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some people might call that chutzpah
June 27, 2011 10:01 AM   Subscribe

We have explained that the matching funds provision substantially burdens the speech of privately financed candidates and independent groups. ... We have explained that those burdens cannot be justified by a desire to “level the playing field.” In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down an Arizona law that provided public funds to candidates who have been outspent by either private funding or independent spending. Link to PDF of full decision.

Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns, and Money—writing that the decision "immediately leaps somewhere toward the top of the list of 'Worst Roberts Court Decisions'"—quotes from Elena Kagan's dissent:
In the usual First Amendment subsidy case, a person complains that the government declined to finance his speech, while bankrolling someone else’s; we must then decide whether the government differentiated between these speakers on a prohibited basis—because it preferred one speaker’s ideas to another’s. But the candidates bringing this challenge do not make that claim—because they were never denied a subsidy. Arizona, remember, offers to support any person running for state office. Petitioners here refused that assistance. So they are making a novel argument: that Arizona violated their First Amendment rights by disbursing funds to other speakers even though they could have received (but chose to spurn) the same financial assistance. Some people might call that chutzpah.

Indeed, what petitioners demand is essentially a right to quash others’ speech through the prohibition of a (universally available) subsidy program. Petitioners are able to convey their ideas without public financing—and they would prefer the field to themselves, so that they can speak free from response. To attain that goal, they ask this Court to prevent Arizona from funding electoral speech—even though that assistance is offered to every state candidate, on the same (entirely unobjectionable) basis. And this Court gladly obliges.
posted by gerryblog (105 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holleee shit. So they did it.

Assholes.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:02 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


That is a great quote from Kagan.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:04 AM on June 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Corporations of America.
posted by scody at 10:05 AM on June 27, 2011 [11 favorites]


Is this the most blatantly in-the-pocket-of-big-business court ever?
posted by maxwelton at 10:05 AM on June 27, 2011 [15 favorites]


Is this the most blatantly in-the-pocket-of-big-business court ever?

Yes.
posted by mightygodking at 10:09 AM on June 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


Oooh, let's guess which justices were on the 5, and which ones were the 4...
posted by contessa at 10:09 AM on June 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Mitch McConnell rightly bragged that no campaign would ever win or lose based on how much corporate or private financing it got. The only way this changes is if that statement changes as well.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:11 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm going to go ahead and mark this as the day that the American plutocracy shifted from de facto to de jure.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:12 AM on June 27, 2011 [47 favorites]


Yeah, the Supreme Court is one big reason why I keep voting for Democrats. Think Gore would have appointed Roberts and Alito?
posted by klangklangston at 10:12 AM on June 27, 2011 [28 favorites]


Clarence Thomas!
posted by box at 10:13 AM on June 27, 2011


This is mindbogglingly outrageous. Using the first amendment as an excuse to limit political speech.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:18 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mitch McConnell rightly bragged that no campaign would ever win or lose based on how much corporate or private financing it got. The only way this changes is if that statement changes as well.

If I remember my poly-sci textbook correctly (I think I still have to book somewhere if I need to find a citation later) there was a study that concluded that the amount of money spent on a campaign had, at best, ambiguous results on the outcome and that it generally doesn't matter.

The problem is that those running for office don't feel that way or at least feel a need to keep their spending competitive with their opponents. As a result, they spend more and more time fund-raising and less time governing and they'll end up getting influenced (or controlled outright in some cases I'm sure) but the people or group who contribute to their campaign.
posted by VTX at 10:19 AM on June 27, 2011


Klangklangston, that's my exact response when someone complains that there is no difference between the two major political parties.
posted by oddman at 10:20 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hopefully Mitch will still be of that opinion when Obama rolls out his one billion plus war chest next year without having to have spent a dime in the primaries...
posted by jim in austin at 10:26 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


there was a study that concluded that the amount of money spent on a campaign had, at best, ambiguous results on the outcome

If I remember correctly, an analysis done on the results of the 2004 US House of Representatives races showed that the variable most closely associated (positively) with victory was amount of campaign funds.

of course, this would be a lot more persuasive if I could actually find that article
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 10:28 AM on June 27, 2011


If our everyday logic was as twisted and tortuous as the conservative side of this court, we'd all be on Thorazine.

It's just amazing at how the goalposts are wherever they want them to be on that particular day.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:29 AM on June 27, 2011


Think Gore would have appointed Roberts and Alito?

While I may have ideological differences with Roberts and Alito, they both don't serve to piss me off nearly as regularly as Scalia and Thomas. I will cheer if either of them kick the bucket while Obama is still in office. Especially Thomas.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:34 AM on June 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't know. I think Roberts and Alito are as dangerous as Scalia and Thomas, since people underestimate how deeply devoted they are to the establishment and defense of the corporate state. They are Corporatism with a friendly face.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:40 AM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mister Fabulous, trust me very very much that Roberts is the worst justice on the bench. Scalia is doctinarie, and Thomas batshit-crazy conservative, but Roberts is fully and wholly conscience-free devoted to the Republican party machine. He has no ideology beyond the GOP.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:41 AM on June 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


Will there ever be a viable, national-level third party in the US to challenge the ruling oligarchy? Or have we become so inured to our loss of constitutional rights that this will never happen? I think I know the answer, but there's still a small part of me that hasn't lost hope.
posted by tommasz at 10:42 AM on June 27, 2011


If I remember correctly, an analysis done on the results of the 2004 US House of Representatives races showed that the variable most closely associated (positively) with victory was amount of campaign funds.

