Green Republicans In Arizona
September 2, 2010 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Arizona Republicans accused of fielding phony Green candidates in this week's primary. Arizona Dems react. The Greens' response.
posted by Rykey (128 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Deja vu.
posted by waitingtoderail at 2:04 PM on September 2, 2010


It's a cleaned version of the previous post.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:07 PM on September 2, 2010


Stay classy, Arizona.
posted by davejay at 2:08 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do third party-type voters tend to vote straight ticket the way traditional party voters did/do? How much of an impact is this likely to make?
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:11 PM on September 2, 2010


I fumed when I saw this in the first post, and now I feel spent. Desolé. It was a valid deletion, what with the editorializing, but I do like to like in a fantasy alternate reality where my party has balls, rather than simply whimpering at each new outrage perpetrated by Republicans.

Can we not have some fucking fire and brimstone Democrats, please? Most of the party has all the spunk of a sleepy kitten.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:15 PM on September 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'll repost my V.I.C. then:

Here in Texas, it's well-known that the GOP donors and the Rick Perry campaign have been funding Green Party candidate petitions.
posted by muddgirl at 2:16 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's the green party, so they're all pretty much sham candidates anyway, right?

They just pop up when needed to take the vote away from a close call election.
posted by reklus at 2:17 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


to take the vote away

Sure, if the greens weren't running, some number of people who voted for Greens would vote for the Democrats.

But I'll go you one better. The Republican candidate shouldn't run, because they take away even more votes from the Democrats in an election against the Greens. Hell, even the far-right Republicans who would just stay home would end up helping the Democrats win by simply not voting for a Republican. Why, but for those Republican spoilers, I bet the Democrats would sweep the midterm elections!
posted by Marty Marx at 2:33 PM on September 2, 2010 [13 favorites]


I always amazed by people that believe my vote is anything else but my own. If I want to vote for a representative for best supports my view (whether or not they will win) it's nobodies business but mine.

If the democrats want to field some real left wingers, maybe I'll look at them again, but until then, my votes with (Real) Green candidates.

I don't support the war, I don't support the war on drugs, I believe we need to move much quicker than we are on climate change, etc. etc..

There is a difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, but not enough to really matter anymore.

All my reps voted to invade Iraq. They've lost my vote forever.

That said, the Az Greens should fix their election / vetting process.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 2:36 PM on September 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why, but for those Republican spoilers, I bet the Democrats would sweep the midterm elections!

Did you even read the links in the FPP? The second and third ones in particular are quite illuminating about this particular instance.

Floating candidates which are fake-aligned with a party simply to take votes from another party is pretty much not cool, I think.
posted by hippybear at 2:43 PM on September 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


I always amazed by people that believe my vote is anything else but my own. If I want to vote for a representative for best supports my view (whether or not they will win) it's nobodies business but mine.


Sure, and I agree, but I think it's reasonable to say something along the lines of:

"You profess to desire X. Your action Y make X less, not more, likely. Therefore, you should stop doing Y."

I mean, I'm there with you, man. Nader/LaDuke 2012! Woo!

I would just need it explained to me how voting that way is going to make anything the least little bit better.
posted by Myca at 2:43 PM on September 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I actually met Winona LaDuke about ten years ago; she was on a speaking tour, IIRC, after the 2000 elections. She was a strong speaker and very personable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:47 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Floating candidates which are fake-aligned with a party simply to take votes from another party is pretty much not cool, I think.

Neither is using legal tricks to boot other candidates from the ballot, but that's how Obama won his first state senate election.

Democrats could run fake right-wing candidates as members of the 'tea party' and they'd probably get a lot of votes. And there are lots of niche right-wing candidates all over the country. Acting like the democrats deserve some kind of monopoly on left-wing voters is just idiotic. Especially with crap like this.

If dems want to move to the center to rake in campaign contributions from Goldman Sachs, then the price is losing some left-wing votes.

The fact of the mater is that given the performance the democratic party has achieved, they deserve to lose. It's too bad that if they lose the republicans win, because of course their performance was also terrible.

It's true that Obama didn't have much to do with the economic problems the country has. He inherited a bunch of crap from Bush. But there was a lot the government could have done to avert a 9.2% unemployment (with real unemployment likely much higher). Starting with a much larger stimulus.

Keep in mind, the dems had control of the house, a filibuster proof majority in the senate, and the Whitehouse. And they couldn't get shit done. Apparently because of the filibuster and a handful of recalcitrant democrats, who they couldn't control.

But if they are really that incompetent, then why on earth should anyone support them?
posted by delmoi at 2:53 PM on September 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


I actually met Winona LaDuke about ten years ago; she was on a speaking tour, IIRC, after the 2000 elections.

Yeah, and I mean, my "Nader/LaDuke 2012! Woo!" was only half-joking. I DO support their political stances more than I support the political stances of any politicians in either the Republican or Democratic parties (except maybe Bernie Sanders, who's not technically a Democrat, but c'mon.), but ...

But in a parliamentary democracy, when you vote for your favorite far-left party, unless they end up miraculously picking up enough votes to just rule outright, they have to form a coalition.

The US isn't a parliamentary democracy, but the same principle applies ... it's just that we have to design the coalition ourselves.

I'm not crazy about the Democrats, but they're that left-wing/center coalition.

Since I think the center is stupid a lot of the time, I think the Dems are stupid a lot of the time, but they're the coalition, and if we want our legislative goals to be advanced, we need to have one.
posted by Myca at 2:55 PM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


bottlebrushtree: That said, the Az Greens should fix their election / vetting process.

The local Green Party had no control over a loophole in state election law.

Myca: I mean, I'm there with you, man. Nader/LaDuke 2012! Woo!

Um, you do know that Nader wasn't ever a member of the Green party, and was only on the ticket in '96 and '00?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:56 PM on September 2, 2010


Um, you do know that Nader wasn't ever a member of the Green party, and was only on the ticket in '96 and '00?

Sure. I was using Nader/LaDuke because the discussion was about how voting Green might hurt the Democratic candidate, and the 2000 election is what looms over all of this.

Oh, BTW, lest anyone thing I'm just some kind of anti-Green jerk, I urge you, if you're in a state where it's fairly certain the Dem will win, please vote Green. That will pull the Dems left, which is something we desperately need.
posted by Myca at 3:01 PM on September 2, 2010


I would just need it explained to me how voting that way is going to make anything the least little bit better.
Explain how voting for the democrats is going to make anything better, given their recent performance? The HCR bill is nice, but now that that's done what value is there in voting for democrats? They certainly aren't going to do anything on global warming or immigration or anything else. The only thing that seems to be coming down the pipeline is the "bipartisan" "deficit commission" that's probably going to seek to get rid of social security and medicare and not raise taxes at all. Why would any liberal voter vote for that?
Sure, and I agree, but I think it's reasonable to say something along the lines of:

"You profess to desire X. Your action Y make X less, not more, likely. Therefore, you should stop doing Y."
That's not the argument. the argument is "You say you want X. I also want X and if you don't stop doing Y you're an asshole who's destroying the country!!!!" Or whatever. It's tedious.

A lot of democrats (and obviously republicans) seem to see politics as a team sport where if their team wins elections, then they win, regardless of the actual policy outcomes. And that's just idiotic.
posted by delmoi at 3:01 PM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


it's just that we have to design the coalition ourselves.

But it's been proven to us, over and over and over again, that this just doesn't work in the US. Here's how it goes, most recently in the last presidential election:
Democractic Candidate for National Office: If you don't vote for me, those Republican Thugs will Overturn Roe v. Wade! They will make Gay Lifestyles illegal! They will install wiretaps in every cell phone!

Left-wing populous: We are suspicious, but also scared!

Democratic candidate wins. Democratic officer lets all challenges to abortion rights go unremarked. Democratic officer states that he will not fight for LGBT rights. Democratic officer installs wiretaps in only half the cell phones.

Left-wing populous: WTF dude! Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

Democratic Party: You can't do anything about it because we are the better of two evils!
It gets really tiring, y'know? The bottom of the pyramid will never have as many resources as the top of the pyramid. No one will fight for us but ourselves.
posted by muddgirl at 3:02 PM on September 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


Here's how voters in the U.S. self identify - most recent polls: 41% Conservative; 20% Liberal; 35% Moderate.

I would gather that most on MF belong to the 20% Liberal. There are more than 2 conservatives for every one liberal. Something to keep in mind when voting happens.

The only way we are not in bug-crazy fascist territory is because liberals manage to peel off enough from the 35% moderates to elect semi-rational people often enough.

When it comes down to it, the margins in this country are pretty narrow nationally. Locally, it's a different matter (in no small measure down to gerrymandering).

So when you vote for a green, keep these stats in mind. I occasionally vote the protest vote (green, whatever) in democratically "safe" districts. But that can be tricky - f.ex. right now, in CA there's a anti-abortion, anti-immigrant, anti-tax whacko - Carly Fiorina running against our liberal Senator Boxer. And the polls are neck-in-neck - you bet I'm not about to vote green here. Too much is at stake. And before you ask - I'm as frustrated as you are by the Repub-lite Democrats, and wish to shift the entire discourse closer to the center (never mind left of center!).

On the other hand, if you are in a district that's hopelessly Republican, voting green (real, not faux candidates) may be an option. This does not appear to be the case here, but...
posted by VikingSword at 3:02 PM on September 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Here's how voters in the U.S. self identify - most recent polls: 41% Conservative; 20% Liberal; 35% Moderate.

Note that in much of the USA, self-identifying as "liberal" is only slightly less bad than self-identifying as "pedophile." The word has become pejorative.
posted by adamrice at 3:11 PM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


This seems unethical but not illegal to me.

The complaint cites numerous potential criminal violations of state and federal election law, such as deceiving voters by presenting candidates who are posing as Green Party adherents when they really aren't and fixing an election for a candidate's "own benefit or that of another person."

I don't know how you could possibly make either of those claims stick (although that video/audio testimony can't hurt)

Also, instant-runoff or ranked-choice voting fixes this "problem" immediately. Australia does it, and the UK should be next.

I can't fathom why any progressive would oppose IRV.

There are more than 2 conservatives for every one liberal.

Correction. There are more than 2 self-defined conservatives for every one self-defined liberal.

You start asking individual people questions about individual policies, and conservatives become moderates and moderates darn progressive.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:12 PM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here's how voters in the U.S. self identify - most recent polls: 41% Conservative; 20% Liberal; 35% Moderate.
The problem with polls like that is that you're asking people not only to rate themselves, but also everyone else. How can you expect people who can only name one or two supreme court justices to be able to accurately judge the views of the rest of the country in relation to their own?

The poll is mostly about how people feel about various labels, then what they actually believe.
posted by delmoi at 3:12 PM on September 2, 2010


if you're in a state where it's fairly certain the Dem will win, please vote Green. That will pull the Dems left, which is something we desperately need.

I don't vote Green, but I generally vote Peace and Freedom or Socialist candidates in Northern California.

It certainly has not pulled the Democratic Party to the left.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:14 PM on September 2, 2010


Explain how voting for the democrats is going to make anything better, given their recent performance?

Sure. Look, I do actually share your frustration, but if voting Democratic makes things, let's say, 1 'point' better, and voting Green means the republican wins and things get 10 'points' worse ... well, I don't like the math, but it is what it is.

