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November 9, 2005 1:33 AM   Subscribe

Newsfilter: All eight ballod initiatives in the California special election fail. $250 million down the drain. Were they all bad measures, or were voters just showing their displeasure with those in power?
posted by team lowkey (107 comments total)

 
there was a special election?
posted by jimjam at 2:05 AM on November 9, 2005


Dana Carvey said it was special.
posted by wendell at 2:09 AM on November 9, 2005


For those not in California, Schwarzenegger basically spent the last year blaming teachers, nurses, and firefighters for the state's problems. (Everybody knows that our teachers, nurses, and firefighters are paid so well, after all... Why couldn't I make the big bucks in teaching, instead of going into computers?!)

You've got to be careful around Schwarzenegger. Most of the time when people reject his unwanted propositions, he grabs their ass.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:32 AM on November 9, 2005


Naturally, all of the ones the Terminator supports are pretty disgusting, but its pretty sad that the following didn't pass:

Propositions 78 and 79, two competing measures offering discount drug prescriptions; and Proposition 80, which would have repealed California's energy deregulation.

Mhm, because privatized energy has being treating California so very well. (erh, no complaints personally, big $$$ for BC hydro power) And we love our prescription price gouging!

Perhaps this is just something to add to the pile of evidence that Americans don't give a shit.
posted by mek at 2:56 AM on November 9, 2005


A possible cause?
posted by deusdiabolus at 2:59 AM on November 9, 2005


It's always mystified me why Schwarzenegger attacked the public employee unions. They had the money and organization to beat the crap out of him and they did.

I also don't get why he let his rhetoric drift rightwards when he has to portray himself as a moderate to be sucessful in California. Maybe he's trying to set himself up for a run at the senate?
posted by rdr at 3:12 AM on November 9, 2005


Actually, just 79 and 80... 78 was supported by the pharmeceutical industry to confuse the election and to not mandate the state to do leveraged buying of drugs at lower prices.

80 basically allows big business to buy their electricity without paying their share of taxes and fees which support the electrical infrastructure.

It was a pretty good evening overall, but it's a shame that our victories lately are those days when we don't lose something.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:36 AM on November 9, 2005


He'll be back.
posted by alms at 4:04 AM on November 9, 2005


ballod?
posted by kcds at 4:15 AM on November 9, 2005


Maybe the great celebrity/politician experiment should have ended with Sonny Bono...
posted by sexymofo at 4:17 AM on November 9, 2005


It looks like 73, the one that would have required minors to nitofy their parents before getting an abortion, was the most likely to pass out of all of them, and by the end I was thinking that it was basically put up just to get hard-right voters to make sure they'd come out and vote for everything else. But I was glad to wake up this morning on the east coast and see that and all the others failed.

Plus the entire Dover school board was kicked out of office, as was a Democratci mayor who supported Bush by another Democrat at a 2-1 margin.

On a partisan level, the only thing conservative Republicans really appear to have anything to brag about is destroying the Democrat-led initiatives in Ohio, and passing an anti-gay law in Texas that could technically make all forms of marriage illegal.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:20 AM on November 9, 2005


ballod?

i'm sure he meant ballad.
posted by quonsar at 4:55 AM on November 9, 2005


Meanwhile, at the other corner of the country, voters endorse Maine gay rights law.
posted by SteveInMaine at 6:04 AM on November 9, 2005


"Proposition 75, a hard-fought initiative backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that would have required employee consent for political use of union dues."
Why is this bad?
posted by Eideteker at 6:17 AM on November 9, 2005


Yeah, I was gonna ask....what other states had important initiatives passed?
posted by Mach3avelli at 6:20 AM on November 9, 2005


Because, Eideteker, it would have caused unions to go through special hurdles, and didn't require other special interests (like corporations, etc., who donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to political campaigns) to meet the same demanding standards. Add to it that unions tend to go traditionally for democrats, it seemed like the republican governor of California was targetting the political opposition for political reasons, and no other.
posted by crunchland at 6:24 AM on November 9, 2005


Prop 75 is interesting, Eideteker. Read Reason's take.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:38 AM on November 9, 2005


Also in the news today : Democrats sweep New Jersey, Virginia elections.
posted by afroblanca at 6:40 AM on November 9, 2005


I personally have a lot of trouble with union dues going to political causes. It's not as if you as a union member have any choice as to whether to pay your dues or not -- and it's not as if you as a union member are likely to have a choice of union bosses across a wide political spectrum.

Now, if unions want to run fundraisers, get their members to help the cause, etc, that's fine. If you don't like the fundraiser or event, you don't have to go. But being forced to give money to a political cause you might actively disapprove of is unfair.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:53 AM on November 9, 2005


From the Reason article posted by Kwantsar above

Lobbying is not a free market; it's a zero-sum, rent-seeking economy where you will lose if you don't play. Seeking to hobble union political power, above all in California, is in itself a worthwhile goal.

Correct, so why doesn't the author oppose corporate lobbying as well and propose ways of hobbling it ? If lobbying by unions is bad one wonders why lobbying by corporate should be good, as it is lobbying perpetraded by far richer subjects who have a far longer history of workers exploitation.
posted by elpapacito at 6:55 AM on November 9, 2005


Kos actually supported the California redistricting measure, believe it or not. IMO it was pretty good, in that new districts would need to be voted on by referendum, so unlike what happened in Texas, voters would have the final say on maps.

(Of course, this could lead to problems as well, ah well)

What happened in Ohio? Did the redistricting measure pass there or not?
posted by delmoi at 6:56 AM on November 9, 2005


Now, if unions want to run fundraisers, get their members to help the cause, etc, that's fine. If you don't like the fundraiser or event, you don't have to go. But being forced to give money to a political cause you might actively disapprove of is unfair.

In some ways, I suppose it is. But should customers of Utilities also have the same rights? I mean, I can't choose who I buy electricity from, and where that company sends its PAC money.
posted by delmoi at 6:58 AM on November 9, 2005


sexymofo writes "Maybe the great celebrity/politician experiment should have ended with Sonny Bono..."

