Cognitive Dissonance

"Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

Posts tagged Elections

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In the long history of our country people have fought and died for democracy. Democracy means one person, one vote. The fact that all of us have the opportunity to be involved in the political process to stand up for what we believe in. Three years ago, or so the Supreme Court decided that corporations are people. They decided that through independent expenditures billionaires could spend unlimited sums of money to impact elections.

Let me say one word to you right now about how relevant that is. As all of you know, the government of the United States shut down. Hundreds of thousands of workers are suffering, millions of people are not getting the services they need. Right now, as we speak, in the House of Representatives there are people who are being threatened that if they vote for a clean CR to open the government without destroying the Affordable Care Act then huge sums of money will be spent against them in the next election.

We are living in a society where a handful of people with incredible sums of money, folks like the Koch brothers and others, are undermining what this democracy is supposed to be about. The bottom line here is that if we do not want to move this nation to an oligarchic form of society where a handful of billionaires can determine the outcome of these elections, then it is imperative not only that we overturn Citizens United, but that we put a lid on how much people can contribute in elections.

Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at the U.S. Supreme Court today, rallying against the unfettered use of dollars as “democracy” following today’s oral arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (2013)

Filed under Bernie Sanders Vermont SCOTUS lawblr McCutcheon v. FEC Citizens United money elections free elections adopt me Uncle Bernie politics news us supreme court

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Down the Rabbit Hole at the RNC

election:

In addition to their regular blogging, Tumblr convention correspondents are each writing a feature about the experience. Here’s Meg Lanker-Simons on attending the Republican National Convention last week.

Monday: Arriving in Wonderland

After cramming every passenger possible on board United Flight 741, departing Denver International Airport, the bored-looking flight crew began playing the instructional safety video. I settled in, hoping for an inflight nap. At the gate, I had quickly realized my plane might be carrying every single Republican National Convention attendee from the Rocky Mountain region, right down to the five elderly ladies in sequined, satin track suits in the requisite red, white, and blue. One of the women had even plastered on bright blue eye shadow and cherry red lipstick at the gate. “Because I’m American,” she explained to no one in particular.

Read More

Enjoy this Gonzo-ish summary of the RNC, kids! Please, share and feel free to provide feedback.

— Meg

(Source: gov, via cognitivedissonance)

Filed under deborah bryant fred karger john mccain meghan mccain michael steele mitt romney paul ryan rnc election 2012 elections politics meg lanker-simons chris mohney jayel aheram bobby finger liba rubenstein longreads journalism gary johnson lawrence o'donnell chuck todd

83 notes

Down the Rabbit Hole at the RNC

election:

In addition to their regular blogging, Tumblr convention correspondents are each writing a feature about the experience. Here’s Meg Lanker-Simons on attending the Republican National Convention last week.

Monday: Arriving in Wonderland

After cramming every passenger possible on board United Flight 741, departing Denver International Airport, the bored-looking flight crew began playing the instructional safety video. I settled in, hoping for an inflight nap. At the gate, I had quickly realized my plane might be carrying every single Republican National Convention attendee from the Rocky Mountain region, right down to the five elderly ladies in sequined, satin track suits in the requisite red, white, and blue. One of the women had even plastered on bright blue eye shadow and cherry red lipstick at the gate. “Because I’m American,” she explained to no one in particular.

Read More

My long awaited summary is live! Enjoy kids!

— Meg

(Source: gov)

Filed under deborah bryant fred karger john mccain meghan mccain michael steele mitt romney paul ryan rnc election 2012 elections politics meg lanker-simons chris mohney jayel aheram bobby finger liba rubenstein longreads journalism gary johnson lawrence o'donnell chuck todd

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The problem with selecting a candidate to “beat Obama”

MSNBC and Fox News are both hammering home that out of all the candidates in the GOP primary in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich’s support was the highest among people who said the most important factor in their selection was a candidate who could defeat Barack Obama. Coincidentally, beating Obama was the most important factor in candidate choice to nearly 50% of voters. Fox News is also pointing out his strong performances in debates with his zingers at the media and fellow candidates and his stubborn refusal to go gently into that good night as factors in his rise in the polls, and his overall victory in South Carolina.

