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Laying down markers for 2016

danps's picture

Over the past week there has been a spirited discussion of the 2008 Democratic primary. One point of contention in the comments has been the way principles were invoked in the heat of the process. For instance, caucuses were heavily criticized as being too prone to fraud. I think caucuses are useful in theory because they help measure the intensity of a candidate's support, not just breadth of it. That's important in a general election because a motivated base is crucial to an effective get-out-the-vote effort.

In practice, though, the caucus system is unworkable because it has no transparency and no auditing. Partisans gather in a gymnasium and only the people gathered know what's going on. Rules can be bent or broken, outright fraud can occur, and in the aftermath there are just charges or countercharges.

The party has little interest in investigating because once the nomination is clinched only bad things could come of it: De-legitimizing the nominee or further inflaming the losing side. Barring radical changes like extensive live streaming (web cams for everyone!) during the process, and an independent audit afterwards, caucus results in any close contest will be viewed with deep skepticism.

Another example of principles being hurriedly invoked has to do with the convention calendar. State parties eager to increase the relevance of their vote have frequently moved their election dates in defiance of the national party. The national party threatens sanctions, usually in the form of disallowing the delegates, and in a tight race the winner of those states will have a powerful incentive to invoke the sanctity of the vote and the specter of disenfranchisement to argue for counting the delegates.

Making these points when the stakes are so high carries more than a whiff of self-interest. It's much more persuasive if one can point to such positions prior to the horse race. So even though we are over two and a half years from the next presidential election, right now is an especially good time to articulate some principles. Once candidates start to declare, it becomes much harder to raise them without having it perceived as being for someone's benefit.

With that in mind, here are a few thoughts on how I'd like to see the nominating process conducted/analyzed. Whether one intends to participate in the process or not (the comments at Corrente suggest quite a few people were sufficiently alienated by 2008 to swear off further involvement), primary season will be big news; it will be helpful to have a decent frame if only for jaded observation.

  • Caucus results should be lightly regarded for the reasons above.

  • State parties should have to live with sanctions from the national party for changing election dates. Disenfranchisemet because of that is the responsibility of the state party, not the national one. The national one, in its wisdom, sets the calendar how it likes. State parties should be expected to abide by that or suffer the consequences.

  • Debates should be open to any candidate that is actively campaigning, has field offices in upcoming (say six weeks) election states and is polling above the margin of error in at least half of the major polls. (A candidate's internal polling results shouldn't be used.)

  • A candidate's position on an issue should be qualified by the nature of that position. For instance, most Democratic candidates will probably pay lip service to single payer. But there is a world of difference between "sure, I'd love for us to have it" and "this is my top domestic priority, a vote for me is a vote for single payer, and I will rally a citizen occupation of Washington starting the first day Congress is in session to make that happen."

  • A candidate's position should also be qualified by the ability of the candidate to make the change happen. Presidents have great latitude in executive areas like judicial nominations and federal agency rule making, less so in legislation. A Democrat who promises liberal utopia based on getting a raft of legislation through Congress - especially the House - is probably blowing smoke. That said, reality is malleable. We are told by our political betters that single payer is unrealistic, but a campaign like the one described above could make it suddenly become realistic.

  • Finally, we need a policy platform to grade candidates against. I'd humbly recommend a project I've contributed to as an example. Over the past few months the community at Corrente has been working on a 12 point platform, and I think it's quite good. Here is an earlier version with a good breakdown of its different components, and here is the latest iteration. It's been formulated outside of election season with the goal of creating a durable and just set of policies. I think it's a fine yardstick to measure candidates against. I'm sure some will find it lacking, but the point is to have something to evaluate candidates against.

Those are my markers. What are yours?

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V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...raises, but ever more, questions.
It seems, especially with the last week's news (sic), that choices are ever farther/further (both are relevant) from *our* grasp. Oligarchy seems to be the byword.
How would one go about overthrowing the oligarchic grip on the electoral process; which in itself is an oxymoron.
There is a movement to force the electoral college (how strange a term) to give the votes to the candidate with the most votes. I await with baited breath for that outcome (not sarcastic).
I simply suggest there is no way left (ha) to work within the system; and therein lies the challenge...

Don't believe them, don't fear them, don't ask anything of them.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.
Frederick Douglass

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

If "no way to work within the system" means "we can't work within the two legacy parties," then the challenge would seem to be building up a third party. I've written before (here and here) about my problems with the Greens; short version: for a political party, they really don't seem to spend a ton of time on party building activity. Building up a third party is an enormous task that involves lots of persistence and unglamorous work.

