Archive for February 2013
That the primary task of political science is today one of popular education, and that therefore it must still retain its character as a “normative,” a “telic,” science, is, then, my thesis. Why, indeed, should there be another natural science anyway? The general obtuseness of the laboratory sciences to social values is boasted by their would-be imitators, and is as notorious as it is infantile. With modern physics and chemistry brandishing sticks of dynamite with the insouciance of a four-year old, what could be more preposterous than to induct political science into the same nursery of urchins?
Edward S. Corwin, “The Democratic Dogma and the Future of Political Science”
And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. [my emphasis] Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.
It’s the “it’s been written about” part that jumped out at me on second look. So I did some digging, and learned it’s true. It has been written about – by Scalia himself, in an article decrying affirmative action, 15 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Read the rest of this entry »
The Supreme Court, according to many, seems poised to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which would make it far easier for states and localities to engage in all manner of disenfranchisement knowing full well that it will take forever for a federal court to rule against them via the normal litigation process. Creativity in such things is not a rare quality.
This should have been settled a long time ago. As Justice Frankfurter said:
The reach of the Fifteenth Amendment against contrivances by a state to thwart equality in the enjoyment of the right to vote by citizens of the United States regardless of race or color, has been amply expounded by prior decisions. Guinn v. United States, 238 U.S. 347 , 35 S.Ct. 926, L.R.A.1916A, 1124; Myers v. Anderson, 238 U.S. 368 , 35 S.Ct. 932. The Amendment nullifies sophisticated as well as simple-minded modes of discrimination. It hits onerous procedural requirements which effectively handicap exercise of the franchise by the colored race although the abstract right to vote may remain unrestricted as to race.
Alex Sparrow has been interested in the idea I’ve been discussing called ‘democratic efficiency.’ He encouraged me to talk a bit more about how to achieve it, and then since has written about this. His post is well worth checking out, and in many ways parallels my own thinking. But his use of the term democratic efficiency and mine are a different, so it seems worth taking the opportunity to explain my own position a bit more clearly. I also noticed as I looked through my posts that I had been defining democratic efficiency differently – by emphasizing different elements of the idea. This no doubt adds to the confusion.
Elias Isquith has put together an interesting group of people to comment on the State of the Union, and surprisingly I’m one of them. I’ll be adding the links on this post at they come up. Check it out and maybe even comment. We are…not of the same mind on this thing.
Here’s my opening: “The fact that people have such different readings of this speech isn’t that surprising. It reads to me like it was designed to do just that – let each of us hear what we want to hear.”
The State of Austerity (Elias Isquith)
[Update: 2-15-13 a.m.]
[Update: 2-20-13 a.m.]
The State of the Union’s Quiet Radicalism (Elias Isquith)
[Update 2-26-13 p.m.]
The State of the Union’s Crises (Alan Kantz)
In my Inaugural I laid down the simple proposition that nobody is going to starve in this country. It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By “business” I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men [sic] in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living.
Franklin Roosevelt, Statement on the National Industrial Recovery Act (1933)