ChrisWeigant.com

The Full 2012 Republican Field

[ Posted Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 – 17:50 PDT ]

This has been an unusual year, in terms of presidential campaign politics, because (so far) it has run counter to the conventional wisdom. A standard column for any pundit to write every four years is the "Campaign Starting Even Sooner!" article, in which you decry the fact that the presidential race is beginning earlier and earlier each cycle. Not many of those articles have been written this time around.

Consider that, four years ago, every single Democrat and every single Republican candidate were already in the race by February. A total of 19 serious candidates (both parties combined -- both parties had "open" races, I should point out) were already out on the hustings by March, 2007. The last time around, Republican candidates had raised around $50 million by this point.

This time, the story so far has been the lack of such a story. But all such good times must eventually come to an end, and I now find myself sitting down for the first time to assess the Republican field of candidates for 2012. It has become impossible to ignore any further, in other words. The first Republican televised debate happened last week, and today none other than Newt Gingrich officially jumped into the running.

But, because this is a first look at the race, I feel it is necessary to examine the entire field of candidates -- which is enormous, when everyone whose name has ever been mentioned as a possibility is added in. Even weeding out the obvious vanity candidates with no hope leaves over a dozen names, at this point -- and that's not even counting a few names some Republicans are all but begging to get into the race.

Because I'm trying to include simply everybody, this will necessarily have to be a very wide (and not very deep) look at all the possible candidates. It's going to be a lengthy article, folks, just to warn everyone up front. As the race heats up, I promise we'll get more detailed and more focused on the true possibilities. I've divided the candidates up into several categories, on mostly arbitrary criteria (in other words, some of these names could easily move around among the categories as time goes on).

We're going to begin with those not even in the race, and work up to the top tier of candidates. Within each category, candidates appear alphabetically (to avoid showing favoritism of any type).

 

Not Running

This is the list of people who swear they are not running, and could not in any way be convinced to make a run. This list, and the next one, overlap somewhat with the other groups, for various reasons.

Republicans who absolutely swear they're not running (list is from Wikipedia, I should mention): Sharron Angle, Haley Barbour, Scott Brown, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bob Corker, Jim DeMint, Bobby Jindal, Bob McDonnell, Carl Paladino, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Mike Pence, Rick Perry, David Petraeus, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, John Thune, Allen West.

 

Sheer Speculation

The following names have been mentioned as possibilities, but only on the grounds of the sheerest possible speculation. It's a pretty safe bet that none of these will run, and if they do (with the possible exception of Eric Cantor), will never have the slightest impact on the race. This list is provided for completeness' sake only.

Republicans who have been mentioned as possibilities, but should in no way be seen as such: Joe Arpaio, Eric Cantor, Dick Cheney, Tom Coburn, John Cornyn, Charlie Crist, John Ensign, Luis Fortuño, Judd Gregg, Steve King, Stanley McChrystal, Thad McCotter, Bob Riley, Mark Sanford, Joe Scarborough, Gary Sinise, Clarence Thomas, Meg Whitman.

 

Very Dark Horses

There are three subdivisions within this category. The first is the people being begged by various groups (sometimes including the media) to jump into the race, but have so far either strongly said they're not running or shown no inclination to run. There are four of these. One by one:

Jeb Bush -- Some pundits on the Right really miss the magic of the "Bush" name. The public, however, may not miss it so much. Jeb shows no signs of getting in the race.

Chris Christie -- Many Righty pundits are tearfully prostrating themselves before the New Jersey governor, but he has said unequivocally that he's not running, and he seems to be quite serious.

Marco Rubio -- Clever Republicans hope Rubio will jump in the race, because he is an up-and-coming Latino within the party. A Rubio campaign might go a long way towards enticing Latino voters back to the GOP, but so far he shows no interest whatsoever.

Paul Ryan -- The thinking on Ryan goes: "Since Obama is already personalizing the Republican budget with Paul Ryan's name, Ryan should just meet the challenge head-on and run." Ryan shows no signs of doing so, though.