Darn it, now I'm thinking I might be wrong and spending has a slight positive correlation with winning or something. I'll have to dig out the book and see what study that information was based on when I get home. Give me about four hours. That information might out-of-date besides.

In any case, the point is that it doesn't matter whether or not campaign spending actually has an affect on the outcome. As long as candidates believe that spending more money helps them win elections, those with the biggest checkbooks will have more influence on our government than they should.
posted by VTX at 10:43 AM on June 27, 2011


Quiz: How many times have Yiddish words appeared in Supreme Court decisions? I bet, if they appear, they're mostly in the dissent.

This is a bookend decision to Citizens United v. FEC and a sad one at that. First allow corporate donations to saturate and distort electoral discourse then prevent subsidies for less than super wealthy candidates.
At least the court didn't institute a per word tax on public speeches.
posted by JustinFreid at 10:44 AM on June 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's not that money helps you win, it's who you are beholden to when you win.

It also discourages otherwise sane people from competing. Would you go up against a billion dollar warchest?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:45 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Will there ever be a viable, national-level third party in the US to challenge the ruling oligarchy?

No. Stop fantasizing about this. The only way change will ever happen in the US political system is from within, and in fact the last few years have shown exactly that: the reason the Tea Party has gotten so powerful is because its members show up at caucuses and vote in primaries.

There is no reason liberals can't do the same with the Democratic Party, except they're always bitching and moaning about how the purity of their vote shouldn't be tarnished or how the system should allow for more parties and greater diversity of opinion. Except that the system doesn't allow for it, because in a first-past-the-post system the most efficient number of parties is two, and you can't change that by complaining about it.
posted by mightygodking at 10:47 AM on June 27, 2011 [32 favorites]


And this is Arizona we're talking about here. Just how progressive could the campaign finance law be from the same people who brought you Sheriff Joe and SB 1070?
posted by zachlipton at 10:47 AM on June 27, 2011


Would you go up against a billion dollar warchest?

*Checks summer TV schedule*

Yeah, sure, let's do it!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:48 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stuff like this is why I had to give up paying attention to politics. I just wound up angry and relatively helpless.

I'd love a viable third party, but you'd need something like proportional representation to make it worthwhile. Otherwise, they just run ceaselessly and get nothing but "raising awareness." The other thing is, they need to take shots at smaller, local seats and build a history of governing rather than trotting someone out for president every 4 years, getting 0.5% of the vote, then disappearing again.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:49 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Scalia seems to be the motivating force behind a lot of the decisions. Alito and Roberts seem to go along with whatever position Scalia seems to promote. Thomas on the other hand seems to take the default Scalia position and make it even more of a one way ticket to crazytown.

I have to reserve a lot of ire for Kennedy, he seems like he disagrees with the Conservative faction a good deal of the time but then just goes along with them anyway. I'm not enough of a court watcher to know whether he's being lazy, or unprincipled or if they just have him brow-beaten but ultimately it doesn't matter because even though he tries to do the O'Connor thing of tying an ruling to a specific case he advances this current conservative jurisprudence to it's illogical ends.
posted by vuron at 10:49 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


there was a study that concluded that the amount of money spent on a campaign had, at best, ambiguous results on the outcome

The short answer is only that it's very, very hard to figure this stuff out.

One reason is that incumbent spending and challenger spending tend to be related; incumbents spend more when they're facing a quality challenger (who is likely to be well funded).

The other one is that challenger quality and challenger spending are tightly coupled. The overwhelming majority of House challengers are what we usually call "hopeless." They'd like to win, but their only realistic possibility for winning is if the incumbent dies or is caught in a very embarrassing scandal shortly before the election, because they're terrible candidates for the district. Imagine me -- literal me -- running for the House. The problem is that hardly anybody in their right mind will donate to a hopeless candidate, so they end up with near zero funding and spending unless they self-finance.

So anyway, for sure the more challengers have (and spend), the better they tend to do. But whether they're doing better because they have more money or whether they get more money because they're going to do better is, at best, very hard to parcel out. There are statistical ways to try to separate these effects, but they all make some pretty heroic assumptions.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:49 AM on June 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Using the first amendment as an excuse to limit political speech.

That's what the recent legal drift toward increasingly equating speech with spending power has been all about since the beginning. What else could it be about? When spending money becomes the equivalent of speech under the law, the economically powerful necessarily end up being entitled under the law to an unrestrained exercise of their spending power to dominate the public discourse. By having disproportionate influence over broadcast media and content distribution channels, the wealthiest interests are now effectively empowered to steer the public debate in whatever direction they wish, by crowding out and marginalizing diverging political views and opinions.