If "no way to work within the system" means "our current electoral system is irredeemably corrupt" then you're talking about revolution, nonviolent or otherwise. Revolutions seem to generate a high degree of "meet the new boss" outcomes, though, so unless such a thing was accompanied by an undisputed leadership that had a prefigured replacement, I think the outcome would be dicey.

One of the things I wanted to draw out in this thread is the sense the community has of the way forward. I'm not at all impressed with the cheap cynicism of "everyone's corrupt; to hell with it." Anyone who wants to proclaim their magnificent indifference to the 2016 primaries should be expected to articulate what their alternative is and how they propose to help bring it about.

As I explain in the links above, "vote Green" doesn't cut it for me, at least not with the current Green model of "show up in presidential years and castigate liberals for voting for the evil of two lessers." Win some local races, leverage that to regional representation, leverage that to national representation and then talk to me about voting Green for president.

And for those whose sense of the way forward is to sit on the sidelines and bitch, fuck off. Doing nothing is not an option.

transcriber's picture
Submitted by transcriber on

If "no way to work within the system" means "our current electoral system is irredeemably corrupt" then you're talking about revolution, nonviolent or otherwise. Revolutions seem to generate a high degree of "meet the new boss" outcomes, though, so unless such a thing was accompanied by an undisputed leadership that had a prefigured replacement, I think the outcome would be dicey.

And for those whose sense of the way forward is to sit on the sidelines and bitch, fuck off. Doing nothing is not an option.

Are you thinking about the Russell Brand interview? I am.

You dismiss him, I don't.

Not sure how to go forward, I'm just more sure that what we're doing now is broken.

If bitching on the sidelines is synonymous with trying to think outside the box, well I guess I could be fucking off. Thanks though, I do appreciate this post.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

I actually wasn't thinking of Brand - I don't devote a lot of brain space to him. I don't think he's a terribly compelling political theorist, and giving the transcript you linked to a second look doesn't change my mind about that. I think he's got a certain Mephistophelean charisma that draws people in and makes them give his ideas more weight than they deserve on the merits.

The transcript basically has Brand saying, everything's fucked up and I don't have any alternative in mind; let's tear down the whole rotting edifice and we'll figure out what to do after that. Sorry, not buying it.

On bitching on the sidelines vs. thinking outside the box, I think my big problem is with refusing to participate in civic life. The legacy parties aren't workable? OK, then what are you doing to help build up alternatives? There's a lot of "fuck that, I'm voting Green" out there - casting a third party vote for president, but not rolling up the sleeves to build up the party otherwise. And I think that kind of rotten attitude comes from the top - Jill Stein and Ralph Nader aren't out there trying to get make the party stronger, they're just off on their latest crusades. Being a party's presidential nominee ought to make one willing to engage in a certain amount of party building activity. Otherwise it's plain vanity.

transcriber's picture
Submitted by transcriber on

I thought the interview was what you were referring to because I keep thinking about it. I did the transcript because I loved what he was saying, and how he was saying it, popping the reverence/fail balloons with the ... well, what would you say, the sharpest point possible or the biggest stomp? Big bang, anyway. He's never voted in his life! I have never not voted! I think he's participating in global civic life in a very big way indeed.

I also gave a lot of thought to the David Swanson-Daniel Ellsberg debate in 2012 about whether to hold your nose and vote for Obama, the lesser of two evils (Ellsberg), or not (Swanson). iirc Swanson was voting third party but wasn't saying third party was the answer he wanted us to focus on, rather not losing momentum in building a new movement. Both Swanson and Ellsberg wanted to build a movement, but the debate focused on the election and I saw the elections as part of a systemic fail, not a solution to it, and there wasn't a lot of success to report from either side on building a movement either. I voted anyway but I wrote Ellsberg's name in on my ballot. I always wondered if my vote got counted. Our county registrar of voters came from Diebold, and her asst ROV (now ROV) was Michael Vu of Cuyahoga County Ohio 2004. Seriously. Appointed office.

I agree that Brand didn't have "the answer" (yet?) either -- put on the spot he imagined something like hazy adminbots or admin bods, I still wish I knew what he said. But everyone's theory is missing something, there's always an X for that thing we need but doesn't exist. Angels. After a while the pattern gets fascinating. But the Constitution was set up so that no angels need apply.

The one thing I've thought that would make a difference in terms of restoring the Constitution and effective democracy is actually not in the elections part but in the juries part. Because juries, in original form, checked and balanced the law, judged the law as well as the accused, assumed the law needed checking and balancing always, in every case. Check how many times the word "jury" is in the Constitution. We the people... jury... jury.. jury.... There was that moment in traffic court when I said oh now I get it, when I saw what law and courts without juries were like. Every time I've gone to jury duty lately all the jurors are dismissed because the cases are plea bargained away. Something's not right.