Then there are the folks who have convinced themselves (or are in the process of doing so) that the public is clamoring for them to run, despite all evidence to the contrary. There are five who fit into this category:

John Bolton -- Bush's U.N. Ambassador is apparently running, for some reason. A lack of other mustaches in the race, maybe? Hard to tell....

Andy Martin -- Um, who? Described in Wikipedia as: "Perennial candidate and Birther movement activist." Well, that just about sums it up, doesn't it? He's officially in the race, for those keeping score of who has actually filed election paperwork.

Roy Moore -- The "Ten Commandments" judge from Alabama has already announced an exploratory committee. Even though he has no chance whatsoever of winning. A vanity candidate at best.

Rick Perry -- Hey, the last Republican president was an ex-governor of Texas, so why not?

Buddy Roemer -- The former governor of Louisiana has announced an exploratory committee as well, despite the fact that not a soul outside of the Pelican State knows his name.

Then there is the final subgroup -- Republicans who don't really have a shot, but that do have high entertainment value. This means you'll hear these names a lot more in the coming months than any of the other dark horses in the race. There are four of these:

Gary Johnson -- The former governor of New Mexico might be called the "Straight-up, No-chaser Libertarian" candidate. At least, if Ron Paul hadn't already staked this spot out much earlier. Johnson has already participated in the first Republican debate, but Paul already has the Libertarian vote pretty solidly locked up. It was fun to see the two debate Libertarianism, though, and for that reason Johnson's name may continue to get occasional news coverage.

Fred Karger -- Republican gay rights activist who has officially declared his candidacy. Was not allowed on stage for the first debate, and will likely not be allowed on any debate stage to come. But, again, the "Republican gay rights activist" angle will likely not go entirely unnoticed by the press, especially on the Left. While Karger has zero chance of winning the nomination, he has a more-than-zero chance of being a favorite for the media to trot out, on occasion.

Jimmy McMillan -- Remember the "Rent Is Too Damn High!" candidate from New York City? Well, if Saturday Night Live has anything to say about it, you will hear about McMillan in the weeks to come. McMillan scores off the charts on the "entertainment value candidate" scale. Despite not scoring at all on the chart of "people Republican primary voters would actually cast a vote for." McMillan has officially announced his candidacy, to the delight of late-night comedians everywhere.

Ron Paul -- Ron Paul has formed an exploratory committee, so it's a pretty safe bet that he's in the race. Early speculation around "Which Paul will run -- Ron or Rand?" has been answered, as Paul the Elder throws his hat into the ring once again. Now, some might argue (some might strenuously argue) that Paul deserves to be in a higher category than "dark horse," but while Ron Paul has a fiercely loyal band of supporters who have the proven ability to fundraise online, he simply isn't credible as a viable candidate. His support will peak (as it did the last time he ran) in the low teens, which will fade by the time the primaries actually happen. Until he shows strong movement in the polls, he is still just the strongest vanity candidate out there.

 

The "B" Team

The "second tier" of Republicans is already quite large, even without Ron Paul. Many of these candidates will fall by the wayside as the race progresses, but (for now) each has at least earned serious speculation rather than being dismissed outright by the media.

At this point, I also hasten to point out, most of these candidates are running on name recognition alone -- either name recognition among the public, or name recognition among the punditry. Choosing who was in the top tier and who was in the second tier (and who didn't make the second-tier cut) was the hardest task in providing this overview. None of this is written in stone, in other words, and the placement (at this point) can be chalked up to simply my own gut feeling.

Having said that, let's take a look at the folks who could conceivably have a shot at the nomination, but probably won't make it that far for one reason or another.