Um, guys?

You know that after January 20, 2013, the president-elect is now the president. That means said president has to actually do shit. Things will not be magically fixed just because you voted out Barack Obama. In fact, much of what Gingrich wants to do in office could make things worse. 

I imagine the thought process of many voters when considering Gingrich goes like this:

  1. Doughy white guy says shit I like. He sounds smart. He says he’s going to beat Obama. He sounds confident, unlike that sputtering asshat with tax problems. Plus, he’ll end Obama’s war on my religion.
  2. Fuck the lazy-ass poor people. Get jobs, douchebags. He’ll even put kids to work, too.
  3. Open marriage? Shit, at least he could beat Obama.
  4. Vote Newt Gingrich. 
  5. *POOF* Teatopia, y’all!

This is remarkably similar to liberal pals of mine who are pissed Obama didn’t unbreak everything in four years and bring about the opposite of Teatopia. If you listened to Obama and examined his voting record, you’d see he’s fairly moderate. In fact, compared to past Republicans, i.e. Richard Nixon, he’s more to the right.

But in the 2012 Electoral Race to the Bottom, sponsored by Citizens United v. FEC (2010), the facts don’t matter and Barack Obama must be defeated. Even if it means nominating a man with absolutely no character or ability to lead. Why is it so tough to wrap my brain around voters supporting Newt Gingrich?

  • Speaking of the Citizens United decision, Gingrich Productions has “produced three films on religion and one each on energy, Ronald Reagan and the threat of radical Islam.” These films are little more than GOP talking point advertisements. Gingrich’s funding partner? As The Wall Street Journal points out, these were “all done as joint projects with the conservative activist group, Citizens United. The latest project: A film on American exceptionalism, another likely campaign theme.” 

  • He’s admitted to multiple affairs, while attacking others on “family values” and holding himself up as a moral paragon. His personal life is irrelevant until he begins throwing stones in his obviously glass house.

  • He doesn’t use a racism dog-whistle so much as a racism air-raid siren. Gingrich defended his diatribe from the Jan. 16th GOP debate, which he launched into when Juan Williams asked him about the racial overtones of his comments regarding poor children lacking “work habits”, employing children as janitors in poor, urban neighborhoods, and the black community needing to demand food stamps versus paychecks. And how did he choose to defend this? 

    Newt Gingrich decided to attack Juan Williams, claiming on Friday, “I had a very interesting dialogue Monday night in Myrtle Beach with Juan Williams about the idea of work, which seemed to Juan Williams to be a strange, distant concept.” So in order to defend himself against charges of racism, he essentially states Williams is lazy. Williams was the African-American man who had the audacity to ask him a tough question, and that does not seem to sit well with Newt several days later.

  • As a US House Representative, he kited twenty-two personal checks using the now-defunct House Bank, charges uncovered during the “Rubbergate” scandal - including a check for over $9,000 to the IRS. One of the whistleblowers on this scandal? Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn.

  • He blasted colleagues for ties to lobbyists and corruption, yet Gingrich accepted a check from Employment Policies Institute lobbyist Richard B. Berman for $25,000. This particular check, supposedly given to Gingrich as a donation for a college course he was teaching, led former Rep. Ben Jones (D-Ga.) to demand an ethics investigation by the US House because the note attached to the contribution raised questions of possible criminal wrongdoing by suggesting Gingrich used his influence on behalf of the lobbyist at a 1993 congressional hearing.
     
    The note stated in a postscript: “Newt - Thanks again for the help on today’s committee hearing.” The subsequent investigation into this charge, shady book deals, and other fundraising activity lead to over 80 ethics charges against Gingrich and a plea deal with an unprecedented $300,000 fine. Gingrich resigned as well.

