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Trump Is Adrift

Donald Trump was supposed to be the 800-pound gorilla. No longer in the room, but still an 800-pound gorilla. Now he has decided not to start a new party, not to start a television network, and not to start a new social media site. Yes, he has raised a lot of money for his revenge super PAC, but it is not clear whether he will be able to deploy that effectively or that it will really matter. Besides, Trump is currently fighting with the RNC over where donors should send money. Fighting your own party isn't a great way to dominate the scene.

People close to Trump say that he is adrift. He is disorganized. He is torn between playing the role of party leader and being its antagonist. One close adviser said that there is no apparatus and no political infrastructure. This is far from the Godzilla people were expecting.

The result is whiplash. One day he is threatening to sue the RNC and the next day he is offering Mar-a-Lago as the site for its spring donor meeting. He has brutally attacked Karl Rove but endorsed Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), who repeatedly criticized Trump's trade policies. Trump has encouraged NFL star Herschel Walker to challenge Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) in a primary and also invited NRSC Chairman Rick Scott (R-FL) to dinner, even though Scott has vocally opposed challenging any incumbent Republican for any office. The only consistency here is an attempt to remain relevant. One insider likened Trump to a pinball machine, with the ball abruptly changing direction every second.

Trump has assembled a barebones political staff. Brad Parscale, Bill Stepien, and Justin Clark are supposed to vet candidates to find ones Trump can support. David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski are dealing with fundraising. But at the same time, Trump is calling his old real estate pals and former White House officials asking for advice, potentially undercutting what these teams are doing. One former adviser said: "Politics is his hobby and he's having fun with his hobby in between his rounds of golf." So far, all of his maneuverings have been met by a shrug by the Party. In the end, he may have far less influence on the Republican Party than GOP politicians feared. (V)

Trump Will Be Discovered

Donald Trump is the subject of investigations by officials in Georgia and New York. These could conceivably lead to large fines or prison time. But there is yet another danger lurking in the background that is not as potent but is more likely: Having his financial affairs exposed. Currently, 10 people have filed civil suits against Trump. Civil suits have a weapon that criminal investigations don't have: wide-ranging discovery. Once a judge approves a civil suit, the plaintiff gets to depose the defendant and any other people the plaintiff thinks might be relevant. The plaintiff can also ask the judge to subpoena just about anything that might be relevant to the case. Judges can order depositions to take place in the courthouse if need be, and can compel testimony. Trump is about to learn much more about the discovery process in the months ahead.

One high-profile case that Trump is definitely not looking forward to is that of his niece, Mary Trump, who is alleging that he swindled her out of tens of millions of dollars from the inheritance from her father. She is going to demand a full-blown inquiry into the family finances during the discovery process. It seems likely that the judge will approve this since the question of whether Mary was cheated depends on how much money was at stake. Consequently, the judge is likely to approve most requests for financial documents, which could become evidence at a trial and thus become public. Trump has often said that digging into his finances is a red line no one may cross. In civil discovery, he may have no choice. Of course, he could try to buy her off, but if she thinks she has a pretty good chance at getting tens of millions of dollars at a trial, she is unlikely to settle for $5 million.

Two sitting members of the House, Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS), have (separately) sued Trump under the Ku Klux Klan Act, which allows damages for anyone conspiring to use force to prevent a public official from carrying out his duties. Swalwell, a lawyer, has alleged that Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and others conspired to prevent him from observing the electoral votes being counted, which is definitely part of his job as a representative. He also alleges that Trump conspired with a crowd of people to stop him from doing his job by riling them up to invade the Capitol and they agreed by roaring their approval. If the judge allows the case to go forward, he and his lawyer could depose both Trumps and Giuliani separately and then compare their descriptions of the same event. If there are inconsistencies, they could later tell the jury that someone was lying. No matter who it was, it weakens Trump's defense. And in a civil case, the standard is "preponderance of evidence," not "guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

Two other civil cases that are pending; the one in which E. Jean Carroll is asking for damages for Trump's defaming her, and Summer Zervos' case, in which she is asking for the same. Trump tried to get both cases thrown out and they are on appeal now. If the women win the appeals, the cases will start in earnest and discovery, including depositions, will begin promptly. In short, Trump has plenty to worry about as a result of the civil cases and their almost boundless discovery, in addition to all the criminal cases. (V)

Where's Joe?

