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Political scientist: Democrats must violate all the norms to win elections

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Yesterday Vox published an interview with political scientist David Faris. Faris has just published a new book titled “It’s Time to Fight Dirty” which Vox frames as the Democratic answer to the “Flight 93 Election” essay published in 2016. If you recall that essay, the point was that defeating Hillary was a “charge the cockpit” moment. Now Faris is saying the next several elections are the same thing for Democrats: Do or die.

Faris isn’t recommending a new set of policy proposals for Democrats to endorse. He doesn’t believe that such things win elections. Instead, he is counseling that Democrats make the kind of big structural moves that will allow them to sweep several elections in a row. For instance, splitting California into seven states:

So here’s what we need to happen: A referendum on breaking the state up into smaller states passes, and then it’s validated by the state legislature and then the governor, who would obviously need to be a Democrat, signs it, and finally, a Democrat-controlled Congress makes it official.

This is not as crazy an idea as people think. There have been several attempts to do it in California already, and you can make a pretty strong argument that the state is far too large to be ruled from Sacramento.

And if Californians managed to pull it off, we’d likely have another 12 Democratic senators in Washington, or at least more than we have now. More Electoral College votes too.

Faris also has two other new states in mind:

I think they should grant statehood to DC and Puerto Rico. Both states have held referenda that endorsed statehood. We have millions of Americans right now who have no representation in Congress.

To me, it’s just unquestionably the right thing to do. We should grant people the representation they want and deserve, and it just happens that doing so would almost certainly send four more Democrats into the Senate, and probably an all-Democratic congressional delegation from Puerto Rico too.

Minting more Democratic Senators and Congressman is a start, but Faris also wants to pack the Supreme Court with additional (left-leaning) Justices:

The Constitution doesn’t say how many Supreme Court justices we should have, and we have not always had nine. Up until the mid-19th century, it was routine for the number of justices to change based on the whims of Congress, so it’s not unprecedented.

Of course, we’ve heard a lot about the importance of “norms” in the past year and a half. Shouldn’t Democrats be worried about encouraging their side to get busy violating them? On that point, Faris says we can worry about that later: “I do believe we’ll have to find a way to end this procedural war at some point, but now is not that time.”

All of this is prompted by Trump’s election. Faris warns that the future of American democracy is at stake if Democrats fail to fight dirty to resist Trump: “They must ruthlessly ape their Republican tormentors by obstructing, delaying and delegitimizing President Trump and the Republicans until the day [the Democrats] take office … They must resist the temptation to cut deals with the GOP and to normalize his Vichy Republican enablers.” And once they win by fighting dirty, Faris wants them to consolidate that power by granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, thereby capturing millions of more votes for the Democrat party.

Splitting up Texas and packing the Supreme Court with additional conservative justices just to grant more power to the right would be considered an extremist argument if it were offered by someone on the right. I don’t think these things are likely to happen anytime soon, but the willingness to discuss it does perhaps demonstrate that Democrats are in a desperate and extremist mood right now.

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