A side note from Esquire on the ethics investigation: [Emphasis mine]

The House Ethics Committee started investigating GOPAC’s donations to his college class and caught him trying to hide his tracks by raising money through a charity for inner-city kids called the Abraham Lincoln Opportunity Foundation. Another charity of his called Earning by Learning actually spent half its money supporting a former Gingrich staffer who was writing his biography… The Ethics Committee found him guilty of laundering donations through charities, submitting “inaccurate, incomplete, and unreliable” testimony, and making “an effort to have the material appear to be nonpartisan on its face, yet serve as a partisan, political message for the purpose of building the Republican party.”

And yes, it’s those same inner-city kids he wants to make janitors

Gingrich is running what he claims to be a revolutionary campaign of ideas. Yet those ideas are little more than attacking fellow candidates, the media, and Barack Obama for issues ranging from corruption and immorality, to favoritism and anti-Americanism. Gingrich employs a set of cliches and fiery debate invective that gets voters in the booth on primary day as evidenced by South Carolina. Can he continue this into the general election?

As multiple news outlets discussed today, Gingrich’s unfavorability rating is the highest of any candidate among moderates and independents. This is a significant voting bloc the GOP will seek to court from Obama. Gingrich is not stupid. He is effective in debates. He calls other candidates “Washington elites” (when he spent significantly more time in Washington than any other candidate running) and the crowd goes wild.

Mitt Romney, the ostensible front-runner, is a terrible candidate in debates. He is easily rattled and incapable of answering a direct question. The GOP field is in disarray and looking for unity. The former Speaker of the House is an experienced politician - though divisive - and may be the one to watch going into Super Tuesday in the next several weeks. Perhaps a theory posited by Gingrich in 1988 explains his success: “In every election in American history, both parties have their cliches. The party that has the cliches that ring true wins.”

The 2012 primary season promises to be a dog and pony show until the bitter end - or until the money runs out. This election cycle reinforces the idea that American politics is little more than contemporary bread and circuses, only less bread and more circuses. Elections are ideally about issues and governance. This year, the only stated mission of the GOP is to rid the White House of Obama, and Gingrich is the candidate best at smearing Obama as somewhere between Benedict Arnold and Benito Mussolini.

Voters are responding well in the primary to this kind of messaging, but the GOP will hopefully discover it’s difficult to run on a platform of needing to do nothing besides regain control of the presidency. To run on a platform that consists of “beat the other guy and BAM! TEATOPIA!" is simply intellectually dishonest. But if it’s intellectually (and morally) dishonest they want, the GOP has their man in Gingrich. If it’s beat Obama they want, they may get it. However, January 21, 2013 and every day after is another day Obama will no longer be available as the executive target, and another day when the new president will be expected to lead. The GOP may be content to run a cliche-machine, powered by egomaniacal bile, but American voters deserve more than just some guy nominated to beat Obama.

(Source: cognitivedissonance)

Filed under Newt Gingrich Barack Obama South Carolina Politics Primary 2012 Elections Government Election 2012 Obama scandal Republican GOP Democrat

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Live-blogging the Southern Republican CNN Debate

And then there were four…

Here’s my live coverage of tonight’s debate. Not as painful as last time, but I do miss Perry’s bumbling. Newt Gingrich lambasted moderator John King for asking about allegations he requested an open marriage from wife #2, Mitt Romney sputtered over taxes, Rick Santorum launched some serious volleys at Romney and Gingrich, and Ron Paul got testy when he felt ignored.


(Source: cognitivedissonance)

Filed under CNN Debate Politics Rick Santorum Newt Gingrich Ron Paul Mitt Romney GOP Republican Republicans government elections elections 2012 2012

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On GOP Debate Bingo, Obama commentary, and Rick Perry

"Barack Obama is a communist" commentary on a story about Perry leaving the race, and now my day is complete. And really? Anyone…? Ooh, the possibilities are endless.

Dennis Kucinich?

Bernie Sanders?

Ooh, or Buddy Roemer? Y’know, someone who’s actually running? If Perry’s gone, can Buddy take his place?