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) to resign. For observers of New York State politics, the only question here is: "Why did it take him so long?" Schumer and Cuomo, the two most powerful politicians in the Empire State, have had years of bad blood. As far as Schumer is concerned, the faster Cuomo is gone, the better. Now that there is a plausible reason, all the better, but even without a reason, Schumer would be ecstatic to be rid of Cuomo.

Cuomo is not going to take direction from Schumer. Nor will he take it from the state's junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand (D), who has also called for his resignation. The only Democrat who might have some influence with Cuomo is Joe Biden. And Biden hasn't said a word about Cuomo's various scandals except that he would like an investigation to take place.

In 2015, most Democrats expected Hillary Clinton to be the Party's 2016 nominee. In contrast, Cuomo had a months-long series of conversations with Biden. Although Cuomo did not specifically urge Biden to run against Clinton, he was warm to the idea and would probably have supported him had he done it. Biden definitely appreciated the governor's input and warm posture. And it definitely annoyed Clinton.

Now the tables are turned. Biden doesn't need Cuomo's support, but Cuomo definitely needs Biden's. If Biden were to say point blank: "Governor Cuomo must resign right now," Cuomo would be toast. So far, not a peep from Joe. Biden is the kind of guy who believes that when someone stuck his neck out for you when it wasn't popular, throwing him under the bus is not a nice thing to do. Further, Biden has experienced accusations somewhat similar to what Cuomo is facing now (hair sniffing in Biden's case) and, very possibly, may think the to-do about what Cuomo is accused of doing is overblown.

If more and more allegations of Cuomo's bad behavior—especially illegal behavior—come out, Biden may be forced to take a stand and stab his old friend in the back, but so far he's hoping this all blows over. Might it? Just ask still-Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA), who was accused of being a racist, with photos to prove it. He apologized and weathered the storm. Cuomo knows that many of the people demanding his resignation the loudest are his old political enemies who just want him gone. They see these scandals as a way to get rid of him, and don't really care about the scandals themselves. Cuomo could probably make it all go away by announcing that (1) he is not going to resign, period, and (2) he is not going to run for reelection in 2022. This would give his opponents what they most want—an open-seat election for governor in 2022. Except for Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) herself, none of them really care whether Hochul gets to be governor for a year and a half before the election. (V)

Stacey Abrams Wants to Exempt Election Bills from the Filibuster

Yesterday, Stacey Abrams appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" and said that protecting voting is so important that bills on that subject should not be subject to filibusters. In particular, she wants to have the Democrats pass H.R. 1 to counter hundreds of Republican bills that make voting harder. If Republicans can make voting harder and effectively disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, then all the work she did to register nearly a million new voters in Georgia will go by the wayside. Abrams called the new Republican bills "Jim Crow in a suit and tie."

Her pitch may indicate the way forward for the Democrats. Under the current Senate rules, confirmations of judges, confirmations of Supreme Court justices, and budget reconciliation bills (among other items) cannot be filibustered. It would be a small step to add one or two new exemptions to the list, such as voting bills and statehood bills. Then people like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) could maintain their opposition to abolishing the filibuster while at the same time it could be rendered toothless. The next time Republicans take control of the Senate, they will undoubtedly add more exemptions, until there is nothing left. This is effectively eliminating the filibuster by a thousand cuts.

