Posts Tagged ‘Blue vs. Red’

No, Democrats don’t have superior family values

January 10, 2018

Along with a lot of other people, I’ve noticed that the so-called red states—states that usually go Republican— have higher rates of divorce, children born out-of-wedlock, violent crime and other bad things than the so-called blue states.

That fact has led to sweeping generalizations that liberals on average have better family values than conservatives, but it turns out that those generalizations are wrong.  In fact, as the articles linked below indicate, it’s probably the other way around.

I myself don’t believe in making sweeping derogatory generalizations about large groups of people or judging individuals based on their group identity.   And I don’t think these things have anything to do with who’s right about economic and foreign policy anyhow.

Nor do I think that there is any hypocrisy in preaching “family values” even if you yourself have trouble living up to those values.  As Jesus said, it is the sick, not the healthy, who need a physician.

That’s what I thought when I thought conservatives on average were more dysfunctional than liberals and progressives on average.  As it turns out, though, the shoe is on the other foot.

The good news, and maybe the more important news, is that the number of American teen pregnancies and out-of-wedlock births is declining overall.

LINKS

No, Republicans Aren’t Hypocrites on Family Values by W. Bradford Wilcox and Vijay Menon for POLITICO magazine.

Blue American More Virtuous Than Red? Nope by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.

Why presidential candidates ignore most voters

August 3, 2015

The Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns will ignore most voters in 2016.  They will focus on a few voters in a few swing states.

Frank Bruni in the New York Times wrote about how a Republican insider thinks the Republicans can win by nominating Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, for President and Frank Kasich, the current governor of Ohio for Vice-President, and thereby carrying those two states.

26bruni-master675And a Democratic insider thinks the key to winning Ohio and thereby the presidential election is racking up a huge majority Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland.

Neither party’s strategists bother with California, Texas or New York, states in which they think the outcome is a foregone conclusion.  Only a few states – Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina and maybe one or two others – are in play.

This is something new, and in part a self-fufilling prophecy.   In the 1976 election, as Bruni noted, there were 20 states, including California, Texas and New York, where the margin of victory was less than 5 percentage points.

Polarization between red states and blue states has grown since then, and one of the reasons has to be that Democrats cede Texas and the Deep South to the Republicans, and Republicans cede California, New York and New England to the Democrats.

When I tell my Democratic friends I am disgusted with both parties and plan to vote for the Green Party candidate, they bring up the vote for Ralph Nader in Florida in 2000 and ask me whether I want Donald Trump to be President.   I would vote my conscience in any case, but why even think about this question if it is a foregone conclusion that New York will go Democratic in any case?

LINK

The Millions of Marginalized Americans by Frank Bruni in the New York Times.  (Hat tip to Steve Badrich)

Why I vote for candidates who “can’t win”

July 17, 2015

Why vote at all?

I get no material benefit out of it.  I do not determine the results of any election.  I have never voted in an election for public office that was decided by one vote, or even 100 votes.

By voting, I do two things.  I do my duty as a citizen of a democratic country.  I express my belief in the direction of my community by my choice of candidate.

Vote-Chop-LegThat being so, why should I limit my choice in the general election to just the two largest parties?  And why should I limit my choice in the primary election to the candidate most likely to win the general election?

People who limit their choice in this way are basing their vote on how they think other people will vote.  To the extent they do this, they allow these other people to determine their choice.

By voting my conviction, I make myself one of these other people.  I am one of the people whose views they have to take into account when they make their decision.

I of course do not criticize anybody who votes for a front-runner or a major-party nominee based on a sincere belief that this person is the best choice, and that the nation is basically on the right path.  I used to think that way myself.

I’ve become disenchanted with the two major political parties because it seems to me they are now more alike than they are different.

That is not to say that they are entirely alike, especially on questions that do not affect the structure of economic and political power.

But there is a bipartisan consensus among candidates for both parties of acceptance of perpetual war, persecution of dissidents, economic decline and immunity from prosecution by high-level criminals that, to me, is more significant than any differences.

I refuse to support militarism, authoritarianism and financial oligarchy by voting for candidates who accept them as normal.

Politics as a spectator sport

July 15, 2015

Some people seem to enjoy national politics as a kind of spectator sport with audience participation.

DCdivided-300x253They root for Team Blue or Team Red, and they do your bit to help their team win.

They vote in the general election for the team they support.  They vote in the primary election for the candidate who will best help their team win in the general election.

They reject the option of voting for a superior candidate on the other team, or for a candidate not on either team, because this might tip the balance for the other team.

When I point to the bipartisan acceptance of the USA’s drift into financial oligarchy, economic stagnation, authoritarianism and perpetual war, the answer I get is that one party is worse than the other, and that is the only relevant consideration.

As committed political sports fans, they made an initial decision as to which team to support, and any subsequent decision is based on its implications for their team’s victory or defeat.

