From One Wisconsin Now.
Oct 22 2010
Oct 20 2010
We often think people are motivated to do something solely by facts alone. Instead, they are spurred to action by the feeling these facts produce. People make choices and decisions based to some extent on figures and concrete details, but it is the emotional impact these soberly presented bits of information create that really matters. It has been noted many times before that polls and other human-made means of discernment have limits because no one can truly understand what lies inside a voter’s heart. This, in part, is what I mean. Unlike the typical columnist, I do not intend to use this introduction as a segue-way to rip into President Obama and the ineffectiveness of the (for now) Democratic-controlled Congress. Rather, I’d like to go well beyond.
Oct 08 2010
Some incumbent Democrats in danger of being voted out of office are attempting to lean heavily on the youth vote this election. I applaud anyone’s effort to reach out to that particular group, though I have to say the act seems tinged with desperation rather than genuine, lasting outreach. Voting demographics must be cultivated and allowed to flourish with time, not reached for when desperately needed. Considering this attitude, I find it unsurprising that few politicians can rely on such a crucial group. Instead of throwing one’s hands up or lecturing in hopes of creating guilt and shame, I argue that politicians, pundits, and columnists need to look at the subject very differently.
Oct 07 2010
It is about a week before early voting begins for a bunch of us around the country, and that means this may be one of the last times I have to convince you that, frustrated progressive or not, you better get your butt to a ballot box or a mail-in envelope this November, because it really does mater.
Now I could give you a bunch of “what ifs” to make my point, or I could remind you how we spent all summer watching oil gush into the Gulf, and how that came to be…but, instead, it’s “Even More Current Event Day”, and we’re going to visit Hungary for a extremely real-world reminder of what can go wrong when the environmental cops are considered just too much of a burden by the environmental robbers-and if today’s story doesn’t scare you to death, I don’t know what will.
It ain’t Texas, but we will surely visit a Red River Valley…and you surely won’t like what you’re gonna see.
Sep 19 2010
There comes a time when it is necessary to re-evaluate failed strategies. Insulting the left by calling us “Naderites” if we fail to show up to vote for a right-wing candidate to replace the late Ted Kennedy didn’t cause swarms of invigorated Democrats to vote Martha Coakley into office. Insulting us as “poorly informed” about things we already knew doesn’t work, nor does self-congratulatory back-patting. And frankly, up and joining with the very gatekeepers we’re supposed to be fighting isn’t going to cut it either.
It’s long past time for the left to publicly acknowledge that tying its meager fortunes to the Democrats is a lost cause. You cannot fight a beast from within its belly. You can only be digested and shat out.
You may not like the suggestion I’m about to make.
But I’ll make it anyway: Vote third party, a LEFT-wing third party. MAKE the Democrats’ self-inflicted losses in November be because they were too right-wing and the public, having been lied to for too long, chose to leave for a party that represents its interests over those of Big Business.
You must do this not only to send the right message, but because it is the ONLY way any Democrat will be made to realize just why he or she lost and what the party needs to do to win and keep power. That’s not going to happen by sitting out elections, which is what the powerful want us to do anyway and only allows the far right to keep shaping the narrative that Democrats lose because they’re perceived as being too liberal.
Sep 10 2010
Gottlieb and Diane G. are live and in color (or is that off color?) on WWL radio Friday night at 6pm Eastern Time to guide you through Current Events taken from a Wildly Left Prospective.
Hear the Unreported & Under Reported Headlines stories you should be paying attention to, from US Politics, to the farthest reaches of the Earth by the WWL coalition of subversion: undermining the PTB by speaking Truth to Power!!!!
The Mid-Terms are bearing down our throats like Cholula Sauce and there just isn’t enough Mescal to put out the fire. It BUUUUUUUUUUURNS!
So, here we are on the Left of the Left fringes of Liberal/Progressive Land wondering just what we are supposed to be doing. The Obama administration has done more to crush the Left than a thousand Palin Presidencies ever could, and exposed the Bipartisan Kabuki as bad Uniparty Political theater more than a tsunami of heinously acted fake Beck tears.
