Tom Malinowski interned for New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley. He went west for university and earned a Rhodes Scholarship at the University of California, Berkeley. He worked for New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then left to earn an M.Phil. from Oxford. He worked for the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna and then the Ford Foundation. He worked in the State Department writing speeches for Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and Madelaine Albright. Under Clinton he became Senior Director of the National Security Council managing international communications and writing foreign policy speeches for the President. With Democrats out of office, he became the head of the Washington office of Human Rights Watch. For over a decade, he was a leading opponent of the US use of torture, of tyranny in Myanmar, and of groups like the Taliban.
How can we make the United States Senate more democratic? People from California, Texas, Florida, and New York are underrepresented in the Senate. People from other large states, too. Changing the number of Senators each state has could make representation of the people of various states fairer. That change would require an amendment to the US Constitution. Could the Senate weight each Senator’s vote? Weight a California Senator’s vote as worth 70 times a Wyoming Senators? Thirty-five times a Wyoming Senators? Seven times a Wyoming Senators? Could weighting Senators votes be achieved simply be changing the Senate’s rules? Weighting votes as a way to democratize the Senate without a constitutional amendment. Just as the filibuster gives particular strength to a minority of Senators.
There is a movement on the right. Change the Senate. Repeal the 17th amendment. Return to state legislatures appointing US Senators. However Senators are chosen, it is unimaginable that those who wrote the constitution wanted states to have the same representation when there was a 70-1 or a 40 -1 or even a 30 – 1 population ratio between the largest and smallest, next largest and smallest, and next largest and smallest states. If Justice Scalia considered original intent on this issue, he would have been shocked at the differentials.
Tony Evers was elected governor of Wisconsin last month. Gretchen Whitmer was elected governor of Michigan. The Republican legislators in both states have plans. Take away the governors' authority. They have time. The election is over, The governors don't take office until January. More insidious than their attacks on the minimum wage or health care or a Governor's authority over corporate benefits are Republican attacks on democracy. The legislatures of Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina claim to represent the people of their state. They don't. The districts have been gerrymandered to ensure that Republicans win.
At ten years old, Samuel Slater went to work in a mill creating yarn in 1778. Four years later when he was fourteen, his father died. Slater became an apprentice in the mill. Seven years later, in 1789, he was free. He was 21. He had learned the business. Britain prohibited transporting the machinery for this work or the designs for the machinery out of the country. They protected their technology. If he had blueprints, Slater could have been arrested. He memorized the entire factory. And left for New York. In America, he wrote to Moses Brown. He promised he could make the factory work. If not, he would would ask for no compensation. Slater's 1790 contract promised that if the factory worked, he would get half the profits and half the capital value of the factory. The factory was operating in 1791 and fully operational in 1793. Slater was an American hero. He and his partners and those who copied their system became wealthy. They made New England into a textile factory powerhouse. They made America great. In October, a Chinese intelligence officer was arrested in Belgium and extradited to the US. The Chinese have been hacking into government and corporate technology to learn our technological secrets. Are technology spies heroes to the Chinese?
Loyalty ......Recently I was asked how my Notes are different from other political writing....1. I write to get you to do something. Give money to a candidate. Call your Member of Congress. I am explicit about what I ask you to do. Others do analysis....2. Many organizations urge you to give money to them. They will support candidates or do good works. I ask you to give money directly to candidates. Unless you tell me, I don't know how much you give or who you give money to....3. I write about candidates. Not as much as a full fledged magazine…
Nancy Pelosi is taking charge. She met with Ocasio-Cortes. Ocasio-Cortez got it. Those leading the opposition to Pelosi are to the right of the Democratic mainstream. Pelosi was preferable as Speaker. Is this Pelosi taking charge? Nancy Pelosi wondered if the DPCC should have a chairman. Now it has three co-chairs. Shortly after her announcement, David Cicilline RI 01 announced he was no longer running for Assistant Leader. He is interested in the DPCC.
Joe Crowley of Queens is Chair of the Democratic Caucus -- until the new Congress takes over. A sign of the times, he was defeated in the primary by Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. A moderate Irish urban Democrat defeated by a Puerto Rican Democratic Socialist. Some newspapers and many Republicans reacted as if radicals were taking over the Democratic Party. As Democrats approach flipping forty Republican seats, the flippers are mostly moderates. Left wing radicals rarely flip Republican held Congressional seats. The Democratic Caucus that will elect a new Chair and a new Vice-Chair will be more moderate than the Caucus that elected Joe Crowley. Will the leadership be moderate?
What do we need from the Leadership? Leaders who can maximize respect and minimize defections on votes. No easy task from a membership that ranges, in ideology, from the social conservative, pro-labor Dan Lipinski IL 03 (who successfully escaped a primary challenge from a progressive) to Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez NY 14 (who succeeded in defeating the moderate Chair of the Democratic caucus in a primary). Let's look at these Leadership candidates with that quality in mind. And with one other characteristic. How old are these Leadership candidates are.
As Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi will be the leader of the Democratic Party. Pelosi has been demonized by the Republicans. They think she is too liberal. She should speak to us. Go on television. Introduce her agenda. Explain that a more complete agenda will be shaped by the members of the Democratic caucus -- including the newly elected. Use the early December caucus nomination for Speaker as an example. Make the vote open, not secret. Many new and reelected Members of Congress affected by the demonization promised to vote against her as Speaker. Having trekked to Washington for the caucus, they can fulfill that promise visibly if the vote is open. Pelosi can demonstrate her commitment to transparency and move forward with the entire caucus to achieve their shared agenda.