I don't want to crown Republicans or crown Democrats, I'm kind of done with that kind of authority dependence and bought crowns. I don't want to divide us against each other any more. I'm sick of good guys vs. bad guys. It looks like getting half of us to kill the other half. I want us to reason together, and random juries, at least in my mind, were where the rubber hit the road. I look for people to people solutions, not for a new FDR. The word "commons" shines like a light to me.

These guys are interesting, I think:

Comprehensive Disobedience: Occupying the Sharing Economy in Spain

Derecho de Rebelion encourages the people of Spain to withdraw their allegiance from this delegitimized government and instead “declare ourselves citizens of the popular assemblies and the assemblies of post-capitalist projects in which we participate”:

I wonder how the assemblies work? It seems to be more about reconstitution of legitimate systems, from the ground up.

They also remained active in the 15-M assemblies and began to link up various sharing economy projects — cooperatives, community gardens, free stores, food banks, alternative currencies, debtors’ unions, credit cooperatives, barter networks, housing co-ops, tool libraries, off-the-grid small-scale energy generators, soup kitchens, squats, activist affinity groups, popular assemblies, and the like — hoping that by connecting the people in these projects into local, self-managed networks, they could bypass the government/financial intermediaries in the economy. They coined the term “Desobediencia Integral” (Comprehensive Disobedience) for this strategy:

Comprehensive Disobedience involves breaking the social contract with the State of a territory where one lives, in order to bring into being a new social contract in a community with which the individual is really linked.

I'm guessing Russell Brand is down with that? They have a manual but it's in Spanish, sigh.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

I think the commons is really important, and the more ways the better. Proto-social/political bodies like the assemblies you mention, as well as engaging with governmental bodies at the local level.

Part of what I've been involved with the past few years with fracking (and increasingly pipelines) is what I think of as probe the beast: approaching different bodies and seeing how receptive they are. In my case, township trustees were downright hostile; county commissioners receptive. All right then, work with the commissioners. At the state level I think ODNR has been slightly more active than it otherwise would have been because of the way activists were able to embarrass it by making noise.

I think the ongoing process of civic engagement is a much more important component of citizenry than voting, yet Brand is silent on that. With him it all seems to be, everything is corrupt and don't bother voting. Like I said, I consider that to be cheap cynicism. It lets one rationalize not doing anything. And really, it's just curdled naïveté.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I think the ongoing process of civic engagement is a much more important component of citizenry than voting,

I could not agree more. Precisely so.

I think of Brand as the designer edition of voter suppression. That is how someone with his politics gets a TV show. The system is corrupt, so lets just sit here, watch my TV show, and wank.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

I think of Brand as the designer edition of voter suppression. That is how someone with his politics gets a TV show. The system is corrupt, so lets just sit here, watch my TV show, and wank.

Marry me.

transcriber's picture
Submitted by transcriber on

No, no, NO.

I mean yes, by all means get married and live happily ever after, hugs and rice, but NO, Russell Brand is not the do-nothing worth-nothing you say he is. Fascinating actually, dog whistles and all that.

I can't believe you're accusing him of civic disengagement! What would telling truth to power look like? What would civic engagement look like?

He's not just engaging, he's shaking everything up and down, last I saw. This NEEDS to happen.

To DCBlogger, with your years of election work experience, I remember asking you once something that Russell Brand asked Jeremy Paxman: Aren't you more bored than anyone?

Russell Brand: So until people start addressing things that are actually real, why wouldn’t I be facetious? Why would I take it seriously? Why would I encourage a constituency of young people that are absolutely indifferent, to vote? Why would we? Aren’t you bored? Aren’t you more bored than anyone? Ain’t you been talking to them year after year, listening to their lies, their nonsense? Then it’s this one gets in, then it’s that one get in, but the problem continues? Why are we going to continue to contribute to this facade?

From my OOB orbit shell, call it loony sure we may, you all look like you're in a hole and still digging. "Look! They're going to dig some more! Again!" I'm thinking like, whoa. Stop. Look around. It's a hole. You're not getting anywhere. This isn't working. It's getting worse.

Russell's out there trying to tell you something, tell the world something. Laughing at the emperor's new clothes, that's something, not nothing. The nothing is the emperor's clothes. Leave us lay off the oohing and aahing and forelock pulling for a bit maybe? Look, it's the emperor not Russell who's got nothing.