Less than 50% of the People normally vote in a POTUS year, far less in the midterms. So with the Left thrown fully under the bus by the Democrats, do we bother to vote? Do we sink to the lesser of the two evils again, vote third party and write ins, register Republican to force people to see the horrors of their ways, or start burning our Ballots outside of every Polling Place in the US in protest?
What are the viable alternative outcomes as the Empire collapses? Will unions be the structure, or utter chaos, or a Police State?
Is there any ground level structure that can be formed to make We The People wrest our Power back from its Corporate Sponsors?
Is it all over but the hoarding heirloom ganga seeds, toilet paper and porn?
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Sep 09 2010
There’s been a lot of talk about voting here at Docudharma. This essay was inspired, lol, by reading curmudgeon’s comments trying to persuade posters here to vote Democratic.
The sad thing, or perhaps it is normal given human nature, is that nowadays the only real reason one can give to vote for a Dem is that the Repubs will otherwise win. In other words, a negative example.
As I was a debater in both high school and college, I could probably manufacture some more persuasive arguments on why we should vote Democratic in November.
I’ll probably be doing so, voting Dem, that is. As I’ve said before, I am no political genius. Sigh.
Jul 10 2010
Booman “squats and leaves it:”
It’s the pwoggies, the friggin’ pwoggies! who are ruining the
Democrats’Pathocrats’ chances in November, by trying to subvert and de-motivate the base.
He’s terrified of the hardcore psychopaths come November. And he should be.
That list is hardly comprehensive, but it does spell trouble for the
May 07 2010
One must be careful when invoking comparative politics. If politics is indeed local, nothing could be a greater challenge than making sweeping generalities between different countries without understanding the full context. Having said this, I have followed the recent UK General Election campaign with much attention and interest over the course of the past few weeks. Those who follow politics to any degree often look for emerging trends which might promise some early clue to predict the future. Much of what enraged and inspired Britons to turn out in relatively large numbers (provided they were able to vote at all), are the very same issues driving an anti-incumbent maelstrom, the results of which on our shores we will not fully understand until early November.
Mar 25 2010
Of all of the voting strategies commonly circulating in public discourse, the “lesser of two evils” voting strategy is best adapted to the two-party, majoritarian democracy which prevails in almost all electoral contests in the United States. This is a very brief look at the rationality of the “lesser of two evils” voting rationale.
Feb 04 2010
As proposed while still a candidate, President Obama’s version of bipartisanship envisioned a kind of Utopian ideal where reaching across the aisle would be a frequent gesture, not just an occasional product of odd bedfellows. My own interpretation of the concept is not nearly so pie-in-the-sky as much as it is practical in theory. Of course, I never expect to see it implemented because legislators hardly ever do anything practical these days, in theory or not. My modest proposal would seek to level the playing field between parties, particularly on a state-by-state basis, since even though running up the score might be satisfying to some, everyone at heart loves a close game. True party parity would certainly strike fear into the lovers of the status quo and the current office holders themselves, but the past several months have proven to me that many of the current batch of bumbling idiots are long past their shelf life and need to be thrown out altogether.
Though a handful of so-called purple states exist in this country, most states give primary allegiance to either one party or the other. As we know, the South is usually reliably GOP by default and the Northeast usually Democratic. I recognize that due to recent electoral decisions we know that this is not always the case, but taking into account the whole picture, this statement is largely accurate. The battles we fight with each other these days are partially a result of how we have dug in, trench warfare style, facing across an literally invisible, but still nonetheless highly perceptible partition. Purple states are certainly more prevalent now than at any other time before in our history, but their development is relatively slow and since government is indebted most strongly to historical precedent, particular when one observes the tortured and convoluted congressional and state districting schemes, the blue state/red state divide is still very much with us. Indeed, I cannot for the life of me envision a point where it will give way to something else altogether, though I would certainly rejoice if it were.
