Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Mob; And American Politics - context

 This coming weekend there are plans by some groups to protest outside of various government buildings, including all 50 state capitols. I want to address this and what "the mob" could mean for the United States and its democracy, but to properly do so, I need to provide some context; otherwise the post I plan for tomorrow would veer off into all sorts of tangents in various places.

Suggested reading: Federalist 10, by James Madison (audio, text) [Note that "Faction" can be understood to be "Political Party" in the modern context]

From 1776 to 1790, Pennsylvania had an extremely democratic constitution, one which saw a form of "mob rule" from time to time in that state. The state was ruled by a single house, with no real "governor", and with frequent elections and the ability of the chamber to govern itself (and thus remove minority/opposition members), this created an effectively chaotic time in that state. Sadly, there's little easy-to-find information on this period.

The idea of "Blue" and "Red" states is sometimes over-simplified. Most states are a mix. Governors, Legislatures, and the Courts can each have their own leaning. I want to start with the latter, in part because it is difficult to find partisan information for many of the state courts easily. 14 states use what is called the "Missouri Plan" for selecting supreme court judges, which is a fairly non-partisan method. An additional 15 use non-partisan statewide elections. However, one of those 15 is Wisconsin, which had an extremely partisan election in April. 6 see the governor appoint, and the senate confirm. 1 has the house confirm. 1 has both houses confirm. 3 have other bodies confirm. 2 have governor appointments require no confirmation. 2 have the legislatures do the appointing. The remaining 6 have partisan elections. As such, trying to classify all state supreme courts would be difficult at best. Regardless, I am going to ignore the partisan leanings of the courts for the rest of this post.

Currently, Alaska has a unique situation in the House. 15 Democrats, caucus with 5 Republicans and 2 Independents to form the majority. This is not unusual for Alaska, where the reverse situation (a few Democrats sitting with the Republicans) occurred the previous term. This seems to have started in 2007 with the Senate, and lasted to 2012. It began in the house in 2017 and is ongoing. Regardless, since Republicans control the house, this makes Alaska one of the two states with a split legislature. The governor of the state is a Republican. The other state with a split legislature is Minnesota, where the Republicans control the Senate by 1 seat, while the Democrats control the house. The state has a Democrat as governor. Note as well that Nebraska has only a single chamber; and that chamber is officially non-partisan. However, a majority of its members identify as Republican. 

The following states have Republican controlled legislatures but a Democratic governor: Montana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Kansas. The following states have Democrat majorities in the legislature, yet have elected a Republican as governor: Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maryland.

This means the 'fully' "Blue" states are as follows: Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Illinois, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii. The following are the 'fully' "Red" states: West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. 

Of the 49 bicameral states, 48 house the House and Senate in the same building. Arizona houses them in separate buildings less than 170 feet apart. 

Most states have an official residence for the Governor, frequently called the "Governor's Mansion". Some states, however, have no such official residence. These states are Arizona, Idaho, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Some states have additional residences for their governor, or, have turned old residences into museums of some sort. There appear to be 7 of these that are of importance in the context of the coming post. 

Of the 50 Supreme courts, 43 normally meet in a single location; generally being the building that houses that state's supreme court. 3 are centred in cities outside the Capital; Delaware and Wilmington, Louisiana and New Orleans, and Maine and Portland. In all 3 cases, this puts the court in the largest city in the state; but also within 90 miles of the Capitol itself. 

The remaining 4 meet in 3 different locations. Alaska's court is centred in Anchorage, but also meets in Fairbanks and Juneau. California's is centred in San Francisco, but also meets in Sacramento and Los Angeles. Pennsylvania's court has no main centre, and has three coequal locations of Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, while Tennessee's 3 coequal locations are Nashville, Knoxville, and Jackson. 

Adding this up. We have 51 legislative buildings (49 states plus 2 buildings in Arizona), 53 residences (46 plus 7 additional), 58 court buildings (46 single-location states, 4 3-location states [12]) for a total of 162 state locations. Add to this the US Capitol, US Supreme Court, and Whitehouse for a grand total of 165 locations. 

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