AND, the math stays the same if voting Democratic makes things 2 points worse versus 10 points worse.

I don't like voting for the lesser of two evils, but voting for non-evil and watching 'pure festering evil' win isn't awesome.
posted by Myca at 3:15 PM on September 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wonkette posted a video of what is described as Gov. Brewer having some sort of synapse firing problem during the debate. I haven't seen it yet as I'm at work and cannot, but here's the link

Sorry if derail, but I can't hear about AZ elections without hoping that Brewer will have some major melt down brought about the unbearable infestation of evil in her brain.
posted by angrycat at 3:16 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always amazed by people that believe my vote is anything else but my own.

I wish I could favorite this with, like, forty-five sockpuppet accounts. One of the things that turns me off the most about the Democratic Party is their sense of entitlement towards every voter left of the Republicans. I don't owe you shit, random center-conservative party that for some reason feels like you naturally inherited my vote in some sort of divine bequeathal. I'll vote for your candidates if they support things I support. If someone else has better views, I'll vote for them. That's kind of how it works. Don't fucking whine at me about spoilers; you're the one spoiling the point of representative democracy.
posted by threeants at 3:18 PM on September 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm trying to find that poll, meanwhile there's this from October 2009 showing 40% Conservative, 20 Liberal and 36 Moderate, from Gallup:

"The 2009 data are based on 16 separate Gallup surveys conducted from January through September, encompassing more than 5,000 national adults per quarter. Conservatives have been the dominant ideological group each quarter, with between 39% and 41% of Americans identifying themselves as either "very conservative" or "conservative." Between 35% and 37% of Americans call themselves "moderate," while the percentage calling themselves "very liberal" or "liberal" has consistently registered between 20% and 21% -- making liberals the smallest of the three groups."
posted by VikingSword at 3:19 PM on September 2, 2010


but if voting Democratic makes things, let's say, 1 'point' better, and voting Green means the republican wins and things get 10 'points' worse ... well, I don't like the math, but it is what it is.

On the national level, voting Democratic makes things 5 points worse and voting not-Democratic makes things 7 points worse. By that math, I should move to Canada.

By all means, vote for awesome local Democratic candidates.
posted by muddgirl at 3:19 PM on September 2, 2010


I can't hear about AZ elections without hoping that Brewer will have some major melt down

What was lovely was watching Brewer freak out when reporters confronted her on her whole "illegal immigrants are beheading people and leaving their bodies in the desert" lie.

She just couldn't come up with a decent answer, and ended up (almost-literally) running.
posted by Myca at 3:19 PM on September 2, 2010


delmoi: "Democrats could run fake right-wing candidates as members of the 'tea party'"

Why yes, they certainly could.
posted by klarck at 3:23 PM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was using Nader/LaDuke because the discussion was about how voting Green might hurt the Democratic candidate, and the 2000 election is what looms over all of this.

Nader did not cost Gore the election.

This will be repeated as often as necessary - which will apparently be forever.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:27 PM on September 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Nader did not cost Gore the election.

Sure, I'd agree with that.

Is your argument that voting Green didn't hurt the Democratic candidate at all, though?

Because that's what I was talking about.
posted by Myca at 3:33 PM on September 2, 2010


Explain how voting for the democrats is going to make anything better, given their recent performance?

Sure. Look, I do actually share your frustration, but if voting Democratic makes things, let's say, 1 'point' better, and voting Green means the republican wins and things get 10 'points' worse ... well, I don't like the math, but it is what it is.
Uh, all you did was restate your assumption as a mathematical model. The question was to explain why voting for the democrats would make things better, not simply state that they would by 'one point', as opposed to making things 'ten points' worse.

But seriously, how, specifically would voting for the democrats (for congress, at this point) make things better? How does empowering people like Rahm Emmanuel, Steny Hoyer, Jane Harmon and Diane Feinstein, not to mention guys like Ben Nelson improve things?
"Democrats could run fake right-wing candidates as members of the 'tea party'
"Why yes, they certainly could.
But obviously they should not commit actual fraud in their attempt. Find some actual tea partiers and get people to donate to them. It shouldn't be very hard to do and it's completely reasonable. A lot of tea partiers are unhappy with the republican party.
posted by delmoi at 3:33 PM on September 2, 2010


One of the things that turns me off the most about the Democratic Party is their sense of entitlement towards every voter left of the Republicans.

In the case at hand, we have Republicans pretending to be Greens in order to trick people who want to vote for Greens into voting for Republicans. The Democratic party's sense of entitlement doesn't enter into the picture, does it?
posted by tyllwin at 3:36 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


How does empowering people like Rahm Emmanuel, Steny Hoyer, Jane Harmon and Diane Feinstein, not to mention guys like Ben Nelson improve things?

It does not. Nevertheless, I would find President Feinstein preferable to President Palin. It can be less bad than the alternative without qualifying as an "improvement"
posted by tyllwin at 3:39 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I want to vote for a representative for best supports my view (whether or not they will win) it's nobodies business but mine.

I disagree. Voting is a public act, you're participating in civic society. The outcome of an election can have drastic and far-reaching effects - would Gore have appointed Alito and Roberts, or invaded Iraq?

Everyone is certainly entitled to vote by secret ballot for whomever we want, but we aren't entitled to have our choices be free of criticism. (I don't think Nader spoiled the Bush v. Gore election FWIW)
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 3:42 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the case at hand, we have Republicans pretending to be Greens in order to trick people who want to vote for Greens into voting for Republicans. The Democratic party's sense of entitlement doesn't enter into the picture, does it?
Well, in a way it does come down to entitlement. Democrats feel they are entitled to those votes and that they are being stolen by some kind of dirty trick. But in actuality, there is nothing stopping them from running "Tea Party" candidates or other third-party right wingers to even things out. No one is stopping them.
posted by delmoi at 3:43 PM on September 2, 2010


There seems to be a completely different discussion here from the situation that was linked. For people who are (I'll assume) too busy to read the articles, here's the AZ Green Party's response in that last link:

The Green Party is actively opposing 12 write-in candidates from last week's ballot. They include candidates for secretary of state and treasurer as well as seven legislative candidates. These candidates switched their party registration just before the filing deadline for the primary and have been called out by the Arizona Democratic Party in a complaint seeking a voter-fraud investigation. Many of the candidates were Republicans until mid-July; one was a Democrat, another was a Libertarian and two others were not registered.


In other words, this is not OK by them either. It's not OK when people from the Democratic Party do it; and it's not OK when people from the Republican Party do it. This is not so much a case of Democrats being whiny little babies, vilifying legitimate third-party candidates. This is a cynical, dishonest group of candidates (on both sides, per the Tea Party case) misusing the third-party system in warped game of political chess. I mean, yeah, I get that people don't like Democrats thinking they have a right to all non-Republican votes. That's not exactly what's going on here.
posted by zerbinetta at 3:45 PM on September 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


It can be less bad than the alternative without qualifying as an "improvement"

Precisely.

Better-as-compared-to-the-alternative.

I would rather have more Sonya Sotomayors on the supreme court than more Antonin Scalias.

I would rather have the HCR bill we got (shitty as it was) than one written by John Bohner and John McCain.

I would rather have Barbara Boxer voting the way she does than have Carly Fiorina voting the way she would.

And YES they're compromised and corporate and weak and chaotic and bullshit ... but you aren't offering an alternative. You're telling me I shouldn't eat my gruel because the other guys are offering me a big bowl of poison!
posted by Myca at 3:47 PM on September 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


But in actuality, there is nothing stopping them from running "Tea Party" candidates or other third-party right wingers to even things out.

Well, actually, the presence of ACTUAL Tea Party candidates is stopping them. In this particular instance noted in the FPP, the people who are becoming Green Party candidates are doing so through a rather strange loophole in the AZ election process which allows uncontested candidates to become the de facto candidate for the party they claim to represent if they receive even one write-in vote.
posted by hippybear at 3:47 PM on September 2, 2010


Is your argument that voting Green didn't hurt the Democratic candidate at all, though?

Do I "hurt" someone by not hiring them for a job for which they're grossly disqualified? From their perspective, perhaps. Especially if they feel an unearned sense of entitlement to that job.

But from my perspective, whether they're "hurt" or not is completely irrelevant. It's simple self-interest on my part not to hire the unqualified.

And in this case, it's not even that they want to do the job - advancing a liberal agenda - but are unable to. It's that their claim of wanting to do the job in the first place is a lie.

YMMV. But for me, 5% less evil is now insufficiently less evil.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:11 PM on September 2, 2010


bottlebrushtree wrote: "I always amazed by people that believe my vote is anything else but my own."

Has someone said that you can't vote for whomever you like? Criticizing your choice is not taking it away.
posted by wierdo at 4:12 PM on September 2, 2010


It's functionally a two-party system, delmoi. I don't especially like that, but when election day comes around, if we have 2 candidates polling at 49% each, and a third polling at 2% I'll vote for the least bad of the 2.
posted by tyllwin at 4:15 PM on September 2, 2010


delmoi wrote: "But if they are really that incompetent, then why on earth should anyone support them?"

Being the big tent party is not incompetence.

Joe Beese wrote: "But from my perspective, whether they're "hurt" or not is completely irrelevant. It's simple self-interest on my part not to hire the unqualified."

What you're missing is that you're hurting yourself, not the Democratic Party. It's in your self interest to at least slow the decline until we can get IRV made the law of the land.

In the moronic system we have currently, the only reasonable course of action is to attempt to change the party from within.
posted by wierdo at 4:25 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is your argument that voting Green didn't hurt the Democratic candidate at all, though?

Do I "hurt" someone by not hiring them for a job for which they're grossly disqualified? From their perspective, perhaps. Especially if they feel an unearned sense of entitlement to that job.

This is a purely semantic argument, keying on that word "hurt." The clear intent of the question was to ask if voting Green lowered the chances that a Democrat would be elected. "Hurt" was just a casual way of expressing it.

In a practical sense, unless the circumstances are very unusual, the Republican or the Democrat will will. If it's actually only a 5% difference, I can quite sympathize with your choice to refuse to help the slightly less evil one. But that rests on the notion that it is 5%. I can't help but see a greater than 5% difference between Bush and Gore, as an example. Obama is more than 5% better than Dick Cheney.
posted by tyllwin at 4:26 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's functionally a two-party system...

Because a third-party candidate will never win. Because not enough people will vote for one. Because a third-party candidate will never win...

If you dislike a functionally two-party system, do something about it. Don't complain that third-party candidates have no chance if you're not even willing to vote for one yourself.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:26 PM on September 2, 2010


Wow. Nader wasn't a factor in Gore losing?
Is there something I"m being really stupid about? Because my understanding is that if in Florida those who voted for Nader would have voted for Gore instead Gore would have won.

If that's true, Nader did give us the Bush years.
It doesn't mean that the Supreme Court didn't give us the Bush years. They did it together. Along with idiotic American voters. And maybe Gore's sighing during the first debate, I don't know.
posted by angrycat at 4:28 PM on September 2, 2010


So much of this goes back to Kant vs. Bentham and deonotological ethics vs. consequentialist ethics.