Other than that, I do appreciate all you're doing, just like I appreciate the guys below decks on the Titanic keeping the lights on till the last moment. My heart swells. My flag waves. But maybe there's an iceberg in the soup, maybe someone could look and think about adjusting something? Maybe... say something, start fellows thinking? There were eight officers on the Titanic. You know? You wonder what all those other people on board might have done differently if they were engaged. What if one of them was Russell Brand making a big noise? (Ah, happy orbit thinking!) I just feel like we already know we're on the Titanic with officers ignoring every ice warning. We know this. Sure, maybe a new body in the suit might make the difference sometime, but maybe the suit system has a problem and meanwhile there's something urgent happening? As far as awareness goes, this is a headless ship, and it may make you feel better that it'll sink from a hole on the right not left ("See, I told you. Marry me!"), but me, I'm thinking I wish Russell Brand was here. "Hello! This seems to be the Titanic now, but I signed up for the Constitution. Stop! Stop I say." And then when that doesn't work...

That is one point of view I consider. I have others. But it's not nothing to me.

Many happy returns-- oh wait.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

until people start addressing things that are actually real, why wouldn’t I be facetious?

Perhaps he could start addressing things that are actually real. Perhaps he isn't actually the passive observer floating above the earth that he would like us to believe. He frames it in a way that conveniently allows him to make his world weary and jaded observations about why he can't be bothered to lift a finger.

As for your flurry of metaphors (the emperor is digging a hole on the Titanic, as I understand it), a few things. One, actual non-metaphorical events are happening in my neck of the woods, things like fracking and pipelines. It would be lovely to have the luxury of viewing everything at an ironic distance, and certainly Russel Brand has the resources to decamp from any patch of Earth that gets ruined, but most of the rest of us have to sink or swim where we are. Trying to do something about that requires engagement with the facade that Brand finds so terribly boring.

Emperor's new clothes arguments are ridiculous because they confer upon the teller a superior discernment from the gullible masses. Yes, you've figured it out, congratulations, you're so clever. And the climate change denialists say they are calling out the emperor's new clothes, and everyone picks their own emperor. Yipee. A more worthless metaphor may not exist in politics.

Finally, in case it wasn't clear, it's not about being vindicated ("it may make you feel better that it'll sink from a hole on the right not left") but about trying to make some scrap of goddamned bit of difference on issues that directly affect my (and my family's) quality of life. On those issues with a longer view (12 point platform and such) there's still a component of enlightened self interest. But characterizing it as being about correctly calling which side the ship will sink on absolves one - and one's allies - from doing more than courageously speaking truth to power. Which, in the current context, really means bitching from the sidelines.

Submitted by lambert on

... they're trying to ram the East-West Corridor and a new landfill through the unorganized territories (as we call them) where a lot of people bought land and started farming because they assumed ... What was, as it turns out, planned for them wasn't going to happen.

* * *

As far as Russell Brand, a lot of people get only part of the equation right. I like "designer voter suppression" a lot, but I am also optimistic enough to think that Brand is reachable in a way that, say, his BBC interlocutor is not.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

To me, the idea that working local issues (landfills near you, pipelines near me) touches the national/global system global system is obvious. Not that it shakes the larger level (it's been known to happen though!), usually just sends vibrations, but still: same beast.

What's frustrating about Brand's narrative is that, maybe due to his show biz background, he sees it all in terms of stagecraft and artifice. It's all a play, and the players are the big shots everyone reads about. That ignores the efforts of, say, county commissioners in Ohio or state Senate candidates in Maine. They might not have the same power as heads of state, but they can send small shocks up the system. Same with engaged citizens and organizing efforts at that level.

That whole universe of activity (and possibility) is written out of Brand's narrative because he'd rather look at the foppery of elites. As a comedian that's definitely a strong choice of subject, but as a political theory its closest cousin is the far right "government can't do anything, let's devolve to a state of nature" story. Its best outcome is to inculcate resignation and fatalism in those who buy it. I don't find it admirable at all.

Submitted by lambert on

I rarely laugh out loud reading comment threads...

* * *

I'll officiate!

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by lambert on

Granted, this is only two people on a vast continent, but I was impressed by Ursula Rozum in upstate New York and Asher Platts in Maine. I'm watching Platts in his run for the State Senate, and I think he's the real deal. He is very good at what he does -- politics -- and Maine is fertile ground for the Greens.

I know this isn't fair, but I'm a good deal less impressed by the national leadership; I voted for Stein/Honkola, and they're good, committed people, but are they serious candidates? Yes, I know "serious" is a Washington buzzword, so translate it this way: Are they prepared and equipped to exercise power?* I don't think so. I also have the feeling that there's a permanent Green Party apparat, back stage, that I don't know anything about, and I don't like that.

* * *

FWIW, I think the Democratic nomenklatura is a dead loss, and the party has to be split.** The unions, if they had the stones, could do this (as Bernie Sanders has pointed out). I hate to be a "worse is better" type of guy, but when the next recession/depression comes, it's going to be bad, and I bet the powers that be are perfectly happy to leave a woman (Hillary) holding the bag, just as at GM. Absent FDR-scale measures, the Democrats will be toast.