Michele Bachmann -- Being touted as "Sarah Palin with a brain" (hey, I didn't make that up, don't blame me). Bachmann is counting on being the favorite-daughter Tea Party candidate (Bachmann is likely fervently hoping Sarah Palin won't actually run, I should mention). Her House district isn't that far from Iowa, which is where her whole presidential bet is staked. If she runs and Palin doesn't (Bachmann hasn't officially announced yet, but she's already running hard), she's got one single shot in Iowa, after which she will likely disappear from the race.

Herman Cain -- The "Godfather's Pizza guy," who also happens to be a black Republican (a rarity in the GOP, which will lead some to speculate what a presidential race between two black men would be like). Cain is likely to move down quickly to "vanity dark horse" candidate, and is only included here in the second tier on the strength of his debate performance (Frank Luntz' focus group loved Cain). And on the fact that he could self-finance his campaign for a while.

Mitch Daniels -- If this were "fantasy football," Daniels would be the candidate all the pundits would be fighting to back. He has not entered the race yet, but has been quoted saying he thinks he could beat Obama if he did so. Indiana's governor gets a lot of love from the "inside the Beltway" set, because they all see him as the ultimate "serious" candidate, among a crowd of people deemed not serious at all. He's going to have to jump in the race pretty soon, however, as outside his region (and Washington, of course) his name recognition is pretty low. He's also seen as so "moderate" that he might have trouble with fervid Republican primary voters.

Jon Huntsman -- Former governor of Utah and former (under Obama!) ambassador to China, Huntsman is also a favorite of the Washington punditocracy. He's got "serious" chops, in other words, according to those in the know. His problem, as with others, is that not a lot of other people know who he is. He does appear to be seriously considering a bid, though. His biggest flaw among the primary voters is going to be the fact that he was part of the Obama administration -- which they may find unforgivable.

Tim Pawlenty -- Pawlenty is definitely in the race, but the former Minnesota governor just isn't catching on with Republican voters. Despite being the only "serious candidate" at the first debate, Pawlenty didn't make much news other than apologizing for supporting an issue that Republicans used to widely support, but now do not (cap and trade). Pawlenty should, by all rights, be in the top tier (he's been campaigning quite hard), but until his polling numbers move into double digits, he's got to be seen as part of the "B" team.

Rick Santorum -- The former senator is also running very hard, but getting almost no traction. Republicans aren't big fans of people who have lost previous races, which may doom Santorum. If the field were less crowded with Tea Party types, Santorum might be doing a lot better, but he seems to be fading into the background with every passing day.

Donald Trump -- The only reason Trump doesn't rate the top tier is that I really don't think he's going to make a serious run. Oh, sure, he may make some sort of wild announcement on the season finale of his reality show, but I think his entire "candidacy" is nothing more than a bargaining tool to be used with NBC, during next year's Apprentice contract negotiations. Of course, Trump could surprise me and really run, but I don't think he's going to be willing to publicly disclose his financials, personally.

 

The Top Tier

I have to admit, my main criterion for inclusion in the top tier (at this point) is nothing more than name recognition. The following five names -- no matter when they actually jump into the race -- are going to immediately be seen as strong candidates. This doesn't really mean much, though, because most of the polls this early out show nothing more than name recognition to begin with. As the race progresses, other candidates will likely move up to the top tier (as voters get to know them and their policies), and some of these candidates will likely move down (due to flagging support, or due to announcing they're not running).

But, for now, here are my top tier picks for the Republican nomination:

Newt Gingrich -- Only one former Speaker of the House has ever become president in American history (James K. Polk, for those who care). Newt announced today that he aims to become the second. Newt's biggest perceived strength: the ability to speak at length about his "new ideas." Newt's biggest perceived weakness: what he actually says. Well, that's not being totally fair. His three marriages (and the disastrous end to the first two) are going to be a big issue for the religious Republican primary voters. But who knows -- Newt could surprise everyone, now that he's in the race.