This idea has been kicking around for a while, but now that someone who is very widely respected among Democrats has come out and said this on national television, it is sure to get new momentum. It is especially important because the idea of carving out exemptions for this and that provides cover to people like Manchin. He understands how this would work, but his voters probably don't, and that is what counts.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX), who appeared on Fox News yesterday, immediately responded to Abrams by threatening to sue if the Democrats pass such a law. His hope is that the Supreme Court would invalidate the law. However, the exact words of the Constitution make it clear that Congress has the power to override state election laws. It is very unlikely that Chief Justice John Roberts would tell Congress it can't do what the Constitution specifically says it can do. However, the other five conservatives on the Court could make up some story and do it any way. That would set off a firestorm, with Democrats demanding that Congress increase the size of the Court. It would be the battle of the century. (V)

Treasury Won't Have to Borrow $1.86 Trillion to Fund the Relief Bill

Republicans are already howling how the Treasury Dept will now have to borrow almost $2 trillion to pay for the COVID-19 relief bill enacted into law last week. Actually, it will have to raise appreciably less than $1 trillion. That's not peanuts, but according to our staff mathematicians, it is $1 trillion less than $2 trillion. How can this be?

Joe Biden can thank...Steven Mnuchin! The former treasury secretary left behind a pile of cash that is well over $1 trillion. Mnuchin didn't know what the impulsive president he worked for might suddenly want, so he gradually borrowed more money than was needed to build up a rainy-day fund just in case Donald Trump signed an executive order directing him to send every person in the country $3,000 within a week. Trump was probably completely unaware of what Mnuchin was doing. Now he will discover that Mnuchin's foresight will undercut Republicans' attacks that the bill will drive inflation through the roof. Half the money is already available and it didn't generate any inflation at all. Raising the other half probably won't, either.

Spending down the government's bank account and raising new funds will be the province of the new treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, whose years as chairwoman of the Fed give her plenty of experience in thinking about amounts of money that require 13 digits to express. In particular, she has to decide how much short-term debt, how much medium-term debt, and how much long-term debt to issue. This is an area she knows well. And if she has questions, she can always ask her husband, George Akerlof, who won the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in economics. (V)

Jay Ashcroft Won't Run for the Senate

Missouri's secretary of state, Jay Ashcroft (R), has decided not to run for the open Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). Ashcroft, who has already won statewide election in Missouri, was one of the Republicans' strongest potential candidates. Ashcroft said that he consulted God before making a decision.

The Ashcroft name is very well known in Missouri. The Secretary's father, John Ashcroft, served two terms as governor and one in the Senate before losing his Senate reelection bid to a dead man and then being appointed George W. Bush's attorney general as a consolation prize.

The Republicans still have some strong potential candidates, including Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe (R-MO), and state AG Eric Schmitt, both of whom have won statewide before. Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) is also considering a run, as are others. Former governor Eric Greitens would like to get back in politics, but his indictment on multiple felony charges in 2018 (which were later dropped) and the special session the Missouri state legislature called for the purpose of impeaching him, are not going to work in his favor. (V)

McConnell Is Already Looking for Senate Candidates

Donald Trump may or may not get involved in Senate primaries, but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is already hard at work looking for candidates for at least five 2022 Senate races, namely the ones that are already open seats (Alabama, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania). All right, it's really more like four candidates; he doesn't have to sweat Alabama unless it looks like some child molester might get nominated. McConnell also has to worry about potential open seats in Wisconsin and Iowa and maybe some surprise openings elsewhere. In Wisconsin, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) originally said he would retire after two terms. That's in 2022. In Iowa, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) will be 89 on Election Day and 55% of Iowans don't want him to run again. In the other races with a current Republican incumbent, McConnell will simply support the incumbent, no matter how the senator scores on the Trumpiness index.

In addition, there are four potentially vulnerable Democrats if the Minority Leader can find the right opponent, namely Sens. Mark Kelly (AZ), Maggie Hassan (NH), Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), and Raphael Warnock (GA). All in all that makes at least 8-10 seats where McConnell would very much like to find someone who can win. It would be even better if he can find candidates Donald Trump can support, but given the choice between a potential winner that Trump hates and a likely loser that Trump loves, there isn't much doubt what McConnell will do. His preferred weapon in these 8-10 states is money. His Senate Leadership Fund has lots of it and he could spend it on primaries if necessary. When asked specifically if he would do that, McConnell dryly said: "Only if necessary." Sure, if his preferred candidate can win the primary without his help, why waste money, but if his help is the difference between winning and losing, he'll be there.

