC states a report from the International Gay and Lesbian Association that says homosexuality is punishable by death in parts of Nigeria, Mauritania and Sudan; Gambia, Kenya and Tanzania are punishable by up to 14 years in jail and in Zimbabwe it could be against the law for gays to show public displays of affection.

I'm not saying that these evangelicals should be let off the hook, but it should be noted that it hasn't been easy for gays even before this law came into being. It would be nice if the people who trying to fight the culture war on an another continent would remember that.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Lincoln-Douglas It Ain't

Writing for Frum Forum, John Guardiano argues that interparty battles within the GOP is good because it will spur ideas. Guardiano notes:

I’ll acknowledge that a primary contest which devolves into an idealess food fight is a real risk, and one the GOP should avoid. However, a substantive contest of ideas should not only be countenanced; it should actively be encouraged: because it will help to invigorate and strengthen a GOP that urgently needs new ideas and new public-policy proposals, and for both substantive and political reasons.

Substantively, the GOP needs to address the great and pressing issues of our time: fractured countries and failed states, international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, a weak and fragile financial system, runaway entitlement spending (which threatens to bankrupt our country), chronic under- and un-employment, a lack of economic growth, et al.

If primaries were really about two candidates sharing their ideas on how to tackle pressing issues of the day, that would be one thing. But as Jeb Gonklin shows in a rebuttal to Guardiano, such battles are every the high-minded fight of ideas that Guardiano supposedly longs for. This is what he has to say about a GOP primary battle going on in Illinois between moderate Mark Kirk and conservative Andy Martin:

In a substantive debate on the issues that Guardiano highlights, Kirk would welcome a primary “battle” to focus on which candidate has the best ideas and which candidate is the most qualified to serve in the United States Senate. In five terms in Congress, Kirk has more than displayed his bonafides and his leadership skill on the most important issues of the day… like opposing Iranian nuclear proliferation. I don’t oppose a primary fight because it would focus on substantive issues but, on the contrary, because opposition to Kirk has nothing to do with the issues. The Tea Partiers opposing him don’t care that Kirk is the most qualified based on experience, the most intelligent, the most fit to win a general election, the best on Iran, the best on defense…..they care that he had the audacity to disagree with them on the bailout and on gun control — all issues which only primary voters disagree with him on. Guardiano calls for innovative and independent policy thinkers, yet it is Kirk’s refusal to toe the far right’s version of the “party line” that so upsets some conservatives.

If the debate were about issues, Andy Martin would not be running radio advertisements which mention a so called “solid rumor” that Kirk is gay. If this race were about issues, Lake County Republican leader Ray True would not publicly observe that Mark Kirk has “surrounded himself with homosexuals.” If this race were about issues, the rightwing blogosphere wouldn’t be buzzing about how “gay” Mark Kirk is. But this debate isn’t about issues. This debate is about how a small group of conservatives are upset that Kirk appeals to a more moderate group of voters. The opposition to Kirk doesn’t have a thing to do with issues.

The recent race between Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava and Conservative Doug Hoffman was basically a mudfight calling Scozzafava everything but a child of God.

My own skeptical take is that Guardiano is not pleased with the more moderate Kirk and wants a "high-minded slugfest." But such things rarely exist, especially when the moderate is battling a conservative who deems his opponent just wrong on issues, but a traitor to the party.

I'm all for sharing ideas, but not when it resembles a wrestling match.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Thinking About Tea Parties

David Brooks has a good take on the Tea Party movement and what it might be saying about American society circa 2010. It would be easy to write the movement off and some have (including yours truly). But Brooks, being a student of history, can see some of the underlying currents in America that are being made manifest in the Tea Party. He cites that Americans have lost faith in institutions and the Tea Party is basically saying what others are thinking:

The public is not only shifting from left to right. Every single idea associated with the educated class has grown more unpopular over the past year.

The educated class believes in global warming, so public skepticism about global warming is on the rise. The educated class supports abortion rights, so public opinion is shifting against them. The educated class supports gun control, so opposition to gun control is mounting.