Anyhow…

Don’t forget kids, there’s a debate tonight on CNN. The fun starts at 8 PM EST. I’ll be live-blogging on Twitter. Follow me: @meglanker

Also, don’t forget about GOP Bingo! Cards are here. Since I don’t have time to update them if before Perry drops out, take any space that mentions Perry as a free space. It’s redistribution of the free spaces so everyone has more. Because I am more of a socialist (or communist) than Obama. 

I’m going to miss Perry’s debate performances. Someone make an emotional montage, please.

Submit your bingo cards here, or email them to meglanker@gmail.com.

Cheers,

Meg

Filed under Rick Perry Barack Obama Obama Elections Politics Election 2012 GOP Republican GOP Bingo GOP Debate GOP Debate Bingo

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BREAKING: Rick Perry to end presidential bid today

NPR Politics has this:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is going to drop out of the Republican race for the White House, sources are telling The New York Times and CNN.

NPR has not independently confirmed the news.

We’ll pass along more as the story develops. Perry is expected to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. ET.

Interesting. Just yesterday, Perry spokesman Mark Miner told CBS News, “Pundits aren’t going to decide this race, the people of South Carolina are going to decide this race. We are in this primary to win it and will continue campaigning.”

Stay tuned, kids. 

Filed under Rick Perry I can haz prezidant 2012 Elections Election 2012 Politics government Republicans Republican GOP

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An open letter to Ron Paul acolytes:

Please stop assuming I will back Ron Paul because I’m progressive, support ending the drug war, and wish to abolish our current imperialist system of meddling in world affairs.

There are numerous reasons to not support Paul. I’m going straight to a sampling of the legislative record.

H.R.875 - Marriage Protection Act of 2011, co-sponsored by Paul and 12 other representatives, introduced March 2, 2011.

This bill sought to amend Title 28, Chapter 99 of the US Code to read:

"No court created by Act of Congress shall have any jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court shall have no appellate jurisdiction, to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution of, section 1738C."

Here’s Section 1738C:

"No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship."

That’s the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA], which is currently facing several constitutional challenges in federal court. Basically, Mr. Constitutionalist Ron Paul sponsored a bill to ban federal courts (including the Supreme Court) from having any kind of jurisdiction over constitutional review of DOMA. Eighth grade civics says differently. Remember that whole checks and balances thing?

H.R.358 - Protect Life Act, co-sponsored by Paul and 144 other representatives, introduced January 20th, 2011. Passed the US House October 13, 2011.

This bill sought to ban private health insurance companies from participating in federal exchanges if the company offered coverage to women for abortion or abortion-related services as part of an insurance policy, and also states if people receive federal healthcare subsidies to purchase private insurance plans, they cannot use the subsidy to purchase private comprehensive health insurance plans that cover abortion. If a woman wanted her insurance to cover abortion, she would have to purchase a separate policy to cover abortion - basically, an abortion rider. 

This bill would limit private enterprise from providing something consumers want. Seems contradictory to what a free-market denizen would advocate. But that’s not the worst part. This is:

And finally, it overrides protections for pregnant women under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. EMTALA was enacted in 1986 to ensure public access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay, including women in active labor. Under EMTALA, hospitals must stabilize a pregnant patient who, for example, is facing an emergency obstetric condition or life-threatening pregnancy and either treat her—including an emergency abortion—or if the hospital or staff objects, to transfer her to another facility that will treat her.

H.R. 358 overturns decades of precedent guaranteeing people access to lifesaving emergency care, including abortion care and says its ok that a pregnant woman fighting for her life be left to die.

Paul is an OB/GYN and knows emergencies can arise during pregnancy requiring termination, making his co-sponsorship of this bill especially shameful. Read Mikki Kendall’s Salon article, "Abortion Saved My Life", for an example of what happens when doctors refuse to treat women.

H.R.1095 - Freedom to Bank Act, sponsored by Paul with no co-sponsors, introduced March 15, 2011

The bill’s stated purpose:

"Sunset Federal laws and regulations which treat the American people like children by denying them the opportunity to make their own decision regarding control of their bank accounts and what type of information they wish to receive from their banks."