The open seat McConnell is most worried about is Pennsylvania, which is fundamentally a blue state where popular Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-PA) is already in the race. Next up is North Carolina, which is truly a swing state, and bears more than a passing resemblance to Georgia, a state that just elected two Democrats to the Senate. If term-limited Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) were to jump in, he would probably win. However, the lieutenant governor of North Carolina is a Republican, and Cooper does not want to inflict him on the state for 2 years. Arms are likely to be twisted here, so minds might change.

Missouri is problem #3. Specifically, McConnell is worried that Greitens could try to make a comeback and in a crowded primary, get the nomination, only to be tarred by the Democrat in November as a crook and sleazeball. The Democrats' strongest candidates, Jason Kander and Claire McCaskill, have said they are not running, but they will be under a lot of pressure to change their minds. If (exactly) one of them does, it could be a real horse race.

It is an open secret that McConnell wants Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) to challenge Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), who is currently finishing the remainder of John McCain's term. Ducey knows that if he were to run, Trump would pull out all stops to defeat him because he wasn't willing to change the election results to favor Trump. Having Trump spend a fortune to stop him and McConnell spend a fortune to help him would split the party badly and drain it of needed funds. Ducey knows that and so far has said he isn't planning to run.

McConnell's first pick in New Hampshire is also clear: It is Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH). Sununu is being coy and not saying if he is available. He is popular in the state, but so is Hassan, a former governor. Sununu's father was also a governor. His brother is a former senator. The people of New Hampshire seem to like their 'nunus. If it ends up being Sununu vs. Hassan, this race could easily eclipse the $130 million spent in the 2016 race between Hassan and then-senator Kelly Ayotte, in part because half the state falls in the pricey Boston media market. The good people of Massachusetts would not be happy blanketed day and night with negative ads about candidates they are not allowed to vote against, but there is not much they could do about it. Except move to New Hampshire, where they would get the same ads, but could at least vote against one of the candidates.

In Nevada, the strongest possible Republican candidate by far is former governor Brian Sandoval. Six months ago he was named president of the University of Nevada. He is the first Latino to hold the job. It seems unlikely that he would quit so soon. He knew there was a Senate election in 2022 and probably wouldn't have taken such a high-profile job if his real goal was running for the Senate in 2022. (V)

First House Retirement is Announced

The 117th Congress has barely been sworn in and already one member from Arizona has announced that this is her last rodeo. Rep Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) is going to hang up her cowgirl hat at the end of this Congress. She is currently in a swing (R+1) district and doesn't know what the district will look like after reapportionment. Arizona is likely to get another House seat and the map is drawn by an independent commission, so it could just start from scratch and draw a map completely unrelated to the current map. At 70, Kirkpatrick doesn't want to start all over again. She is the first member of the House to call it quits this cycle, beyond those who left for jobs in the Biden administration.

Kirkpatrick was first elected to Congress in 2008 in AZ-01. Then she lost in 2010. She won in 2012 and 2014 but didn't run in 2016, so she could challenge John McCain for the Senate. That didn't go well. In 2018, she ran again, this time in Tucson-based AZ-02, and won. She was reelected in 2020.

Another factor that may have caused her to retire is that the NRCC has made her a top target. Of course, much depends on what the new map looks like. Still, it seems that she felt it was time for the Democrats to find someone younger with a lot of fight in him or her, so she is going out gracefully.

As an aside, the menu item Congress retirements to the left of the map is now live again and will continue to list all the Senate and House retirements going forward. (V)

Suppose You Could Vote for a Party Where Everyone Agreed with You?

Many people in the U.S. complain that there are only two parties and they don't like either of them. Or they like some people in their party but not others. How many Democrats love both Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) equally, for example?