Maybe it should have ended before Sonny Bono.
posted by OmieWise at 7:00 AM on November 9, 2005


Even though I'm pro-choice, I'm dismayed that semi-invasive medical procedures can be performed on minors without their parents' consent. That just seems very, very wrong.
posted by rocket88 at 7:02 AM on November 9, 2005


The redistricting measure wasn't great in its mechanics, but it was an important reform as drawing lines by letting monkeys poop on maps of California would be better than the current method.

Unfortunately, most of the debate I saw was on whether it was possible to actually create "competitive" districts. Competitive districts shouldn't be the goal (though the goal of the current method is to produce non-competitive districts). There is no way you can draw a district in San Francisco that will be competitive.

The goal should be rational districts.

Otherwise I was indifferent to the other propositions. That said, most of what was on this slate is what Schwarzenegger was promising to do when he was elected. From the beginning he said that if the legislature would not reform things he would go to the people. Several of these measures were campaign promises, so once again the electorate shows itself as fickle in voting one election on a "through the bums out and reform the system" mood and then rejecting any actual reforms.
posted by obfusciatrist at 7:06 AM on November 9, 2005


pendulum is swinging baby. buck fush.
posted by specialk420 at 7:07 AM on November 9, 2005


semi-invasive medical procedures

Since there are usually no scalpels involved. It's done as an out-patient procedure. Whatever your thoughts are about the ethics of abortions, the procedure is usually no more physically invasive than a teeth cleaning. In truth, being impregnated is probably more invasive than the procedure.
posted by crunchland at 7:08 AM on November 9, 2005


Even though I'm pro-choice, I'm dismayed that semi-invasive medical procedures can be performed on minors without their parents' consent. That just seems very, very wrong.

If they're old enough to consent to sex, they're old enough to consent to elective medical procedures. I doubt doctors are going to perform operations with a significant chance of harm without talking to the parents, but for something even more routine then an appendectomy, I don't think it's a big deal.
posted by delmoi at 7:09 AM on November 9, 2005


lupus_yonderboy writes "I personally have a lot of trouble with union dues going to political causes."

Would you restrict corporations like Diebold and the RBOCs from lobbying? After all you have no choice but to contribute the funds they are lobbying with.
posted by Mitheral at 7:10 AM on November 9, 2005


Otherwise I was indifferent to the other propositions. That said, most of what was on this slate is what Schwarzenegger was promising to do when he was elected. From the beginning he said that if the legislature would not reform things he would go to the people. Several of these measures were campaign promises, so once again the electorate shows itself as fickle in voting one election on a "through the bums out and reform the system" mood and then rejecting any actual reforms.

California politics just seems pathalogical.
posted by delmoi at 7:12 AM on November 9, 2005


delmoi: In some ways, I suppose it is. But should customers of Utilities also have the same rights? I mean, I can't choose who I buy electricity from, and where that company sends its PAC money.

The obvious solution would be to change the system so that you can choose who you buy electricity from. This is a pretty common solution.
posted by biffa at 7:16 AM on November 9, 2005


Heh, the electronic voting machine refused to let Arnold vote so he had to enter a provisional ballot.
Schwarzenegger Hits Snag at Polling Place
posted by octothorpe at 7:19 AM on November 9, 2005


intersting, from the BBC article: Eight school board members in Pennsylvania who supported an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution lost their seats to evolution supporters.

When's the next time the school board can vote on whatever kind of law it is that put Intellegent Design in PA schools?
posted by the theory of revolution at 7:23 AM on November 9, 2005


passing an anti-gay law in Texas that could technically make all forms of marriage illegal.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:20 AM CST on November 9


This absurd canard is still being parroted on the internet?

It is completely wrong and obviously so.

Democrats sweep New Jersey, Virginia elections.
posted by afroblanca at 8:40 AM CST on November 9


Interesting use of the word "sweep" which sounds much more devastating than 2 victories in states that had Democratic incumbents to being with. Considering the extent the media downplayed the overwheling electoral success of the GOP just a year ago, to see this two governor victory called a "sweep" seems silly.

I think Kaine could be a good governor; he seems pretty good on policy for the most part with only a few un-Virginian ideas. I don't know much about the NJ race, other than Corzine is now out of the Senate and into an executive position (which will probably fit his disposition better).

pendulum is swinging baby. buck fush.
posted by specialk420 at 9:07 AM CST on November 9


Eh? They both had Democratic governors to begin with. Had Kilgore won, would it have been a resounding approval of Bush? You know, like the one he got last November?

I'm just saying, try not to play this up for more than what it is because we had an election just a year ago which made some pretty forceful electoral statements on a national level.

The goal should be rational districts.
I agree. That would be a good thing. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court under Warren created the asinine political rule which requires states to make these ugly districts.
posted by dios at 7:25 AM on November 9, 2005


I personally have a lot of trouble with union dues going to political causes. It's not as if you as a union member have any choice as to whether to pay your dues or not -- and it's not as if you as a union member are likely to have a choice of union bosses across a wide political spectrum.

Union leadership is elected by the members; one man, one vote. It's actually more democratic than the presidential elections.