The story is the same in foreign affairs. The educated class is internationalist, so isolationist sentiment is now at an all-time high, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The educated class believes in multilateral action, so the number of Americans who believe we should “go our own way” has risen sharply.

A year ago, the Obama supporters were the passionate ones. Now the tea party brigades have all the intensity.

The tea party movement is a large, fractious confederation of Americans who are defined by what they are against. They are against the concentrated power of the educated class. They believe big government, big business, big media and the affluent professionals are merging to form self-serving oligarchy — with bloated government, unsustainable deficits, high taxes and intrusive regulation.

The tea party movement is mostly famous for its flamboyant fringe. But it is now more popular than either major party. According to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 41 percent of Americans have a positive view of the tea party movement. Only 35 percent of Americans have a positive view of the Democrats and only 28 percent have a positive view of the Republican Party.

Again, most of us in the "educated class" have written these people off as silly idiots. And while I still think there is a lot of silly and even dangerous thinking coming from these folks, they are also on to something. Think about: over the last few years, we have seen governments unable to do anything as a major American city is inundated with water, get bogged down in two wars and run up massive deficits. When Americans look at business, the picture is no better: banks that made stupid risks, car companies that made cars no one wanted, and all supported in some way by an inept government. In some ways, this goes beyond who is in the White House: people are mad at everyone and even worse, they think the only person they can depend on is themselves.

This is the challenge that both political parties have to face. I don't think that the Tea Party has the answer: if we followed their advice in the fall of 2008, we'd basically be living through the Second Great Depression instead of the Great Recession. But both Republicans and Democrats have to find some way to restore trust to American institutions. It's not simply about having a "public option" as it is about making sure that government is doing it's job well. It's about making business follow rules that benefit all and not just a few. It's about not going using military action unless we know we are going win. It's about trying to live within our means.

The Tea Parties want us to believe that we are on our own. I don't think that's true, but they have a point when you look at the landscape of the last few years.

As the Partiers go after mainstream Republicans, it's important that those establishment candidates speak to the underlying problems. What the American public needs to hear is that they will work to restore the public's trust.

That's why we need to listen to the Tea Parties, even if we don't like them.

Monday, January 04, 2010

What A Tangled Web We Weave

E.D. Kain probably has the best statement on the New York Times article about American evangelical involvement in the horrid homosexuality bill in Uganda:

I have no doubt that these men never thought the Ugandan government would go so far, but I do think their surprise is a little unwarranted. In America the culture wars may be fought in courtrooms and on pulpits and television screens. It may be over as mundane a thing as the right to legally wed. That’s how far we’ve come. In many other parts of the world, however, the culture war is a life or death matter. It’s playing with fire. At a certain point, when you see people playing with enough fire you have to wonder if they really don’t know its potential to burn. You begin to question whether or not maybe they’re aware that it will spread into a conflagration. You begin to think that maybe they are aware, that maybe their intention goes beyond what they claim – only they haven’t thought through the repercussions all the way. The long-term ramifications of their words and actions are uglier than they had at first imagined. The abstractions, when they solidify, becoming a little too grim.
Unlike a lot of bloggers and even some friends, I'm not willing to say that these persons wanted gays in Uganda to die.  I can't look into the hearts of these people and I'm not willing to judge them as wanting to kills gay folks.  It's also too easy to paint everyone who is not crazy about homosexuality or voted against gay marriage as a potential murderer of gays.

That said, I do think these persons were as E.D. notes, "playing with fire,"  a dangerous game of naievte. Maybe they thought that the Ugandans would be like anti-gay activists in North America who fight gay rights in the courts and the ballot box and force gays back into a closet.  But most people know that while being gay is not easy in most countries, in some nations you can get killed for loving someone of the same sex. 

Many of the evangelical leaders are now offering "explanations."  Again, I don't know what was in their hearts and frankly, I don't want to know.  They have the right to express their opinions, but the leaders should be reminded that actions can sometimes have consequences no one ever intended.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

How to Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah?

Over the holidays, an article appeared on the Daily Beast outlining how Republicans can effectively criticize former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. 

