The Two Electorates
June 2, 2014 12:30 PM   Subscribe

How the Democrats Can Avoid Going Down This November: The new science of Democratic survival
"Accordingly, field operations have been transformed from busywork for volunteers into the most rigorously scientized corner of the trade."
posted by davidstandaford (64 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just started reading, but this: "Beyond the narcissism implied—the suggestion that any ballot without his name on it lacks a certain magnetism—Obama was onto something. "

I have no idea where that interpretation is coming from. People find national races more exciting and important for whatever reason. Nothing to do with the specific candidate.

Okay, back to reading.
posted by brundlefly at 12:36 PM on June 2, 2014 [7 favorites]


If it's so goddamn scientific then why do I literally get over 10 phonecalls a day from the DNC meant for the Democratic Party activist with my same last name that lives three doors down from me?!? No, Michael doesn't live here, he's down the block. I swear I'm going to vote a strait batshit/teabagger ticket in the next election if this doesn't stop, people!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:36 PM on June 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


FTFA:
“We know how to win national elections,” [President Obama] told the crowd [of governors]. “But all too often it’s during these midterms where we end up getting ourselves into trouble, because I guess we don’t think it’s sexy enough.”

Beyond the narcissism implied—the suggestion that any ballot without his name on it lacks a certain magnetism—Obama was onto something.


Does not follow. In fact, very few national elections have had Obama's name on them. But, whatever, blame Obama for something if you need to, making-it-up-as-you-go article-writing-guy.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:37 PM on June 2, 2014 [16 favorites]


If it's so goddamn scientific then why do I literally get over 10 phonecalls a day from the DNC meant for the Democratic Party activist with my same last name that lives three doors down from me?!? No, Michael doesn't live here, he's down the block. I swear I'm going to vote a strait batshit/teabagger ticket in the next election if this doesn't stop, people!

Because they need to know exactly how many calls a day is necessary to get people to completely reverse their voting patterns? That wasn't the DNC.
posted by clockzero at 1:13 PM on June 2, 2014 [15 favorites]


I swear, I want to shake the author of this and tell him to stop over-thinking it.

How can the Democrats win in November?

Talk about the victories. Talk about the good things that have come from Obamacare. Counteract Republican lies with facts:

5.4 million people now have health insurance thanks to Obamacare.
Three million of them? Children.
Do you know what that means?
Fewer sick people, which is better for everyone.
More people who can have preventative medical care, which is safer for everyone.
Fewer people who will wait until they have a medical crisis to go to the doctor and have to rely on taxpayer dollars to get better.
Which is cheaper for everyone.
In the long term, it's less of a strain on our healthcare system.

Because we live in a goddamn civilization, and everyone is dependent on everyone else. Take care of those who need help and down the road you have fewer people who need it!

Talk about Republican obstructionism. The Republicans don't want you to have health care. Or clean air. Or clean water. Or safe schools. They're more interested in making money than making sure we wipe out poverty. Etc., etc. More interested in protecting the people who shoot up schools than protecting our children from dying in a hail of bullets. More interested in persecuting two people who love each other. More interested in making up stories about religion being under attack to distract from their complete inability to get anything done to help America.

I do not understand why Democrats spend so little time talking about what they've done right, and so much time playing passive defense. Go out and kick the fucking ball onto the R's side of the field. Let them do something other than standing athwart history yelling "Stop!"
posted by zarq at 1:26 PM on June 2, 2014 [118 favorites]


Sorry about the rant. It's just damned frustrating to see them playing Charlie Brown all the time to Lucy and her football.
posted by zarq at 1:28 PM on June 2, 2014 [19 favorites]


That wasn't the DNC.

I just figured Joe Biden was trying to hit on my wife and using "fundraising" as a smokescreen.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:35 PM on June 2, 2014 [14 favorites]



How the Democrats Can Avoid Going Down This November:

Talk about the victories. . . .

Talk about Republican obstructionism. . . .


