Some anathemas with which to pass the time

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

I just thought you all ought to know of some developments going on in the blogosphere as regards, well, not a whole lot, maybe this special election in Massachusetts or something.  All I have to offer are a few observations on voting strategy and on Orange’s attempt to whip the Martha Coakley thing before tomorrow’s election.  

I guess they’re going to elect a Senator for, what, two years or something?  And if they elect a wingnut (I guess the guy’s name is Scott Brown), the Senate will use reconciliation or the “nuclear option” to pass “health insurance reform,” just like the Senate leadership told the progressives they couldn’t do that during that month-or-so they wasted pandering to Olympia Snowe.  Ha ha, Harry Reid fooled you again.  The solution is of course to organize a political movement to throw these people, the corporate Democrats, out of office — the serious question to be raised at this point, however, is if the raw material for this movement is bright enough to hold together.

(NOT crossposted at Orange)

Over at firedoglake, today, they’re talking voting strategies.  Nathan Aschbacher has a nice diary out on “The Flawed Logic Of Supporting Coakley,” in which he argues for the “vote them out now” strategy, in hopes of getting something better in the next election cycle:

The election of Scott Brown will, at worst, give us two years to find a progressive to take his place, which won’t work at all if Coakley is elected, because there’s no possible way we’ll get any Democratic support to unseat her once she’s the incumbent. Democrats and Progressives would have an interest in seeing Brown unseated in two-years. If we want Coakley out, we’ll be going it alone, or working with the RNC.

I guess the reasoning is that Coakley is some kind of “lesser of two evils” — as Russell Mokhiber put it, she’s a corporate democrat.  And her campaign is apparently crap, as deemed so by the Democrats, the Republicans, and the polls.  So here Aschbacher is resisting the “lesser of two evils” voting strategy.

Of course, the problem with Aschbacher’s voting strategy is that it counts on there being something there with which to oppose Brown when the next election cycle rolls around.  Opposing this argument, again over at firedoglake, is Jason Rosenbaum, with his piece “To the pissed-off progressives: Don’t be Naderites.”  Rosenbaum wants everyone to cheer on Coakley, and to stop trying to be “spoilers.”

Rosenbaum’s logic is fundamentally correct, in its narrow domain.  Here’s what he says:

Our country has what’s called a “plurality” voting system. It means the first candidate to get 50% of the vote, or the candidate that gets the most votes in an election, wins. This kind of system discourages third parties by punishing people who abstain from voting or who vote for third parties. To be clear, in a plurality voting system, if you don’t vote or if you vote for a third party, you are actually helping the candidate you least want to see in office

Thus we are stuck with lesser-of-two-evils voting because of the way the American voting system is constructed.  If you vote for a third party candidate you are “wasting your vote,” because you failed to support either of the two candidates with a chance.  However, reasoning this way excludes the possibility of “movement voting.”  The idea behind movement voting is that one votes for the sake of the long run, without worrying about the immediate consequences, because in the long run one’s movement is going to achieve the “historic bloc” — so losses do not hurt as long as one takes away from an election process any sort of momentum leading to eventual victory.

The important prerequisite for “movement voting,” of course, is that one have a genuine movement to vote for.  The “Tea Party,” for instance, may be a genuine movement, or it may be a product of Fox News.  The Green Party failed to be a genuine movement in 2004 when its Presidential candidate, David Cobb (answer to some far-future trivia question) told his supporters that it was OK to vote for John Kerry.

The failure of Ralph Nader to create a bloc of “movement voters” was the primary failure of his many Presidential campaigns.  Since the 2000 campaign, Ralph has gotten caught up in the matter of whether or not his campaigns helped Democrats more, or Republicans more.  This concern should have been an irrelevance.  Sticking with the original approach of aligning with a political party (the Greens, then) to try to get a 5% national vote count and thus something in the way of matching FEC funds for that party, was what Ralph should have continued to do after 2000.

Let me repeat the central principle at work here.  Running campaigns merely to “hurt the Democrats” for their failure to pledge allegiance to liberals is, as I suggested above, only a meaningful goal if one is planning on attaining the strength to come back later and produce victories then.  Without such plans it’s just not going to happen.

But hey, I dunno, I guess all of Orange is busy whipping the vote for Martha Coakley, incl. unfortunately nyceve, who is way too smart to be producing diaries like this one.  The health care bill may indeed have to pass no matter what, or maybe not — but if you come out and say such a thing before the bill has passed, you’ve given away your bargaining position with those in Congress (you know who they are) who would otherwise make it worse.  

Right now, over at Orange, they’ve frontpaged GreenSooner’s FDL says “Grow the F**k Up! Get Coakley Elected!” which suffers from the ridiculous meme of assuming that all FDL agrees with Blue Texan, who wrote the cited diary in question.  Let’s all cheer on Massachusetts as it votes for the lesser of two evils.

So yeah.  Funky week for politics.


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  1. If you think of yourselves as helpless and ineffectual, it is certain that you will create a despotic government to be your master.

    Much of the Progressive movement is proving to be nothing more than a high tech debating society that foolishly thinks it can accomplish reform by complaining really loudly but, when push comes to shove, never actually doing anything to give the Dems reason to think there might consequences to its craven corporatism.

    What’s truly pathetic is the vehemence with which these putzes rationalize their enuchism, as well as the arrogance that accompanies demands that the rest of us join their society of castrati.

  2. to get the ACTIVISTS to care, how goes the regular folks? I don’t know if Coakley wins or not, but that this is even close should be a huge wake up call. It won’t be, but it should be. The lesson they’ll take will probably be “the teabaggers are more popular, lets move right” rather than, “god damn, we really pissed on our base didn’t we?”.

    The tangible result of all this, win or lose for Coakley, will probably be that any chance of progressive change is dead at this moment in history. The greatest momentum for real change in at least half a century, totally squandered in just one year.  

  3. Fuck that, I’m going all in. Cthulhu 2012!

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