If you're going to ban unions from donating money unless all the members agree, then you must also ban coporations from donating money unless all the shareholders agree. (Actually, I'd be in favor of that.)
posted by Jatayu das at 7:28 AM on November 9, 2005


Minors need parental consent to get flu shots. They also need parental consent to get their ears pierced. Does it make sense that they can get an abortion without it?
posted by rocket88 at 7:30 AM on November 9, 2005


That said, most of what was on this slate is what Schwarzenegger was promising to do when he was elected. From the beginning he said that if the legislature would not reform things he would go to the people. Several of these measures were campaign promises, so once again the electorate shows itself as fickle in voting one election on a "through the bums out and reform the system" mood and then rejecting any actual reforms.
posted by obfusciatrist at 9:06 AM CST on November 9


obfusciatrist: I think this is a really interesting and valid point. If there is a compelling story from the election, in my opinion, this is it. I am really interested in seeing academic treatments of this concept. If only Madison was still around to give us a paper on it---or even moreso, I'd love to see how Anthony Downs would treat it! There are a couple good electoral experts that I am interested in reading their findings (Profs. Polsby and Rush).
posted by dios at 7:32 AM on November 9, 2005


If you're going to ban unions from donating money unless all the members agree, then you must also ban coporations from donating money unless all the shareholders agree. (Actually, I'd be in favor of that.)
posted by Jatayu das at 9:28 AM CST on November 9

Eh, the better solution is to get rid of all campaign finance laws, and instead, just have very, very strict rules on full disclosure. Full disclosure cures all the perceived evils of campaign finance laws by allowing us to see who is giving money and if there is any quid pro quo going on, so that in the next election, people can be informed on whom the candidate represents. And under that framework, both unions and corporations would be able to be engaged in political speech---as they ought to be able to do.
posted by dios at 7:36 AM on November 9, 2005


rocket88 writes "They also need parental consent to get their ears pierced. Does it make sense that they can get an abortion without it?"

Yep, neither ear piercings nor flu shots result in 18 years of responsibility for another's well being.

dios how does full disclosure solve the problem of your local monopoly of choice using funds generated by the people to lobby against the interests of the people?
posted by Mitheral at 7:47 AM on November 9, 2005


dios how does full disclosure solve the problem of your local monopoly of choice using funds generated by the people to lobby against the interests of the people?
posted by Mitheral at 9:47 AM CST on November 9


Because we have regular elections. And if we know exactly how much money interest X gave, and we can evaluate how elected official Y pursued policies for interest X, then we can know at the next election whether official Y is representing the interests of his constituents or whomever gives him donations. It permits the evaluation of whose interests are being represented and it protects against potentially illegal quid pro quo actions.

It's a market solution to the problem. It works because we have regular elections built in.
posted by dios at 7:51 AM on November 9, 2005


The election reform initiatives in Ohio all failed. My Google-fu is failing me this morning - I haven't been able to find any coverage of the margins by which it failed. Can anyone help me out?
posted by Western Infidels at 7:53 AM on November 9, 2005


Around here the local cable monopoly actually runs political ads on its own network (for free, because they have a ton of extra inventory) against some of the state telecom proposals (which could theoretically compete with mediacom).

It really pisses me off.
posted by delmoi at 7:54 AM on November 9, 2005


dios assumes that people actually care about how much money exxon-mobil "donates" to a political party.

It's all about the marketing - which is driven by funding. If a candidate gets an extra million dollars - that goes a long way in local advertising, which can easily persuade the otherwise uninterested voters.
posted by odinsdream at 7:56 AM on November 9, 2005


Wow, bloomberg got 2/3rds of the vote in NYC.

Pretty impressive.
posted by delmoi at 7:58 AM on November 9, 2005


Why does that piss you off delmoi? Shouldn't they have the right to political speech? That they are better able to get their point out there isn't really a justification to limit their political speech. Going down that road, we reach a quandary: what to do about an eloquent orator and a person with a debilitating stutter. Do we limit the orator's ability to engage in political speech because his is more effective and received than the stutterer's?
posted by dios at 7:59 AM on November 9, 2005


...would it have been a resounding approval of Bush? You know, like the one he got last November?

51% is resounding approval?

The OED seems to have a different definition of resounding:


posted by Rothko at 7:59 AM on November 9, 2005


Apparently dios just woke up and need to get everything out of his system. ;)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:01 AM on November 9, 2005




But odinsdream, there is a limit built into the system: votes are what counts, not money. A candidate would not trade a million dollars for a million votes. So a candidate is at least responsibile for pursuing policies that the candidate believes are in the best interest of the people and will result in popular support.

Acme Nuclear Waste Co. can give all the money it wants, but the candidate in Berkeley, CA isn't going to pursue the policies it wants merely because money is given.

If the information is available, the idea that corporations can buy quid pro quo's at the people's expense is less likely when the candidate needs votes to win.
posted by dios at 8:03 AM on November 9, 2005


Isn't Ohio the Diebold State? Can any results from that place be trusted?
posted by Rothko at 8:03 AM on November 9, 2005


God, what is up with pasting screenshots of the dictionary? Does that program not allow copying to the clipboard or something? You can copy (and link to) definitions from dictionary.com.

And I think dios was talking about the electoral gains in the senate, etc in 2004, not the actual popular vote.
posted by delmoi at 8:03 AM on November 9, 2005


Wow, bloomberg got 2/3rds of the vote in NYC.
Pretty impressive.


This has everything to do with the fact that the status quo in NYC is actually pretty good right now, and nothing to do with New Yorkers' love for Bloomberg or the Repubs.
posted by afroblanca at 8:03 AM on November 9, 2005


Please Rothko. Bush won a majority of the votes cast. The first since Reagan to do that. The GOP picked up seats in the House and in the Senate. The GOP picked up state governerships. The GOP even did better on a national average in state legislatures. That is a resounding success. Again, here you are trying to act like that isn't the case. And therein lies my point. The media did the same thing you are doing and downplayed the success. And if that wasn't a successful election, then it strains credibility to use a word like "sweep" when referring to two governor elections that had sitting Democrats to begin with and then to see comments like it was a giant Democratic victory.

My point is this: don't make too much of this election. It was minor and trying to make it look like a bellweather of national feelings is incongruous with the election just a year ago.
posted by dios at 8:06 AM on November 9, 2005


Had Kilgore won, would it have been a resounding approval of Bush? You know, like the one he got last November?

Resounding approval? Bush won by "the closest popular margin ever for a sitting President" on a percentage basis, and his margin of victory in absolute number of votes "was the smallest of any sitting President since Harry S. Truman in 1948."