They should also keep their feet inside the window and their big heads off the ground.
posted by Herodios at 1:39 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Productivity has been tabulated, too. Surveying a decade’s worth of experimental research for the 2008 edition of their book Get Out the Vote, Yale professors Don Green and Alan Gerber calculated that a typical canvasser can complete six encounters per hour.

Don Green isn't at Yale anymore.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:48 PM on June 2, 2014


Ignore me. I read more.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:53 PM on June 2, 2014


I do not understand why Democrats spend so little time talking about what they've done right, and so much time playing passive defense. Go out and kick the fucking ball onto the R's side of the field. Let them do something other than standing athwart history yelling "Stop!"

Because they have corporate masters, too, and increasingly the people with money don't really care who's in power at any given time because anyone who wants to win an election needs lots of that money?

People complain a lot about the Dems lacking a backbone. I've complained about it myself. At some point I think we need to stop assuming that they really can't see these issues as clearly as we do and instead conclude that there are largely-invisible forces which cause Democrats to be so sedate and conservative.
posted by clockzero at 2:00 PM on June 2, 2014 [16 favorites]


They should also keep their feet inside the window and their big heads off the ground.

Que?
posted by Sangermaine at 2:02 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Huh, so *both* the Democrats and Republicans are going to have a hard time this election?
posted by rhizome at 2:04 PM on June 2, 2014


zarq: "I do not understand why Democrats spend so little time talking about what they've done right, and so much time playing passive defense"

I agree with you, but these are accomplishments of the Obama administration, which is increasingly resorting to getting stuff done by eschewing Congress whenever it can.

What are the accomplishments of the Congressional Democrats? Why should we vote them back into office? These are honest questions, and not merely a rhetorical eye-roll. The public has such little insight into the legislative process that it's difficult to make informed decisions about legislative candidates, or judge the efficacy of the ones that currently hold office.

We need a justification that goes beyond "Well, the Republicans are pretty ghastly," because that doesn't resonate with voters. The individual points of the ACA are a good start, but there's been enough shit in the past few years that it's going to be tough for the party in power to maintain its hold, regardless of what the actual policies or accomplishments were. Sadly, it's become an effective electoral practice for the minority party to sabotage the work of the majority party...

NB: I don't have a dog in this race, because, as a DC resident, I do not have the right to participate in the American democratic process.
posted by schmod at 2:05 PM on June 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Democrats ever done for us?
posted by kirkaracha at 2:13 PM on June 2, 2014 [20 favorites]


The public has such little insight into the legislative process that it's difficult to make informed decisions about legislative candidates

Indeed. In fact most people don't know that the legislators they elect generally spend almost no time at all writing legislation and about 90% of their time raising money.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:16 PM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


zarq: "Talk about the victories. Talk about the good things that have come from Obamacare. Counteract Republican lies with facts: "

Okay, but democrats still don't turn out in midterms. The gap is large, remarkable, and makes up the swing in a lot of districts. And counteracting lies with facts is FRUSTRATINGLY INEFFECTIVE as an electoral strategy. Like seriously it's barely worth mentioning except to journalists, and hoping it translates into an endorsement from a newspaper that still has some pull.

My county primary this year had SIXTEEN PERCENT (of registered voters, not eligible) turnout in a hotly-contested gubernatorial primary, of whom 75% were Republicans. Likely Democrat voters are harder to turn out -- they're younger, less likely to be registered, more likely to have recently moved, less likely to own their homes, less likely to have available transit, less likely to have a job that accommodates voting. All of those correlate to lower rates of voting, because getting registered and taking the time to vote has real costs.

Turnout matters A LOT in midterm and local elections. They frequently hinge on turnout and little else, which is one reason why smart party leadership at the state level requires its candidates to have put in a lot of shoe leather to get party support.