I am a dyed-in-the-wool consequentialist. I simply cannot conceive of calling an action right that will predictably produce a worse result.

Similarly, those who subscribe to deontological ethics cannot conceive of voting for someone who's merely '5% less evil' rather than voting for someone who's actually committed to doing good.

The question of which action will produce a better result is an empirical one to some degree, and is (sorta) knowable. I believe that voting Democratic in tight elections where the Republican candidate might win and voting Green in elections that seem certain one way or the other will produce better results, long-term, than voting straight Green or straight Democratic.

If you don't care about outcomes, you may not find this convincing. If you DO care, and believe another course of action would produce better outcomes, I'd like to hear it.
posted by Myca at 4:29 PM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Then answer is primaries. But assuming that you do get your liberal candidate. What happens when s/he then proceeds to lose in the general, because s/he's out of step with where the electorate is at, even as they're in sync with your views? Hey, I seem to see a lot of people on MF celebrate when nutwing teabaggers displace a Republican, because then it's easier to beat the nutwing in the general. See Nevada and Reid vs Angle. Well, friends, even if we get our wish and nominate our fave and get them into the general, we may find the shoe on the other foot. That was the point of my linking to the 41% Conservative 20% Liberal and 35% Moderate.

What we need to do is something else. We need to shift the discourse leftward (closer to the center). Because we can't - at least not immediately - shift the candidates. If the only mainstream discussion is about whether we should starve the poor/less privileged vs shoot them immediately, then we'll keep electing Repubs and Repubs-Lite. Those will always be our choices. Instead, the discussion needs to start with "what can we do to have fewer poor people by moving them to the middle class" instead of "shoot" or "starve". And fortunately shifting the discussion is more realistic.

Before people jump in with "it's unrealistic to shift the discourse", remember how the conservatives did it. It took a long time, with the likes of Buckley and others methodically setting the intellectual foundations (such as they were) for the New Right. Meanwhile at the same time, the Left was spent intellectually after Civil Rights legislation was passed - they rested on their laurels. And soon enough, they frittered away the accumulated political capital going back to FDR, and replaced it with nothing but fragmentation and navel-gazing.

It's time to get back to work. We need to fight for the minds of the new generation. I cannot believe that in 2010 the political discourse is straight from the 50's if not earlier - "America being taken over by SOCIALISTS!!!". Seriously, something is very wrong, if we cannot laugh out of the court of public discourse voices so outlandish and so brain-dead. Yet, here we are.
posted by VikingSword at 4:31 PM on September 2, 2010 [10 favorites]


Because a third-party candidate will never win. Because not enough people will vote for one. Because a third-party candidate will never win...

No, because if 100% of the people in the United states who agreed with the Green Party on the issues voted Green, we would elect neither Greens nor Democrats. It would be a straight Republican ticket, from here to (literally) doomsday.

I just don't think there are enough of us to win.

I'd like to see that change, but that's not a matter of voting.
posted by Myca at 4:32 PM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd like to see that change, but that's not a matter of voting.

Actually, that's a matter of all the stuff VikingSword was saying in the post directly above mine.
posted by Myca at 4:38 PM on September 2, 2010


Obama is more than 5% better than Dick Cheney

On the subject of marriage equality for the gays and lesbians who helped elect him, Obama is more than 5% worse.

And shoring up one's political base by mongering fear of Dick Cheney/Sarah Palin/etc does not have any moral advantage over doing so by mongering fear of gays or Muslims.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:38 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because my understanding is that if in Florida those who voted for Nader would have voted for Gore instead Gore would have won.

1) Or if Gore had run a better campaign and won more states, Gore would've won. Or if some of the people who voted for Bush voted for Gore, Gore would've won. Or if Gore hadn't run against the most popular living ex-president, Gore might've won.

There are all kinds of things that could've happened that would've resulted in Gore winning. Blaming Nader voters, and focusing obsessively on them, is a way of shifting the responsibility away from Gore to run a strong campaign and appeal to the voters, and on to the voters to vote for the Democratic candidate.

2) Not everybody to the left of Arlen Spector votes Democratic. Most of the people I knew who supported Nader would not have voted at all rather than vote for Tipper Gore's husband and Joe fucking Lieberman.

I certainly wouldn't have. Looking back, were I the person then that I am now, I probably would've voted for Gore, not that it would've mattered- Bush won my state handily. But I was more interested, at the time, in trying to get the Greens on more ballots than I was in helping two politicians I didn't like take power.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:39 PM on September 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Really want change? Here's what ya do.

First, you find an unimpeachable person, impeccable, pillar of their community, wonderful civil servant type who believes strongly in doing the right thing. You run him or her locally for an office that's historically been corrupt, so that through that office the corruption can stop and actual, positive change can take place.

Now, PR the living hell out of it, including the fact that the person would rather you didn't. Once everyone loves him or her, do it again for the next level. Repeat until he or she, as a person, is a stronger candidate than the parties can present, and continue as an independent that everyone loves until you get to the presidency.

Then have him change the voting rules to plurality voting, limit campaign funding to $5000 per year per candidate, and then announce you won't be running for re-election.

Now that's some change I can get behind.

or wait, did you want progress? that might be harder
posted by davejay at 4:41 PM on September 2, 2010


There are all kinds of things that could've happened that would've resulted in Gore winning. Blaming Nader voters, and focusing obsessively on them, is a way of shifting the responsibility away from Gore to run a strong campaign and appeal to the voters, and on to the voters to vote for the Democratic candidate.


I guess I'm a bit obsessed with Nader voters. Because post-election, I encountered groups of them emphatically defending their choice.

And they helped elect Bush. And they don't want to admit that (these groups I encountered). And that is quite, quite, quite infuriating.

Be as leftish as you like, and I'll probably agree with you on every single fucking issue. But at least admit that, if you supported Naders campaign, it was a big ol' mistake.

Also: It reads like one is saying that Gore is responsible for not invading Nader voters' minds and convincing them that they were making a big mistake. /shrug. If people couldn't see the difference between Bush and Gore, even a Gore mind-meld wouldn't have convinced them otherwise.

What I'm saying here is: Supporting Nader was stupid. Not understanding this is further stupid. Understanding it and not owning up to it is just -- how is it not irrational?
posted by angrycat at 4:50 PM on September 2, 2010


Irrational as applied to future contests, I mean. I haven't acknowledged every single stupid thing I've done, so I don't apply that standard to anybody else. But going forward?

If we (meaning the left) eat ourselves again, there's this scared of me that's all, "Game over man! Game over!"
posted by angrycat at 4:52 PM on September 2, 2010


It's the green party, so they're all pretty much sham candidates anyway, right? They just pop up when needed to take the vote away from a close call election.

MotherFUCK, no. Not true. The Greens, and all other third party candidates, are NOT sham candidates. They're only candidates that people haven't heard as much about, because our political campaign finance system and election laws are beyond stupid.

Nader wasn't a factor in Gore losing?
Is there something I"m being really stupid about? Because my understanding is that if in Florida those who voted for Nader would have voted for Gore instead Gore would have won.


No, some of the people who voted for Nader also could have voted for Bush. How do I know this? My parents both voted for Nader -- and Mom says she otherwise would have voted Gore, and Dad says he otherwise would have voted Bush.

Florida happened more so because the call was so close that the usual margin for error usually caused by the electoral party system and weird voter errors actually made a difference for a change.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:53 PM on September 2, 2010


Don't complain that third-party candidates have no chance if you're not even willing to vote for one yourself.

Oh, but I am. I haven't sworn allegiance to the Democrats. I'll vote for the person closest to my views who I believe to have a reasonable chance of getting elected. I'm just not willing to vote for people in the general election who poll at 5%

It's sad, but the demographics of America make it rather unlikely that my first choice will get elected. I think Glen Beck would get more votes than Ralph Nader. I'm sure Sara Palin would pull more votes than Dennis Kucinich. (Not, by the way, that I feel Nader or Kucinich represents me all that well.) In that environment a willingness to compromise on an Obama or a Gore may be the best I can do. I can still support my second choice over my third without feeling guilty over it.

On the subject of marriage equality for the gays and lesbians who helped elect him, Obama is more than 5% worse.


Do-nothing Obama is no better than politicians who would have worked hard to explicitly outlaw any status recognition of any sort for same-sex partners? Benign neglect is only slightly to be preferred than implacable hatred?

And shoring up one's political base by mongering fear of Dick Cheney/Sarah Palin/etc does not have any moral advantage over doing so by mongering fear of gays or Muslims.

I see a difference in that America has little to actually fear from Muslims and gays. Tea party Republicans, OTOH have an actual chance of injuring the country. Once set of fears is false, and one true, I think, and that's my moral difference. YMMV, of course.
posted by tyllwin at 4:54 PM on September 2, 2010


I guess I'm a bit obsessed with Nader voters. Because post-election, I encountered groups of them emphatically defending their choice.

Well, yeah, because the Democrats basically spent 2001-2004 screaming at anybody suspected of being so disloyal to The Party as to vote for Nader. Nader voters got really defensive due to being attacked constantly and blamed for Bush's election, since the Democrats couldn't bear to admit that they fucked up- no, it had to be, must be, the fault of those awful lefties!

And they helped elect Bush.

Say it with me now: Not everyone who is on the left supports the Democrats. The Democrats are not entitled to the votes of left of center voters. Just because somebody voted for Nader does not in any way mean that they would have otherwise voted for Gore.

Also: It reads like one is saying that Gore is responsible for not invading Nader voters' minds and convincing them that they were making a big mistake. /shrug. If people couldn't see the difference between Bush and Gore, even a Gore mind-meld wouldn't have convinced them otherwise.

No, Gore was responsible for running an abysmally terrible and tone-deaf campaign and fucking up at every turn. It was a goddamn miracle, and evidence of how much the public loved Clinton, that it came down to 543 popular votes. Had Gore's campaign been run with the least skill or savvy, Bush would be remembered as an also-ran.

And see? The Democrats continue to refuse any responsibility for their actions.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:55 PM on September 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Being the big tent party is not incompetence.
No. But a 9.2% unemployment rate when you control the house, senate and whitehouse certainly is. The problem isn't that they are doing things I don't like. The problem is that they are sucking at running the country.

The biggest problem with the republicans was that they were incompetent. The democrats got total control of the government (except the supreme court), and they proceeded to fuck up.
Is there something I"m being really stupid about? Because my understanding is that if in Florida those who voted for Nader would have voted for Gore instead Gore would have won.
The same is true of Pat Buccanan, due to a ballot printing error. The margins were so close that there are hundreds of 'factors' that would have swung the election. The republicans intentionally disenfranchised tens of thousands of minority voters by falsely claiming they were felons, then not letting them vote.

But ultimately the problem is that Gore didn't campaign effectively enough to win by more then (effectively) a coin flip that could be influenced by thousands of tiny factors. He was an uninspiring candidate who ran a terrible campaign.

And Joe Liberman as VP? Seriously?
So much of this goes back to Kant vs. Bentham and deonotological ethics vs. consequentialist ethics.