When any region or state calcifies around a particular party allegiance, competition for available seats is minimal and new blood rarely gets the chance to serve the people. In both red and blue states, running for elective office often requires one to wait for an existing Representative or Senator to die, whether they be in the State legislature or the U.S. Congress. While I of course recognize that my allegiance to the Democratic party is paramount in my affections, I also know that true democracy rarely makes any headway with de facto lifetime appointments of any legislative body. That sort of arrangement is for something else altogether and if we are to preserve the checks and balances of our Founders, we would be wise to start here. The bipartisanship I strive for would be something close to equality between each state party in representation, redistricting, and in funds. Even putting one of these proposals into effect would make a difference. To be sure, I don’t deceive myself. This would face stiff opposition from all sides and even if it were seriously considered, likely not much would come of it. Still, we need to at least contemplate resolutions like this, even if they may not be workable in reality because they are the only way we’re going to be able to begin to get the system to work for us, not against us from here on out.
One of the many ironies is that one would think that Republicans would embrace this plan, since it falls in line with their pro-private sector, pro-capitalist ideal. In a pure, unadulterated capitalist system, competition and innovation is essential to the success of the market and the economy. What’s good for the goose must surely be good for the gander. Surely the GOP couldn’t find much objectionable in this, my most modest proposal. Even so, many entrenched GOP movers and shakers would counter this suggestion by substituting term limits instead. To me, however, term limits would be a poor substitute and be far from effective, which is why I have always opposed them outright. If one never changes the political landscape of a state or a region, all term limits would really do is hand the baton off to another person of the same stripes and ideological identification. In that case it would merely be the latest example of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.
If we really could manage something close to legislative and party parity, then it would be much easier to hold the feet of politicians to the fire. Certainly they would have to worry more about losing their seat and undeniably they would need to pay closer attention to constituent needs, but I don’t think either of those outcomes are a bad thing. As it stands now, we have a still-majority, veteran Democratic caucus in the Senate who seem quite content to place its own needs and priorities above those of the average American citizen. If every Representative or Senator, regardless of party, recognized that unless Congress or any state legislative body produced clear cut legislative success that they were likely to no longer have a seat, then I daresay we probably would see some real reforms for a change. If members of both parties had to fear being booted out on not just or or two but every election cycle, we wouldn’t see a constant tit-for-tat between Republicans and Democrats, nor any of these exasperating back and forth power swaps whereby the party in power obtains majority status purely by capitalizing on the mistakes of the opposite party, not by actually doing anything to win control based on merit. A drawback in this system would be that it would be easier for competent elected representatives to be swept out based on the irrational demands of an angry electorate, one much like the Tea Party members prevalent now, but much of life is some combination of luck and chance and why should politics be any different?
If we are a massively diverse plurality society of differing and competing points of view, I see more, not less gridlock and more demoralizing legislative defeats in our future. Arguably a lack of across-the-board equality in so many different areas is responsible for everything from crime to bigotry. We have underscored and articulated the problem time and time again and have gotten no further to really going after the real causes. Doing so would require unselfishness and sacrifice, of course, two qualities that are always in short supply. But what I do know is that we can’t keep doing the same thing we’ve always done and expect a different result. I do believe in the power of reform, but I do also recognize how change often is a product of desperation and last-ditch-effort; I don’t want things to get that bad before we really act. I’m not sure how much more dysfunctional our government needs to get before we adopt new strategies that will return power to the hands of an informed citizenry. The system failed us, certainly, but we are supposed to be the ones whose active hand in the proceedings puts us and everyone back on course. How we do it is not nearly as important as when we do it. I hope that day is soon.
Nov 04 2009
A few of the mainstream usual suspects are already billing last night’s elections as some rebirth of the Republican party. While many lessons can be pulled from the results, sometimes the simplest answer is the correct one. To put it plainly–Democrats need to run better candidates next time. Both Jon Corzine and Creigh Deeds had serious flaws as campaigners, attempted to undercut their opponent rather than provide voters a reason to vote for them on their own merits, inspired neither loyalty nor enthusiasm among Democratic voters, and the relatively low turnout of both contests reveals it. This might be a radical idea in American politics, but last year’s Presidential election showed that if a strong candidate with a compelling message runs then enthusiasm runs high and the results are tremendously successful, to say the least, at the ballot box. To wit, Barack Obama was the first candidate I’ve ever voted for without needing to restrain the impulse to hold my nose while engaged at the polls.