Source: Multiple pairs of shoes walked to pieces while campaigning door-to-door, and all the many party functionaries on both sides I have met doing so, and their big, big databases. Every door you go to, you verify which of the voters listed in the database still live there and enter that in your smartphone app. If they've moved, or died, or whatever, you enter that, specifically. The party needs to know whether to mark that person dead or track them down.

I'm not great with talking to strangers but door-to-door campaigning is actually kinda fun. You meet a lot of interesting people and I've only thought I might be about to get mass-murdered twice.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:17 PM on June 2, 2014 [10 favorites]


All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Democrats ever done for us?

Wine?
posted by brundlefly at 2:20 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wine?
It's from Life Of Brian
posted by eclectist at 2:23 PM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's a quote.

Although Al Frankenstein did give me wine once.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:24 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


The DNC called me the other day looking for money and I truthfully replied that all my political money has already been donated to the ACLU and the EFF since the Democrats couldn't be trusted to look out for my interests any more.

I'll be voting (as I do every election) but it won't be for a D or an R.

Too tainted.
Too beholden.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 2:34 PM on June 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


I just heard a brief teaser on NPR about an upcoming segment, saying something like "'Room to Grow' is the GOP's new slogan for the upcoming elections." You got that? The past thirty-some years of the GOP systematically trashing the poor and middle class, resulting in the biggest gap between the rich and the middle since the days of the robber barons, was all just part of a long game by the GOP to ensure that the middle class has enough "room to grow" into that gap. Thanks, Republicans!
posted by Flunkie at 2:48 PM on June 2, 2014


By "Room to Grow" I believe they're referring to increasing the size of for-profit prisons.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:01 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's from Life Of Brian

D'oh! It's been years. I need to rewatch that.
posted by brundlefly at 3:03 PM on June 2, 2014


"'Room to Grow' is the GOP's new slogan for the upcoming elections."

So basically, they actually picked Lebensraum as their new motto?
posted by clockzero at 3:04 PM on June 2, 2014 [23 favorites]


Okay, but democrats still don't turn out in midterms.

At the moment. In 2006, they turned out in droves. As noted in the story, it's hard as fuck to energize people to vote for the President's party when the President isn't running.
posted by Etrigan at 3:13 PM on June 2, 2014


What are the accomplishments of the Congressional Democrats? Why should we vote them back into office?

They passed numerous extremely important bills (ATRA, VAWA, "clean" debt ceiling bill immediately come to mind) on the back of minority Republican support despite the Tea Party caucus being downright hostile and blathering on about the Hastert Rule to any talking head that would listen to how "anti-democratic" the Democrats were being.

If that's not a reason to vote them back into the house I don't know what is.
posted by Talez at 3:13 PM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


I do not understand why Democrats spend so little time talking about what they've done right, and so much time playing passive defense.

Yeah. That should be the Democratic strategy: an endless parade of people talking about the health care they've gotten under ACA that they wouldn't have had otherwise followed by "Republicans thought it was so important to stop affordable health care that they shut down the government."

Actual Democratic strategy (projected): denying Republican opponents' accusations of being liberals.
posted by Zed at 3:29 PM on June 2, 2014 [17 favorites]


I do not understand why Democrats spend so little time talking about what they've done right, and so much time playing passive defense.
In what way do you see the Democrats playing defense? I'm pretty deeply involved in the volunteer efforts that the article discusses, and we talk about the ACA quite a bit. The issue here is that we talk about the ACA with individual voters whom the data suggests are likely to be convinced by those conversations. That's the innovation: targeting particular voters for individual conversations.

Anyway, it's not easy to recruit volunteers for midterms, so if you're interested in this, I recommend that you see if there's a local volunteer effort gearing up. Because we only hit sympathetic voters, it's actually pretty easy door-knocking and phone-calling. You're unlikely to encounter too many people who are actively hostile.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:51 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why do Democrats play defense? Because it's incredibly hard to correct misinformation. Once something incredulous gets into the political sphere you may as well be trying to stuff the proverbial genie back into the lamp.