I am a dyed-in-the-wool consequentialist. I simply cannot conceive of calling an action right that will predictably produce a worse result.
That's is just some ridiculous nonsense. Somewhat related: If you're playing poker and you always make the statistically 'correct' move, you will always lose. It's not an exact parallel but it illustrates the point.
Then answer is primaries. But assuming that you do get your liberal candidate. What happens when s/he then proceeds to lose in the general, because s/he's out of step with where the electorate is at, even as they're in sync with your views?
Studies show that people are willing to vote for candidates over a wide ideological spectrum. For example, my home state has both Tom Harkin and Chuck Grasseley as senators. Harkin is pretty far to the left for a senator, while Grasseley is pretty far to the right (Basically in the center of the republican party, I would guess)

The idea that independent voters have some kind of ideological litmus test is absurd. They are barely aware of the issues and generally just vote on the basis of likeability.
That was the point of my linking to the 41% Conservative 20% Liberal and 35% Moderate.
Do you believe that the majority of African Americans are conservative? On these types of surveys, that's how they show up. These labels have nothing to do with how people actually vote. They're meaningless.
posted by delmoi at 5:00 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Gore's campaign was bad.
But anybody who was following the race with any attention knew that Bush was some bad, bad news.

Look, Pope Guilty, I sympathize with a lot of where you're coming from, but I heard people pre-voting exclaiming their exuberance for Nader. I heard people trying to talk them out of it, and the Nader supporters singing arias of "just the same, just the same" re: Bush v. Gore.

This was in a public interest law community, and we were ALL hard core leftists, so maybe there's evidence in support of the idea that Nader voters were dems and repubs evenly split, but all I heard about Nader pre-election was from the leftists.

And now I hear the same argument again: 5% evil difference not good enough, so I'm voting for a third party. And in my head I hear again, "Game over man! Game over!"
posted by angrycat at 5:01 PM on September 2, 2010


That's is just some ridiculous nonsense.

Jesus. Do you even understand the words? Do you just write things off with a handwave when you find them confusing?

I brought it up because it's exactly how I decide how to vote. I try to vote in such a way that it will make things better.

Better.

Not perfect, because perfect isn't on the fucking menu.

My position remains what it's always been:

I believe that voting Democratic in tight elections where the Republican candidate might win and voting Green in elections that seem certain one way or the other will produce better results, long-term, than voting straight Green or straight Democratic.

If you believe another course of action would produce better outcomes, I'd like to hear it.
posted by Myca at 5:07 PM on September 2, 2010


Taking most people at their word as to their political identification is just ridiculous in this country. Americans, by and large, are more liberal than they profess to be. Sure, they will self-identify as "conservative', but start asking pertinent, hypothetical policy questions and they will betray at least a little liberal streak. I've witnessed it too often to believe that this is not the case.

Conservative vs. liberal is more of a framing issue in this country than a policy one.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:20 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Explain how voting for the democrats is going to make anything better
Simple, if Boner becomes the new speaker, Obama will never get another thing accomplished, and will thus not be re-elected. Then President Palin will get to nominate some supreme court justices. (that would be very bad) I don't want to vote for the Dems either at this point, but it's not worth it just to make a point. Too much is at stake.
posted by ambulocetus at 5:27 PM on September 2, 2010


Pope Guilty wrote: "Say it with me now: Not everyone who is on the left supports the Democrats. The Democrats are not entitled to the votes of left of center voters. Just because somebody voted for Nader does not in any way mean that they would have otherwise voted for Gore."

Read this with me now: The obvious sentiment is that people who would have otherwise voted for Gore voted for Nader. Nobody claims that anybody who voted for Nader would certainly have voted for Gore in Nader's absence from the ballot.

Besides, the spoiler effect is very real. It's happened to both parties over the long history of our republic. Face the reality of our fucked up electoral system.

And personally, I think the complaints about Gore's campaign are from right-winger mouths directly to your ears. His campaign was not perfect, by any means, but it was not the complete clusterfuck you believe it to be.

delmoi wrote: "No. But a 9.2% unemployment rate when you control the house, senate and whitehouse certainly is. The problem isn't that they are doing things I don't like. The problem is that they are sucking at running the country."

I completely agree the stimulus should have been bigger, but calling the Obama administration a failure is being completely blind to what they've done. Part of the problem is not within the administration, but the snow job being perpetrated by intellectually dishonest economists who inexplicably claim that Keynesian solutions won't work. One has to work within the mindset of the times. It's not as if the President gets to pass his own laws. The Democrats are not the Republicans, dissent is allowed.
posted by wierdo at 5:34 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Joe Beese, don't be gullible. The republicans have demonstrated time and again where they really stand on gay rights, all while throwing bread crumbs to the gay community in their statements when they're not in power. Back when Bush and Cheney did run the show they pushed for DOMA, and never even took the relatively modest step Obama took to guarantee some rights and benefits to gay partners, much less engineering a legal repeal of DADT (sure--the Pentagon hasn't changed the policy, but it's being pressured to and soon likely will; compare that to Bush/Cheney's actual record while in power. Their recent symbolic gestures toward the gay community are part of their deliberate coalition busting strategy and nothing more--just politics in service to their pro-industry agendas like everything else they do. That's ridiculously obvious from where I sit.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:37 PM on September 2, 2010


maybe there's evidence in support of the idea that Nader voters were dems and repubs evenly split, but all I heard about Nader pre-election was from the leftists.

The obvious sentiment is that people who would have otherwise voted for Gore voted for Nader. Nobody claims that anybody who voted for Nader would certainly have voted for Gore in Nader's absence from the ballot.

That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that a lot of the Nader voters would not have voted at all. The idea that every vote cast for Nader was a vote lost to Gore is false and ridiculous, and is part of the Democrats' ongoing efforts to pretend that none of the fault for Bush's election lay upon them.

And personally, I think the complaints about Gore's campaign are from right-winger mouths directly to your ears. His campaign was not perfect, by any means, but it was not the complete clusterfuck you believe it to be.

Ah, yes, now that the "left votes belong to the Democratic Party!" argument is failing, we switch to "lefties who oppose the Democrats are Republican patsies and useful idiots!" I can make jokes about the GOP's hypocrisy in claiming to be the party of personal responsibility all day and watch the favorite count rise, but the instant one suggests that the Democrats, if they don't want Republicans in office, are obligated to do things beyond stand a candidate, suddenly the shrieking starts! This is a big part of why the liberals and leftists will never have the relationship in the US that the conservatives and extreme right have- your attitude is pure entitlement. At least the right in this country throws the occasional bone to its fringes. The fringe left is expected to shut up and vote Democratic, or else be condemned as assholes and patsies of the right.

Dude was uninspiring and uncharismatic and ran a crappy campaign against one of the great political strategists and dirty tricksters of the era. A million factors, and the only one the Democrats ever want to talk about is those goddamn treasonous Nader voters.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:53 PM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do I "hurt" someone by not hiring them for a job for which they're grossly disqualified? From their perspective, perhaps. Especially if they feel an unearned sense of entitlement to that job. . . .

YMMV. But for me, 5% less evil is now insufficiently less evil.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:11 PM on September 2 [+] [!]


I think I know how you feel. I really do. I also think I know how a zenophobic Republican white male laid-off insurance adjuster in Arizona feels when he bails on Arizona Republicans like John McCain and starts attending tea parties to cheer on Jan Brewer.

Both of you exaggerate the incompetence and venality of your establishment party's candidates As for you, you measure the difference between Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alita at five percent. You measure the difference between incremental steps to ratchet up to full civil rights for LGBT Americans versus efforts to recriminalize sodomy at five percent. You measure the difference between continuing the GW Bush tax cuts for the richest one percent, and ending them, at five percent. You judge that the difference between scrambling to create a coalition to address climate change versus blowing the tops off of more mountains in West Virginia for more high-sulfur coal is . . . five percent.

Your counterpart on the Right is going through the same antics. Here's the difference, though: His tea party movement is a movement within the Republican party, and his movement is actually taking out weak-assed incumbent Republicans. The Green party in Arizona is a party separate from the Democrats, and it's doing almost less than nothing to take out weak-assed incumbent Democrats. It just pulls votes from the whichever weak- or strong-assed Democratic candidates contend in the general election.

By accident of shitty Arizona election law, the Green party is also playing host to parasitic Republican decoy candidates who are exactly as effective as true-blue Green candidates in 1) electing candidates and 2) monkey-wrenching Democratic candidates.

Now, I pose the question: Are you and your Republican counterpart equally effective? Or is it possible that your Republican counterpart is a bit more effective? Possibly something like five percent more effective? Most elections in the United States are determined by less than that.

You answer that question the way you like. My answer is that the tea party guy is kicking your ass on political wisdom. You are getting blown out of the strategic and intellectual water by the tea party. The tea party movement, from the Koch brothers and Glenn and Rush and Sarah and everyone else on down, is owning your once-more-mentioned ass on the most basic of political strategy in these United States of America.

The most important political divide in the United States isn't Left/Right or Red/Blue. It's the divide between people who understand Duverger's Law and people who can't be bothered to read to the end of the Wikipedia article about it. Duverger's Law is simply the eighth-grade arithmetic that explains why the United States is uniquely condemned to two-party politics and why third parties harm their adjacent party's performance more than they influence its platform.

The tea party movement, brilliantly, gets this: It's wasting zero energy on third-party politics and spending all of its energy on primary challenges to weak-assed Republicans and scaring the Republican establishment into sprinting to the Right. Meanwhile, we morons on the Left are Remembering the Alamo of Nader/LaDuke '00, while condemning a Democratic administration and congress that has passed health care (a sixty-year battle!), saved the worst economy in seventy-five years from collapse, and all against the most united and intransigent opposition-party obstruction since the run-up to the Civil War in the 1850s.

By my measure, the tea party is at least a little more than five percent smarter on this than we are.

The other thing that's being exaggerated here is the affront to the sanctity of your experience in the voting booth that comes from an ally lecturing you on political strategy. Not you, Joe Beese, but this little couplet:

I always amazed by people that believe my vote is anything else but my own.

I wish I could favorite this with, like, forty-five sockpuppet accounts.


The idea that your friend yelling at you to not make a fucking stupid strategic decision by supporting a third-party candidate is somehow taking ownership of your vote is something I do not pretend to understand. Maybe such voters are confusing voting (which is an act of war) with taking communion in a church or pledging themselves to the gurus who most perfectly express the essences of their beings (which are acts of . . . something, but certainly not smart politics).

Joe Beese, if you find that third-party candidate that's greater-than-five-percent-more-qualified than the Democrat, whip up a movement to get that candidate successfully through the Democratic primary. That's where the ideological action is. That's where the leftward movement begins. The general election is trench warfare, and the Greens are not with us so they're against us.
posted by gum at 5:55 PM on September 2, 2010 [14 favorites]


And like I say, were I the person then that I am now? I'd have laughed at Nader, for precisely the reasons gum mentions above. But that voting third party is stupid isn't grounds for pretending that things happened in 2000 other than as they actually did.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:05 PM on September 2, 2010


Face the reality of our fucked up electoral system.
Why do Greens have to do this but not Democrats? Part of our fucked up system is defection and third parties. It's tough for them, but that's reality, and it would be better for everyone if they found a way to adjust to it rather than berating the inevitable defections to third parties as moral failures or traitors.

Because my understanding is that if in Florida those who voted for Nader would have voted for Gore instead Gore would have won.

