Show Details for the week of November 12th, 2012

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The election is over (mostly) and the postmortem begins. Did Obama win a mandate? How did the GOP keep the House? We talk about these topics on this week’s show.

  • Post election analysis – an interview with John Nichols
  • The GOP keeps control of the House – an interview with Rob Richie

More about our guests:

John Nichols

John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York TimesChicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.

Nichols is a frequent guest on radio and television programs as a commentator on politics and media issues. He was featured in Robert Greenwald’s documentary, “Outfoxed,” and in the documentaries Joan Sekler’s “Unprecedented,” Matt Kohn’s “Call It Democracy” and Robert Pappas’s “Orwell Rolls in his Grave.” The keynote speaker at the 2004 Congress of the International Federation of Journalists in Athens, Nichols has been a featured presenter at conventions, conferences and public forums on media issues sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Consumers International, the Future of Music Coalition, the AFL-CIO, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Newspaper Guild [CWA] and dozens of other organizations.

Nichols is the author of The Genius of Impeachment (The New Press); a critically acclaimed analysis of the Florida recount fight of 2000, Jews for Buchanan (The New Press); and a best-selling biography of Vice President Dick Cheney, Dick: The Man Who is President (The New Press), which has recently been published in French and Arabic. He edited Against the Beast: A Documentary History of American Opposition to Empire (Nation Books), of which historian Howard Zinn said: “At exactly the time when we need it most, John Nichols gives us a special gift–a collection of writings, speeches, poems, and songs from throughout American history–that reminds us that our revulsion to war and empire has a long and noble tradition in this country.”

Recent articles:

Obama’s 3 Million Vote, Electoral College Landslide, Majority of States Mandate

Ron Johnson’s Pompous Assumptions: Voters are Ignorant, Colleagues Need Tutoring

ThinkProgress is reporting: “Although a small number of ballots remain to be counted, as of [November 7], votes for a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives outweigh votes for Republican candidates [in contested races, including some Democrat-on-Democrats races in California]. Based on ThinkProgress’ review of all ballots counted so far, 53,952,240 votes were cast for a Democratic candidate for the House and only 53,402,643 were cast for a Republican — meaning that Democratic votes exceed Republican votes by more than half a million. …”

Rob Richie

Rob Richie is the executive director of FairVote.

Quote: “Representative democracy demands a level playing field, but U.S. House elections do not have one. Today there is a significant structural advantage for the Republican Party grounded in elections relying on single-member district, winner-take-all voting rules.

“In this year’s elections, for example, Democrats are likely to win more popular votes than Republicans in contested U.S. House elections. But Republicans will win a comfortable House majority, and FairVote estimates that Democrats would have needed to win 55% of the national vote to earn a House majority.

“Incumbency and campaign spending present challenges to Democrats, but the core problem is structural. When ordering districts by their partisan leanings, the median district is 52% Republican. Obama’s share of the vote was likely less than his national vote share in 240 districts this year and greater in only 195. That translates into Republicans having an advantage over time in 45 more districts. Although this bias has existed for decades, rising polarization and less ticket-splitting has resulted in the defeat of most of the more conservative Democrats who were able to win in Republican-leaning districts.

“The bottom line is that House elections are not as responsive as they should be. The great majority of incumbents are invulnerable to defeat, as evidenced by the fact that FairVote last July projected 333 winners and saw them all win this week. Now, with the bias of the current system, House leaders can be less responsive to shifts in popular support.

“FairVote proposes a statutory change, explained in its interactive map at http://www.FairVoting.Us. It would replace single-member districts with multi-seat districts and elect representatives with American forms of proportional representation. Doing so would remove the overall bias in the system and make every House Member more accountable to their constituents.”


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