* * *

I think the wild card, which I would really like to encourage if I knew how to do so, is "parallel sovereignty" movements. I would reallly like to see let's IVCS system up and running, in any form, by 2016. It would set a baseline for showing the radical discrepancy between what is, and what could be. Smashing the Overton Window should be the goal. (And I still think there should be a way to do it without a monolithic piece of software. Because otherwise a cheaper open sourced version is going to eat its lunch, rather like http/HTML ate the lunch of walled garden hypertext systems.

NOTE * Hillary, quite clearly, is, no matter whether one agrees or disagrees with her.

UPDATE ** Rather, was split in 2008. It's only that the splitees had, er, no place to go.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

so we're not even certain that we'll bother to vote absentee in 2016.

Regarding unions, sometimes I wonder if Senator Sanders "has much room to talk."

I say this because, yeah, Bernie can talk a good game on so-called progressive talk radio--until you talk to him directly with a White Paper in your hand, and respectly challenge his incorrect assertions (which amount to no more than DNC "talking points") on the ACA--but at times, he folds "like a cheap suit," when it comes to casting his vote. Not to mention, as Lets and Hugh (IIRC) have pointed out, he talks at times like he is actually in agreement with the necessity for "austerity measures-lite" (so to speak).

And, yes, many (if not most) of the union "bosses" have sold out. But I'm not truly certain what power union rank-and-file has (today) to put an end to this. Unless they simply pull their membership, and start over--a good idea, IMHO.

At one time, I blogged on this. But finally, I gave it up, since the mere suggestion seem to upset so many Dem Party loyalists who failed to understand my pro-union background and experience as a former union steward for a mostly white collar/professional government employees' union.

I was only suggesting this to "help save, not destroy" union power and influence, and to find a way for the union rank-and-file members to be better served.

I also sort of figure that the bottom will fall out of the economy by some time before 2020. And if it does, and a Dem is President, with the failure of the ACA, the demolition of the Medicaid LTC benefit, possible (and likely, IMO) drastic cuts to both Medicare and Social Security, I think that the Democratic Party may very well be blamed for the failures--including a few that aren't necessarily their fault.

Time will tell . . .

[Apologize in advance for typos, poor syntax, etc.--a bit pushed.]

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

I voted for Stein/Honkola, and they're good, committed people, but are they serious candidates? Yes, I know "serious" is a Washington buzzword, so translate it this way: Are they prepared and equipped to exercise power?

Let me first rephrase the meaning of "serious" - Has the candidate built up the network of friends and power relationships necessary to be able to exercise that power? In the case of executive office, that's the important consideration, I think. If the candidate wins, can he (or she) give orders and expect them to be obeyed? Being able to do that requires more than access to a police force and courts, I think.

Put that way, the answer to your question is clearly no, they were not serious. Unfortunately, this is one of the paradoxes of trying to gain the power to reform; the sort of people who can exercise power have the support of others in power, and usually that's because they are comfortable with the way things are. People like FDR, who was well connected but whose own experiences in life led him to understand how cruel and arbitrary fate can be, seem to be very rare. I thought maybe John Edwards was such a person back in 2008, but that doesn't seem likely in hindsight. That ought to tell you how rare that combination is, at least among the folks who make it into the elite ranks of presidential candidates.

I don't know what the answer is, but I think it lies more along the lines of making it clear to any candidates that they have to earn our support by doing at least some of the things we need them to do. Politicians need power to do their jobs. They seek it and respect it. If you have no power to give them, or give it without condition, they won't respect what you want unless they happen to want it anyway.

How to translate that thought into something that can be and will be done by progressives is where I have no idea what to do. But that's what's needed, assuming we can't find us a real FDR somewhere.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

I'd like to add to the thought on a candidate's power relationships. Elections like our presidential elections are a good test of a candidate's ability to build and maintain those power relationships. President Obama proved he was able to exercise power by winning in 2008.

That should be both an example of and a cautionary tale about what is required.

Submitted by lambert on

DCBlogger says that splits in the elites are necessary; this would be one reason why. Also a reason for a "pillars of the regime" strategy.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

I think you're getting at the right kind of emergent party dynamics: If the Greens could turn the New England states into a regional power center, and then start peeling off disaffected Democrats who saw the Greens as a viable alternative (no one's going to commit political suicide, after all), we could see a real challenge to the two party system.

I wasn't familiar with IVCS, so those who hadn't heard of it see here. I need to read up on it.

As for worse is better/next recession, things are pretty bad right now. Sure they could get worse, but I wouldn't use such an outcome in an HRC presidency to push a "woman left holding the bag" narrative. Clinton is a grown woman and she knows the state of the country as well as anyone. If she decides to run anyway then either (a) she wants the brass ring so bad she doesn't care or (b) she thinks she could really turn things around. Neither is a reason to let her off the hook if things go south if she's president. As you correctly note, she is prepared and equipped to exercise power.