Out here in the grassroots liberal blogosphere, I see a lot of issue advocacy: sign this petition, promote this legislation, block this vote, speak out against this person, advance this cause, and so on. Rarely do I ever observe a means to draft worthy office seekers for upcoming races. I’m sure there are any number of qualified candidates out there who would be fantastic leaders and inspirational figures. Some complete unknown today could start at a low level and eventually work his or her way up to high elective office. I mention this in part because I know transformational visionaries are found on this site and others like it; I’ve read their essays and their comments, so I know they exist. However, so long as they resist a call to government service or refuse to throw their hat into the ring, we will be often forced to back the lesser of two evils and deal with the long-term consequences of bad policy and losing election nights.
Obama’s coattails might not have a massive reach beyond the immediate, but perhaps instead of relying on one impressive figure as a means to sweep less compelling candidates into office we ought to perceive of the President’s historic election as a different kind of bellwether, one that compels others into service. Perhaps it is its own kind of mandate, one that tells us in no uncertain terms that leadership is not a passive endeavor. Lest some people discount their own gifts, American history is full of successful politicians and leaders who were much more than the sum of their parts. Thomas Jefferson’s angelic, erudite prose shaped much of the backbone that formed the American experiment in democracy, but he was a sub-par public speaker at best and a frequently shy, underwhelming, socially awkward presence in person. Andrew Jackson lacked rhetorical polish to such an extent that his opponents often rendered him illiterate and barely qualified to hold the office, but his shortcomings in eloquence were more than countered by a force of will and leadership strength which insured that much of his stated agenda was implemented in the course of two terms in office. These are but two examples pulled from the past and I can invoke the names of many more if need be.
The reasons not to be involved, to be sure, are legion and indeed I cannot fault anyone for his or her reservations. Successful politics requires a certain kind of personality type and skill set, one that demands a thick skin, a compulsion to shift position for the sake of expediency, a constantly uneasy relationship with moneyed interests, an occasional need to head directly to the jugular of one’s opponents, and the nimble dexterity to say what one means in diplomatic language which is perfectly clear to all but not incendiary in tone. To be sure, some have neither the skill, nor the stomach for what can be an odd combination of narcissistic and debasing. Yet, as long as we keep saying, “I don’t know why ANYONE would be in that dirty business”, we will get exactly that which we do not need and we will continue to elect weak legislators. I sometimes think that perhaps the antidote would be found in teaching courses to our young adults entitled “Politics 101”, which would focus on the real job responsibilities required of those called to service more than a high-minded synopsis of the system and its multitudinous peculiarities.
Political junkies and sports fans both like to examine numerical data from almost every conceivable perspective. Sometimes statistics exist in both areas simply for the love of statistics. To be sure, for example, I know this morning that someone is taking yesterday’s results from one particular race, examining the raw data on a precinct-by-precinct basis and in so doing is coming up with some new fascinating means of analysis. What is produced is often either minutia or pleasantly inconsequential, but it does serve as food for thought, in any case. The same people who brought you such specialized stats as passing efficiency against teams in the NFC West or the number of interceptions thrown by a quarterback over the age of thirty-five are about to unleash their latest bit of creative color analysis and like you, I will read it with rapt attention. This is political science, after all, but in observing the particulars it might be more helpful to put a bit more effort behind that which cannot be defined in voting numbers and overall turnout. Before internalized polling, before debates, before party primaries, before party identification, before a ranking of important issues from most important to least important, before any early measurable indicator comes the individual decision: Do I run or not?
Oh sure, I know that it’s not as simple as will alone. The recent mayoral race in New York City reveals that one can spend $100 million of one’s personal fortune and still barely eke out a win. Being a national player requires friends in high places, powerful boosters, an experienced inner circle and staff, and the organizational structure to get the whole process off the ground. Even so, one must crawl before one walks, and almost everyone who isn’t independently wealthy has to toil in the relative obscurity of the minor leagues before getting called up to the big time. Those who do run need to ask themselves if they are called to serve purely to court the adoration of the crowds or whether they owe their devotion to some higher purpose. So long as we consider politics a thankless profession, the Barack Obamas of the world that are printed on the ballot sheet ready to be marked up or displayed before us on a computer screen will be few and far between. I for one would like to see a blogger or two in future making his or her first tentative steps towards changing the system on the inside. We’ll continue to work on the outside, if they’ll do their part from within.