Actually the U.S. does have more than two parties. The Libertarian Party is on the ballot in almost every state and the Green Party was on the ballot in a bit more than half the states in 2020. In addition, there are dozens of other parties, including the Constitution Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Natural Law Party, the United Citizens Party, the Rent is Too Damn High Party, the Sovereign Union Party, the Legal Marijuana Now Party, the Working Class Party, the Prohibition Party, the Transhumanist Party, the United States Pirate Party and many more. Their problem is that people don't vote for them (assuming they can get on the ballot). But imagine you could choose from dozens of parties on the ballot. Then you could find a perfect fit. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

That "thought experiment" is being carried out this week in the Netherlands. There is an election for the 150-seat lower chamber of the parliament on Wednesday. All 150 members will be chosen. There are 34 parties on the ballot. Very roughly, the system is proportional representation. If a party gets, say, 10% of the vote, they get 15 seats in the chamber. There is also an upper chamber, which is kind of like the House of Lords (except the members aren't Lords) but it doesn't have any real power. Its members are chosen by the provincial legislatures—exactly the same way members of the U.S. Senate were supposed to be chosen according to the Constitution, until the Seventeenth Amendment changed that in 1913. The ballot is shown below (reduced in size). In reality it is over 3' x 2'.

Dutch election ballot; it lists hundreds
of names in 27 different columns of various lengths, some of them with only a few names and some with dozens of names

Each party can put as many names as it wants to on the ballot. If a party gets, say, 15 seats, the first 15 people on the list are elected. Some parties have up to 80 names on the ballot. That is pretty optimistic. But being on the ballot near the bottom isn't an insult. It is more of an honor, in recognition of long party service. To be listed at all is sort of like being a presidential elector. The list of people and their order is determined by the party's national committee. There are no primaries. Each voter gets to choose exactly one person of the 1,047 people on the ballot (which varies slightly from province to province) by filling in the circle next to the candidate's name. If a person far down on one of the lists gets more than 1/150th of total vote, that person is automatically elected. And if a party is entitled to 13.4 seats, it gets 13, with special rules for dealing with the 0.4 remainder. Sounds like heaven? Keep reading. Here is a composite of the recent polls compiled by Holland's answer to Nate Silver:

Dutch election polls; one party is projected
to get about a quarter of the vote, five more are projected to get 8-12%, and six are projected to get 1-4%

Now on to the big question: Why are there 34 parties? Because Dutch people care about many different things, and the system allows them to vote their priorities. According to the polls, the biggest party is the VVD. (The links are to the parties' websites. They are all in Dutch but you can translate them into English by copying and pasting into Google Translate, assuming your browser does not translate automatically.) The VVD is the most conservative among the serious parties, although it is far to the left of the Democratic Party. The current prime minister, Mark Rutte, is the leader of this party.

Second in the polls is the PVV, which is all about hating non-Western immigrants, with a special focus on Muslims. One of the planks in its platform is creating a cabinet-level ministry for immigration, emigration, and de-Islamization. Its job would be to encourage Muslims to leave the country (e.g., by paying them bounties to leave).

Number three is the CDA, the Christian Democrats. Its top issues are building more houses, helping lonely old people, supporting the police, canceling student debt, and protecting Dutch cultural norms. The astute reader may have noticed that abortion isn't in the list. Must have been some typos when the Bible got translated into Dutch. Jerry Falwell would not be happy here.

Fourth is D66, which was formed in—you guessed it—1966. It is the party for leftish intellectuals. If Elizabeth Warren were a Dutch politician, she would lead this party. Naturally, it is led by a woman (who speaks six languages). She is a former diplomat and is married to a Palestinian who was a deputy minister under Yasser Arafat. The party advertises heavily on Politico, so it clearly wants to appeal to Dutch voters who have more than a passing interest in the inside baseball stories of American politics.

Next is GL, the Green-Left Party, which was formed in 1989 through the merger of the former Dutch Communist Party and three smaller radical left parties. Its leader is 34 and it attracts young leftists. It is pro-European Union. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) would be happy to lead this party.

Sixth is the SP, the Socialist Party. They are proud of it and make no bones about it. They are not big fans of the European Union and tend to attract older voters with somewhat old-fashioned pro-worker goals, like cheaper health care and earlier retirement. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) could easily lead this party, although he would have to compete with Warren's party and GL for votes.