Submitted by lambert on

Clinton would want to take the bag, and others would be willing to hand it to her, both sides having made different calculations on likely outcomes, for their own reasons.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

"Clinton would want to take the bag, and others would be willing to hand it to her" is probably the most depressing thing I've read today, maybe because it rings true.

Submitted by lambert on

Seriously, though, the way through the thicket of conflicting motives and plots is.... stick to policy, I am convinced. Who cares which personality construct implements the right policy? We can leave that to the pros. It's fun to talk about, because horse races are fun, but eyes on the prize, which isn't the purse...

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

the only "outcomes" that should be considered are the ones that affect the American People, not the politicians themselves.

And, I wholeheartedly agree that personality in terms of "who do you want to have a beer with," is sheer silliness--not to mention a distraction for what truly matters--policy.

But, IMHO, one cannot totally disregard any politician's record and/or history, which includes past votes, legislative and political associations, and even general achievements.

If we look at the "facts," and avoid spurious partisan, intraparty, and especially unfounded or greatly exaggerated "stories," then hopefully the American populace will be empowered to cast an informed vote.

[It may be an occupational hazard--and I'm no prude--but if a candidate had, for instance, been married five times--I would want to know about it. And I would consider that fact as I evaluated that candidate's suitability for office.]

;-)

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

Submitted by lambert on

For example, FDR had a mistress. Who cares? I'd only worry about real edge cases, seriously disordered personality issues, and not ordinary human frailty. For example, the only difference I've ever been able to find between elite Republicans and elite Democrats is that elite Republicans torture animals. Then again, Democrats don't raise the issue, so they enable it. Classic!

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

but the "margins" are often all we have to weigh our votes on.

Remember, we don't typically get to access to (unless a full scandal like erupts like with VP nominee Thomas Eagleton) a candidate's mental health records--so some degree of personal details are the only tool we have available.

And these types of details are very valuable (to mental health professional, anyway) in evaluating a person's overall mental and emotional stability. So, I would have to disagree that these factors are totally unimportant when evaluating a prospective political candidate's competency and suitability as a Presidential candidate.

Hey, that's not the same as stating that I believe that the MSM should make a public spectacle out of an affair (like with Gary Hart or FP Clinton). That is not at all what I am suggesting.

IMO, the MSM's treatment of FP Clinton was not only ridiculous, it was damaging to the nation as a whole. [So, I am not suggesting a "dissection" of affairs, or anything like that.] That's a far cry from a citizen expecting to have a good (and accurate) idea of a politician's personal life's story.

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

Submitted by lambert on

... that's what Rozum and Platts, at least, are trying to do, for the US House and the Maine State Senate, respectively.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

Agreed. I wish Rozum luck at the national level, but I'm particularly interested to see how the state Senate run goes.

Submitted by lambert on

... in a way. So my rules are:

1) Vote for whoever supports more points of the 12-Point Platform (and as a baseline; that is, "close doesn't count." Single payer, yes; public option, no, even if they swear up and down it's a clever way to get to single payer). I want to set a floor under pragmatism.

2) If no candidate supports any part of the 12-Point Platform, write one in.

I understand Joe's argument about voting for the candidate with the least contributions, but on consideration I don't agree with it. First, at least in the beginning, there's likely to be a lot of overlap between the set of those with the least money, and the set of those supporting the 12-Point Platform. Second, if when the 12-Point Platform gets some support, and the Overton Window starts moving toward sanity, why would I want to stop that by not voting for it?

There's also the argument, which I made myself, that one should vote one's conscience except in the swing states. In retrospect, I think that's wrong; it just gives both parties the incentive to demonize the other side, and then say "But do you want ____ ?" at the first sign of "disloyalty."

Bottom line: Policy is everything, so vote on it. "Principles not personalities," as AA says.

NOTE This is a long haul effort, like abolition or women's suffrage or civil rights or gay marriage. The other thing the legacy parties do is get us all trapped in the election cycle. That's important to them because money. It doesn't have to me important to us. Let's think longer term -- like the conservative apparatchiks did before they lost their minds.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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Submitted by mellon on

Non-people centric voting makes a lot more sense than voting for people who are increasingly out of touch with the country.

Politicians ignore the promises they make. They are basically a joke to them.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

We don't consider frivolous "personality tests"--Mr A and I both detest, and reject, the mindframe that people should consider which politician "makes them feel good"--if that's what you mean. (i.e., "want to have a beer or coffee with, etc.")