For instance, let's take Zed's strategy of "an endless parade of people talking about the health care they've gotten under ACA that they wouldn't have had otherwise followed by "Republicans thought it was so important to stop affordable health care that they shut down the government.""

A Republican strategist is immediately going to turn this around to the following talking points:
* Longer lines to see a doctor [unproven, probably untrue]
* Longer lines to see a limited number of specialsts [unproven, probably untrue]
* Why should the takers get to take more [for extra effect try racist dog whistles, take a drink anytime you hear the word "urban" or "undocumented"]
* Look at the taxes being raised on American small businesses, main street businesses who can't afford to provide it! [mostly bullshit, there's the penalty for not-really-small-businesses]
* Why did we have to change it? Things were working fine for most people! [pants on fire untrue]
* Applebees and Papa Johns will just [fire people/keep them under 32 hours]! Part time nation! THANKS OBAMA!
* People should learn to take responsibility for themselves [an admirable goal]

95% of this stuff is bullshit. But the Rs are on the offensive spreading this shit as fast as they can. But even when you debunk the 95% that is bullshit the 5% that's not creeps through like "some people with shitty policies that don't pay anything can't get them anymore and real insurance that covers stuff is somewhat expensive for rich people without subsidies" becomes "ALL THE STUFF THAT Rs WERE TALKING ABOUT WITH THE SKY FALLING WAS RIGHT".

And all of a sudden you've got talking heads asking Democratic congresscritter why they're spending so much money on abortions for illegal immigrants and killing jobs when things were working fine before hand and all the D- can do is facepalm with "not this shit again".

All because some fucktards who believe the first thing they hear. Because they can't appreciate the nuance of policy. Because god forbid a soundbite have more than a dozen syllables.
posted by Talez at 4:09 PM on June 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


In what way do you see the Democrats playing defense?

I'm glad you're fighting the good fight, and I hope this strategy works, but it really does feel like the Democrats are constantly reeling from Republican attacks. The Republicans come in roaring with some stupid misinformation, the Democrats meekly disagree and correct it, repeat.

Maybe that feeling is a false perception, but it really does seem like it's the Republicans landing constant body blows and the Democrats reeling and trying to keep themselves afloat.
posted by Sangermaine at 4:14 PM on June 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm not asking why the Democrats are playing defense. I'm questioning the idea that we do. I've already done some door-knocking for this election, and I've been encouraged to speak honestly about how the ACA has improved my life. I really don't think that running away from the Democrats' record is a feature of this effort. At least, it's not where I live.
Maybe that feeling is a false perception, but it really does seem like it's the Republicans landing constant body blows and the Democrats reeling and trying to keep themselves afloat.
I think that it feels like that because the Republicans' big advantage is money, and the Democrats' big advantage is people. So the Republicans get their message out by spending a lot of money on advertising, and that's visible to everyone. The Democrats, on the other hand, get their message out by sending volunteers to talk to individual voters, and that effort is pretty invisible to most people, unless they're targeted or they volunteer. (And I think most people reading this are unlikely to be targeted.) You don't see what we do, but that doesn't mean we're not doing it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:27 PM on June 2, 2014


I think that it feels like that because the Republicans' big advantage is money, and the Democrats' big advantage is people.

I respectfully disagree. Republicans' big advantage is benefitting from fear and rage. Democrats' big advantage is an overall superior political philosophy but it doesn't win much.

Dems are famously tone-deaf or really poorly managed. In the Republican world that's either moot or an asset. And it turns out that Jeb Bartlett guy was some actor reading lines!

?!? I know!
posted by petebest at 4:42 PM on June 2, 2014


Maybe that feeling is a false perception, but it really does seem like it's the Republicans landing constant body blows and the Democrats reeling and trying to keep themselves afloat.