If every exercise in spending to promote an idea or political view qualifies as protected political speech, then the state ultimately has no power over any form of commercial speech, lobbying, or influence peddling, whether it conflicts with the public interest or not. That's not a sustainable long-term state of affairs and flies in the face of common sense and decades of previous jurisprudence.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:51 AM on June 27, 2011 [21 favorites]


Will there ever be a viable, national-level third party in the US to challenge the ruling oligarchy?

No. Stop fantasizing about this. The only way change will ever happen in the US political system is from within, and in fact the last few years have shown exactly that: the reason the Tea Party has gotten so powerful is because its members show up at caucuses and vote in primaries.

There is no reason liberals can't do the same with the Democratic Party, except they're always bitching and moaning about how the purity of their vote shouldn't be tarnished or how the system should allow for more parties and greater diversity of opinion. Except that the system doesn't allow for it, because in a first-past-the-post system the most efficient number of parties is two, and you can't change that by complaining about it.


Liberals vote in primaries. Do you remember Ned Lamont? It doesn't make a difference. Liberals voted in 2010 at the same rate they did in 2008. They still lost because moderates are the ones who punish Democrats for failure, not the liberals everyone loves to condescendingly preach to.

Moderates/Centrists are what is wrong with this country and prevent change. It's tough to convince them though, blaming the hippies is always more easy and satisfying.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:58 AM on June 27, 2011 [18 favorites]


Is this the worst Supreme Court we've ever had?
posted by serazin at 11:00 AM on June 27, 2011


Liberals vote in primaries. Do you remember Ned Lamont?

Oh my god a liberal primary challenger in Massachusetts? Who, let's be honest, wasn't even that screamingly liberal?

You're taking one easy example and then comparing it erroneously to the Tea Party, who ousted sitting Senators in purple and even blue states. Where's the liberal equivalent of that happening? When is Heath Shuler getting primaried? Why didn't Blanche Lincoln get turfed? Et cetera.

Liberals voted in 2010 at the same rate they did in 2008. They still lost because moderates are the ones who punish Democrats for failure

No, they lost because conservatives voted in greater numbers than usual for a midterm election and liberals didn't.
posted by mightygodking at 11:03 AM on June 27, 2011



You're taking one easy example and then comparing it erroneously to the Tea Party, who ousted sitting Senators in purple and even blue states


See: 20 years of media rightward drift, fox news, etc. etc. etc. There is no countervailing liberal narrative present in the us. period.
posted by lalochezia at 11:08 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this the worst Supreme Court we've ever had?
Nah. Dred Scott was worse.

<still_angry>and Bush v. Gore</still_angry>
posted by Flunkie at 11:13 AM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh my god a liberal primary challenger in Massachusetts?

Connecticut, not Massachusetts.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:14 AM on June 27, 2011



You're taking one easy example and then comparing it erroneously to the Tea Party, who ousted sitting Senators in purple and even blue states. Where's the liberal equivalent of that happening? When is Heath Shuler getting primaried? Why didn't Blanche Lincoln get turfed? Et cetera.


We ousted Arlen Specter here in PA for a vastly superior real Democratic candidate. This kind of thing happens in primaries all the time and despite popular delusions, was not in fact invented by the tea party.

No, they lost because conservatives voted in greater numbers than usual for a midterm election and liberals didn't.

The dropoff was heavier among moderates than liberals. Not everything can be solved with hippy punching. Sometimes you have to actually convince moderates you know how to govern which is tough with unending war and high unemployment and tax cuts for the rich.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:15 AM on June 27, 2011


Is this the worst Supreme Court we've ever had? -- serazin

Not sure, but the Taney Court might have this one beat. While Taney decided The Amistad in a way we'd likely approve, that court did decide Dred Scott, quite possibly the most reprehensible decision of all time.
posted by Fezboy! at 11:16 AM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, and for fuck's sake, the left and the unions did their best to get rid of Lincoln but were beaten down by the Democratic power structure.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:16 AM on June 27, 2011


Damn you, Flunkie!
posted by Fezboy! at 11:17 AM on June 27, 2011


We ousted Arlen Specter here in PA for a vastly superior real Democratic candidate...

...Who was then roundly defeated by Pat Toomey in the general election.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:18 AM on June 27, 2011


Gently favorite-ing FxG. I always thought of the great center as the Opportunity for good args and evidence to do their magic, rather than the great Obstacle - but since I'm not sure of anything these days, I'll give this some thought.
posted by drowsy at 11:18 AM on June 27, 2011


...Who was then roundly defeated by Pat Toomey in the general election.

And the witch in Delaware lost too, but that's the "tea party method" that is supposed to save us.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:20 AM on June 27, 2011


To my layman's understanding of the constitution, this is just a terrible ruling. The Court is saying that matching campaign financing imposes a "burden" on privately funded candidates. This really isn't at all the same as restricting free speech. It seems to me equivalent to saying you can't boycott a company because of something that the CEO said, because this would put a substantial "burden" on his free speech. Just because there are consequences to free speech doesn't mean that it's being restricted in any way, shape or form.