So what’s that mean? Well, Paul thinks “no creditor, depository institution, or credit union shall be required to provide periodic statements of account to any customer.” Your bank would no longer be required to provide account statements or other information about investments or accounts unless you specifically know to ask for it.

Do I even need to go into how bad this idea truly is?

H.R.2040 - National Right-to-Work Act, co-sponsored by Paul and 71 other representatives, introduced May 26, 2011

Right to work is one of those warm and fuzzy newspeak names for something quite terrible. Here’s information on right to work states:

  • The average worker in a right to work state makes about $5,333 a year less than workers in other states ($35,500 compared with $30,167).
  • Weekly wages are $72 greater in free-bargaining states than in right to work states ($621 versus $549).
  • 21 percent more people lack health insurance in right to work states compared to free-bargaining states.
  • Maximum weekly worker compensation benefits are $30 higher in free states ($609 versus $579) in right to work states.
  • According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of workplace deaths is 51 percent higher in states with right to work, where unions can’t speak up on behalf of workers.

Oh, and my own state of Wyoming is a right to work state. Currently, Wyoming has the highest wage gap of any state, and is one of the deadliest places to work in the nation. Ron Paul thinks it would be super cool if we enacted a policy that contributed to these conditions nationwide. Because freedom.

H.R.1830 - To authorize the interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk and milk products that are packaged for direct human consumption, sponsored by Ron Paul and three co-sponsors, introduced May 11, 2011

Wasn’t the milk pasteurization question settled awhile ago? Anyhow, Paul believes “a Federal department, agency, or court may not take any action (such as administrative, civil, criminal, or other actions) that would prohibit, interfere with, regulate, or otherwise restrict the interstate traffic of milk, or a milk product, that is unpasteurized and packaged for direct human consumption.” In other words, selling unpasteurized milk is a-OK because Salmonella, Listeria, Q-fever, and E.coli are just the risks you take in a free society.

H.R.1164 - National Language Act of 2011, co-sponsored by Paul and 22 other representatives, introduced March 17, 2011

This bill would declare the official language of the US to be English. It would require all government business be transacted in English, and further state that “no person has a right, entitlement, or claim to have the Government of the United States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services, or provide materials in any language other than English.” Income tax forms would no longer be available in Spanish or any other language, nor information on government programs or benefits. This would even include information on joining the military and could potentially include the right to an interpreter when arrested or conducting business in the courts, i.e. divorce.

Further, this would affect voting rights by repealing Section 1973AA–1A of the Voting Rights Act of 1965:

The Congress finds that, through the use of various practices and procedures, citizens of language minorities have been effectively excluded from participation in the electoral process. Among other factors, the denial of the right to vote of such minority group citizens is ordinarily directly related to the unequal educational opportunities afforded them resulting in high illiteracy and low voting participation.

The Congress declares that, in order to enforce the guarantees of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution, it is necessary to eliminate such discrimination by prohibiting these practices, and by prescribing other remedial devices.

A covered State or political subdivision for the purposes of this subsection if the Director of the Census determines:

  • That more than 5 percent of the citizens of voting age of such State or political subdivision are members of a single language minority and are limited-English proficient
  • More than 10,000 of the citizens of voting age of such political subdivision are members of a single language minority and are limited-English proficient
  • Or in the case of a political subdivision that contains all or any part of an Indian reservation, more than 5 percent of the American Indian or Alaska Native citizens of voting age within the Indian reservation are members of a single language minority and are limited-English proficient
  • And the illiteracy rate of the citizens in the language minority as a group is higher than the national illiteracy rate.