Maybe because they don't really have a fundamentally different platform than the Republicans. It's hard to inspire people when your message is "We're going to do austerity a little better than the other guys" and hard to win when the Republicans always have the more successful appeal to nationalism, patriotism, chauvinism, racism, etc. as tools in their belt to deploy when need be. "Obamacare" was originally a right-wing invention of the Heritage Foundation as an answer to the dreaded single-payer, and that's supposedly the major accomplishment of his presidency.

I mean, I can *imagine* a nice progressive platform that I would enjoy voting for (and I would expect plenty of others too) that the Democrats *could* take up, which could actually deliver on their slogan of Hope and Change (tm). But, I'm not holding my breath.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 4:48 PM on June 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


Maybe because they don't really have a fundamentally different platform than the Republicans.

I'm sure President Romney would have proposed carbon regulations as strong as those proposed today by the Obama Administration, since both parties have fundamentally the same platform. As evidence, may I present the 2012 Republican Party Platform's position on climate change:

We will end the EPA’s war on coal and encourage the increased safe development in all regions of the nation’s coal resources, the jobs it produces, and the affordable, reliable energy that it provides for America. Further, we oppose any and all cap and trade legislation.

Oh. Never mind.
posted by burden at 5:07 PM on June 2, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'll be voting (as I do every election) but it won't be for a D or an R.

Too tainted.
Too beholden.


You're gonna love a Republican Senate.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:09 PM on June 2, 2014 [11 favorites]


I do not understand why Democrats spend so little time talking about what they've done right, and so much time playing passive defense.

I think that perception comes from a media culture that the right has successfully manipulated into taking their talking points and running hard and fast with them. It gets people's blood up which sells papers and attracts eyeballs. The Democrats have no mechanism in place other than press conferences to counter these deft thrusts, and in the present media landscape, press conferences are a poor response.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:13 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm sure President Romney would have proposed carbon regulations as strong as those proposed today by the Obama Administration, since both parties have fundamentally the same platform. As evidence, may I present the 2012 Republican Party Platform's position on climate change:

I'm sure you've noticed that America is going to become the world's largest energy producer again? Obama may acknowledge climate change, but he seems more inclined to accelerate it than do anything substantive about it. There's plenty of other environmental points against him too. (Don't make me break out my links!)

Let's not be fooled by Obama's pretty speeches for the thousandth time.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:13 PM on June 2, 2014


EPA regulations carry the force of law. They are a bit more than "pretty speeches."
posted by burden at 5:27 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I know almost no Republican voters. I know a lot of people who vote for a Democratic President every four years - but most of these people dislike the Democrats almost as much as the Republicans.

A lot of this stems from from the anti-left-wing hippie-punching rhetoric that has become a staple of the Democrats in the last couple of decades - and a lot of this has also come from the consistently pro-big business, pro-military, pro-Wall Street stance of most of the mainstream Democrats.

Given that these people know that the Democrats hate them personally, hate their beliefs, and aid and abet their enemies, it's pretty amazing that they even come out for Presidential elections.

I note the complete absence of this self-destructive tactic with the Republicans, who treat even the most extreme pronouncements from their rightest of right wings with deference and respect.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:18 PM on June 2, 2014 [7 favorites]


I know almost no Republican voters....

I note the complete absence of this self-destructive tactic with the Republicans, who treat even the most extreme pronouncements from their rightest of right wings with deference and respect.


Perhaps you're noting that you don't know a lot of Republicans. Because I know a lot of people who would have written this exact same comment with R and D reversed. "The mainstream Republican party hates real conservatives," etc.
posted by Etrigan at 6:28 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


> "The mainstream Republican party hates real conservatives," etc.

Can you give me an example of the Republicans actually saying anything against ultra-right wing Conservatives, please?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:30 PM on June 2, 2014


Oh, now it's about "the" Republicans? Because I was under the impression that we were talking about individuals. Ones who will vote Republican but think of themselves as the aggrieved party who, to coin a phrase, "know that the Republicans hate them personally, hate their beliefs, and aid and abet their enemies". And I assure you that they're all over my Facebook page.
posted by Etrigan at 6:39 PM on June 2, 2014


ArbitraryAndCapricious: "Because we only hit sympathetic voters, it's actually pretty easy door-knocking and phone-calling. You're unlikely to encounter too many people who are actively hostile."