Yeah, and imagine if those who voted for Bush had voted for Gore! He would have won in a landslide. And imagine if I were a millionaire...
Really though, if you want to identify a single event in the many contributing causes of Gore's loss, the design of the butterfly ballot resulted in a heavily Democratic county in Florida inexplicably voting for Pat Buchanan. With the election margins, a competent graphic designer would have changed history.
posted by Marty Marx at 6:25 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


wierdo: And personally, I think the complaints about Gore's campaign are from right-winger mouths directly to your ears. His campaign was not perfect, by any means, but it was not the complete clusterfuck you believe it to be.

The number of campaign stops Gore made to my home state can be counted on both thumbs. The Democrats didn't even bother to run a primary against Luger the last time he was up. This is in contrast to 2006 and 2008 when a late primary and aggressive organizing won house races that were considered safe for Republicans, transformed a 20 point deficit at the polls into a Democratic win, and raised millions of dollars from what had been considered one of the safest red states in the midwest.

So yeah, Gore and Kerry's strategy sucked, not only for the presidency but also for the congress.

angrycat: And they helped elect Bush.

Yes, 18,500 votes in a state Bush carried by 350,000 was decisive.

angrycat: Also: It reads like one is saying that Gore is responsible for not invading Nader voters' minds and convincing them that they were making a big mistake. /shrug. If people couldn't see the difference between Bush and Gore, even a Gore mind-meld wouldn't have convinced them otherwise.

Every election is an N-way horserace where the biggest faction are the people who stay home. And that's funny because everyone in the Greens I knew could clearly articulate exactly what the differences were and why they considered Gore to be an unacceptable candidate. So I'm calling bullshit on the "no difference" lie. Perhaps you would be less infuriated if you didn't take your talking points from science fiction movies and acted with a bit more honesty.

gum: What you keep ignoring is that many of these races are pretty much uncontested. I owe zero apologies for building local organization, lobbying, and activism.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:28 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


gum: That's where the ideological action is. That's where the leftward movement begins.

Actually in the wide variety of practically uncontested races, the ideological action is in grass-roots community building and activism. Like getting an open LGBT center where there was none before, setting up health clinics, brokering small changes through the city councils, or organizing multi-business cooperatives to provide groceries for the poor. The Democratic party is not the alpha and omega of liberal activism.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:39 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why do Greens have to do this but not Democrats?

Because (read the Duverger's Law article; you're on the moron side of the biggest political split in America until you do): There are two parties in the United States, it's accidentally determined by our Constitution, the coalitions that launch and ratify constitutional amendments just happen to be the two parties that collectively hold monopoly power as a result, and the other "parties" are parasites attracted to the blood of their allies, not their opponents.

Again: Learn Duverger's Law. Maurice Duverger is not Left or Right -- he was just a plodding, methodical French political scientist who proved in the 1950s that the US Constitution makes third-party politics futile and guarantees that the two empowered parties will never launch a reform of that.

I mean, just don't come back until you have a reaction disputing that.

The action in American politics is in the Democratic primary if you're on the left and in the Republican primary if you're on the right. The third option is the option where you give up your personal political power altogether.

Is that good? No. Is that reality? Yes. Do you want to do your politics in reality or fantasy?

Do you want your opponents to do their politics in reality or fantasy?

The Tea Party Movement is doing their politics in reality. Let's see what the Left decides to do.
posted by gum at 6:42 PM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


gum: What you keep ignoring is that many of these races are pretty much uncontested. I owe zero apologies for building local organization, lobbying, and activism.

That's true, but I'm not ignoring that. Nationally, it's a two-party system. In most states, it's a one-party system. The constitution, by awarding every national seat to the first person "past the post," guarantees a two-party system in Washington DC. See, you can't even talk about this until you understand how hard-wired into the Constitution this is. The logic is not that public opinion will always be evenly divided in the United States -- it's that public opinion will always have to find its way into two boxes in the United States.

(WE'RE DIFFERENT THAT WAY.)

In the aggregate, it's always two parties, with like-minded parasites sucking votes off their own big allies. The action is in the Democratic primary. If you want to make a difference, SUPPORT THE LEFTY IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY.
posted by gum at 6:48 PM on September 2, 2010


Are we still talking about this? 10 years later, are there people still bitching about how Nader was a mean man and people who voted for him stole the election from Gore? I posted this fours years ago, and it's depressing how relevant it still is.
posted by Snyder at 6:50 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually in the wide variety of practically uncontested races, the ideological action is in grass-roots community building and activism. Like getting an open LGBT center where there was none before, setting up health clinics, brokering small changes through the city councils, or organizing multi-business cooperatives to provide groceries for the poor.

YES! And then they either capitalize on that by pressuring Democrats, or waste it by supporting some freaky third-party movement. This is Political Strategy 101 in the United States. Not according to me based on my political position, but according to the United States constitution and the monopoly it accidentally constructed for two parties to trade for one hundred percent of the power.
posted by gum at 6:53 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


gum: I mean, just don't come back until you have a reaction disputing that.

It's a nice law but it's descriptive, rather than prescriptive, and ignores the fact that political parties may be involved in other forms of political activism beyond just electing people to public office. It does not mandate that a person is obligated to vote for candidates that would harm him or her, regardless of party duopoly.

The action in American politics is in the Democratic primary if you're on the left and in the Republican primary if you're on the right.

Assuming that you have an open primary where the race isn't practically decided fairly early in the process. Or even, a primary at all for a given race.

The third option is the option where you give up your personal political power altogether.

Speaking of the moron side of the political divide.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:56 PM on September 2, 2010


It's a nice law but it's descriptive, rather than prescriptive, and ignores the fact that political parties may be involved in other forms of political activism beyond just electing people to public office.

You're still not getting it. It's descriptive of a situation where the Constitution of the United States does not allow for more than two successful parties. It defines the number of viable parties in the United States as two. Third parties are free to "be involved in other forms of political activism," sure, but they are equally free to leverage that on political activism in a major party (like the smart Tea Party Movement) or waste it on separatist parasitism (like the stupid Green Party movement).
posted by gum at 7:00 PM on September 2, 2010


So I'm calling bullshit on the "no difference" lie. Perhaps you would be less infuriated if you didn't take your talking points from science fiction movies and acted with a bit more honesty.

Um. Okay. I was just relating what Nader supporters were telling me. And while it's true that a highly educated person can still be a moron, these were folks with law degrees from some of the most highly ranked schools.

So I don't know what you heard during the 2000 election; this is what I heard.

What gets me despairing is that I'm reading similar "no difference" or de minimus difference arguments in this thread.

I do love sci fi and will talk about every plot point in BSG ad infinitum but I get no talking points from anybody.

And please don't call me a dishonest actor AKA "liar." You've got no evidence for that, and that kind of language has the sound of the raving zealotry of Nader supporters in 2000.

So you've undermined your argument by a long way.
posted by angrycat at 7:07 PM on September 2, 2010


gum: That's true, but I'm not ignoring that.

You are. You can't vote for candidates that don't exist. And the moral obligation to vote for an EC slate that only exists as a sacrificial placeholder is pretty slim.

In the aggregate, it's always two parties, with like-minded parasites sucking votes off their own big allies.

Which is a premise easily falsified by exit polls. Half of Nader/Green voters in 2000 would not have cast a vote in the presidential race. Of the remainder Gore would have picked up slightly more. The argument assumes a zero-sum voting population which is not something that exists at this time.

YES! And then they either capitalize on that by pressuring Democrats, or waste it by supporting some freaky third-party movement.

False dichotomy.

This is Political Strategy 101 in the United States. Not according to me based on my political position, but according to the United States constitution and the monopoly it accidentally constructed for two parties to trade for one hundred percent of the power.

Has it occurred to you that there's far more to politics than the structure of government as created by the Constitution?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:10 PM on September 2, 2010


Pope Guilty wrote: "Ah, yes, now that the "left votes belong to the Democratic Party!" argument is failing, we switch to "lefties who oppose the Democrats are Republican patsies and useful idiots!" I can make jokes about the GOP's hypocrisy in claiming to be the party of personal responsibility all day and watch the favorite count rise, but the instant one suggests that the Democrats, if they don't want Republicans in office, are obligated to do things beyond stand a candidate"

Have you been drinking? You seem to be unable to attribute my words their plain meaning. Being taken by a snow job perpetuated by the media in no way makes you or anyone else an idiot. It just means that certain people have said something enough times to make certain other people who control(led) much of the political discourse believe it.

Counterfactual memes originate somewhere. Falling victim to them does not make you a patsy, it just makes you uninformed. But god forbid you take what I say in anything other than the worst way possible. Pope indeed.
posted by wierdo at 7:12 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nader did not cost Gore the election.

The only way that argument works is if you assume the Republicans would have been able to cheat up an extra 97,000 votes in Florida. Some people need to do what Castro did, and accept their part of the guilt for the enormous death toll that was the result of their holier-than-thou posturing.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 7:15 PM on September 2, 2010


"So I'm calling bullshit on the "no difference" lie."

C'mon. Nader called 'em Coke and Pepsi. There was a serious "no difference" meme, and I say this as a guy who voted for Nader. (In Michigan. After Gore had essentially won.)

I like a lot of the positions that Greens take, especially German Greens. But American Greens are seriously terrible at politics.
posted by klangklangston at 7:17 PM on September 2, 2010


KirkJobSluder wrote: "Assuming that you have an open primary where the race isn't practically decided fairly early in the process. Or even, a primary at all for a given race. "

You know what's required to be in the primary in most states? Being a registered <whatever> and paying the filing fee.

Engage in the primary process and you too can be on the ballot. Or your left-of-Bernie-Sanders friend can be, or whoever else you like. And this is a good thing. The more people on the left are there to shift the window back in our favored direction the more likely someone more reasonable than the Blue Dogs will win in the general.
posted by wierdo at 7:19 PM on September 2, 2010


KirkJobSluder, I am not at all about arguing Nader culpability for Gore defeat. Nothing above here from me is about that. It's generally interesting, yes, but not to me. I'm not addressing it.

All I am doing is getting on my knees and imploring you all -- all my political friends -- to just think this through. We all come together and agree and join hands, and then the half of us who understand the constitutional limitations of party politics in the United States go off to pressure the Democratic party, and the other half who can't be bothered to learn those limitations run after the third-party lemmings and jump off the cliff.

And here's the difference on the other side: On the Republican side, it's not the half who understand -- it's the few who understand. The rest just obey. That's why you get a tea party movement that's much more effective at moving the Republican party to the Right than the Left is at moving the Democratic party to the left. It corresponds to all the stereotypes ("I'm not a member of an organized party, I'm a Democrat! -- Will Rogers). Fine: I'm glad to be in a coalition that's more free-thinking than obedient. But I envy Dick Armey and Newt Gingrich and John Boehner: Their motherfuckers are going to come out and vote for Republicans in November, and here we are herding smart cats who should know better.
posted by gum at 7:19 PM on September 2, 2010


And shoring up one's political base by mongering fear of Dick Cheney/Sarah Palin/etc does not have any moral advantage over doing so by mongering fear of gays or Muslims.

Yeah. Because gays and Muslims are exactly as dangerous to the country as leadership by Dick Cheney or Sarah Palin.
posted by namespan at 7:27 PM on September 2, 2010


gum: You're still not getting it.