And they are saying that this is worseDavis, wherein a candidate was actually capped at campaign spending i.e. an actual restriction on speech.

I can see the argument that the Court is making about how the matching funds can be triggered by third party ads that a candidate never wanted in the first place. But that should just make it a bad law, not unconstitutional.
posted by Edgewise at 11:21 AM on June 27, 2011


I meant
worse than Davis
not
worseDavis
posted by Edgewise at 11:23 AM on June 27, 2011


Is this the most blatantly in-the-pocket-of-big-business court ever?

The Lochner era is the current reigning champion in that regard, but the current court is giving it a run for its money.

How many times have Yiddish words appeared in Supreme Court decisions? I bet, if they appear, they're mostly in the dissent.

NEA v. Finley has chutzpah used in a concurrence by Scalia, joined by Thomas (heh).

Checking a few other Yiddish words commonly used in English didn't get any hits. It seems to be pretty rare.
posted by jedicus at 11:24 AM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Slavery isn't dead in America, it has simply figured out how to vote.
posted by Kale Slayer at 11:27 AM on June 27, 2011


Terrible, terrible decision.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:31 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's not a sustainable long-term state of affairs

Alas, to paraphrase Warren Buffett, the political situation can remain unsustainable longer than we can continue to agitate against it. See also feudalism, slavery.
posted by enn at 11:31 AM on June 27, 2011


And the witch in Delaware lost too, but that's the "tea party method" that is supposed to save us.

Except the Tea Party has actually gotten people elected to Congress, not just the low hanging fruit of getting a candidate to win the party's nomination. In fact, in attempting to marginalize Spector (who was largely willing to play ball with the Democrats at the committee level to save his own political skin) and promote a more quote-unquote 'Liberal' candidate, you have in fact allowed a former president of the Club for Growth to ascend to the Senate. It's the 'cut off your nose to spite your face' strategy of electoral politics, and it makes no sense. Liberals didn't win anything, they in-fact lost a largely controllable seat to a right-wing libertarian loon.

So when I hear "Moderates/Centrists are what is wrong with this country and prevent change", it drives me fucking nuts. The answer to populist, fringe political candidates on the right is not more populist, fringe political candidates on the left.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:34 AM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh my god a liberal primary challenger in Massachusetts?

You know, when you want to play hard-nosed, tough-minded, unsentimental teller of hard truths and master of realpolitik on the Internets, you might try a bit harder to keep your states straight.
posted by enn at 11:35 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Will there ever be a viable, national-level third party in the US to challenge the ruling oligarchy?

No. Stop fantasizing about this.


This. Why a hypothetical viable national-level third party wouldn't ALSO be a part of the "ruling oligarchy" just like the other two is beyond me.

Moderates/Centrists are what is wrong with this country and prevent change. It's tough to convince them though, blaming the hippies is always more easy and satisfying.

Here's the problem with that: "moderate/centrist" isn't a platform -- it's just a label describing how far someone is into a single wing of a binary political structure. There's always someone more extreme Left/Right than you, leaving basically everyone who isn't personally shifting the Overton window a "moderate." You know: a moderate liberal is a liberal who doesn't believe 9/11 was an inside job; a moderate conservative is still Pat Buchanan.

So complaining about moderates is for Conservatives and their dwindling voter base; the rest of us are going to live or die under a big tent, and "Liberaler-than-thou" is kind of the opposite of that ... easy and satisfying though it may be.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:37 AM on June 27, 2011


the rest of us are going to live or die under a big tent

That's what you've been doing for decades. Right now, I think the smart money's on "die."
posted by enn at 11:40 AM on June 27, 2011


The two party system is an artifact of plurality voting systems. Reform the electoral system if you'd like to see this change.
posted by knave at 11:41 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kagan's Dissent = Money Quote.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 11:43 AM on June 27, 2011


If we could get from the electoral college to the Alternative Voting system recently shut down in Britain, we'd be over this mess in a few electoral cycles.

I think.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:47 AM on June 27, 2011


I'm sometimes surprised that some lone nut hasn't taken it into his own hands to force the appointment of a fifth liberal Justice.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 11:49 AM on June 27, 2011


Will there ever be a viable, national-level third party in the US to challenge the ruling oligarchy?

No, we don't have a Parliamentary-style legislature, so there is no incentive to form something like a coalition government.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:50 AM on June 27, 2011


The thing that most amazes me is that these people are going to be honestly surprised and offended when the class war starts and poor are baying for the blood of the rich.
posted by quin at 11:53 AM on June 27, 2011


I'm sometimes surprised that some lone nut hasn't taken it into his own hands to force the appointment of a fifth liberal Justice.

If anything, "some lone nut" is more likely to target one of the "liberal" Justices, hate and paranoia being more of a "conservative" thing. But seriously, this isn't the sort of thing anyone should be wishing for, regardless of their politics.
posted by tommasz at 11:56 AM on June 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


The thing that most amazes me is that these people are going to be honestly surprised and offended when the class war starts and poor are baying for the blood of the rich.

