Posts Tagged ‘Red vs. Blue’

Why Trump supporters aren’t going to go away

October 12, 2016

Six reasons for Trump’s rise that no-one talks about by David Wong for Cracked.com.

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.

Does Evangelical influence lead to more divorce?

February 12, 2014
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Click to enlarge

As strange as it may seem, a new study indicates that the influence of evangelical Protestant Christianity leads to higher divorce rates.

Sociologists Jennifer Glass and Philip Levchak found that the higher the concentration of evangelical Protestants in a U.S. county, the higher the divorce rate was likely to be.   Early marriage is associated with low income and lack of education, but there was a higher divorce rate even among couples of the same income level and educational level in the counties with higher percentages of evangelicals.  The divorce rate among evangelical Protestants themselves is higher in such counties.

They said the reason is the evangelical Protestant culture promotes early marriage, and people who get married in their teens are more likely to be divorced than those who wait until they are in their twenties.  This fits my experience.  When I was single and living in western Maryland, a religiously conservative area, in the 1960s, it seemed as if virtually every waitress with whom I struck up a conversation had gotten married while in high school, gotten divorce and was working to support herself and a child.

The connecting link between religion and d was evangelical Protestant culture rather than evangelical Protestant faith.  Glass and Lovchak found that among couples who did marry young, the ones who went to church regularly had, on average, more lasting marriages than those who didn’t.   But statistically, early marriage did more to encourage divorce than regular church-going did to inhibit it.

Why would early marriage be associated with divorce?  Poverty puts a strain on marriage.  Young women who drop out of high school to get married have a harder time earning an income than those who postpone marriage until graduation.  This puts the burden of being a family breadwinner on the young man, whose prospects also may be poor.

Evangelical Protestant churches tend to oppose contraception, which would lead to unwanted pregnancies and shotgun marriages.  They tend to discourage sex education and promote sexual abstinence, which means newlyweds have no sexual experience and little knowledge.

But for all that, there is something worse than a culture of early marriage and early divorce, and that is the underclass culture where people never go to church and have children without thinking of marriage at all.   Early marriage and early divorce represent a step up from having sex and begetting children with multiple partners and none of the legal responsibilities that go with marriage.   In such circumstances, a strict religion such as evangelical Protestantism is a solution, not the problem.

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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?