In seventh place is the PvdA, the workers' party. Think: the British Labour Party. It used to be #1, but has been dropping for years due to so much competition on the left. It is a mere shadow of its former self. Other than that, Joe Biden would be happy to lead this party. If the "Warren Party," the "AOC Party," the "Bernie Party," and the "Biden Party," could get together and form one party, they would be roughly equal to the VVD + CDA combination. But then there would be just two parties, which the system is designed to discourage. As it is, each of the parties thinks its plans are better than the other parties' plans, so they don't want to merge.

Up next is the CU, the Christian Union Party, which was formed in 2000 by merging two smaller orthodox Christian parties. Its party program has hundreds of planks, including abortion (against), which is right before antisemitism (also against). It is also against homelessness, fossil fuels, the free market in health care, euthanasia, and government money (in any form) going to rich people. It is for freedom of religion, specifically including Muslims. Jerry Falwell would also not be happy here. He would have to form his own party.

Now we come to the PvdD, the animal-rights party, which is polling at 4%, which translates to six seats in the parliament. It wants animal rights to be included in the Dutch constitution. It is against mistreating animals in the food industry (which includes not killing them while conscious, de facto eliminating kosher and halal meat), importing or exporting animals for food purposes, providing horrible living conditions while the animals are being raised for slaughter, and much more. It is also against using animals in circuses and dolphinaria and wants to re-imagine zoos as places to raise endangered species, not as places for people to gawk at them.

Rounding out the top 10 is the 50Plus Party, which is focused on older voters. It cares about the pension system, social security benefits, and other (mostly) financial issues of concern to retired (and close-to-being-retired) people. Imagine that the AARP was a political party and you have it.

We're not going to try to explain the next 24 parties. We're not even going to try to understand them. They range from Code Orange to Jesus Lives. Here is a list in English. The list has links to the English-language Wikipedia entry for each party.

With so many parties, how do people choose? There are at least six websites that ask you a bunch of questions and then tell you which party is closest to what you want.

The pandemic has brought in a couple of innovations in the voting procedure, both copied from the U.S. election. There will be early voting for the first time (today and tomorrow) and people over 70 will be allowed to vote by absentee ballot for the first time. It is also possible for someone to authorize another person to vote for them. The latter has always been allowed and tends to be used by older people who are sick or bedridden. The election is run by nonpartisan civil servants, not by partisan elected officials.

It is all fine and dandy until the votes are in. That's when the hard part starts. There is no concept of "separation of powers." The parliament is dominant and the cabinet, which runs the country, needs the support of 50% + 1 members of parliament to be able to effectively govern (although a minority government is possible if enough members of the opposition agree to tolerate it). Getting agreement is easier said than done. To start with, the largest party might get about a quarter of the seats. There is no way it is going to touch the anti-Muslim party with a 3.048-meter pole. It can work with the CDA (and does in the current cabinet), although the VVD is strongly secular and the CDA is religious, so there are sometimes tensions.

After the election, someone, usually the leader of the biggest party, tries to cobble together a majority coalition. Often there are multiple combinations possible, so this may fail. The problem is that each party has made a very long list of specific proposals to its voters and they will be very disappointed if they don't get them. After all, if you voted to give animals constitutional rights, how are you going to feel about being a bit player in a coalition that doesn't give a hoof about that? The negotiations of who wants to work with whom can take weeks. If it fails, someone else gets to try. They just keep at it until someone finds a combination that works. New elections are not possible.

And this is only the first phase. Then there is another one. Once some number of parties which together have a majority in the parliament have agreed to work together to form a government, the leaders of those parties have to work out the details. This includes a thorough, written program of what precisely the government is going to do in the next 4 years and which party gets to fill which cabinet slot and with whom. This phase can also take weeks or months.

Imagine what would happen in the U.S. after a presidential election if there were a dozen parties in the U.S. Senate and they spent 6 months squabbling before even voting on the first cabinet nominee. There would be effectively no government for 6 months.

Such is the nature of proportional representation in other countries, as well. In Belgium, the record for forming a government is 18 months. But if they try hard, they can do it in a year.