There won't be any class war. That's liberal fantasy talk. We, as a nation, are far, far, far too cowed for that now, or any time in the foreseeable future.

We have Swanson's dinners and cheap DVD's. We have gasoline. We have McDonald's and Taco Bell and soda wars. We like to think we can one day "make it big" and live like the Kardashians.

I have been sadly bemused by everything transpiring in Libya, of late -- how we decry the government for using military force on its own dissenting citizens.

What would the US do differently, I wonder?
posted by kaseijin at 11:57 AM on June 27, 2011


I never thought I'd see the day the Supreme Court made a decision based on Worthington's Law.

I'm not quite sure what they do for an encore, other than declare that corporations are not only people, but that they have the right to vote,with each vote weighted to gross earnings.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:04 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Frankly, can't Congress make a law to overturn this? What can we do to change Citizens United and this?
posted by frecklefaerie at 12:08 PM on June 27, 2011


Christ, this one makes even less sense than Citizens United.

I need a hot bath.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:08 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's what you've been doing for decades. Right now, I think the smart money's on "die."

Then good luck with the Republicans-in-2008 approach, I guess, because Liberal-Palin ain't gonna get elected either. Petulantly stamping your feet and complaining "But I'm right" isn't enough.
posted by Amanojaku at 12:11 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Frankly, can't Congress make a law to overturn this? What can we do to change Citizens United and this?

That's the problem. The answer is, no, not really. If the court rules something unconstitutional, they are binding lawmakers' hands. Congress could pass a law that it knows won't be considered constitutional and then force the matter back before the court for reconsideration. But only subsequent court precedent really effects whether or not congress is constitutionally empowered to regulate in a way the big court previously ruled unconstitutional.

So until the court changes its mind, this puts actual hard limits on congress' legal authority to set up public campaign financing systems. Unless there's a constitutional amendment clarifying that congress has this authority. But that's basically a non-starter in the Washington we've got.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:15 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


If we could get from the electoral college to the Alternative Voting system recently shut down in Britain, we'd be over this mess in a few electoral cycles.

Because immensely wealthy assholes would never figure out how to game a new system to their advantage.
posted by aught at 12:16 PM on June 27, 2011


Because immensely wealthy assholes would never figure out how to game a new system to their advantage.

No but at least people can't put Bush in power voting for Nader.
posted by Talez at 12:20 PM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


The reasoning here severely devalues the very idea of free speech. It seems to assume that the content of a political ad is utterly irrelevant and that all that matters is the number of ads. It assumes that my free speech buying 100 TV ads is devalued if the government helps my opponent buy 100 TV ads. It assumes that my speech is infringed upon if someone is given the opportunity to refute it.

Instead of seeing the public square as an opportunity to evaluate speech and arguments on their merits, this decision treats speech as a fungible commodity. It's not enough for me to present my argument, I must be allowed the liberty to drown out my opponents. What counts is not the content of my speech, but the sheer amount of it.
posted by straight at 12:24 PM on June 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


"Will there ever be a viable, national-level third party in the US to challenge the ruling oligarchy?"

Certainly, if you're willing to lead the charge. No one is going to come and save you.

I still say, however, that everyone who stays home from voting should instead go and vote for a write-in or third-party candidate. 51% of a 40% voter turnout sends much less of a message than 32% of a 90% voter turnout.

But we also need to eliminate first-past-the-post voting.

It's going to either take a lot of work now, or a lot of work and a lot of guns later. Your choice.
posted by Eideteker at 12:38 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because immensely wealthy assholes would never figure out how to game a new system to their advantage.

No but at least people can't put Bush in power voting for Nader.


That's what you get for voting for Nader when the polling shows that the two candidates are neck and neck in a critical state.

Our votes create outcomes. People who vote wishfully get bad results. People who vote assuming that their vote will change the outcome get good results.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:50 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's going to either take a lot of work now, or a lot of work and a lot of guns later. Your choice.

Your dedication to democracy is amazing. If you cannot convince your fellow man to agreeing to your "more democratic" (read: "help candidates I like") voting system, you will destroy democracy.

There's nothing worse than the absolute fallacy that "gee if everyone knew the facts they'd agree with me!"

You have to win this battle at the ballot box, brother. If you try and destroy democracy with violence, you are not helping.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:53 PM on June 27, 2011


This decision seems to fly in the face of the concept of "the remedy to bad speech is more speech" that the Court has historically used.
posted by wierdo at 12:59 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


While not a total remedy to restrictions, the next fight with a chance of survival is going to have to be stronger sunshine laws and requirements that all ads say who paid for them. There are some requirements like that but they need to be clearer.

Going back to what I said earlier, the way this stops is only if and when Candidate A gets a $50,000 ad buy from Company X and that's bad because Candidate B can then say "Candidate A takes money from Company X!" And honestly I think that (haha yes I know) a candidate with integrity can make a very good campaign about that: "I will report every single cent I am given and who it's from."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:08 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Knave, Mr. BlueHorse has said reform the electoral system repeatedly for years.

Ironmouth, how can you win at the ballot box if nobody actually KNOWS the facts?