I get it. You're just wrong.

gum: Third parties are free to "be involved in other forms of political activism," sure, but they are equally free to leverage that on political activism in a major party (like the smart Tea Party Movement) or waste it on separatist parasitism (like the stupid Green Party movement).

Wheeeeee! More false dichotomy. Do I really need to point out the obvious hole here? (Hint, Green party encourages strategic voting on election day.)

Here I'd like to point out that it's my opinion that progressives are best using the Democratic party where it aligns with their social-justice activism and keep it at arms length otherwise. Because every election year Democratic partisans seem to love bitching at Gay rights supporters that their advances are coming at an inconvenient season for electoral success, just as an example.

angrycat: So I don't know what you heard during the 2000 election; this is what I heard.

Perhaps you should listen beyond the echo chamber?

angrycat: What gets me despairing is that I'm reading similar "no difference" or de minimus difference arguments in this thread.

A democratic candidate vows to support an anti-gay marriage amendment to the U.S. constitution, block health care reform, defang environmental reform, and take a militaristic stance in regards to Iran. Which of these positions are unworthy of criticism?

angrycat: ... but I get no talking points from anybody.

You've used the same line from a science fiction movie twice now to sum up your point. That doesn't exactly communicate originality.

angrycat: And please don't call me a dishonest actor AKA "liar." You've got no evidence for that, and that kind of language has the sound of the raving zealotry of Nader supporters in 2000.

Oh no! I called you out on a false statement and a dishonest argument. Perhaps you should look in the mirror in regards to raving zealotry.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:29 PM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, hey, guys, could we tone down the rhetoric a notch? No one's really being a moron here, no one's an idiot, at least not over third-party voting. The idea that the Constitution mandates only two parties is false, even as the two-party system is largely intractable. But it's false historically, with the most potent example being the Republican party, who essentially ate the Whigs. Likewise, dismissing it as "descriptive" misses the point—it's like describing natural selection as descriptive, not prescriptive. The systemic barriers to true multiparty democracy are huge, and even if, say, the Greens did win significant public office, they'd likely do so by replacing Democrats. While electoral politics are not a zero-sum game, the more national the race, the smaller the non-zero-sum margins.
posted by klangklangston at 7:32 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Have you been drinking?
posted by hippybear at 7:36 PM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wheeeeee! More false dichotomy.

KirkJobSluter, I guarantee that you and I vote the same way. We are political allies. We are passionately for the same things, passionately. The difference, I insist, is the dichotomy between people who rightly acknowledge that the United States is constitutionally and probably permanently bound to a system of two-party politics (Duverger's Law, for the fourth or fifth time) and those who think that movements and pressure groups and PACs and Cato and other political organizations line up on the same line on the same field as the Democrats and Republicans.

They don't.

There's one field, there are two teams. This is the United States, and this is what our Constitution accidentally dicates. That's my claim. Refute it, friend. There isn't a third team. Grasp the constitutional limitations to third-party success -- entirely different from the rest of the world's democracies -- and come back and argue with me, friend. We are trying to accomplish the same thing. I think you're going on the wrong course, and I've told you why. Defend your third-party course (or if I've got you wrong, redefine).
posted by gum at 7:44 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Tea Party Movement is doing their politics in reality

It doesn't hurt their "reality" that they have a few billionaires bankrolling them and giving them free media airtime from behind the scenes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:47 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always amazed by people that believe my vote is anything else but my own.

Your vote is absolutely your own, to use strategically, or unstrategically, or not at all. It works a lot better, though, when it's combined with other votes to select candidates.

If you're out there sweating and bleeding to try and organize and scrape together another real option (instead of a protest candidate), then I guess I can respect that. I think it's misplaced: I think thoughtfully putting the same effort into the Democrats is more likely to yield results at the governance level. But it's a hell of a lot better than going off in a huff and acting like your general election vote should offer or even buy you candidates you never have to feel are compromises.
posted by namespan at 7:47 PM on September 2, 2010


And yes, every single other organizations influence the Big Two in fascinating ways. I am arguing for us understanding the hegemony of the Big Two.
posted by gum at 7:48 PM on September 2, 2010


The Republican candidate shouldn't run, because they take away even more votes from the Democrats

Well, they shouldn't ....

I always amazed by people that believe my vote is anything else but my own.

You're vote is your own, my friend, your very own to do with as you please. And as I tell people every election day, when you enter the voting booth you should write in yourself, because no one will endorse the issues you think are important like you will and you have just as good a chance to win as any other nth-party candidate.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:51 PM on September 2, 2010


klangklangston: C'mon. Nader called 'em Coke and Pepsi. There was a serious "no difference" meme, and I say this as a guy who voted for Nader. (In Michigan. After Gore had essentially won.)

And I'm pointing out that every single Green supporter I knew could clearly articulate exactly why the Democrats were not an option in 2000 separate from the Republicans. Soudbites are not the sum of political discourse here.

weirdo: You know what's required to be in the primary in most states? Being a registered and paying the filing fee.

You do know that in 2004 both the Democrats and the Republicans missed the filing deadline for the general ballot in Indiana, while 3rd party candidates that complied with the regulations met with legal obstructionism?

There's a great documentary that grabbed raw CNN footage that was sent out unencrypted to satellite feeds that does a nice job of showing how that network manipulated primary coverage to eliminate progressives from the debate in '92, including this candid clip between Larry King and Bill Clinton. I don't think primaries are a fair fight or a good avenue for progressive activism either. If you want to push activism in that direction, go for it. If we're in the state, I might even register Democrat to vote for you.

gum: All I am doing is getting on my knees and imploring you all -- all my political friends -- to just think this through.

And this is the point where I tell you that most of us have. I've held my nose and voted for Blue Dogs when I thought it mattered. I've written in my own candidates when the race was practically uncontested. I've even voted in Democratic primaries for progressive candidates. (Not that it helped.) I voted Libertarian when I felt it was essential to cast a ballot against a Republican in the race. And here, the Greens are saying, "Vote for the Democrats in these races" so I'm not certain what your objection is.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:52 PM on September 2, 2010


KirkJobSluder: I want:

Radical environmental policy to begin reversing global climate change and protect what we haven't already destroyed.

Immigration legislation that gives longtime undocumented immigrants the right to stay in the United States, and ways for future border-crossers to work here and not become undocumented demi-slaves to the national economy

Full civil rights for LGBT Americans. And, as an afterthought, women (oh, right, those Equal Rights Amendment hearings that our mothers dragged us to in the 1970s).

Radical income tax reform to restore Eisenhower-era progressive taxation splits between the rich and the poor.

Etc., etc., etc.

Assuming my goal is success, to whom should I address these goals if I want them to happen as soon as possible? The candidates in the Democratic primary, or the candidates in the Green primary (assuming that the Green primary gets as far multiple candidates to mimic a real political party primary)?
posted by gum at 7:59 PM on September 2, 2010


Green party encourages strategic voting on election day.

...One of my best friends is a Green party DELEGATE, and he has NEVER done this, not once in the nine years I've known him. The only "strategic voting" he'd agree with is "vote FOR the Green Party so we can finally get on the fucking ballot without having to turn backflips getting signatures".

I'd really like to know where you're getting that information.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:06 PM on September 2, 2010


Has it occurred to you that there's far more to politics than the structure of government as created by the Constitution?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:10 PM on September 2 [+] [!]


Has it occurred to me? Of course! Seventy-five, eighty, eighty-five percent of American politics occurs in ways essentially unbounded by the Constitution. Like what we're doing right here. This is politics, too.

But ninety-nine-point-nine percent of party politics occur within the two real political parties. Other political organizations are either successful as pressure groups (Tea Party organizations on the Right today; MoveOn, say on the Left) or as stupid parasites on their own major party (Libertarian party on the Republicans, Green party on the Democrats). And party politics is what staffs electoral offices. What we're doing outside that is noble and honorable, but it's not party politics. Party politics is divided between smart appeals to the two parties, and dumb/parasitic appeals to odious third parties. In any other democracy, this wouldn't make a bit of sense; but we live in the United States.
posted by gum at 8:12 PM on September 2, 2010


VikingSword: Before people jump in with "it's unrealistic to shift the discourse", remember how the conservatives did it. It took a long time, with the likes of Buckley and others methodically setting the intellectual foundations (such as they were) for the New Right. Meanwhile at the same time, the Left was spent intellectually after Civil Rights legislation was passed - they rested on their laurels. And soon enough, they frittered away the accumulated political capital going back to FDR, and replaced it with nothing but fragmentation and navel-gazing.

All very true. The late 60s basically killed the Left in America.

The Left has really done the political equivalent of "turn on, tune in and drop out." Time and time I hear the same refrain: " This sucks, I'm going to let the Republicans win, let them run the country into the ground. And then in a few decades, when things are as bad as they can be, the workers will finally rise up, we'll have the Revolution we've been wanting since the 60s, and we'll remake America into a paradise."

It's the Santa Claus is Coming view of politics. Or maybe a cargo cult of some sort. In any case, I seriously suspect that most of the "Leftists" that espouse this view are really crypto-Republicans. If one promotes a viewpoint that will give control of the country to Republicans, what else can one call them?

It's time to get back to work. We need to fight for the minds of the new generation. I cannot believe that in 2010 the political discourse is straight from the 50's if not earlier - "America being taken over by SOCIALISTS!!!". Seriously, something is very wrong, if we cannot laugh out of the court of public discourse voices so outlandish and so brain-dead. Yet, here we are.


Work is exactly what's needed. A lot of hard, smart work, not just to fight against the rhetoric of the Right, but also to promote the principals of the Left. That would work too, if only the Left wasn't so goddamn lazy and cowardly. Rather than trying to change the national discourse or challenge the Democrats in the primaries, as soon as things get difficult, they go hightailing off to hide under their beds crying that nobody loves them, and they're just going to wait for the Revolution.

So is it any wonder the Democrats have been trending rightward? Why shouldn't they, when the Left is proving to be a bunch of undependable flakes? And is it any wonder that the political debate is trending right, when the most salient comment the Left has is "I'm taking my ball and going home, nyaah nyaah nyaah!"?
posted by happyroach at 8:22 PM on September 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


And here, the Greens are saying, "Vote for the Democrats in these races" so I'm not certain what your objection is.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:52 PM on September 2 [+] [!]


Sorry to keep quoting you, but I just keep agreeing with what you're saying. Look: The crazy little armature of a sketchy half-party calling themselves Greens in Arizona, which keeps falling off the ballot because of nil electoral success, and which keeps going through elaborate procedures to get themselves back on the ballot, are nevertheless and quite rightly appalled by what they've accomplished in terms of an opportunity for Republican political thugs to capture their candidate lines and siphon votes away from the Democratic candidates. Good for them! They recognize that this is not in their political self-interest. I think you'll agree with that, too.
posted by gum at 8:25 PM on September 2, 2010


The idea that the Constitution mandates only two parties is false, even as the two-party system is largely intractable. But it's false historically, with the most potent example being the Republican party, who essentially ate the Whigs.
posted by klangklangston at 7:32 PM on September 2 [1 favorite +] [!]