White House Gambles That Boosting Kilgore Will Pay Off for Bush:
In jumping into the Virginia governor's race just 10 hours before polling booths open, President Bush put his credibility on the line last night and ensured that the results will be interpreted as a referendum on his troubled presidency. But the White House is gambling that after weeks of political tribulations, Bush has little more to lose.

Bush's election-eve foray to Richmond to rally behind Republican Jerry W. Kilgore inserted him into the hottest election of the off-year cycle and will test his ability to energize his party's base voters, according to strategists from both parties.
...
On the other hand, analysts said, if Democrat Timothy M. Kaine beats Kilgore in a state that solidly backed Bush twice, it will feed into a widespread perception of weakness afflicting the president and those associated with him.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:07 AM on November 9, 2005


Dios, your understanding of the accepted meaning and usage of English words is unfortunate.
posted by Rothko at 8:10 AM on November 9, 2005


Why do you have to be a prick? I thought you stated you were going to stop that and actually engage in a substantive dialogue?
posted by dios at 8:11 AM on November 9, 2005


I'm not insulting you. But I think your misuse of language is a problem for a substantive conversation.
posted by Rothko at 8:12 AM on November 9, 2005


Whatever. You are going back on the ignore list. I should have known better than to decide to return to engaging you.

My apologies to everyone else for doing so.
posted by dios at 8:16 AM on November 9, 2005


Exaggeration is not the best way to get your point across. /shrug
posted by Rothko at 8:23 AM on November 9, 2005


Good analysis from Larry Sabato from a couple of weeks ago looking ahead to yesterday. I think his points were pretty dead-on.

Let's take the last four off-off year elections in New Jersey and Virginia. In 1989 Jim Florio (D) and Doug Wilder (D) captured the New Jersey and Virginia statehouses--the Garden State switched from Republican to Democratic control--yet in 1990, there was no discernible movement to either party in the midterm congressional elections. In 1993 Christie Whitman (R-NJ) and George Allen (R-VA) led a GOP sweep in the major contests that year, and sure enough, their victories presaged the anti-Clinton congressional landslide for the Republicans in 1994. In 1997, the GOP's Whitman was reelected in New Jersey and Jim Gilmore (R) succeeded Allen in Virginia, but in 1998, the Democrats fared well in congressional elections, partly due to a backlash against the Clinton impeachment effort. In 2001, despite Bush's sky-high popularity after 9/11, Democrats Jim McGreevey and Mark Warner won New Jersey and Virginia; the following year, Republicans recaptured the U.S. Senate and added six U.S. House seats.

I think he makes a good point re: the results may be important. Or, they may not. The analysis of political trends in those two states are an indication that we haven't a clue on how to read this election. The real fight and indicator is in 2006, which history suggests should be a big winner for the Democrats.
posted by dios at 8:42 AM on November 9, 2005


dios writes "It's a market solution to the problem. It works because we have regular elections built in."

So last cycle SBC gave a 100 grand to the republican candidate and he raised your local loop phone tariff. Next cycle you decide to vote for the guy not receiving funds from SBC. So you pull out your shiny new full disclosure law and you find out this year SBC has given $75K to the repblican candidate, $75K to the democratic candidate, $75K to the libertarian candidate and just to be safe $100K to the green candidate. Now that you have full disclosure who are you going to vote for?

Besides which how do you disclose the equivalent cash value given to a political party when, for example, some religious whack job buys a major market newspaper and then prints nothing but slanted glowing reports of one party.
posted by Mitheral at 8:45 AM on November 9, 2005


Girls, girls! MeTa!

I don't want to read too much into yesterday's elections but I can't help but think of the Bill Hicks bit about the pygmy warriors and the dancing and the elephant going down.

On the negative side, it all seems rather cyclical, doesn't it?
posted by cavalier at 8:47 AM on November 9, 2005


dios-
I disagree with the notion that a free-market approach to campaign financing is the best possible one. The barriers to voting and the reasons for voting a particular way in any given election are complex and multi-faceted. If anything, the last election was a great example of that, with a particularly divisive set of social issues essentially being bracketed by the issue of national security writ large. If Acme Nuclear Waste Disposal's contributions (and the subsequent quid pro quo) was the only thing at issue, then a free market approach might get the job done, but what happens when someone is vehemently oppossed to what the candidate has done with and because of Acme's money but is sure that the candidate is the best choice for some other, more important, reason? The free market approach implicitly condones the quid pro quo if the candidate is re-elected, but that's a false conclusion and shouldn't be the way we approach the selling of our democracy. Regulation of campaign contributions is a much better method.
posted by OmieWise at 8:49 AM on November 9, 2005


dios, I actually like your full disclosure idea, but it's an idealistic fantasy, and history reinforces this strongly. Nobody cares about the backing - they care about the presentation, and money buys presentation and influence.

My own idealistic fantasy (albeit slightly more workable than yours) is to outlaw all campaign contributions altogether - with the exception of individuals. Companies? No. Groups? No. Me personally, you personally? Yes.

In addition, all of that should obviously be fully disclosed and publically-accessible information.
posted by odinsdream at 8:51 AM on November 9, 2005


Now that you have full disclosure who are you going to vote for?
Well, if it is a bad policy for the citizenry and against their interest, then someone ought to run against the policy. And if you dislike the policy, vote for the guy who is opposed to it. The problem with your question is the implicit assumption that SBC somehow shouldn't be able to advocate for a policy. Should we silence SBC? Should we silence Greenpeace?

Bad policy is bad policy. If it is a bad policy, then someone will stand up and oppose it and people will vote for him.

The problem is this: we have a right to political speech, even if it is political speech you do not personally like. So we cannot eliminate political speech. That leaves us with two options: allow all of it or try to limit it. Limiting it is suspect as a principle, and even more screwed up in actual application. Campaign Finance laws are an anathema to the principles of our country, in my opinion, but are completely unworkable (one of the worst facts of campaign finance laws are that they favor incumbency). Between allowing all and keeping our current system, my perspective is that allowing all is the way to go. Requiring full disclosure, which doesn't impinge on political speech, dovetails nicely with a market view of democracy that is embraced by our constitution.

