US politics “has reached a dangerous low point”

A Washington Post/University of Maryland poll indicates that confidence in the US about their democracy is dropping, with many thinking politics has reached a dangerous low point.

Do you think problems in America’s politics right now are similar to most periods of partisan disagreement, or do you think problems have reached a dangerous low point?

  • Have reached a dangerous low point 71%
    (Temporary 31%, the ‘new normal’ 39%)
  • Similar to most periods of disagreement 29%

ShiningCityFlag

Do you think divisions today are at least as big as during the Vietnam War?

  • At least as big as during the Vietnam War 70%
    (ages 65 and over 77%, 18-29 65%)
  • Smaller 27%
    (ages 65 and over 18%, 18-29 34%)

How proud are you of the way democracy works in America?

  • 1996 (GSS) 16%
  • 2002 (Post) 9%
  • 2004 (GSS) 10%
  • 2014 (GSS) 18%
  • 2017 (Post/U-Md) 36%

How much, if at all, do you blame each of the following for causing dysfunction in the U.S. political system?

USPollDysfunction

Ordered by ‘A lot or some’/’Not at all’

Money is clearly seen as the biggest cause of dysfunction in US politics, but there are other contributing factors.

While Trump is well down that list he is the fourth highest ‘A lot’ at 51%.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/national/democracy-poll/

 

 

US Supreme Court nomination going ‘nuclear’

As predicted Senate Democrats blocked the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court  to fill a vacancy that wasn’t filled last year because Republicans blocked President Obama’s nomination.

So the Republicans are resorting to a rule change to override the need for a 60 vote majority, often referred to as ‘the nuclear option’ – a move enabled by Democrats in 2013 that allowed them to ram through lower court nominations.

I don’t know why the Democrats didn’t try going nuclear last year, perhaps they thought it would look too bad in election year.

But the Republicans don’t care how it looks now, they just want to win over the nomination.

The BBC covers this in ‘Nuclear’ showdown over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch

Republicans have taken the historic step of changing US Senate rules in order to ram through confirmation of President Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

They invoked the “nuclear option” after Democrats used a tactic known as a filibuster for the first time in half a century to block the nominee.

Denver appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch is now set to be approved on Friday.

The move will leave Congress even more plagued by gridlock. Republican John McCain said: “Bad day for democracy.”

At stakes is ideological control of the nation’s highest court, which has the final say on some of the most controversial US legal issues, from gun control to abortion to election financing to workers’ and LGBT rights.

Given the sweeping power of the Supreme Court – it touches on every facet of American life – the stakes have become too high for little things like tradition and consensus-building to merit consideration.

Thursday was about the exercise of raw power. Republicans had the votes, and they wanted – they needed – their man on the high court to preserve their conservative majority.

The legislative manoeuvre – called the nuclear option because it is so extreme – enables Mr Gorsuch to be approved by a simple majority in the 100-member Senate, where Republicans control 52 seats.

After falling five votes short on Thursday of the 60 needed to confirm Mr Gorsuch, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell retaliated by voting 52-48 along party lines to rewrite the rules.

The legislative manoeuvre – called the nuclear option because it is so extreme – enables Mr Gorsuch to be approved by a simple majority in the 100-member Senate, where Republicans control 52 seats.

Given the sweeping power of the Supreme Court – it touches on every facet of American life – the stakes have become too high for little things like tradition and consensus-building to merit consideration.

Thursday was about the exercise of raw power. Republicans had the votes, and they wanted – they needed – their man on the high court to preserve their conservative majority.

So much for a non-partisan judiciary, but trying to slant the Supreme Court politically is nothing new in the US. Allowing politicians to select judges is doomed to be abused.

More from the BBC on this:

The ‘shining city upon a hill whose beaconlight guides freedom-loving people everywhere’ (Ronald Reagan) was already badly tarnished has found a way to set a worse example of democratic abuse.