Italy also has proportional representation. Since World War II, it has had 66 governments because the ones that get formed from multiple parties are so unstable. Getting rid of the government doesn't require an impeachment, a trial, and a very high threshold to convict the prime minister of a crime. All it requires is 50% + 1 votes for a motion of no confidence. To save you the math, since World War II, the U.S. has had 12 administrations (counting Kennedy-Johnson and Nixon-Ford each as a single administration).

In Germany, forming a government goes faster because parties that get under 5% of the vote get no seats in the Bundestag. This means the Bundestag isn't cluttered up with intransigent tiny one-issue parties nobody wants to work with.

In Israel, which also has proportional representation and no shortage of small parties, there will be an election next week. It will be the fourth one in less than 2 years because nobody has been able to cobble together a majority. All of the parties have their programs carved on stone tablets and are not about to concede anything to anyone. One feature of the Israeli system lacking in the other systems is a time out. If a government can't be formed within 6 weeks, new elections are called. Usually the results are the same as the last time. In computer science, this is known as an infinite loop.

So, the next time you bemoan the fact that the U.S. has only two major parties and two small-but-somewhat-viable parties, consider the alternative: Everybody can vote for a party he or she loves and then the politicians get together in a smokeless room to determine who won, without having to consult the people. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Mar14 Sunday Mailbag
Mar13 Saturday Q&A
Mar12 Biden Addresses the Nation
Mar12 Watchdog Group Wants 13 GOP Representatives Investigated
Mar12 The Gubernatorial Jockeying Is Well Underway
Mar12 Donald Who?
Mar12 Newsmax What?
Mar12 Sex; Explosions; Meghan, Duchess of Sussex; and the Big Problem with Donald Trump
Mar12 Why So Many Politicians Are Such A**holes
Mar11 Congress Passes the COVID-19 Relief Bill
Mar11 Merrick Garland Finally Gets a New Job
Mar11 Cohen Met with Vance Yesterday
Mar11 Bernie Wins Nevada
Mar11 Nobody Knows Who Won Iowa
Mar11 Florida May Ban Drop Boxes for Absentee Ballots
Mar11 Democrats Shouldn't Take Latinos for Granted
Mar11 What's Going on with Ron Johnson?
Mar11 A Woman to Watch
Mar10 House Expected to Pass COVID-19 Relief Bill Today...
Mar10 ...And They Passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act Yesterday
Mar10 Greene, Other Trumpy House Members Dial Up the Obnoxiousness
Mar10 Arkansas Tries to Set Collision Course with Roe
Mar10 Lindsey Graham, Racketeer?
Mar10 Republicans Endeavor to Overhaul Grassroots Fundraising
Mar10 So Much for Facebook's Political Ad Ban
Mar09 To Be Blunt, Roy's Out
Mar09 Senate Retirements Complicate Things for the GOP
Mar09 McConnell at Work on Succession Plan
Mar09 RNC Will Not Cease and Desist Using Trump's Image
Mar09 Vance Investigation Adds Second City
Mar09 The Republican War on Voting Has Commenced
Mar09 Biden Kinda, Sorta Wants to Keep the Filibuster
Mar08 Manchin Is Open to Making the Filibuster More Painful
Mar08 How Badly Is Cuomo Wounded?
Mar08 Bipartisanship Is Dead
Mar08 Biden Issues Executive Order on Voting
Mar08 Allen Weisselberg Is in the Crosshairs
Mar08 Willis Hires a Lawyer
Mar08 Trump Threatens the RNC, NRCC, and NRSC
Mar08 Special Election in Texas Will Be a Test of Trumpism
Mar08 Ohio Could Be a Key Senate Battleground Next Year
Mar08 People Have Had It with Political News
Mar07 Sunday Mailbag
Mar06 Saturday Q&A
Mar05 The Fine Art of Getting Things Done, Part I: The Senate
Mar05 The Fine Art of Getting Things Done, Part II: The Senator
Mar05 The Fine Art of Getting Away With It, Part I
Mar05 The Fine Art of Getting Away With It, Part II
Mar05 The Fine Art of Getting Away With It, Part III
Mar05 Trump/???? 2024