And even when you do, they're mostly pretty nice about it. Mostly they either say, "No thank you, not interested" or engage in some reasonably good-natured baiting of you or -- this is my favorite one ever -- an older gentleman asked me suspiciously if I'd voted for Obama, and I replied that I had, and he made a very disappointed face and said, "You'll grow out of it." I said, "That's what my mother keeps telling me, sir, but I haven't yet!" He scowled for a minute and said, "Well, I don't agree with what you're doing but I appreciate young people being involved in politics. I'll sign your petition." And he did, and reminded me to vote, and told me to keep campaigning for things I believed in. Though he was the most amusing, I've actually run into that attitude reasonably often with older voters -- they're Republican, but they appreciate young people being involved enough to go door to door, and a lot of them seem to have the attitude that it's part of generational change that politics will swing the other way.

Only a few people are curt, very few are rude, and I've really only met a handful who were virulently ugly about it.

For the liberals who don't like Democrats, one of the best ways to move the party, if you don't like where it is, is to get involved at the local level, be progressive, and help prove progressives can get elected. We have a vibrant young progressive cohort in my county democratic party, who are proving their smarts and ability to get things done and gaining respect for local, small-scale progressive programs, and they're building a network of professionals and business owners who are more liberal and progressive-minded to add to the traditional local constituencies (unions, African-Americans). If you don't like "democrats" but you're not out engaging with your local party eating pizza in a shitty basement call center and talking universal health care with union carpenters and little old ladies who "sat in," I'm not sure you know from democrats.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:40 PM on June 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


Not editing to add: That's what the entire Tea Party movement is about. People who didn't bother voting Republican in 2006 and 2008 because they thought that John McCain was too liberal -- the same ones who did come out to vote in 2004 because even though many of them didn't like Bush, they felt they needed to fight back against gay marriage.

If you think the Republicans are monolithic, ask Bob Bennett, Mike Castle, Rick Lazio or Charlie Crist what they're up to these days.
posted by Etrigan at 6:43 PM on June 2, 2014


That's what the entire Tea Party movement is about.

And the Republican party embraced them until long after they outlived their electoral usefulness. Should Rand Paul or Ted Cruz suddenly catch fire, I'm sure establishment Republicans would forget all about the current rift between them and the "real" conservatives you speak of and vice versa.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:01 PM on June 2, 2014


Etrigan - you still aren't providing me with any evidence of any prominent Republicans deliberately trying to distance themselves from the more radical side of their party.

Tea Baggers might decide on their own that they aren't going to vote Republican - though the linked article does seem to indicate that Republican voters are better about showing up for midterms, and we were indeed discussing specifically why Democrats do badly in midterms - but if they do, it won't be because prominent Republicans mocked and belittled their ideas in public.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:05 PM on June 2, 2014


Etrigan - you still aren't providing me with any evidence of any prominent Republicans deliberately trying to distance themselves from the more radical side of their party.

Now we're adding "prominent" to the goalposts.

Again, you started this by saying, "I know almost no Republican voters. I know a lot of people who vote for a Democratic President every four years." (emphasis added)

I took this to mean that you were talking about people you know, rather than "prominent" people who hold their nose to vote for Democrats, and I did the same. People I personally know held their noses to vote for Mitt Romney. They really do exist.
posted by Etrigan at 7:10 PM on June 2, 2014


lupus_yonderboy - One particularly prominent Republican who banged the drum against his more radical colleagues was Senate Leader Mitch McConnell prophesying wins over Tea Party candidates. I don't usually defend members of the GOP (for obvious reasons), but not every Republican is mindlessly allowing any nonsense thing to hold sway in their party.