How political correctness shields oligarchy

May 21, 2014

 The survivalist blogger Dmitry Orlov thinks debating “political correctness” is a way to prevent discussion of real issues of American politics.

Discussions of social policy, especially with regard to such things as the rights of women and sexual and racial minorities, play a very special role in American politics.  … It has recently been shown that the US is not a democracy, in which public policy is influenced by public opinion, but an oligarchy, where public policy is driven by the wishes of moneyed interests.

Dmitry Orlov

Dmitry Orlov

On major issues, such as whether to provide public health care or whether to go to war, public opinion matters not a whit.  But it is vitally important to maintain the appearance of a vibrant democracy, and here social policy provides a good opportunity for encouraging social divisions: split the country up into red states and blue states, and keep them in balance by carefully measured infusions of money into politics, so as to maintain the illusion of electoral choice.

Throw a bit of money at a religious fundamentalist candidate, and plenty of feminists, gays and lesbians will vote for the opposing kleptocrat who will, once elected, help Wall Street confiscate the rest of their retirement savings, in return for a seat on the board; throw another bit of money at a rainbow-colored lesbian, and plenty of bible-thumping traditionalists will vote for the opposing kleptocrat who, once elected, will funnel tax money to his pet defense contractor in return for some juicy kickbacks.  This part of the American political system works extremely well.

On the other hand, if some matter comes before the politicians that requires helping the people rather than helping themselves and their wealthy masters, the result is a solid wall of partisan deadlock.  This part works very well too—for the politicians, and for the moneybags who prop them up, but not for the people.

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The trap of Red vs. Blue thinking

February 5, 2014

The fundamental fallacy which is committed by almost everyone is this: “A and B hate each other, therefore one is good and the other is bad.”
==Bertrand Russell, in 1956 letter

One of the big obstacles to rational discussion of politics is the notion that you’ve got to sign up for Team Red or Team Blue, and that on any given question, the criterion is which answer helps your team and which helps the other team.

Let me give a couple of examples.

I once argued with a Republican acquaintance about the need for filibuster reform in the Senate, so that bills and appointments could be approved by a 51-vote majority rather than a 60-vote super-majority.   His rebuttal was that Democrats benefit from the filibuster as much as Republicans, and would favor the filibuster when they were no longer in the majority.   This probably was true,  but the question was not what is in the interests of  the Democrat or Republicans, but in the interests of the USA.

Obama.TeaPartyA Democratic friend once said that it was a mistake to “fetishize” the Constitution, because that is what Tea Party Republicans do.  As I see it,  support for the Constitution is the basic social contract that binds the United States together as a nation.  Without it, Americans are no more than a collection of contending ethnic groups or the world’s biggest mass market for advertisers.  Maybe my thinking is wrong, but, if so, what Tea Party members do or don’t think has nothing to do with the case.

I disagree with Rep. Justin Amash, a Tea Party Republican from Michigan, on many issues, such as his role in the irresponsible government shutdown,  but I think he is worthy of praise for co-sponsoring legislation to curb abuses of the National Security Agency.

I have been enrolled as a Democrat since I first registered to vote.  I once thought there was an intrinsic difference between the two political parties.  I agreed with the historian, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who wrote in The Age of Jackson that the Republican Party and its predecessors, the Whig Party and the Federal Party, represented the interests of Wall Street and big business, while the Democratic Party, going back to Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson, was a coalition of everyone who might be harmed by the abuse of business power.  Schlesinger thus rationalized the fact that the Democratic coalition in the 1940s and 1950s included Southern white supremacists.  The interests of the Southern planters were not the interests of Wall Street.

I see now that this is an oversimplified view of history.  From the Civil War to the Great Depression, there were as many progressives in the Republican Party as in the Democratic Party.   The Republican Party was not merely the party of William McKinley and Calvin Coolidge; it was the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, “Fighting Bob” LaFollette, George W. Norris and Fiorello LaGuardia.

And as political scientist Thomas Ferguson has pointed out, the Democratic Party is as much beholden to Wall Street and corporate interests as the Republican Party.

I agree with the Democrats more than the Republicans on most, although not all, issues on which the two parties differ.  But I am much more concerned about political continuity and bipartisan agreement on questions such as propping up Wall Street, extrajudicial killing, preventive detention and warrant-less surveillance. , a consensus that seems to endure in Washington regardless of public opinion. And I am pleased when people from either side of the political aisle dissent from this consensus.  If we Americans want a free, peaceful and prosperous country, we’ve got to get beyond limits of Blue vs. Red.

No political party is worthy of loyalty in and of itself.  No political label is worthy of loyalty.  The only things that are worthy of loyalty are certain principles and certain human beings.  A political party, like a corporation or a union, is merely an organizational structure in which individual people can do certain things.  But if the people are replaced, and their principles and purposes are lost, what is there left to be loyal to?