Besides which how do you disclose the equivalent cash value given to a political party when, for example, some religious whack job buys a major market newspaper and then prints nothing but slanted glowing reports of one party.
posted by Mitheral at 10:45 AM CST on November 9


That is pure political speech, and as a matter of constitutional law and political morality, it should never be limited in any context. I counsel you to strongly reconsider your opposition to such a practice, even if you really, really hate and disagree with "religious whack jobs." People on all sides should be able to spend money to make political points. Would you silence Patrick Henry?
posted by dios at 8:57 AM on November 9, 2005


What bothered me about the Cali elections is that this whole thing was begun by the Governor as a way to get control of California finances and give him ways to balance the budget and reduce debt. Yet, in the end, only ONE of the four issues on the ballot he proposed and backed had any affect on the budget and the financial well being of California.
The redistricting was to give Republicans more seats-and would have cost more money to do redistricting now rather than wait till the next census. The union dues initative was to remove Democrat power money. The teacher tenure was another jab at teachers who generally don't support republicans..and was in fact going to cost California MORE money in the end. So the whole thing was a farce. An expensive, rediculous, unnecessary farce. That pissed a LOT of people off. If we're so short of money, how can he possibly justify spending millions upon millions on this election?
The fact that every single one went down in flames shows that a lot of voters thought the same way-and voted no on everything on general principles to show that this whole thing was unnecessary.

I voted no on everything but the redistricting. Even though I'm a Democrat and this would have lost Dem seats, I think it's not a good democracy if the elections are pre-configured so there's no real competition. It's bad for everyone.

This whole thing was so unnecessary. And now we're out millions of dollars and he's going to have to work with the Cal. legislature which he should have done in the first place. But now they're going to be so arrogant I doubt they will work with him, because he got his ass so completely drubbed. *sigh*
posted by aacheson at 8:57 AM on November 9, 2005


Campaign contributions =/= political speech. I know that there is an idea, mostly on the pro-business right, that they are one and the same, but they aren't. Ads are, editorials are, signs a placards are. Cash to a candidate is not speech.
posted by OmieWise at 9:00 AM on November 9, 2005


Omiewise: I recommend Anthony Downs' view of electoral politics because he addresses your concern perfectly. The article is by Anthony Downs called "An Economic Theory of Political Action in Democracy" and I think the article is from the late 50's. I highly recommend it.

Unfortunately I need to do some work real quick, but I'll try to answer more indepth later and see if I can find a link for the article.
posted by dios at 9:05 AM on November 9, 2005


Frankly, I don't think anyone needed the elections yesterday, regardless of the result, to know which way the wind is blowing for the Republicans.
posted by crunchland at 9:06 AM on November 9, 2005


odinsdream: How about third-party ads? Even if the campaigns and parties can accept non-individual donations, what do you do about the Austin Bar Scene Veterans For Truth that go after poor Jenna in 2020?
posted by aaronetc at 9:10 AM on November 9, 2005


My point is this: don't make too much of this election. It was minor and trying to make it look like a bellweather of national feelings is incongruous with the election just a year ago.

I'm curious, if the results were opposite (Republican victories) would you be championing the idea that recent scandals have had no effect on voters and that the Republicans remain strong?
posted by afx114 at 9:10 AM on November 9, 2005


Omiewise (quickly): money spent on advancing political ideas is political speech. (See, Buckley v. Valeo for the constitutional rule). Really, how could it not be? Ads, editorials, placards are all resources that are created by the ability to expend resources and get an idea out. That the money is given to someone else whom you agree with to make the ads isn't any different. I suppose one could make an artificial distinction between expenditures and contributions, but in the end, the promotion of a political point of view is speech. Whether one does so by standing on the corner, buying a billboard or sending money to others to buy the commerical are all distinctions without a difference.
posted by dios at 9:11 AM on November 9, 2005


I'm curious, if the results were opposite (Republican victories) would you be championing the idea that recent scandals have had no effect on voters and that the Republicans remain strong?
posted by afx114 at 11:10 AM CST on November 9


No. For the reasons that I said above and Sabato said in the article I linked to.
posted by dios at 9:11 AM on November 9, 2005


I think the "Paycheck Protection" initiative designed to gag union's political advertising was slanted; corporations spending money on PACs are also taking that money from their employees.

As for political donation reforms, I think limiting donations to person -> person and $100/per year would be about right.

There is nothing unconstitutional about this limit, even if you think donating money to someone is "speech"; the SCOTUS has already held that limiting speech /equally/ is constitutional.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:23 AM on November 9, 2005


dios: Buckley doesn't appear to back you up here:

First, it held that restrictions on individual contributions to political campaigns and candidates did not violate the First Amendment since the limitations of the FECA enhance the "integrity of our system of representative democracy" by guarding against unscrupulous practices. Second, the Court found that governmental restriction of independent expenditures in campaigns, the limitation on expenditures by candidates from their own personal or family resources, and the limitation on total campaign expenditures did violate the First Amendment.

People are free to make signs, pay for ads, etc. Cutting a check is not speech IMV.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:26 AM on November 9, 2005


dios writes "Whether one does so by standing on the corner, buying a billboard or sending money to others to buy the commerical are all distinctions without a difference."

I know you're busy, so thanks for replying. I do see a distinction, and a difference. The difference is that money given to a candidate is not simply money given to buy an ad, but money given to help someone secure a very powerful job. It really does seem self-evident to me (although obviously this is not so) that this exceeds political speech. Equating the two things obviates the very material benefits to be obtained by elected officials.
posted by OmieWise at 9:32 AM on November 9, 2005


dios: Shouldn't [corporations] have the right to political speech?