It's hard to get them to switch sides if we accuse them of things they aren't doing.
posted by kochbeck at 9:01 PM on June 2, 2014


You're gonna love a Republican Senate.
Well, the DNC better get their act together then, because they lost my left wing vote (and threatening with the other side sucks more stopped working on me a decade+ ago.)

They keep moving right, and I'm not going to follow.
There's a million people out there not voting at all, go work on them.
My vote is only my own and I vote my conscience.
It's not my job to vote your conscience.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:35 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is your job to vote what's best for the country.

In a system with only two parties, that means voting for the lesser of two evils, while working to effect real change. This whole "they're all the same I'm not voting for either of them" is sheer laziness and apathy.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:28 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


It is your job to vote what's best for the country.

Yes, I'll be sure to vote NDP the next time.

Charlie Crist what they're up to these days.

He's busy being a Democrat.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:58 PM on June 2, 2014


It can be useful to remember that, even if there were an even playing field of money and volume, even if every single person truly understood what each party's platforms were, many many people would still vote Republican. However poorly we might think of people who support their tenets, that is truly what some people support.

Of course, considering the sheer amount of media there is devoted to getting across the purely Republican talking points and their utter glee in ramming home lies until they become accepted, or even just a talking point, there are a number of people who aren't fully informed or truly understand, and that can be true for people who are attempting to take part in good faith in the political process.

Etrigan - you still aren't providing me with any evidence of any prominent Republicans deliberately trying to distance themselves from the more radical side of their party.

By my reckoning he gave you four names. If you can't name any other Republicans, usually from the older school, who have disagreed with their party and their policies, more from the commentator side but also including a few politicians, then you really haven't been paying attention.
Of course, your point might be that most of them immediately are made to feel unwelcome in the Republican Party as it currently stands. And the number of them who only start displaying disagreement after they've left the right-wing apparatus is substantial. But they're out there. Republicans, like Democrats, are getting attacked by both their left and their right. Their right is louder, but not necessarily electable.

It always surprises me how many people forget that, in politics you are nearly always voting for the lesser of evils. If you actually get to believe in a candidate that can get elected, you're very lucky. And if you don't actually vote, the politicians don't care about your opinion. Not voting isn't like leaving a message in the complaint box, and all the internet posts in the world won't make your voice count.
posted by gadge emeritus at 10:59 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


"It is your job to vote what's best for the country."

Sorry, but its absolutely not. One is free to do with ones vote as one wishes, thats sort of the point. If you are arguing that the best thing for a left wing voter to do is to vote democrat and then campaign for a change in the parties attitudes then you might have an argument.

But look, not everyone wants to campaign, not everyone wants to get that active. I do agree that we'd all be better off if the average person was more engaged in politics, but I'm not going to berate an individual for making the personal choice to not do that. If you feel strongly enough then try and change that persons mind, but I can pretty much guarentee that telling them off is not going to work.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:47 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, this thread was on related posts. For a view of the past!
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:48 AM on June 3, 2014


Incidentally, this thread was on related posts. For a view of the past!

I want a time machine so I can go back and prepare all those poor people for what's coming.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:51 AM on June 3, 2014


"It is your job to vote what's best for the country."

Sorry, but its absolutely not. One is free to do with ones vote as one wishes, thats sort of the point.


Rights come bound, inextricably, with responsibilities.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:06 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I miss Molly Ivins.

I've linked to this on MeFi before. It's a column of hers written just before the Gore/Bush election. I think about it each time the issue of third party candidates is raised.
"So here you are, trying to spot that fine hairsbreadth of difference between the sanctimonious Gore and the clueless Bush, ready to damn both of them in favor of a straight shooter like Nader. Here's the problem: Government matters most to people on the margins. If I may be blunt about this, we live in a society where the effluent flows downhill. And the people on the bottom are drowning in it.

And it is precisely those citizens -- whose lives sometimes literally depend on the difference between a politician who really does have a plan to help with the cost of prescription drugs and one who is only pretending that he does -- whose lives can be harmed by your idealism.

