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State of American History, Civics, and Politics

Can West Virginia Save Ezra Klein?

"Civil War" was a top trending topic on Twitter on Sunday after remarks from an attendee of former President Donald Trump's rally in Iowa were widely circulated online and by the media. Trump held a rally at the Iowa State Fairground in Des Moines on Saturday. At the event, Trump supporter Lori Levi told MSNBC that she believes the U.S. is headed for a "civil war." Levi criticized Democrats and Republicans, saying most members of the GOP are "as weak as they possibly could be in Congress." "They're establishment. They don't care about the American people because they're in their elite little tower," she said. "So we're just sick of it, you know, and we're not going to take it anymore. I see a civil war coming. I do. I see civil war coming." (www.newsweek.com)

West Virginia is having a moment. So far in 2021, it has been the legislative year of West Virginia. How much longer can this last? What does it mean for the elections of 2022 and beyond?

JOE MANCHIN IS NOT MITT ROMNEY

In February, 2020, I wrote a blog entitled Where Will Mitt Romney Caucus in 2021? I said the following about Manchin at the time of the second impeachment vote:

It is rare for a Senator to break with a party on an impeachment vote. So far in American history, there is only one instance of a Senator voting to remove a President of his own party. Apparently, the Impeached One thought there was a Democrat who might vote against his party. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Senator, has long been considered one of the more conservative members of the Democratic Party. He has voted more often against his Democratic caucus than with it. There seems to have been a genuine belief that this Senator (and perhaps Doug Jones of Alabama for different reasons) might defect. Obviously that did not happen. The Democratic Party remained united.

The main subject of the blog was not the impeachment vote but the 2020 Senate elections. Different outcomes were possible. I conjectured that there was the possibility of a split Senate and what it might mean.

And then there is Mitt Romney. Suppose when all is said and done, the Trumpicans have 50 Senate seats… But suppose the Democrats win the presidency. Then Romney’s vote could make the difference. In this case, the Democrats only need a net gain of two to put Romney in the driver’s seat.

At the beginning of this year, I returned to the same subject:

Depending on how the vote in Georgia plays out, Mitt Romney may potentially have the opportunity to take a leadership role in healing the country. Of course, even if that opportunity presents itself, he may not rise to the occasion to take such a leadership position. Of course, if he doesn’t, who will?

As it turned out, I had the numbers right but the Senator wrong. One Senator has been in the driver’s seat and taken a leadership position but it has been the West Virginia Senator, Joe Manchin.

THE SENATE AND EZRA KLEIN

Manchin’s position will likely change after the 2022 elections. One possibility is that the Democrats will do well and pick up seats in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. Such a Democratic majority in the Senate would neutralize the significance of Manchin’s vote including for the filibuster. Another possibility of course, is that the Democrats will lose their leadership in the Senate in which case Manchin will be meaningless.

The Democratic prospects in the Senate contributed to a major op-ed piece in The New York Times yesterday entitled “David Shor Is Telling Democrats What They Don’t Want to Hear.” Klein paints a dire picture for the Democrats in accordance with the prognostications of modeler Shor. My purpose here is not to regurgitate Shor’s predictions or Klein’s response. Rather I will hone in on the Senate-related comments.

Klein notes that the Senate configuration overweighs rural states. He cites the Republicans adding a flurry of states in 1889 and 1890 that continue to vote Republican to this very day – North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington (Democratic state level). Klein mentions the last gasp in the present Congress for additional Democratic states in Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. to rectify that imbalance.

The consequences of this division is doom for the Democrats. Essentially, Democrats can pile up the votes in states like California and New York and have little to show for it. I have always thought Democrats in California should create their own Homestead Act in other states. Imagine relocating 1-2 million Democratic voters from California to Republican and/or battleground states. In part, something like that has happened but it is Republicans in California moving to Texas instead. Think of New-York-City-dwelling Democrats who move to Florida and are replaced by immigrants who vote Democrat for a net change of zero. By contrast, when upstate Republicans move to Florida, they are replaced by no one. The result is an even more Democratic state.

In my local paper, there was a report of Westchester County Republicans becoming desperate. Once the county was Republican. Now all county positions are Democratic and all county legislators are Democratic except for one who is Conservative. The Republican Party therefore if it wishes to be successful has to live in real world. It has decided to jettison Trump to get back in the good graces of the voters. Good luck with that effort as the Hitman gears up for the 2024 election.

I mention these New York and California anecdotes to point out that major structural change is needed if the Democrats wish to overcome the Senate and Electoral College obstacles. Small actions just don’t cut it. Once again, West Virginia shows the way.

THE WEST VIRGINIA SOLUTION TO THE SENATE AND ELECTORAL COLLEGE

More and more people now are openly talking about the current civil war and the possibility of secession. On one level, I am pleased to see people are now facing the real world. For years I have been writing about the civil, not cultural war. For years I have expressed my doubts over whether we will celebrate the 250th birthday of the country in its present form. At this point baring medical concerns, the 2024 presidential election will be a rematch of the 2020 election, the first rematch since 1956. To know this far in advance who the candidates will be really is remarkable. The Hitman already has taken his show on the road to Iowa. The campaign is underway.

In 2024, no matter what, the Hitman will claim victory on Election Night. What will Joe Biden do? January 6, 2021, is small taste of what will happen if the Hitman is not certified as the winner in 2025. The civil war will move beyond the talking stage to the fighting stage. We already know that whether we want to admit it or not. Since we know this scenario will play out, what if anything can be done to minimize the looming violence?

One step is the West Virginia example from America’s Second Civil War.  The key to minimizing the violence and uncertainty is following the precedent of West Virginia. In the Second Civil War, the people of what became West Virginia separated from the Confederate state of Virginia. They did not ask Virginia’s permission; they just did it and with Federal approval.

We need to follow that precedent. The eleven Confederate states need to divide into their constituent parts – part Trumpican and part American. The boundary lines should not be that difficult to determine. There already are gerrymandered districts at the Congressional and state level. Voting results are known at the county level. As part of the post-2020 census reapportionment, the Confederate state legislatures effectively will divide their states into two groups anyway. The next step is to take that division further by creating separate states based on those boundary lines drawn by the Confederates.

The result will be eleven new states. What worked for Republicans in 1889 and 1890 can work for Democrats in 2024. The new states directly address the issues raised by Klein and in a far more decisive manner. The eleven new states mean 22 additional Senators and a reallocation of the current Representatives. The 22 states will have 44 Senators, 22 Trumpican and 22 Democrat. These numbers compare to 18 Trumpican and 4 Democrat at present. The net increase of 14 Democrats creates a high hurdle for Trumpicans to overcome to achieve control of the Senate. The separation also eliminates the issues of voter suppression, rigged counting, and partisan Secretaries of State at least in the Confederate states. It also means the current Electoral College vote totals in Confederate states including Texas and Florida will be split between the two candidates instead of winner-take-all.

We all know that winter is coming. We all know that the storm is coming. We all know that Americans will not accept the results of the 2024 presidential election. Why wait until after the fact to respond? Why not act now to minimize the violence? Separate the Confederate states into Union and Confederate peacefully now while we still can. Trumpicans are hard at work to ensure the game is rigged in 2024; it is past time for the Democrats to rise to the occasion and fight back.

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