Um, no? The Constituion guarantees people the right to freedom of speech, not nonhuman entities like corporations, unions, etc. I'm with odinsdream: only individuals should be allowed to donate money, and there should be a per-person and per-family donation cap.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:33 AM on November 9, 2005


Personally, I'm a little annoyed with the amount of money that was contributed to Kilgore's failed gubentorial bid that came from outside the commonwealth. I think that state officials should rely solely on contributions from those within the state.
posted by crunchland at 9:37 AM on November 9, 2005


Had Kilgore won, would it have been a resounding approval of Bush? You know, like the one he got last November?

Oh, and dios, squeaking by in the EC with Ohio and/or Florida was not a "resounding approval" of Bush.

Factor out the fundie, ie insane vote, and Bush's "resounding" 51% becomes a less-resounding 43%.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:40 AM on November 9, 2005


...and there should be a per-person and per-family donation cap.

And it should be absurdly low, around $100 per candidate, with a total of $500 per election cycle from any one individual above the age of 18 (voting age). I think money should be out of politics entirely but thats not fesiable anytime soon. Of course I want real debates too, but that'll never happen.
posted by SirOmega at 9:55 AM on November 9, 2005


Heywood, you are correct about Buckley. They made the distinction between expenditures (which were political speech and not limitable) and contributions (which, as you note, were held to be limitable). Thanks for catching that. I remember now why I thought Buckley was wrong. Of course, it sounds like OmieWise would very much agree with the Court's ruling in Buckley, as he seems to be making a similar argument.

The current framework is that I can spend 83.6 gazbillion dollars, if I like, buying every billboard, newspaper and TV station in the Country in order to promote my political view that we should get rid of campaign finance laws and switch to a full disclosure system. I have that absolute right as a matter of constitutional protection.

But somehow that same action is different when I give it to a PAC which is organized for the same thing? I find that curious. Nor can I give it to Sen. Smoe who is the proponent of that plan in Washington. In my mind, it all seems the same. If I recall correctly, there was some discussion in Buckley (or its progeny) about the appearance of corruption being important to guard against. And I guess we have that appearance of corruption when you can give to a particular candidate, because everyone assumes that there is a quid pro quo going on.

I tend to side with Bradley Smith and others who argue that the appearance of corruption is gone with full disclosure ("sunlight is the great disinfectant'), and I believe in a market view of elections. Perhaps that is too idealistic as suggested. But I just find that when you start making distinctions (limiting "contributions" in excess of a particular dollar value; limiting unions but not corporations; limiting newspapers; allowing soft money but not hard, etc.) you create an unworkable scenario like we have which doesn't really address the underlying problem (corruption) but possibly curtails political speech and just creates a cottage industry of goofy laws to be manuvered around.
posted by dios at 9:57 AM on November 9, 2005


Heywood Mogroot writes "Factor out the fundie, ie insane vote, and Bush's 'resounding' 51% becomes a less-resounding 43%."

Being fundamentalist doesn't make you insane, but more to the point, how do you factor out any vote in an election? Seriously. A vote is a vote, and saying, oh, if group X or group Y hadn't turned out then the election would have been different makes no sense since they did.

I think that the proper contestation of the notion of a broad mandate from this past election was that even with the huge turn-out, Bush only managed to gain a slight advantage. In raw numbers it looks like he was granted a big mandate, but again, that makes no sense, because almost as many people voted for Kerry as voted for Bush.
posted by OmieWise at 9:59 AM on November 9, 2005


Dios-Just read your response on lack-of-preview. How do you account for the material benefits that a candidate enjoys when they are elected (at the most basic calculation a job) when equating buying a billboard and contributing to a candidate?
posted by OmieWise at 10:02 AM on November 9, 2005


And it should be absurdly low, around $100 per candidate, with a total of $500 per election cycle from any one individual above the age of 18 (voting age). I think money should be out of politics entirely but thats not fesiable anytime soon. Of course I want real debates too, but that'll never happen.
posted by SirOmega at 11:55 AM CST on November 9


I don't really understand this point. I remember hearing how we spend more money on chewing gum advertisements each year than on elections. Whether that is accurate or apocryphal, I think the underlying point is salient: why shouldn't we spend more on something as important as democratic elections?

SirOmega, if you win $1,000,000 in a lottery, why shouldn't you be able to donate that to a "Beat Bush" PAC if you so like? If you have that amount of to spend and the issue is that important to you, why shouldn't you be able to express that? Because you might have more influence than someone with no money? Well, regardless where you set the bar, it will be too high for someone, so you aren't ever going to eliminate that issue. And it is an issue which can't reasonably be applied: as I proposed earlier, would you limit the speaking ability of a brilliant orator because he is more effective than one with a stutter? Or what about someone who has a lot of friends who will listen to him and someone who is a shut-in? How can we possibly go about trying to make everyone's political speech equivalent (this is the old equality of opportunity v. equality of conditions issue).

Why should people be "silenced" when they want to make a political point because someone else can't make their point in an equal way?
posted by dios at 10:07 AM on November 9, 2005


How do you account for the material benefits that a candidate enjoys when they are elected (at the most basic calculation a job) when equating buying a billboard and contributing to a candidate?
posted by OmieWise at 12:02 PM CST on November 9


Well, interestingly, studies (such as ones done by Prof. Brad Smith) have shown that campaign finance laws help incumbency, not hurt it. It works like this: assume you have a sitting senator for 4 terms running for re-election. He has enormous name-recognition advantage. If campaigning were illegal, he would win on that advantage. Likewise, if both are limited to $1 million dollars, he wins too. No matter where the bar is set, if they are given the same resources, the incumbent wins. In short, an unknown candidate has to outspend an incumbent. But if that challenger is limited financially to where he can never feasibly raise enough to outspend the incumbent, the incumbent will keep winning. The analogy that is given is this: if the object is a 100 yard race, and the requirements is that both runners run at the same speed, the challenger loses because the incumbent always starts as the 20 (or 30 or 40 or 70) yard mark. That is one consideration I would offer in response to your question. Is that what you are asking?
posted by dios at 10:14 AM on November 9, 2005


Actually, on second thought, it doesn't look like what you are asking. Can you rephrase it for me please?
posted by dios at 10:15 AM on November 9, 2005


Being fundamentalist doesn't make you insane

irrational == insane in my book. People who believe the earth is flat, or 10,000 years old, are insane, no?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:19 AM on November 9, 2005


Why should people be "silenced" when they want to make a political point because someone else can't make their point in an equal way?