The size of a tax cut doesn't matter to people in the richest 1 percent. They're in Fat City now; they don't need more money. But the size of a tax cut makes a real difference to Bush's oft-cited example of the single mom with two kids making $22,000 a year.

When you are barely making it in this society, hanging on by your fingernails, with every unexpected expense a crisis, it matters which is the lesser of two evils.

I know it's hard for young people to envision age or illness, or the sick feeling of frantic despair when your old wreck of a car finally dies (it always does this in traffic) and will not start again. People who work two and even three jobs to support their kids get so tired -- you can't imagine how tired -- and guilt and depression and anxiety all pile on, too. The difference between Gore and Bush matters to those folks.

This is an old argument between radicals and liberals; sometimes I'm on one side, and sometimes I'm on the other. In the primaries, I vote to change the world; in November, I vote for a sliver more for programs that help the needy.

I do not believe that things have to get worse before they can get better. I think you will find that most mothers object to the idea that you would deliberately do something to make a child's life worse in order to bring about some presumed greater good in the long run. I believe that the best can be the enemy of the better. I believe in taking half a loaf, or even a slice.

And how do we ever change the whole rotten system at that speed? Brick by brick, child by child, slowly, toward liberty and justice for all."

posted by zarq at 6:47 AM on June 3, 2014 [9 favorites]


Rights come bound, inextricably, with responsibilities.

Some people see it as their responsibility not to prop up a two-party system that they find insufficiently representative of their views.
posted by Etrigan at 6:58 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yet somehow the two-party system survives year after year without these critical props.

And while we wait for its collapse, which is surely just around the corner, the electorate is skewed in favor of reactionary aims by the noble refusal of these truly principled progressives to exercise sensibly the limited power that they do have.
posted by burden at 7:29 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not arguing that they're right, I'm just arguing that they're not factually wrong. Saying "Rights come bound, inextricably, with responsibilities" is fine, but it doesn't define the responsibilities.
posted by Etrigan at 7:40 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


To be clear, I am not arguing that it is completely insensible for the left wing voter to hold their nose and vote for the worst of two evils, but I find it a little unpleasent the contempt with which someone who has chosen to do something different is held. The two party system is not some immutable fact of life, it wasn't even something conciously chosen by the founders of the US.

Voting, as an action, rarely has much of an effect. An individual voter will almost never make a difference. Occasionally a group of 100 similar voters might make a difference. Often, a group of 1,000 similar voters can change the course of an election if they decide to hold their nose, or to vote for who they actually want in power. I mean, Molly Ivins is basically arguing that Nader voters were inevitably causing the pain of the poor.

But if you vote for your party no matter what they do, theres no real reason for them to cater for you anymore. And as the overton window shifts, and a healthcare policy which would be considered right wing elsewhere gets denounced as socialism, some on the radical left might wonder why exactly they are continuing with a party that has no real interest in them.

I do believe that if you want radical political change, the best way is to hold your nose when you vote and then put your efforts into changing the system outside of that, in particular lobbying hard for a change in the voting system so that politicians aren't incentivised to focus on marginal voters and nothing else. But I also don't have contempt for people who are trying something a bit different.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 7:40 AM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Cannon Fodder: "I mean, Molly Ivins is basically arguing that Nader voters were inevitably causing the pain of the poor."

I see it more along the lines of she's arguing that they're helping keep those who are screwing the poor in power. Society's most vulnerable and least represented do actually benefit when the lesser of two evils gets elected.

I can't believe I'm about to say these words, but the Tea Party understands that change typically comes from within a party, and often from the bottom up rather than top-down. Start with school boards and local elections and set candidates on a path to take local then state then federal office.
posted by zarq at 8:42 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Start with school boards and local elections and set candidates on a path to take local then state then federal office.

And in years ending with zeroes, hit state legislatures hard, because then you get to gerrymander the fuck out of your newly redistricted state and tip things in your favor.
posted by Etrigan at 9:22 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


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