Rudy Giuliani -- The only reason Giuliani is included in the top tier is that everybody in America already knows who he is. Giuliani's big problem, should he actually decide to run, is going to be his one-issue nature. When he ran last time, he was famously summed up as: "A noun, a verb, and then 9/11." With the death of Osama Bin Laden, Giuliani's signature issue is going to fade fast in the public's eye. Which will leave Rudy to explain his own personal problems from his divorce, as well as how badly he ran last time. My guess is that Giuliani will flirt with throwing his hat in the ring, but ultimately decide not to do so (after he gains as much publicity as he possibly can). But he could surprise me, and actually run. We'll see.

Mike Huckabee -- Huckabee is one of the two frontrunners in most polls (along with Romney), but he's being awfully coy about whether he's going to actually run or not. He seems to be having all kinds of fun on Fox News, and may be reluctant to give up this cushy gig. But he's got to be paying attention to the poll numbers which show how strong he's running -- before he even starts running. Huckabee's appeal this time around may be a lot broader than it was the last time, especially if Romney stumbles at all. But Huckabee has the luxury of being able to bide his time -- at least until he stops registering so high in the polls, which is where he'll be forced to make the decision whether to run or not. My guess is that Huckabee does actually get in the race, but very late.

Sarah Palin -- Palin also seems to be having all kinds of fun in her role as Republican "kingmaker" (or, perhaps more accurately and modern: "grizzly-mama-maker"). But predicting what Palin is going to (or not going to) do is a fool's game, because nobody really knows what she's thinking. If Palin jumped in, she would immediately be in the top three candidates in the polls, which is nothing to sneeze at. But Palin's negatives are so high -- even within her own party -- that she has to be seen as a real longshot at actually gaining the nomination. If she did jump in, though, the media would follow her every move with devotion. Palin, like Huckabee, is someone who could jump in the race very, very late and still have a high chance of doing well (again, because everyone already knows her name). My guess is that she'll flirt with it for as long as possible, but decide in the end not to run. But I wouldn't bet any money on that, and could easily be wrong.

Mitt Romney -- Romney has been the frontrunner all along, since he really started running the day after Barack Obama was elected back in 2008. But most Republican voters have not exactly rushed to support him. Romney is flawed as a candidate for a number of reasons, including the biggest one (which he's going to attempt to put behind him very soon) -- the fact that what Republicans call "Obamacare" is really the son of "Romneycare" in Massachusetts. Romney signed healthcare reform into law while governor, complete with an individual mandate. This could be a bridge too far for most Republican voters. If this were a normal year, Romney would be all but walking away with the nomination, since Republicans usually give the nod to the "next in line" guy. But this year is going to be anything but normal, as we've already seen.

 

Conclusion

Whew! That's a lot of candidates! I promise, though, that this will be the longest article I'll ever write examining the Republican field, because most of these names are going to fall by the wayside pretty soon. As the field tightens up, we'll take a much closer look at the folks who have any chance at all. But I wanted to write at least one all-inclusive article examining everybody, to kick the 2012 campaign season off. If you've read to the end of this, I have to compliment you on your stamina, in other words.

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at Business Insider
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

19 Comments on “The Full 2012 Republican Field”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Those are some pretty sad lists.

    In any event, the really serious Republican candidates won't be officially entering the presidential primary race until sometime after the re-election of Obama/Biden. :)

    That's my prediction, anyways.

  2. [2] 
    dsws wrote:

    Are we heading toward a vanity nominee? The top tier doesn't sound very top-tier so far.

  3. [3] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    1.) Gary Johnson has the endorsement of Glenn Greenwald, which goes to prove that everything I have ever said about Greenwald is true.

    2.) I freaking LOVE to read that Roy Moore is a "vanity" candidate. Because that's what he is. He's a lot like Sarah Palin in the sense that neither of them wants to do a minute of homework on any issue.

    3.) Nobody knows what Palin is thinking because she usually isn't.

    4.) Have you SEEN the new Mrs. Gingrich?! She's freaking SCARY!