This bill will prevent people from voting. Period. And don’t give me any whining about voters who are not proficient in English don’t know anything about the candidates, issues, etc… First off, do you think native English speakers are well-informed? Second, even his supporters recognize the need for campaign materials in a language other than English. Check out Vota Ron Paul and this thread on the Ron Paul Forums. A few quotes:

  • From California: Los Angeles County has (before redistricting) 18 Congressional Districts. Spanish is heavily spoken (and advertised). It would be helpful to us here in the third world, if the campaign would create a slim jim in Spanish. It would be great if the campaign could provide an official translation. Without Spanish materials, we are limited in who we can recruit. 
  • From Wyoming: I am also interested in spanish campaign materials…there is a large population here…let no stone go unturned…
  • From Pennsylvania: This would be about as well recieved in the GOP primary as putting out official campaign materials to promote an end to the war on drugs. It’s probably something best handled at the grassroots level.

So there you have it, Ron Paul fans. Ron Paul is more concerned about my right to drink unpasteurized milk than whether I would potentially die after being denied life-saving care based on a doctor’s religious conviction. He’s more concerned that my bank not be forced to provide me a bank statement than if the Defense of Marriage Act violates the constitution he claims to live and breathe. This is just from 2011 - and what I could turn up in 60 minutes. Don’t prod me to make a weekend of it.

Sincerely,

Meg

P.S.: Check out the Family Protection Act from 1980, sponsored by Ron Paul with no co-sponsors. I did. And I was disgusted. The act provides no federal penalty or implementation of guidelines “for determining whether a private school has forfeited its tax-exempt status by the adoption of racially discriminatory policies.”

(Source: cognitivedissonance)

Filed under Ron Paul republican Republicans GOP legislation politics Election 2012 2012 Elections DOMA Abortion Pro-life Voting rights marriage equality women's rights minority rights gay rights I'm sick of this shit

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Wis. DOT says not to offer free IDs

Wisconsin Department of Transportation workers were instructed not to offer free state identification cards to people unless asked about them first, an internal memo released Wednesday revealed.

Critics of the state’s new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, including Democrats who fought its passage, said the emailed memo raised new concerns about voters being disenfranchised under the measure. The law passed the Republican-controlled Legislature and was signed by Gov. Scott Walker in May.

"Their line the entire time has been ‘This is not about preventing people access to the voting booth,’" said Scot Ross, leader of the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, which fought passage of the measure. “So why would they not be proclaiming from the mountaintops how to get an ID?”

The law requires voters to show certain photo identification at the polls, including a driver’s license or passport, in order to cast a ballot starting next year. Republicans said it was needed to combat voter fraud, while Democratic opponents said it would unfairly restrict access to the polls.

The free ID option was added to the bill as a way to address concerns that people without identification would be subject to an illegal poll tax by having to pay the $28 to obtain an ID.

The emphasis is mine. This is absolutely horrible. If it wasn’t obvious before that this was about voter disenfranchisement, it should be now.

Filed under Wisconsin Voter ID Voter disenfranchisement politics Scott Walker photo ID voting elections government

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This is just a little terrifying. If you’re still not scared, check out None dare call it stolen: Ohio, the election, and America’s servile press by Mark Crispin Miller.
In Wyoming, we use paper ballots which are scanned by machine. The ballots are saved, so if there’s ever any question about ballots, the originals can be checked against what the machines read. If the machines go down, the ballots can be run once the machines come up or counted by hand, as opposed to voting being delayed because of malfunctioning machines. 
I’m all for technology, but some things are better with a record. At least print a receipt for my vote, y’know? It’s worrisome that slot machines are more regulated than electronic voting machines.

This is just a little terrifying. If you’re still not scared, check out None dare call it stolen: Ohio, the election, and America’s servile press by Mark Crispin Miller.

In Wyoming, we use paper ballots which are scanned by machine. The ballots are saved, so if there’s ever any question about ballots, the originals can be checked against what the machines read. If the machines go down, the ballots can be run once the machines come up or counted by hand, as opposed to voting being delayed because of malfunctioning machines. 

I’m all for technology, but some things are better with a record. At least print a receipt for my vote, y’know? It’s worrisome that slot machines are more regulated than electronic voting machines.