How does one do that?  Well, ask Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Case for the Filibuster

With all the drama about what had to be done to get 60 votes in the Senate for the Health Care Reform bill, there has been a lot of talk from liberals about ditching the filibuster. It was only a few years ago that conservatives were the ones asking to get rid of the filibuster. Shortly after Christmas, Ezra Klien wrote that it's time to get rid of the Senate procedure:
In today's Senate, 55 votes isn't enough to "win," or anything close to it; it's enough to get you five votes away from the 60 votes you need to shut down a filibuster. Only then, in most cases, can a law be passed. The modern Senate is a radically different institution than the Senate of the 1960s, and the dysfunction exhibited in its debate over health care -- the absence of bipartisanship, the use of the filibuster to obstruct progress rather than protect debate, the ability of any given senator to hold the bill hostage to his or her demands -- has convinced many, both inside and outside the chamber, that it needs to be fixed.
Not so fast, says Jay Cost of Real Clear Politics. While Klein thinks that the Senate is "broken," Cost thinks the Senate is working just fine. The problem is that the two Senate parties have grown farther apart over the last 40 years. He explains by using the following graph:

He then goes on to explain:
Three important trends are evident from this picture. First, the party extremes have grown farther apart. Second, there are now fewer genuine moderates in the United States Senate than at any point in the last half century. Third, there used to be a sizeable ideological overlap between the two parties in the Senate. It no longer exists. Put simply, the Senate parties have become ideologically polarized.

This helps explain the increasing use of the filibuster. As the parties drift apart ideologically, the majority party will more likely introduce legislation that the minority party can't accept, giving the latter a stronger incentive to block it via the filibuster. Using the filibuster is thus a rational response when one finds oneself in the smaller half of a polarized chamber, which is more likely to be the case today than 45 years ago.
Cost goes on to explain that removing this tool would make the upper chamber a more chaotic place. The majority party would only have to convince 51 rather than 60 Senators and they would pass more partisan legislation because there would be no check to moderate legislation. Also Cost notes that this would make for unstable policy coming from Washington. Legislation passed when one party is in power would be rescinded when the other party comes to power. Cost notes:
If nothing more than a simple majority is necessary for sweeping changes, what stops a newly victorious party from undoing all the reforms implemented by the old majority, and instituting its own set of big changes? What would be the long-term consequences of that? If every biennial or quadrennial election brought the prospect of big changes in public policy - how could we practically plan for the future? We all expect things in 2013 to be generally the same as things in 2009. Eliminate the filibuster, empower a bare majority to impose ideologically extreme policies, and that expectation could become unreasonable.
If you are still reading this post, you can probably guess that I am in favor of keeping the filibuster. As Cost notes, moderates are becoming less and less rare in the Senate, and Congress as a whole. It was the moderates that were the dealmakers that could get legislation passed. A bill proposed by the Democrats would have some Republican support and visa versa. But as the parties become more polarized, it only makes sense that when one party proposes a bill, the other party will oppose it. It also means that the party in power is really in power and the filibuster is the only tool the losing party has.

Klein and others are mad that there had to be so much work done to get 60 votes for health care to pass. If there were no filibuster then a health care reform bill would pass, probably with a public option. The remaining moderates in the Democratic party would be sidelined, and the liberal base would become even more powerful. That would be music to Klein's ears, but I think it would be bad in the long run for American democracy.

Part of the problem with our polarized climate today is that when one party wins an election, party stalwarts tend to think this is a mandate from the people to get their own agendas done. They also think that a losing party basically has to sit there and take it. So, in the health care debate, Democrats think that all Republicans should basically shut up since they won the election.

But this isn't a pure democracy, it's a republic that believes that even minorities have to be listened to. People may not like that the GOP was threatening to use the filibuster, but is the only voice the GOP had. The same goes for when the Democrats were the minority party. They need to be able to have some say in how a bill is crafted and absent bridge building moderates, this is how minorities can speak.

Too the winner goes the spoils might work in sports, but not in politics.