    5.) Herman Cain is a wind-up toy: entertaining, but repetitive. He'll flame out more spectacularly than Ross Perot.

    6.) Trump got destroyed the other day, Chris, I think you might've heard about it.

    7.) Bachmann laid her longshot plans a long time ago. God "calls" her to run, which means He has a jackass sense of humor.

    8.) Huckabee is the most likely to emerge on top, IMO. Romney's biggest problem is his own record, which he now disowns. The culture warriors can unite behind him. I'm not sure he can excite the Randians very much, but most of them are Ron Paul zombies anyway. Which brings me to:

    9.) Ron Paul is not just a vanity candidate, he's a cult candidate. And I am so sick of the one asshole who always shows up at any given peace demo to yell "NINE-ELEVEN WAS AN INSIDE JOB! RON PAUL FOR PRESIDENT! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO"

  4. [4] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    Ugh, meant to give "Romney's biggest problem is his own record, which he now disowns" its own bullet point before posting.

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Go ahead, yuk it up...

    That'll just make it that much longer and harder of a fall.. :D

    Seriously though, with this make-up of GOP 'talent', I might just have to sit this one out...

    Gods know I won't be fooled into voting for Obama again, despite his recent "victory"....

    Michale.....

  6. [6] 
    akadjian wrote:

    @Osborne_Ink-
    Thanks for the note about Glenn Greenwald. I had to look a little to find more, but not very far.

    http://www.out.com/detail.asp?page=2&id=30073

    His view is this:
    “The Republicans have long lived by what they call the Buckley Rule: always support the furthest-right candidate who can plausibly win. That’s because they believe conservatism will work and want to advocate for it. Democrats [by contrast] prop up the most centrist or conservative candidates -- i.e., corporatists -- on the ground that it’s always better, more politically astute, to move to the right.”

    Sadly, but for a few exceptions, I agree with this analysis and there's been several discussions here which have talked about this.

    Here's what the article says about Johnson:

    "One of his hopes for 2012 is that candidates will emerge to take on the red and the blue teams -- he is keeping an eye on Gary Johnson, a two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, who is pro-gay and antiwar, and who could run with a Democrat like former Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold. He would also be happy to see a billionaire run without the help of either party, to 'disrupt the two-party stranglehold.'"

    Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Johnson, but more an indictment of the current 2-party system.

    Appreciate you mentioning Osborne as I hadn't heard about this and its a great topic.

    -David

  7. [7] 
    dsws wrote:

    more an indictment of the current 2-party system.

    "Current" here meaning since about 1828?

  8. [8] 
    akadjian wrote:

    "Current" here meaning since about 1828?

    Fair enough. I'm just not sure at what point the differences between the two became largely cosmetic. Seems like the '80s to me but I'll admit this is a guess.

    Or perhaps a better term would be a duopoly. Like Coke and Pepsi. Really not much difference. And they don't compete too much with each other in terms of price because they've got a good thing going.

    -David

  9. [9] 
    dsws wrote:

    I don't buy the premise that the difference is largely cosmetic. Democrats aren't radical; Republicans are. Big difference.

    There has been a change since about 1980, though, following on changes before that. Used to be, both parties had to go to the center in contested general elections, to attract swing voters. And used to be, the Solid South was solidly Democratic. Then MLK and LBJ finally rocked the boat enough to get the South to forgive the Republicans for having once been the party of Lincoln. During the transition, swing voters in swing states were on the far right.

    But something else happened. Swing voters are no longer where it's at. Turnout voters are. A swing vote counts double: an actual vote did get cast for one side, and the might-have-been vote didn't get cast for the other. A turnout vote only counts once: a vote gets cast, or a might-have-been vote doesn't get cast, but not both. Turnout voters are where it's at, though, because they outnumber swing voters by *more* than two to one. That might have already been the case, at least potentially, before the Southern Strategy. But by making a bid for the far right in the South, the Republicans committed themselves to a fringe strategy. That left the center unclaimed, so that moving into the vacuum was (at least apparently) a better strategy for the Democrats than "hey, we can be extreme too".