I guess because money is seen as such a big player in politics, that an argument can be made that those who have greater amounts of it can have greater amounts of political influence. So does the amount of $= the amount of political speech you are allowed?

incumbency should be limited to a set amount of terms. This would solve the name recognition problem over the long term.
posted by edgeways at 10:31 AM on November 9, 2005


The issue of incumbency is certainly one to consider, but is as true in the sunshine market you propose as in a regulated one.

My question is, why do you see paying for a billboard and contributing to a campaign as the same thing, when in the first case all that is promoted is your idea and in the second you idea is promoted along with helping someone to secure a job which brings them not only a salary but also the power of political office? The fact that a candidate stands to materially benefit from being elected would seem to argue that contributions to candidates exceed simple speech by their very nature.
posted by OmieWise at 10:32 AM on November 9, 2005


edgeways, if the concern is amount of relative influence, how do you address the great orator vs. stutterer question?

Omiewise, because issue advocacy is the same in both instances. If I believe we should have universal health care, buying a billboard that says that is intended to promote legislation that would get universal health care. Donating to a candidate who supports the idea is intended to promote legislation that would get universal health care. From the perspective of the donor, they are both actions of speech: an attempt to have their views heard and result in legislation. Now, you bring up the issue that the candidate personally benefits, and I don't know how to really respond to that because I don't see how that implicates the speech of the donor, which is the issue. If there is a quid pro quo, that should come out. If there is an abuse of the power of office tied to donations, that will come out. Bribery can get a politician kicked out of office. So that one action leads to the more likely effect of having someone elected doesn't seem to me to be important. Corruption can be cured. But to limit speech because one form of speech is more likely to be effective than another seems to me to be unworkable.
posted by dios at 10:40 AM on November 9, 2005


dios writes "That is pure political speech, and as a matter of constitutional law and political morality, it should never be limited in any context. I counsel you to strongly reconsider your opposition to such a practice, even if you really, really hate and disagree with 'religious whack jobs.' People on all sides should be able to spend money to make political points. Would you silence Patrick Henry?"

I'm not argueing for limits (at least not in this thread). You were argueing that true full disclosure is a workable solution and alternative to campaign finance laws. While taking no stance either way on that theory my statement was to show that, short of magic, the utopian ideal of perfect disclosure solving all campaign finance problems is DOA because there is no way to even come close to quantifing these kinds of non-monetary contributions.

Replace religous whack job with anti democratic extremist of your choice, the arguement doesn't change.
posted by Mitheral at 10:43 AM on November 9, 2005


dios writes "That is pure political speech, and as a matter of constitutional law and political morality, it should never be limited in any context. I counsel you to strongly reconsider your opposition to such a practice, even if you really, really hate and disagree with 'religious whack jobs.' People on all sides should be able to spend money to make political points. Would you silence Patrick Henry?"

I'm not argueing for limits (at least not in this thread). You were argueing that true full disclosure is a workable solution and alternative to campaign finance laws. While taking no stance either way on that theory my statement was to show that, short of magic, the utopian ideal of perfect disclosure solving all campaign finance problems is DOA because there is no way to even come close to quantifing these kinds of non-monetary contributions.

Replace religous whack job with anti democratic extremist of your choice, the arguement doesn't change.
posted by Mitheral at 10:44 AM on November 9, 2005


I'd love to see how Anthony Downs would treat it!

Depends on which part of Downs you mean. If you mean the median-voter, unidimensional spatial world, there's little he could do, since that result won't fit easily into a 1-D space.

But. You could integrate it into a multidimensional framework pretty easily. I haven't drawn it up, but I'm sure you could find a constellation of preferences, a status quo, and an alternative such that the alternative is in the winset of the status quo, but the status quo would be preferred to the alternative if looked at one dimension at a time -- where the package deal of the alternative beats the status quo, but where the relevant parts of the status quo each beat their individual change in the alternative.

If you mean the economizing-on-information part of Downs, I imagine you could extend his ideas to that pretty easily.

There are a couple good electoral experts that I am interested in reading their findings (Profs. Polsby and Rush)

Nothing against Polsby (assuming you mean Nelson), but if you're interested in this sort of concern about information, how citizens process information, and what that means for democracy, then the man you want to be reading is Skip Lupia from Michigan.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:03 AM on November 9, 2005


I got to see Kilgore's concession speech--just delicious. The guy looked absolutely poleaxed that his Godwinning of Kaine hadn't worked.

Kaine's a good guy, but not Warner. Still, Bush has lost his mojo in a big way--Rep. candidates in 2006 are going to be "held up" or "otherwise busy" whenever he comes to their state for a visit. And the whole unwinnable war thing ain't helping either. Hopefully a sign of more good things to come.
posted by bardic at 11:10 AM on November 9, 2005


Why can't we have publicly financed elections? That would be an absolute guarantee against corruption, wouldn't it? Both candidates have the same amount to campaign with, and nobody can buy influence. Even if the system statistically favors the incumbent, the voters can still throw out a lousy incumbent. The worst that happens is the maintenance of a status quo that people are generally happy with.
posted by 912 Greens at 11:19 AM on November 9, 2005


Hey, are we allowed to donate money to ban them for a week again?
posted by graventy at 11:31 AM on November 9, 2005


ROU_Xenophobe, thanks for the recommendation of Lupia. I'll check him out. The only reason Polsby and Rush had popped into my head is because I had read statistical voter/electoral analysis from them before. I'm very interested in seeing how frequently voters make decisions based on the idea for change and then reject the change.