But, may I ask, what do you mean by "non-people centric voting?" And, how does an individual vote for a politician without considering [or evaluating] the person in any meaningful way?

At some point, one almost has to make a judgment as to whether the politician can be depended upon to competently carry out the duties of the office that he is seeking.

That would be a neat trick, though, I would think! ;-)

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

I wish that someone from Vermont had pointed out to me that Former Governor Dean was NOT near as "liberal" as he was portrayed to be by the corporatist mainstream media. Indeed, from what I've learned over the past few years, he's anything but liberal (except maybe on a couple of social issues).

Needless to say, I've learned quite a bit since that little scenario, and wouldn't dare dream of "taking to heart" anything that the MSM says about any candidate--nada, zero, zilch--without carefully checking other sources.

My point is that because the mainstream media is SO totally unreliable today (when it comes to characterizing political candidates' ideology and stances), I believe that it can be meaningful to tap the opinions of those constituents who best know a candidate. At least it's a starting point, from which one can began to do their research.

And surely it's as reliable as our MSM has proven to be--you know, the same corporatist media which characterized Dem Presidential Candidate Bill Bradley as a "liberal." (What kind of cruel joke was that?)

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

Submitted by lambert on

... has nothing to do with his personality.

* * *

On the other hand, there was plenty of indication of Obama's personality structure in 2008. He really was a thin-skinned, narcissistic asshole who was an expert at lawyerly parsing of words.

Would that disqualify him if he had "said all the right things on policy? I'm not so sure. I mean, climbing to the top of the greasy pole isn't something that nice people do. So...

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

What has that got to do with the price of tea (in China), LOL!

Seriously, in one of the comments above I mentioned that Mr A and I don't care about the "personality" aspect of a candidate.

But that didn't mean that I don't care about a candidate's ideology--I do!

I gave Governor Dean as an example because I actually supported Governor Dean. IOW, I purposely selected someone that I actually supported based upon his policy stances (Iraq).

[Although, I was definitely hoodwinked when it came to his "leanings" on fiscal matters.]

BTW, although I don't vote based upon "personality," I did prefer his [Dean's] blunt style. And what I perceived as his non-attorney, non-parsing of words!!!

As it was, I didn't even cast a vote for President--just for a couple of down-ticket candidates.

And it's been downhill, every since, LOL!

The answer is "no," if I thought that he (or anyone) suffered from that pathology.

But, all of that is beside the point, because I couldn't vote for him based on policy--corporatist neoliberalism.

As a matter of fact, none of the Democratic Party candidates that ran in 2008 had both the qualifications and character that I was seeking--including John Edwards, who for some reason truly made my skin crawl, although I couldn't pinpoint "why."

I did very much like Elizabeth, though, and I gave Edwards my [somewhat] tepid support until he dropped out, because I initially thought that he was "electable."

About 2004, I was too cowardly to take a principled stand and vote for Former Representative Dennis Kucinich.

Never again--from now on, I vote my conscience. Period.

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

mellon's picture
Submitted by mellon on

Its been so long since he's run, but I remember there was some reason why I really didn't want Dean. I know that's too vague.

The problem with the system as it exists today is it arguably blocks any decent candidate from getting very far.

Ya know...

Submitted by lambert on

"Name it and claim it."

* * *

We might do better with the language of "recovery" rather than "reform," as in recovery from a long and terribly debiltating illness that left its mark everywhere.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

transcriber's picture
Submitted by transcriber on

"Debates should be open to any candidate that is actively campaigning, has field offices in upcoming (say six weeks) election states and is polling above the margin of error in at least half of the major polls. (A candidate's internal polling results shouldn't be used.)"

Ding ding ding! My issue.

I'm for the first part, though not as a wish list but as a right.

The second part, I'm suspicious of. I lost my 2008 candidate when he was excluded from the debates -- before any votes had been cast anywhere! -- and the gatekeepers' ability to manipulate debate requirements was part of it. Didn't return their form, didn't this, didn't that, their polls said this -- all their measures, all made up and manipulatable by them with the bar always set just above what he could reach. It was like there was a poll tax he could never pay or a poll test he could never pass. "Major polls" -- as in filtered through deciders (watch Ron Paul's polling disappear in the Republican primaries). I think one of the requirements was to have had X dollars in donations, and when one person stepped up and gave my candidate those X dollars (a million?) he still was excluded. We got to vote for the candidates NBC let us vote for, and I still see Chuck Todd that way -- a kind of electoral criminal who cost me my candidate, cost me that viewpoint being aired and considered, basically cost all of us that chance for breakout reason, conscience and peace. Some strange Constitution he fronts there.

I'm not sure, but maybe the way out of this is to return the debates to the League of Women Voters, who ran them better, or perhaps make it a plain-wrapper public government function.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Excellent diary, thanks.