We've been lied to repeatedly--continually--and you're kidding yourself if you think there's any power left in the hands of the electorate.

Oligarchy it is, folks.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:09 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Knave, Mr. BlueHorse has said reform the electoral system repeatedly for years.

Ironmouth, how can you win at the ballot box if nobody actually KNOWS the facts?

We've been lied to repeatedly--continually--and you're kidding yourself if you think there's any power left in the hands of the electorate.

Oligarchy it is, folks.


At its core your argument is this: The other voters are stupider than I am. They cannot see through the "lies" that I can see through. As evidence for this proposition, you cite the fact that your candidates do not win.

Let me gently suggest that telling the voters that you want to convince that they are stupid and that you are smarter than them isn't a productive strategy. You know what, they are perfectly capable of making rational voting decisions on their own. They do it all the time. Trying to change the rules won't make things more competitive if you still do not convince the voters to vote for you. You haven't done that.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:17 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


And the witch in Delaware lost too, but that's the "tea party method" that is supposed to save us.

Except the Tea Party has actually gotten people elected to Congress, not just the low hanging fruit of getting a candidate to win the party's nomination. In fact, in attempting to marginalize Spector (who was largely willing to play ball with the Democrats at the committee level to save his own political skin) and promote a more quote-unquote 'Liberal' candidate, you have in fact allowed a former president of the Club for Growth to ascend to the Senate. It's the 'cut off your nose to spite your face' strategy of electoral politics, and it makes no sense. Liberals didn't win anything, they in-fact lost a largely controllable seat to a right-wing libertarian loon.

So when I hear "Moderates/Centrists are what is wrong with this country and prevent change", it drives me fucking nuts. The answer to populist, fringe political candidates on the right is not more populist, fringe political candidates on the left.


Again, primary victories leading to general election wins were not invented last week. Obama himself was overcoming establishment candidates and often running to the left. The tea party strategy, despite some general success, allows for primary candidates to fail.

IT HAS TO, because when you run to the extremes you are going to lose sometimes. You can't simultaneously punch the hippies for being purists and complain that they don't act like the tea party. That is what the tea party does.

Arlen was losing to Toomey, probably worse than Sestak. The only reason Arlen became a Democrat was because he was running away from a primary with Toomey in pants shitting fear. The Republicans did exactly what you want the Democrats not to do, they ran a more extreme candidate and won.

(And Sestak isn't fucking fringe, you don't know what the hell you are talking about)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:25 PM on June 27, 2011


"Your dedication to democracy is amazing. If you cannot convince your fellow man to agreeing to your "more democratic" (read: "help candidates I like") voting system, you will destroy democracy.

There's nothing worse than the absolute fallacy that "gee if everyone knew the facts they'd agree with me!"

You have to win this battle at the ballot box, brother. If you try and destroy democracy with violence, you are not helping.
"

You seem to be misreading his comment: He's not advocating violence if people disagree with him, he's predicting violence if the current system stands (at least to my reading), with the combined implication that his remedy will triumph.

Similar meaning to "A stitch in time saves nine," essentially.

Whether that's an accurate prediction or not, I don't think Eideteker was making any sort of threat.
posted by klangklangston at 1:26 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth, you are advocating just a variation on Worthington's Law: equating "gets more votes" with "better".
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:27 PM on June 27, 2011


"Arlen was losing to Toomey, probably worse than Sestak. The only reason Arlen became a Democrat was because he was running away from a primary with Toomey in pants shitting fear. The Republicans did exactly what you want the Democrats not to do, they ran a more extreme candidate and won."

Arlen had a better chance of defeating Toomey according to Nate Silver's roundup of the polls, and Sestak wasn't necessarily all that more liberal than an Arlen that didn't need to caucus with Republicans. Arlen was always moderate for Republicans and broke with his party moderately often — it was a mistake to back Sestak in the primary.

This doesn't mean that Arlen still wasn't a giant douche on a regular basis, but since a lot of electoral politics is the strategy of minimizing harms, holding noses and voting for Arlen would have had a better outcome.
posted by klangklangston at 1:29 PM on June 27, 2011


(I was referring to the potential primary matchup, in which he would have obviously gotten clobbered.)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2011


When discussing whether or not it was a mistake to back Sestak over Spector in the Democratic primary, I don't think it's very meaningful to compare Sestak-versus-Toomey polling in the general election to Spector-versus-Toomey polling in the Republican primary.
posted by Flunkie at 1:38 PM on June 27, 2011


I would rather lose trying to elect a Democrat than "win" and elect a Republican though, is the bottom line.

That is how the tea party looks at the world too, they just have funhouse mirror glasses that distort what a true Republican should be.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:39 PM on June 27, 2011


Flunkie, this is the conversation I'm interested in:

The only way change will ever happen in the US political system is from within, and in fact the last few years have shown exactly that: the reason the Tea Party has gotten so powerful is because its members show up at caucuses and vote in primaries.