That idea dovetails with Down's theory (that I cited above) regarding the costs of getting information. Downs argued voters tend toward the median (and in what is effectively an SMP system, one would expect a bell curve). Voters don't process information without costs, and when there is imperfect information, it results in unequal distributions. With the high costs of getting information and the low percieved benefit due to the median-voter fact, people don't bother getting perfect information because the benefit of doing so and voting is so small. So how then does the issue of a reform candidate gain acceptance, but his reform policies end up being rejected. Is it because they get better information later? Is it because voters reject any real change and find comfort in the center hump of a bell curve? Is it not worth the voters time to seriously consider the change? I just think there are a lot of interesting things going on with this concept, and I'd love to see a mind like Downs chew through them.


Why can't we have publicly financed elections? That would be an absolute guarantee against corruption, wouldn't it? Both candidates have the same amount to campaign with, and nobody can buy influence. Even if the system statistically favors the incumbent, the voters can still throw out a lousy incumbent. The worst that happens is the maintenance of a status quo that people are generally happy with.
posted by 912 Greens at 1:19 PM CST on November 9


Well, for one, it would completely destroy any political speech, especially expenditures by candidates which is surely free speech (they would be limited to the amount provided). But even assuming that you don't buy the money = speech argument, then consider the impracticality of public finance. You have the same problem I mentioned above in that it completely locks in incumbency. You give the incumbent and the challenger the same $1 million dollars, the incumbent will win every time because he has a head start. Furthermore, there is little indication of support for that policy. There is a little check on tax forms that people can divert taxes to fund elections and the overwhelming majority of taxpayers don't check it, even though it doesn't increase their tax burden. But I suppose the two biggest problems with it are the issue of speech and the issue of incumbency.
posted by dios at 11:35 AM on November 9, 2005


Ah, what a mess. Personally I think we should just get rid of democracy, and install me as a dictator for life. That seems like a workable plan.

Beyond that, I don't think we should do anything "all the way". No complete banishment of corporate or group donations and no banishment of all campaign finance limits. We need a regulated mixture like we have now. There are always little tweaks that you can do to make things better, rather then going 100% one way or the other.
posted by delmoi at 11:39 AM on November 9, 2005


Why can't we have publicly financed elections? That would be an absolute guarantee against corruption, wouldn't it? Both candidates have the same amount to campaign with, and nobody can buy influence.

Which would be great if you want to lock in a two party system forever.
posted by delmoi at 11:39 AM on November 9, 2005


Interestingly Canada has a small publically funded campaign program. It's minor money for the major parties however it's significant for the small parties. And it increases voter turn out because a portion of the funding is allocated on a number of votes metric. So people who might not otherwise vote (for example a green party voter in Alberta) are encouraged to vote because it means their party will receive more money from the Federal program.
posted by Mitheral at 12:05 PM on November 9, 2005


Which would be great if you want to lock in a two party system forever.

I don't see why it would have that effect. As Mitheral pointed out, it could have just the opposite effect.

And dios, no, i don't think money and speech are the same thing, though I understand it's debatable. As for the incumbent being favored, does it matter? If the incumbent is terrible, surely voters will take note and vote for someone else. And we have term limits, so nobody's going to stay in office forever.
posted by 912 Greens at 12:31 PM on November 9, 2005


Minors need parental consent to get flu shots. They also need parental consent to get their ears pierced. Does it make sense that they can get an abortion without it?
posted by rocket88

Yes it makes perfect sense.

While a girls father or brother or uncle probably won't be giving her a flu shot or piercing her ears, he might be raping her and getting her pregnant, and then who's permission is she supposed to go get in order to have that abortion?

This measure was not set up to protect anyone... it was a sneaky attempt at sliding in anti-abortion legislation under the guise of protecting minors. The reality of it was that it would do absolutely nothing to protect minors, especially from those that they often (unfortunately) need protecting from.

If she's old enough to have sex, (for that matter, if she is old enough to menstruate and therefore get pregnant), then she's old enough to seek out an abortion on her own without needing mommy or daddy's permission first.
posted by RoseovSharon at 12:40 PM on November 9, 2005


Hold on RoseovSharon, while I'm completely against Prop 73 and glad that it went down, I have to correct you. Prop 73 was not requiring consent, just that the parents or guardians be notified.

Still, there huge problems with that.

For the most part, minors are protected by their parents or guardians not being notified of an abortion.

States that passed similar bills saw an increase of minors getting abortions out of state or waiting longer to get an abortion, which complicates matters tremendously.

Plenty of info here
posted by redteam at 1:55 PM on November 9, 2005


You are right redteam, my mistake.

But yeah, in my opinion consent and notification (in this sort of situation) are not that different considering that once a guardian is notified, the whole thing is out of that bag... and could be potentially blocked by that same guardian.... or worse, bring upon the girl many more woes than just an unwanted pregancy alone.
posted by RoseovSharon at 3:10 PM on November 9, 2005


Rocket88 asks : Even though I'm pro-choice, I'm dismayed that semi-invasive medical procedures can be performed on minors without their parents' consent. (redteam just clarfied that the Proposition actually required notification).

Is notification or consent required before a minor can have a C-section? What about an epidural? Episiotomy? Those are pretty invasive medical procedures, sometimes controversial, and not always medically necessary.
posted by dilettante at 3:26 PM on November 9, 2005




Prop 75 essentially changed the method for funding political campaigns from union dues from an "Opt-Out" process to an "Opt-In" process. Currently, union members can decide not to participate in funding campaigns, but they have to alert the union.

The proposition switched it, so that members would have to fill out paperwork to designate their funds. The claim that they are obligated to contribute to the campaigns is false.
posted by jonah at 5:04 PM on November 9, 2005


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