Guess I'll reserve comment on the mechanics of the 'horse race' until I can discern if the Dem Party will actually have a primary season in 2016.

I'm not sure "how" we can hold a single Dem Presidential Candidate to the Corrente platform, because I fail to see what leverage would we have.

That is, other than a "protest vote" for a Green, an Independent or write-in candidate, or the Libertarian candidate (and I won't include the Republican nominee, because even I can't go there).

;-)

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

Submitted by lambert on

Just vote on policy. Period. I mean, isn't that how Democracy is supposed to work?

If you accept the "protest" frame, you accept the whole legacy party, LO2E (Lesser of Two Evils) frame.

"How's voting for evil been workin' out for ya? Did you get what you voted for?"

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

for me, in 2012, I decided not to continue to vote for the LOTE between the two major legacy parties (one of which, was likely to win, IMO).

Because I did not believe that the Green Party was in a position to actually "win" the election, I loosely call that a "protest vote."

But, I am more aligned with their "policies," than I am with those of the Republican or Democratic Party.

That's all that I was saying.

Since we won't be stateside after this year, and our real estate is pretty much all that can be affected by political policy--and that's got to do with "local politics," not national politics--frankly, I'm not sure that I'll even vote in the 2016 Presidential race (of course, the topic of the Presidential race still remains an interesting topic to follow, and blog about).

The truth is--there currently is no party that truly represents our most (important) deeply held values and policy views.

So for us, it really would be a wasted motion. (Albeit one that we have faithfully carried out over our entire "voting eligible" lifetimes.)

But maybe that will change before 2016.

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

Submitted by lambert on

... buys into the frame.

I understand what you meant; but the "protest vote" frame is not helping anyone (except the legacy parties).

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

I think a party should be expected to act like one. That's my problem with the national Greens. Sure they have a great platform, they just don't seem very willing to build a party from the ground up. And I think a vote for a party like that is thrown away.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Even if the emergent party is not acting like a serious party, I think it makes sense to vote for it. It shows that there at least minimal support for those ideas, and establishes a baseline to build on. Of course, you mileage may vary, and I am a big believer in adjusting your strategy according to local conditions. The thing is, when a revolutionary collapse happens, it happens all at once. So when people are ready to move, you have to have a place for them to move to. I think there will be little victories here and there, and then it will happen all at once, I suspect in 2020, but what do I know?

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

Yes, I think this is very much a YMMV issue.

I think part of that may have to do with how one views the emergence of a new party. You mention the context of revolutionary collapse; I see it as a response to an urgent national issue.

The most recent major political party went from founding to regional dominance in 6 years:

http://scottmonster.hubpages.com/hub/The-Death-of-the-Republican-Party-a...

And of course had abolition as its major rallying point. A comparably urgent issue - and I'd be careful suggesting an issue is as urgent as slavery - would I think be required for a similarly rapid ascent. Barring that I think it would take lots of shoe leather, persistence and patience. I look for all three when considering a third party vote.

Submitted by lambert on

... with many years of effort, including efforts of the slaves. No slave narratives, no Uncle Tom's Cabin, and no slave narratives without really determined resistance by a lot of slaves.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

The caucuses need to go. For many reasons I thought they had a role, but they are too subject to abuse and intimidation. Primaries are the only way to go. Beyond that I would say vote emergent party. (Maybe Green, maybe Socialist Alternative, mabye Independent, depends upon the year and the candidates). If enough people vote emergent party, serious candidates will be attracted to them.

jo6pac's picture
Submitted by jo6pac on

depressed. Yes the new Greens are different than the old, one fact Ralph Nader ran away after each election left everyone to fend for their own. There was no active until the next potus election.

FDR and What's his name were already establishment demodogs unlike Stein/Honkola whom I never heard of until they took over the Green Party and started it moving forward. They started from 0 and moved on and unions would wake the F$$$ up it would help for sure with more $$$$$ and exposure.

It has been pointed here I think that they are running for offices across the nation and in Calli. they are not only running for state offices of Governor on down but local school boards, and other city opening to get their feet wet in the system from hell.

To wait to see what the demodogs are going offer on the platform is crazy, if everyone learned one thing the hard way after 0, is the platform means nothing today or in the past just F$$$$$$ shiny words that people want to here.

It has to start somewhere and change never will happen making the same mistake over and over and expecting different results.

DCblogger correct enough people need to vote emergent parties but I think we need to try get down to one before the election. The win by a socialist in Seattle is rare and the powers to be were caught off guard and are already mounting an attack. This one tough young person and I hope unions stick it out and other unions join in. I also think with Boeing being complete Asses this will help wake up the middle class in Seattle area.

That's my rant of the day;)