    There was also the political awakening of pentecostal Christians, with the campaign of Jimmy Carter.

  10. [10] 
    dsws wrote:

    As for the two-party system, let's get rid of it. I want to eliminate geographical districts for the House, and let voters choose which seat to vote for. Or at least go to majority voting, so that third parties can get vote tallies that reflect their true support.

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    dsws,

    I don't buy the premise that the difference is largely cosmetic. Democrats aren't radical; Republicans are. Big difference.

    Oh puuuullleeeeezzzzeeeeeee

    Maybe you weren't around in the 60s all thru to the 21st century...

    "Democrats aren't radical"....

    That's right up there with "Jimmy Carter was the best American President"... :D

    Michale.....

  12. [12] 
    akadjian wrote:

    I don't buy the premise that the difference is largely cosmetic. Democrats aren't radical; Republicans are. Big difference.

    DSWS, you've hit the nail on the head. People vote Republican or anti-Republican. They vote for Democrats, but they don't vote Democrat.

    This is the system Glenn describes. Republicans constantly shifting the right further right. And Democrats being the counter vote that play to a center which is always shifting further right.

    In this system, conservative corporate philosophy largely wins regardless of who is in power. Look at Clinton's authorizing deregulation of the financial system. Look at Obama's continuing support of the Bush positions on surveillance, power, and war.

    Now, I'm not advocating not voting Democratic. But I'm frustrated by the fact that many elected Democrats don't fight for the principles I believe in.

    Why don't they do it? Because under the current system, they don't have to. They know they can count on my vote because of radical Republicans.

    This is why I'll donate, but I will donate to groups and individuals that are willing to fight for things I believe in rather than to the Democratic party whose only position is largely "we're not crazy".

    This is what I mean when I say the difference is largely cosmetic. It's a difference of culture, a difference of what seems radical to who, but in terms of policies which get enacted, the corporate agenda advances regardless of which party wins. This is what I believe needs to change.

    Good discussion!
    -David

  13. [13] 
    akadjian wrote:

    As for the two-party system, let's get rid of it. I want to eliminate geographical districts for the House, and let voters choose which seat to vote for. Or at least go to majority voting, so that third parties can get vote tallies that reflect their true support.

    Here, here. In the age of the Internet, why not simply let people vote directly on issues?

  14. [14] 
    akadjian wrote:
  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    Now, I'm not advocating not voting Democratic. But I'm frustrated by the fact that many elected Democrats don't fight for the principles I believe in.

    And why do you think that is??

    Is it possible that the principles you believe in are not compatible with the reality of the here and now?

    Isn't that even SLIGHTLY possible??

    As long as one cannot entertain the possibility that they are wrong, they will always be part of the problem and not part of the solution..

    Don't get me wrong.. I know it's hard to question one's own principles..

    Take torture for example.. Despite the overwhelming and unequivocal evidence of the past decade that shows torture of terrorists can produced accurate and actionable intel, there are still people who believe we shouldn't use it..

    Their beliefs and principles are so ingrained into their very being that it is impossible for them to even CONSIDER the fact that they might be wrong..

    It is THIS attitude that needs to be fought...

    The very first step for finding common ground is admitting to one's self, "Hay.. I could be wrong about this.."

    Here, here. In the age of the Internet, why not simply let people vote directly on issues?

    For the same reason we don't give automatic weapons to chimpanzees..

    "A person is smart. People are dumb panicky animals and you know it."
    -Agent Kay, MEN IN BLACK

    :D

    BTW- If you need a laugh on a Friday morning ...

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/trump-unable-to-produce-certificate-proving-hes-no,20250/

    See?? NOW who's keeping the birther nonsense alive??

    So much for "that's not who we are", eh?? :D

    Spike the football and be done with it...

    Michale.....