Filed under voting voter fraud Ohio politics slot machines electronic voting machines elections election regulation

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Uncontested Elections Are an Affront to Democracy

ilyagerner:

Blue Virginia points to an analysis of the upcoming elections to the Virginia legislature:

I saw THIS list from VPAP outlining the contested elections in the House of Delegates for 2011.  I was stunned.  Of the 100 seats in the House of Delegates, ONLY FIFTEEN WILL BE CONTESTED BETWEEN A REPUBLICAN AND A DEMOCRAT.  That is an astounding 15% COMPETITION RATE.  Wow. […]

As a comparison, there will be 17 competitive state senate seats out of 40, at a clip of 42% competition rate.

Matt Yglesias makes a point for public financing; I think it’s important to not let party leaders off the hook, whatever the institutional impediments to competitive elections.

Let’s grant that gerrymandered districts produce difficult environments for the minority party. It’s unlikely that a Democrat will ever win a district with a R+20 PVI, so I understand the reluctance of party leaders to dedicate significant resources to long-shot campaigns. But this doesn’t excuse the inability of a major party to at least field a candidate, gather the requisite signatures, and place a name on the ballot.

Uncontested elections are the point at which the gap between democratic theory and democratic practice expands into a chasm of well-founded cynicism. Parties are supposed to aggregate interests, introduce an agenda, and then govern on the mandate generated by their election performance. In Virginia, the parties seem to be accomplishing this role in 15% of the Commonwealth, at most.

High-minded theory aside, failure to compete is a strategic error on the part of the party leadership. For starters, you just never know: maybe the incumbent in this secure gerrymandered district makes snuff films in his spare time. Who is going to find out about this unless some local media attention is given to the race? Only a competitive contest, even if it’s competitive in name only, will generate scrutiny of the incumbent.

Howard Dean was also right on this point. Electioneering is an institution. The party may lose the State Senate seat or the House of Delegates contest, but they’ll have developed a voter/volunteer list for the next competitive statewide election and built the party’s brand for the future.

We have a similar situation in Wyoming. Frequently we see a primary between two or three Republicans, nothing on the Democratic side. The Democratic party says no one wants to run. Hmmmm… perhaps some of these ideas could be helpful?

Filed under state elections election elections 2012 Wyoming Politics

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The New American Oligarchy

The endgame here, of course, is non-stop war. No longer will outside groups come and go every two years. Now, such groups will be running attack ads, sending out mailers, and deploying robo-calls year-round in what is going to become a perpetual campaign to sway voters and elect friendly lawmakers. “We’re definitely building a foundation,” was how American Crossroads president Steven Law put it.

This is what nowadays passes for the heart and soul of American democracy. It used to be that citizens in large numbers, mobilized by labor unions or political parties or a single uniting cause, determined the course of American politics. After World War II, a swelling middle class was the most powerful voting bloc, while, in those same decades, the working and middle classes enjoyed comparatively greater economic prosperity than their wealthy counterparts. Kiss all that goodbye. We’re now a country run by rich people.

Not surprisingly, political power has a way of following wealth. What that means is: you can’t understand how the rich seized control of American politics, and arguably American society, without understanding how a small group of Americans got so much money in the first place.

Citizens United will destroy America’s political future, of this I am completely convinced. There’s no stopgap on money influencing elections. This article is the epitaph for the political careers of Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson. Somewhere, Paul Wellstone is weeping.

Filed under Oligarchy America Citizens United Corporations are not people Elections politics Endgame

1 note

Yes, do that

Sketchy Ballots

POLLING CENTER | BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, MI, USA

(I am an election inspector for the 2010 Primary Election.)

Customer: “Why isn’t there a Tea Party choice on the ballot? I don’t want to vote Democrat or Republican!”

Me: “Ma’am, only the Democratic and Republican parties are having a primary.  You can’t vote for the Tea Party. You can choose not to vote the partisan section of the ballot, if you wish.”

Customer: “Well, how about if I just draw a big teapot on the ballot?”

via notalwaysright.com

Filed under Tea Party teabaggery fuckery voting elections Election 2010