Gerrymandering has been much worse on the Republican side recently, because Republicans have controlled more of the state legislators and governors. Only gerrymandering in battleground states matters for partisan purposes.

See this article on an Associated Press study of the matter: “The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.

“Traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their U.S. or state House races. All had districts drawn by Republicans after the last Census in 2010.

“The AP analysis also found that Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats over what would have been expected based on the average vote share in congressional districts across the country. That helped provide the GOP with a comfortable majority over Democrats instead of a narrow one.”

The Electoral College gives undue weight to sparsely populated states, since each state gets a minimum of three electoral votes. Thus, an electoral vote represents nearly four times as many people in California as in Wyoming. For various reasons, rural areas in sparsely-populated states such as Wyoming are heavily-conservative, which gives Republicans an undemocratic advantage.

Yes, there are some liberal billionaires, but wealthy people tend to be corrupted by their concentration of power; therefore, they tend to favour the Republican’s social Darwinian policies. In terms of its economic policies, the Republican Party stands squarely for the interests of the rich, while Democrats stand for the poor and the middle classes (although after Reagan ended the New Deal, Democrats betrayed the latter classes, giving rise to the support for “socialists” and progressives like Sanders and Warren).

I’m baffled by your suggestion that liberals would be “cheating” by moving away from big cities to sparsely-populated states like Wyoming. Aren’t they technically free to choose where they want to live in their country? Of course, in practice they’re not free since the jobs and living-standard are better in the big cities. But you’ve reversed matters when it comes to cheating: obviously, the cheating is in arbitrarily assigning a minimum of three electoral votes to Wyoming, which gives unfair weight to the votes of the conservatives who tend to live there.

You say it’s “nonsense” that the American founders thought only white men were people. Did they not deprive women and African-Americans of the right to vote? Why would I have to “convince the country democratically” of this narrative? It’s already common knowledge.

You made me laugh out loud when you said McConnell was playing “political hard ball,” so I thank you for that. “Hard ball” is code for cheating. So you’re saying liberals are entitled to laugh when conservatives pretend they stand for playing strictly by the rules of tradition, as opposed to being unprincipled Machiavellians and tribalists who put party before country and the institutions of government.

If the conservative judges were independent, why didn’t they speak out against McConnell’s seizure of the power to appoint qualified judges to the Supreme Court? Clearly, the conservative judges are as tribal and partisan as McConnell, since they’re drawn from the right-wing lists of unqualified, theocratic ideologues.

Libertarians are in favour of cooperation for private purposes. So they’re in favour of corporations that compete for profit in the marketplace. Alas, Game Theory (the Prisoner’s Dilemma) shows that acting in your narrow self-interest, as dictated by rationality, leads to a failure of cooperation. The reason for this is that trust in others isn’t rational; we can’t know if others will betray us, so it’s rational to betray them first to avoid being taken advantage of.

(Of course, libertarianism is incoherent, since libertarians are in favour of “minimal” government (the police, military, and maybe health care), but the libertarian has no principled way of limiting the collectivist/socialist logic of that kind of cooperation to those fields. If government ought to have the monopoly on force via the police and military, if only to protect private property, government should be protected from the threat of plutocracy, which means the market should be regulated to prevent the rise of private monopolies. But leave that incoherence aside.)

Again, this is why there was no social progress for hundreds of thousands of years in the Stone Age, because everyone effectively succumbed to the Prisoner’s Dilemma. It took the invention of farming technologies that produced a concentration of power to create civilization. The government has a monopoly on the use of force, and citizens agree to live under that monopoly for the advantage of being protected by the government. That’s how we escaped the Prisoner’s Dilemma: we can trust that others won’t betray us if we know the government has a monopoly on coercion. That’s the “socialist,” progressive kind of sustainable cooperation needed to avoid anarchy and the state of nature (a return to the Stone Age).

So if we “preclude force,” as you suggest, and give everyone the freedom to do whatever they want, we’re back at the Prisoner’s Dilemma and what Hobbes called the war of all against all. That makes the libertarian an animalist as opposed to a humanist.

Government welfare is the opposite of charity, since that kind of welfare is publicly enforced by law as opposed to relying on the private choice of individuals. That’s what I meant by “charitable whim.”

The internet backbone was built by partnerships between government and large corporations that were given monopoly power and tax dollars to lay the fiber optic cables. Government is often needed to do the initial work of research and preparation in large enterprises, because businesses think mainly in terms of private, short-term profit and can’t plan long-term or for the general welfare.

You say, “Had private industry been able to do its thing, the monopoly would have been broken up far earlier.” But you’re assuming smaller corporations would have had the incentive to think long-term and invest a lot of money up front for profit way down the line. It’s precisely because no smaller company was in a position to create the internet’s infrastructure that the government’s creation of the oligopoly was needed. Otherwise, we’d have no modern internet. That’s how the hard work gets done that a free market doesn’t reward (because of the Prisoner’s Dilemma and the paranoia of the solipsistic, Machiavellian mindset).

For example, that’s how the billion or so people of China are being taken into the modern world, by the government’s partnership with its big businesses. Of course, this is an element of fascism and building up monopolies and oligopolies is a dangerous game, since the latter can rival government power, but the public-private partnership is how all empires are built. There’s no such thing as a powerful country built up purely by market competition. Again, if you completely deregulate a market, you get plenty of innovation but also lots of self-destruction, which cancels out the creativity. That’s the boom-and-bust cycle. Governments are needed to stabilize and guide capitalist enterprise; that is, government is the visible hand.

Governments can certainly create monopolies in the market. It’s not as though everything government does is right. The question is where the power lies in a society. The miracle of social democracy is that this system empowers the majority of citizens, but democracy is very fragile since it goes against the grain of nature; nature wants to err, as it were, on the side of dominance hierarchy, the Iron Law of Oligarchy, and personal corruption by that concentration of power. By contrast, conservative political systems (theocracy, free market libertarian anarchy) have no chance of protecting that fragile form of social progress. Conservatism exacerbates the natural pressures on civilized society to corrupt itself. Conservatism is socially regressive to the point of being virtually animalistic.

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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