  16. [16] 
    dsws wrote:

    In the age of the Internet, why not simply let people vote directly on issues?

    Who gets to frame the questions? Who gets to pay for ads about the proposals? How many ballot questions can voters realistically be expected to pay attention to, enough to sort out which is what it sounds like and which is double-talk?

    Politics is inevitable. Rather than pretend we can get a pristine decision procedure where everyone is reasonable, the question of how to structure deliberative institutions must be approached with an understanding that politics and especially money will be an integral part of how any such institutions actually work.

    My #1 favorite idea is eliminating geographical districts for the House, as I said. My second favorite is much further from any existing institution.

    I want a tiered system of deliberative groups. The first tier is open to all citizens, just by registering. Within any tier, a member can designate one and only other person as their potential delegate. Anyone so designated by nine other people is thereby qualified for the next tier. The first tier is always qualified to legislate. Whenever one tier is qualified to legislate, and the next tier represents at least 50% of it, then the next tier is qualified to legislate. However, legislation can be passed only by unanimous agreement of a qualified tier. Finally, legislation passed at a lower tier trumps legislation passed at a higher tier, and the courts can rule higher-tier invalid under the provisions of lower-tier legislation, just as they can now rule laws unconstitutional, and rule executive-branch decisions invalid under statute.

    Thus any organized group of ten people can get a representative to the second tier. Any organized group of a hundred people can get a representative to the third tier. Ten thousand people, organized in a minor party, would have a voice in the fourth tier, where deliberation would begin to actually matter (and be covered by the media). But to be effective, a fourth-tier minor party would have to form a coalition with other parties. The highest level would probably be the sixth, with something like a hundred members. Sixth-tier obstructionism would be checked by the threat that a bare majority of the sixth tier would get together and designate a seventh tier of something like five members. The seventh tier would be much like what parliamentary systems call "a government", while the fifth tier would be a standing constitutional convention.

    So I would expect this system to have two grand coalitions, but with minor parties retaining their identity and independence within those coalitions.

  17. [17] 
    dsws wrote:

    I just had a new idea for a legislative system. As with the previous one, it's tiered, with nine supporters at one level getting a person to the next level. But this time, the unanimity requirement is reversed: anyone at all can issue a command to the executive branch or to any part of it. However, the executive branch is to disregard any command that conflicts with an already-issued command from the same tier or higher. Such disregard can be appealed to the judicial branch, but it's up to the courts whether or not to hear these appeals. The executive branch also has the option to appeal a command back to the legislative branch, where it can be countermanded within a specified length of time by anyone at a higher tier or by a two-to-one margin of those expressing an opinion at the same tier.

    Note that in this scheme there are no commands to the public. Laws affecting the public are mediated by commands to the executive branch to do whatever is involved in enforcing those laws. Commands to the executive branch can be permissive (telling them to do as they choose within certain limits) or restrictive (telling them not to do certain things regardless of subsequent commands from the same tier or lower).

    --

    It seems as though the dynamics of minor-party formation would be the same in both schemes, but significant parties would face different incentives about forming coalitions at the higher levels.

    --

    In both schemes, the choice of ten is arbitrary. Two makes a ridiculously large number of tiers; a hundred makes a ridiculously small number of them. In between, I don't know whether a different number would be better.

  18. [18] 
    dsws wrote:
  19. [19] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Politics is inevitable. Rather than pretend we can get a pristine decision procedure where everyone is reasonable, the question of how to structure deliberative institutions must be approached with an understanding that politics and especially money will be an integral part of how any such institutions actually work.

    Well said. You sound like our founding fathers talking about checks and balances.

    Obviously, you've thought more about this than me so kudos. I'm usually thinking about trying to make the checks and balances we have work.

    Meanwhile, there's even more room at the top

    I have to say I'm a little sorry to see Huckabee drop out. Though I disagree with most of his ideas, he at least seemed like a genuine, decent guy.

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