Klanklangston, the number of viable parties before the Republicans ate the Whigs was two, and the number of viable parties after the Republicans ate the Whigs remained two. The insight that the US Constitution accidentally dictates two viable parties doesn't preclude successful challenges such as the Republicans foisted on the Whigs in 1860. But the outcome was still two parties.

One replacement of a major party by a minor party, that immediately became a major party, is not impressive evidence of a more-than-two-party system ever overcoming Constitutional constraints in the United States over the course of 240 years.
posted by gum at 8:38 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


You've used the same line from a science fiction movie twice now to sum up your point. That doesn't exactly communicate originality.


You're right. It helps if you are in my head and hear the Bill Paxton reading of that line, "Game over man! Game over." Like funny but terrified at the same time.

This is also not original, but it is another articulation of my despair of the failings of the left to cohere: Yeats's Second Coming"

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

If Obama is a one-term president because the left fucks it up, the state of things -- globally -- will not be good.
posted by angrycat at 8:55 PM on September 2, 2010


klangklangston: Likewise, dismissing it as "descriptive" misses the point—it's like describing natural selection as descriptive, not prescriptive.

Well yes. People who say that Lee was morally guided to take hostages at the Discovery Network offices by Darwinism are similarly engaged in a fallacy.

The descriptive law says that two parties will dominate the American political landscape. It does not say that a person is morally obligated to cast a vote for either of those two parties should both candidates (or the only candidate in some cases) be morally or politically repugnant. Much less the conclusions taken by some Democrats that their candidate should be fully supported regardless of public statement or platform.

gum: There's one field, there are two teams.

And that's an obviously false statement. Ok, here's a historical example. Did American Socialism gain much more than a toe-hold in the field of congress? No it didn't. Did it have a profound influence on the field of labor law and union organizing? Yes it did.

There's more than one field out there. And I'm sorry to say, the Greens are no longer viable on any of them except in a few communities. The mistake of collaborating with Nader pretty much killed that. The platform was based on activism and work in coalitions with Democrats on the local level as well as raising awareness of issues on the national level.

EC: I'd really like to know where you're getting that information.

Press releases from the national party in 2000 and 2004.

gum: Assuming my goal is success, to whom should I address these goals if I want them to happen as soon as possible? The candidates in the Democratic primary, or the candidates in the Green primary (assuming that the Green primary gets as far multiple candidates to mimic a real political party primary)?

I don't know. I don't know your political situation is on the ground where you live, how your local primary is structured, or how the race stands to shape up. I will suggest that it's quite possible that you'd do more good with local volunteering on these issues than at the ballot box if you're looking at a blue dog or sacrificial lamb candidate.

gum: Has it occurred to me? Of course! Seventy-five, eighty, eighty-five percent of American politics occurs in ways essentially unbounded by the Constitution. Like what we're doing right here. This is politics, too.

It's hard to have a conversation with someone who will say one thing as an argument, and then say the exact opposite as an argument.

gum: But ninety-nine-point-nine percent of party politics occur within the two real political parties. Other political organizations are either successful as pressure groups (Tea Party organizations on the Right today; MoveOn, say on the Left) or as stupid parasites on their own major party (Libertarian party on the Republicans, Green party on the Democrats).

The "parasitic" hypothesis ignores both strategic voting and non-voting participants. But by all means, I do think the Greens would be better served as a "pressure group" with Dems at the national level and as a coalition at the local level.

gum: And party politics is what staffs electoral offices. What we're doing outside that is noble and honorable, but it's not party politics. Party politics is divided between smart appeals to the two parties, and dumb/parasitic appeals to odious third parties. In any other democracy, this wouldn't make a bit of sense; but we live in the United States.

Yes, the question is, "staffed with whom?" I'll strategically vote for Democrats to keep the likes of Eliot Abrams out of power. I'm not convinced that I'm morally obligated to vote for unopposed or sacrificial Blue Dogs who openly announce their hatred of me and mine. I'm certainly not obligated to silence my criticism of them.

gum: Sorry to keep quoting you, but I just keep agreeing with what you're saying. Look: The crazy little armature of a sketchy half-party calling themselves Greens in Arizona, which keeps falling off the ballot because of nil electoral success, and which keeps going through elaborate procedures to get themselves back on the ballot, are nevertheless and quite rightly appalled by what they've accomplished in terms of an opportunity for Republican political thugs to capture their candidate lines and siphon votes away from the Democratic candidates. Good for them! They recognize that this is not in their political self-interest. I think you'll agree with that, too.

Let me get this straight, a sketchy half-party that keeps falling off the ballot was influential enough to change Arizona election law to permit write-in candidates to self-register party affiliation? That's an even deeper stretch than your previous one field theory.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:57 PM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


angrycat: If Obama is a one-term president because the left fucks it up, the state of things -- globally -- will not be good.

I think you're giving the Greens, Nader, and the left entirely too much credit here. Gore and Kerry both made the same mistake of trying to play a tactical game against an opponent that was engaged in total war. Obama in 2008 understood that he was engaged in a total war election campaign and out-organized and out-funded the Republicans on turf they thought was safe. Obama also proved to be an excellent coalition-builder who actively built bridges with both wings of his party.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:19 PM on September 2, 2010


KirkJobSluder, the thing I guess I keep messing up is explaining my conception of the divide between party politics and other politics.

Party politics is 99.9% of how electoral representatives who make, interpret, and execute laws get determined in the United States, and the theme of my argumentation in this thread has been that it is futile to act in this realm as if third or fourth or fifth parties have anything other than a parasitic potential with respect to the party of the two accidentally-constitutionally-determined parties (READ DUVERGER'S LAW! Google Ron Paul).

But party politics is a minority of other politics: The vast majority is Fox News interviews, MoveOn commercials, Glenn Beck rallies at the Lincoln Memorial, or us vituperating here.

Plus, you know, ACTUALLY POLITICALLY ORGANIZING. Like calling your candidate and putting yourself in danger of making phone calls to indifferent people (scary!). Or, if you're doing fine, writing a check (expensive!).

If you can tie the two together, you may accomplish some of your dreams (and mine). But put that potential into the hands of a third-party candidate and you've betrayed me and everyone else who collectively want what we all want to actually happen. You're throwing it away because you don't realize that the United States is completely constitutionally different from other democracies: We have this anachronistic constitution that accidentally gives all power to two parties, and charges those two parties to make any constitutional change to change that. It isn't going to happen.
posted by gum at 9:24 PM on September 2, 2010


FWIW, I'm still technically registered as a Green (the only political party I've ever been affiliated with since I first learned about and was inspired by the political gains of the German Green Party during a visit to Germany to see my mom nearly 20 years ago), and I have never belonged to the Democratic party or any other political party. My support for the Dems is and has always been purely strategic.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:46 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Klanklangston, the number of viable parties before the Republicans ate the Whigs was two, and the number of viable parties after the Republicans ate the Whigs remained two. The insight that the US Constitution accidentally dictates two viable parties doesn't preclude successful challenges such as the Republicans foisted on the Whigs in 1860. But the outcome was still two parties."

Yeah, kinda, like in that the outcome of both Ghandi and Hitler's lives was death. But it took the Republicans a good generation to eat the Whigs, and while the Whigs were the only other party to get presidents elected from Jackson to Lincoln, thinking of it as a linear narrative is simplistic. Further, the point was that arguing against the Greens as parasites is begging the question; the Republicans went from third party to majority by winning both regional elections and national ones, and wildly outlived their "host." The spoiler effect is real, and political capital will naturally gravitate toward the winner and runner-up, but you seem to be arguing very hard that it wouldn't be a victory for the Greens to replace the Democrats (or Republicans).

"It does not say that a person is morally obligated to cast a vote for either of those two parties should both candidates (or the only candidate in some cases) be morally or politically repugnant. Much less the conclusions taken by some Democrats that their candidate should be fully supported regardless of public statement or platform."

No, though it's not a very hard argument to make that by not supporting the less repugnant or less harmful (though still repugnant) candidate, given that this increases the chances for the more repugnant candidate to win, the voter is doing ill to both the voter's interests and the public's.

But I think both you and the Greens as a whole concede that pretty readily, which brings us back to an argument over whether Gore's candidacy was sufficiently likely to be less repugnant than Bush's (quantifying harm versus effect of any one vote).
posted by klangklangston at 10:11 PM on September 2, 2010


gum: Party politics is 99.9% of how electoral representatives who make, interpret, and execute laws get determined in the United States, and the theme of my argumentation in this thread has been that it is futile to act in this realm as if third or fourth or fifth parties have anything other than a parasitic potential with respect to the party of the two accidentally-constitutionally-determined parties (READ DUVERGER'S LAW! Google Ron Paul).

Why do you keep pointing to something that I've already provided clear and sound objections to?

1: It's descriptive rather than prescriptive in regards to individual practice. Let's use a historic hypothetical argument and say that you had a choice between two avowed supporters of slavery. As a strict abolitionist, are you obligated to vote for either with the knowledge that your vote will enable a practice you find to me morally repugnant?

2: It ignores strategic voting, and the fact that once you give the person a reason to get in the voting booth, they might vote for your party on other races.

3: It ignores non-voters of conscience, which we know would have been the majority of Nader voters had he not been on the ticket in 2000.

But party politics is a minority of other politics: The vast majority is Fox News interviews, MoveOn commercials, Glenn Beck rallies at the Lincoln Memorial, or us vituperating here.

Well yes, but for some reason, you don't seem to get the idea that local Greens where I lived were doing real work like helping define transportation policy and setting up food banks. I guess I see interviews, commercials, rallies, and this debate as being mere theater. The real politics I'm interested in are things like networking, education, organizing services, and volunteering for services. Which you know, before our local joined with the Democrats or split off into other activism networks, is what we were doing.

If you can tie the two together, you may accomplish some of your dreams (and mine). But put that potential into the hands of a third-party candidate and you've betrayed me and everyone else who collectively want what we all want to actually happen.

Ohh! I'm betraying you by not voting for a Democrat who opposes your dreams and mine. I'm betraying you by not voting for a Democratic candidate who doesn't exist on the ballot. I'm betraying you by strategically voting in races that were decided in May.

It's a betrayal of dreams! It's a betrayal of unicorns and Tinkerbell!

You're throwing it away because you don't realize...

Um, I do realize it. However, the two-party system sometimes gives us two bozos. Sometimes it gives us a choice of only one. (Do you really think I'm betraying your dreams, unicorns and Tinkerbell when I press a third-party button when the Democrats don't contest a race?) And sometimes, no amount of nose-pinching can cover up the stench of a DINO.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:13 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: But I think both you and the Greens as a whole concede that pretty readily, which brings us back to an argument over whether Gore's candidacy was sufficiently likely to be less repugnant than Bush's (quantifying harm versus effect of any one vote).

I'm really torn on this one and I don't want to open up a 10-year debate that doesn't matter when it comes to whether the Greens should have the right (and I'd argue that they might under the free association clause) to disavow candidates that used a loophole.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:23 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


And ultimately, it's an argument that's chasing good money after bad given we're talking about a tiny minority. You might as well harangue the Communists at this point. Your better bet is to tap into the 50% people who don't vote in any given election.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:13 PM on September 2, 2010


Why do you keep pointing to something that I've already provided clear and sound objections to?