The reason I'm on Sestak/Toomey/Spectre is that it shows that just primarying someone out does not determine if you win or lose. The Republicans did it and won, the Democrats did it and lost. Liberals backed Sestak, Republicans backed Toomey. Moderates and Centrists decided the winner and they get the blame.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:43 PM on June 27, 2011


Yeah, that's great, but all I'm saying is that maybe you should say that, instead of additionally saying "Arlen was losing to Toomey, probably worse than Sestak".

Because "Arlen was losing to Toomey, probably worse than Sestak" is just silly when you are "referring to the potential primary matchup, in which (Arlen) would have obviously gotten clobbered".
posted by Flunkie at 1:46 PM on June 27, 2011


The entire story of that election was the primary, the potential Republican one and the actual Democratic one Arlen's turncoating led to. It's local to me and I followed it very closely so I think I assumed you guys were on the same page on that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:48 PM on June 27, 2011


And once Spector decided to participate in a Democratic primary instead of a Republican primary, his polling numbers relative to Toomey in a Republican primary became completely irrelevant.

Especially so when you've attempted to use them to show that it wasn't a mistake to back Sestak. Spector versus Toomey in the Republican primary is completely irrelevant to whether Spector versus Toomey in the general election was a better choice than Sestak versus Toomey in the general election.

I understand that you think that it was not a mistake to back Sestak over Spector. I am not opining one way or the other on that. I'm just saying that "Arlen was losing to Toomey, probably worse than Sestak", when what you really mean is "Arlen was losing to Toomey in a primary that he would never have to be involved with worse than Sestak was losing to Toomey in the general election", is just silly. At best.

This is the last thing I will say on this subject.
posted by Flunkie at 1:55 PM on June 27, 2011


IT HAS TO, because when you run to the extremes you are going to lose sometimes. You can't simultaneously punch the hippies for being purists and complain that they don't act like the tea party. That is what the tea party does.

Please don't act like the Tea Party! It hurts the GOP in so many ways, forcing it to take positions, like the Ryan budget, that are really not helping in any way. It is a suicide pill. The GOP is not in a good position, long-term.

Listen, what helps is being a big part of a winning candidate's election. Not by primarying out people you don't like for being pure enough. The best example is the wicked witch of Delaware, who got slaughtered. The GOP establishment candidate would have walked with that seat.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:56 PM on June 27, 2011


And once Spector decided to participate in a Democratic primary instead of a Republican primary, his polling numbers relative to Toomey in a Republican primary became completely irrelevant.

Especially so when you've attempted to use them to show that it wasn't a mistake to back Sestak. Spector versus Toomey in the Republican primary is completely irrelevant to whether Spector versus Toomey in the general election was a better choice than Sestak versus Toomey in the general election.


You're talking right past me, and I have already clarified the argument I was referring to, which was the idea that primarying out people was the key to Republican success and Democratic failure. It is not as simple as that, which is why I pointed out Arlen was losing either primary.

Sestak was not a mistake because he is a better man and a better politician than either of his opponents, but the polling was never rosy.

what you really mean is "Arlen was losing to Toomey in a primary that he would never have to be involved with worse than Sestak was losing to Toomey in the general election", is just silly. At best.

We understand now that wasn't what I was saying, right?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:00 PM on June 27, 2011


(Also I think Toomey will be going the way of Santorum as soon as he is up in a non Republican wave year)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:01 PM on June 27, 2011


NYRB had a terrific article from Ronald Dworkin which dealt with this case in part. Too bad it's hidden behind a paywall.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:08 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


mightygodking: The only way change will ever happen in the US political system is from within, and in fact the last few years have shown exactly that: the reason the Tea Party has gotten so powerful is because its members show up at caucuses and vote in primaries.

There is no reason liberals can't do the same with the Democratic Party
[...]

This is basically true, but practically it neglects to notice that the Tea Party is not actually all that large, that it has a by-far disproportionate influence compared to its size because it has a pseudo-news network reporting on everything it does in a positive light. The Daily Show/Colbert Report's Rally to Restore Sanity thingy easily outdrew Glenn Beck's thingy in terms of raw attendance, but for the Daily Show comedy comes first and political influence seldom.

This means it takes a much larger number of other people getting fed up to have the same societal visibility as the Tea Party. Remember that there were huge anti-war protests under Bush that we never heard about.
posted by JHarris at 2:25 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


"You seem to be misreading his comment: He's not advocating violence if people disagree with him, he's predicting violence if the current system stands (at least to my reading), with the combined implication that his remedy will triumph.

Similar meaning to "A stitch in time saves nine," essentially.

Whether that's an accurate prediction or not, I don't think Eideteker was making any sort of threat."


Yes, Ironmouth completely misread my comment. Possibly because he saw an opening for his agenda/soapbox (where there was none) and leapt at it? Whoever he's arguing with, it ain't me.
posted by Eideteker at 2:30 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


But, you know, have fun, brodude.
posted by Eideteker at 2:32 PM on June 27, 2011


Sestak was not a mistake because he is a better man and a better politician than either of his opponents, but the polling was never rosy.