Unless I completely misunderstand you, you're arguing that there are better ways to arrange democratic electoral politics in the United States (I'm descriptive, you're prescriptive).

I agree, and when we rewrite our constitution in a constitutional convention absent antidemocratic voices currently coalesced on the Republican side, maybe we can rid ourselves of the single-member-district-plurality system that guarantees that there will always be two viable parties and that third parties will be parasitical to the major parties closest to them. Again, Duverger's Law. But that isn't going to happen in the foreseeable future.

So I don't care if you've "provided clear and sound objections to" political reality -- it's still political reality. Duverger's Law, to use shorthand, continues to partition you into a realm of political impotence where you fantasize that your "clear and sound objections" will add up to some claim to political power. Explain that to Tom DeLay. Explain that to potential House Speaker John Boehner. Explain how you want your "clear and sound" claims to be heard separate from the uncomfortable rigidities of the two-party system whose continuing structural certainty you apparently continue to fail to grasp.
posted by gum at 11:18 PM on September 2, 2010


If Obama is a one-term president because the left fucks it up, the state of things -- globally -- will not be good.

I dont necessarily disagree. But what happens if Obama is a one-term president because he fucks it up?
posted by minkll at 11:26 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


gum: Unless I completely misunderstand you...

Yes you do.

... you're arguing that there are better ways to arrange democratic electoral politics in the United States (I'm descriptive, you're prescriptive).

No, I'm not arguing for the abolishment of the two-party system in this discussion. I've not addressed structural changes, election reform, or the need to get rid of the EC at all.

I'm merely pointing out that your moral and moralistic claims are not supported by Duverger's Law.

Your Claim: You are betrayed if someone does not pick your preferred candidate.

Reality: Duverger's Law is descriptive rather than prescriptive. It says that SMDP systems tend to become two-party systems. It doesn't say one is morally obligated to pick a two-party choice.

Your Claim: Third parties are parasitic.

Reality: Duverger's law doesn't make predictions on actual voter choice. In this particular case, most of the people (like me) who would pragmatically vote Democratic already do, and the remainder are unlikely to vote Democratic under any circumstances.

Your Claim: Third parties are impotent.

Reality: Here you're arguing against yourself as you've already pointed out ways in which third parties can act as pressure groups. Before my local party dissolved, it worked in coalitions with Democrats to change transportation policy and create new services, without winning an election.

Now as I've said above, I think the party is pretty much defunct as that kind of organization, which is why I'm not a member.

Explain that to Tom DeLay. Explain that to potential House Speaker John Boehner. Explain how you want your "clear and sound" claims to be heard separate from the uncomfortable rigidities of the two-party system whose continuing structural certainty you apparently continue to fail to grasp.

Roll the clock back to 2006. Exactly how was I supposed to change the composition of the Senate given that the state Democratic party refused to run a candidate for the Senate seat? Should I have:
a) Voted Republican, because that was the only one of the two major parties running in that race?
b) Voted Libertarian, because I knew that vote at least would be counted?
c) Voted Mickey Mouse, which would have felt good but done nothing?
d) Left that ballot blank, which would have done nothing?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:12 AM on September 3, 2010


gum: Obviously, I have to stop repeating "Grasp Duverger's Law" to advance this argument. Because it sounds all "Google Ron Paul."

No, you need stop repeating it because you don't understand it, and it doesn't support the claims you are trying to make because it doesn't address morality, parasitism, or impotence outside of electoral pluralities.

gum: You fucking stupid lazy morons.

Well, so much for reasonable discussion.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:28 AM on September 3, 2010


My god, people. Preferential voting. Have you not heard of it!?
posted by polyglot at 12:32 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nader had no part to play in 2000. It was a clearly rigged election - Volusia County reported some 20,000 voters for the Socialist Party candidate, Wendell Harris. There's the whole shooting match right there. Sorry, but I lived in Daytona Beach - it is not some hotbed of Socialist Party activism. It was a phoney baloney result.

It's brutally apparent to most everyone living in Florida that Katherine Harris, under marching orders from Jeb, flat-out took votes from Gore and stuffed them with third party candidates, or just counted them for Bush, in a very clumsy and unconvincing way. Then they ramped up the dirty tricks campaign to muddy the waters, and had the Supreme Court sweep it all under the carpet.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:26 AM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


And just for perspective, here are the election results for Arizona in 2008. We're looking at 3,107 votes out of a little more than 2 million state wide, or less than 0.1%. Democrats in Arizona have more to fear from the common cold on election day than they do from Green voters who likely wouldn't vote for them anyway.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:29 AM on September 3, 2010


okay, for argument's sake, let's say 2000 wasn't Nader's fault. But I don't get the pro-third party argument here. Are you guys thinking that say, Bernie Sanders could beat Obama in a primary? What are you proposing?
posted by angrycat at 5:30 AM on September 3, 2010


Have you been drinking? You seem to be unable to attribute my words their plain meaning. Being taken by a snow job perpetuated by the media in no way makes you or anyone else an idiot. It just means that certain people have said something enough times to make certain other people who control(led) much of the political discourse believe it.

Okay, number one, look up the phrase "useful idiot". Number two, no, I haven't been "taken by a snow job". This is how I felt in 2000, watching the campaign, and it's how I've felt since. It's not like in 2004 Gore went back in time, did more to address the Bush campaign's use of the media to spread stupid lies about him, told his younger self to not distance himself from Bill Clinton, and show a bare minimum of passion for the job. Your insistence that I believe what I believe not because it is what I saw at the time but because I've been taken in by right-wing lies is so insulting that I can't even communicate how insulting it is.

The short version of it all is that there were many, many factors in Gore's defeat, many of which were the work of the Republicans and many of which were the work of the Democrats. The stupid obsession with Nader voters, coupled with the linked ideas that a) the Democrats are entitled to all left votes and b) all Nader voters would have otherwise voted Gore, is stupid and is nothing more than an effort to refuse responsibility on the part of the Democrats. Should people on the left vote Democratic at the national level? I would say so, yes, if only because the only other plausible outcome- the election of a Republican- is bad enough to justify voting Dem. But the idea that people who would otherwise have not voted Democratic owe any votes they cast to the Democrats simply because they voted for a left party is noxious and entitled.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:00 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty wrote: "Your insistence that I believe what I believe not because it is what I saw at the time but because I've been taken in by right-wing lies is so insulting that I can't even communicate how insulting it is."

If you quote the right wing noise machine's assessment of the election nearly verbatim, it's not exactly unreasonable for someone to presume that's where you came up with the ideas.
posted by wierdo at 7:11 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


angrycat: What are you proposing?

Ok, to put it simply:

0.1% of voters looks to me like the extreme tail end of a diffusion of innovations curve. Those who can be persuaded to vote Democrat at the ballot box either have already left the party (like me) or already strategically vote Democrat. The remainder likely won't under any circumstances.

Now I certainly won't follow gum down the naturalistic fallacy that the Rogers Curve makes his actions a moral betrayal. I will suggest that gum and more importantly Robert Gibbs are likely not helping much when they liberally insult reluctant late majority Democratic voters on the left.

So what am I proposing:

1: Don't worry about the remaining Greens. You get more bang for your buck building bridges with reluctant Democrats and non-voters than you do yelling at 3,100 people who likely wouldn't cross party lines even if you were not acting like a flaming asshole towards them.

2: There are a fair number of really bad Democratic candidates at the national and local level. I don't see it as reasonable to demand that people shoot themselves in the foot by funding, supporting, and voting for anti-gay, anti-abortion, or creationist Democrats. (I'll probably vote straight-ticket Democrat anyway this election cycle, but that's a strategic choice.)

3: There is not a thing wrong with choosing to spend one's political capital, cash, and energy on groups that are doing good work outside of the Democrats.

4: You can't blame people for not voting for Democratic candidates who don't exist on the ballot, or who are only sacrificial lambs to fill a slot. The betrayal there is on the part of party leadership who choose not to contest races or set candidates up to fail. (This changed in 2006 and 2008.)

I certainly have some ideas about how the Greens and Democrats could form a coalition and work with each other, but pigs will fly and that's better done by a different organization.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:24 AM on September 3, 2010


If you quote the right wing noise machine's assessment of the election nearly verbatim, it's not exactly unreasonable for someone to presume that's where you came up with the ideas.

Well no. The argument made by the right wing noise machine is that Bush won because of a groundswell of natural popular support and patriotism. They don't want for you to see that the Republican gains of the 90s were engineered because that undermines their underlying myth that they're just a bunch of hometown yokels doing what's right for God, America, and Family.

Those of us who know better understand that the Democrats were:
1: outorganized on the ground by a nationwide system of activism networks
2: outfunded by the same activism networks
3: outflanked by a total war campaign that challenged Democrats on their own turf
4: failures at the propaganda war
5: outnumbered due to coalition-building efforts on the right.

All of these were leadership failures that I thought Democrats had addressed and fixed in 2006 and 2008, and I really don't understand this nostalgia for a political strategy that was a proven failure.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:40 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


"The fact is, though, that nobody here who's objected to my condemnation of left activism in the United States that attempts to sidestep the Democratic party (Greens, nonprofits, grassroots movements) has taken even one syllable of my challenge to task. If anyone even clicked on the link, they were completely gobsmacked by the first sentence of a not-so-difficult line of reasoning."

Uh, I studied poli-sci as an undergrad and can assure you that we fully covered Duverger's Law. The reason that people disagree with you is not because they're stupid or unable to grasp your radical truths. The reason that people disagree with you is because you're taking a simplistic bit of poli-sci (seriously, American Politics 101) and trying to force it to say something that it doesn't. You're not even at the Google Ron Paul level; you're at the You Are Educated Stupid EARTH HAS 4 CORNER SIMULTANEOUS 4-DAY TIME CUBE level. Duverger's Law only covers national politics, and national politics are only one facet of American political life. So calm down with the bullshit and listen to what people are telling you.
posted by klangklangston at 8:13 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


[A couple comments removed. gum, make the least effort not to call people names or take a walk.]
posted by cortex at 9:02 AM on September 3, 2010


It's brutally apparent to most everyone living in Florida that Katherine Harris, under marching orders from Jeb, flat-out took votes from Gore and stuffed them with third party candidates, or just counted them for Bush, in a very clumsy and unconvincing way. Then they ramped up the dirty tricks campaign to muddy the waters, and had the Supreme Court sweep it all under the carpet.

It fascinates me, the collective amnesia which surrounds the 2000 US Election, it's like it never happened. Reality based community my arse.
posted by fullerine at 10:11 AM on September 3, 2010


See, this is what the holidays are all about. Three buddies sitting around chewing gum.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:26 AM on September 3, 2010


It's not about you, it's about human brains and how facts backfire.

Get the misleading information into the public awareness first (which the pseudo-conservative interests can do easily given their octopus like reach into the major media outlets), and regardless of any subsequent attempts to correct the initial misrepresentation with facts later, the emotional sentiment aroused by the initial misinformation sticks and gets more deeply embedded. Then it becomes a matter of personal pride.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:53 PM on September 3, 2010


Meet the 'Street People' Recruited by Republicans for Arizona Elections
posted by homunculus at 12:51 PM on September 7, 2010


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