Specter had a chance in the general against Toomey--he polled better than Sestak. That's not a better politician. You gotta win first.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:38 PM on June 27, 2011


Let's just assume I don't mean better in the way Bush is better than Kerry or Gore, okay?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:57 PM on June 27, 2011


I mean that was plainly obvious but as Eideteker says, have fun.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:58 PM on June 27, 2011


NYRB had a terrific article from Ronald Dworkin which dealt with this case in part. Too bad it's hidden behind a paywall.


Here it is un-paywalled. [PDF]

It is a great article!
posted by theartandsound at 5:06 PM on June 27, 2011


Sorry, here is the link. [PDF]
posted by theartandsound at 5:10 PM on June 27, 2011


Sestak was not a mistake because he is a better man and a better politician than either of his opponents, but the polling was never rosy.

Well, chalk up another moral victory for the Democratic party!

You don't seam to realize that politics is a zero-sum game. Toomey won, Sestak lost and Specter got left on the side of the road.. That's all there is to it. It was defeat snatched from the jaws of victory, and the amazing thing is you seem to be actually proud of it.

IT HAS TO, because when you run to the extremes you are going to lose sometimes. You can't simultaneously punch the hippies for being purists and complain that they don't act like the tea party. That is what the tea party does.

I'll punch hippies all damn day if they continue try and put forth un-electable Democratic candidates and use 'Well, the Tea Party does it' as an excuse. The Tea Party is, in the long term, going to completely fracture the Republican Party. You'll see it in the near term if Bachmann starts to pick up any sort of steam against Romney in the next election. You can't split your supposed 'core' constituents down purely ideological lines and expect to come out of the nomination process with everyone all happy and on board. It's poisonous to the party, and the Republicans will find that out soon enough. Don't try and bring the same shit to the Democratic party and expect the adults not to pitch a stink.

(And Sestak isn't fucking fringe, you don't know what the hell you are talking about)

Well, he's not sitting in the Senate, now is he? May not be fringe, but sure as hell wasn't electable as I think the evidence bears out.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 7:38 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, Sestak was never even close to Toomey.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 7:58 AM on June 28, 2011


Dude, for fuck's sake, you are still talking past me.

I have already clarified the argument I was referring to, which was the idea that primarying out people was the key to Republican success and Democratic failure. It is not as simple as that, which is why I pointed out Arlen was losing either primary.

The general is not relevant to my point, beyond establishing that primarying someone out is not an automatic measure of success.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:09 AM on June 28, 2011


Well, he's not sitting in the Senate, now is he? May not be fringe, but sure as hell wasn't electable as I think the evidence bears out.

He is plenty electable in a non-Republican wave year. Toomey is much less electable in normal circumstances. Toomey is the more extreme candidate.

It was defeat snatched from the jaws of victory, and the amazing thing is you seem to be actually proud of it.

Sure, it would have been a victory if your victory conditions involve electing a career Republican. The primary was a victory because it unseated a sitting Republican senator. Toomey will be easier to take down in a future general than Spectre (Fake D) would be.

Again, Sestak is a standard issue Democrat, not some crazy hippy liberal. We have reached the true extremes of centrist idiocy when the only thing that matters is winning, even if you are winning for Republicans.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:16 AM on June 28, 2011


Again, Sestak is a standard issue Democrat, not some crazy hippy liberal. We have reached the true extremes of centrist idiocy when the only thing that matters is winning, even if you are winning for Republicans.

That's because the other party is filled with maniacs, dude. It ain't a win when Toomey is in. Specter is better than Toomey, and more likely to get elected than Sestak ever was. Therefore the best choice is Specter. This is simple optimization strategy. Its because in a democratic system, we, by definition never get exactly what we want. We must compromise with our fellow citizens because they have differing ideas than we do and they have a vote too.

Let's look at Specter:

--voted against Bork
--voted to not convict Clinton
--pro choice
--against warrentless wiretapping of U.S. Citizens.
--voted for the Obama Stimulus
--Called for repeal of DOMA
--Supported affirmative action
--Voted for health care reform
--introduced legislation to make video surveillance to be considered a wire tap.


Negatives--That crap about the Eagles and the tapes New England made of practices. LOL.

But still, his actions were damn good on a lot of key issues.

And Toomey is literally cro-magnon. The guy believes things were better when we were run by Huk the Destroyer in the Mesolithic: "low taxes, behead enemies." This is why we have to claim the middle now. Because that is the key to moving the entire thing to the left later. Once the stone-agers have been discredited by the mass of the population, the frame moves leftward. Then you agitate to the left. Not when your group is in deadly combat with the most backward and evil force on the planet.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:31 AM on June 29, 2011


mightygodking: The only way change will ever happen in the US political system is from within, and in fact the last few years have shown exactly that: the reason the Tea Party has gotten so powerful is because its members show up at caucuses and vote in primaries.

There is no reason liberals can't do the same with the Democratic Party[...]


The fact that some people on the left think that the Tea Party is a good thing for the GOP does not make it so. It is an anchor and they are fighting not being dragged down.

Case in point--the whipping they've gotten over their vote to dismember Medicare.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:32 AM on June 29, 2011


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