email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Political Partisanship

I was politically aware when I was young.  At 10, I stayed up late to see the results of the Kennedy/Nixon election.  It was not as partisan then.  There were liberal Republicans in the NE and conservative Republicans in the SW.  There were conservative Democrats in the South and liberal Democrats in the Midwest.

Both parties had candidates and supporters in each wing and had to get along somewhere toward the center.  So the both parties strategies were to see how close they could get to the center and still have candidates who would promote their general programs.

Nixon changed that.  He managed to move the Republicans away from an economic to a soccially conservative program in the South.  He left the Democrats without a southern base and won.

Since then, the 2 parties have been separating politically.  I used to be a Progressive Republican in Maryland,  It took more years for the Republican Party to purge the NE of Progressive views  and there are still a few rogue holdovers.  My Liberal Democratic party conservatives have been equally purged. 

The "purification" in both parties has damaged our political campaigns.  We used to be able to choose between candidates who 55% liberal vs another who was 55% conservative.  Now our choices are 80-20. 

This can't go on.  Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan would not have a chance at getting the Republican nomination today.  Jimmy Carter ( mildly conservative) or Bill Clinton (a Centrist) could not get the Democratic nomination today.  You now have to be a fanatic, rabid, and never give an inch, to get a party nomination.  I doubt that John Kennedy could get the Democratic nomination today or Dwight Eisenhower the Republican one now.

I think there are 2 main causes for this.  First, Gerrymandering.  Gerrymandering is named for a Massachusetts government  official named "Gerry" in the 1800s where they structured a single congressional district shaped like a salamander.  It has been used over the decades since, but never so successfully as since the 1990s.  The purpose is to make sure your voting district have enough of one party to guarantee victory every election.

Back then, that couldn't be done for the whole State, because the State had many voters from both parties.  That has changed.  When a State hits about 75-80% one party, Gerrymandering works for the entire State.  It is politically wonderful but ethically evil.  But politicians trying to keep their jobs don't worry about "ethics" very much.  Both Republicans and Democrats to it.

I support measures to prevent that.

The other thing that is destroying voters from controlling elections is Dark Campaign Money.  That's  where people with extreme amounts of money can get involved in  even your local campaigns and influence them with negative ads and you don't know who is paying for it.  

I'll create an example.  "Candidate Smith voted to raise taxes twice.  Vote against Smith".  And the fact is that Smith voted against a bill to allow out-of-state industries to dump raw toxins in the local lake for a 1% tax fee on the dumpers 2 times.  Which is actually a pretty pathetically weak response.  But that's how they work. 

And connected to that is the "astroturf" campaigns.  An "astroturf campaign is the opposite of a "grass-roots" campaign.  A grassroots campaign is started by people at the bottom and builds it way up for a local cause of larger national purpose.

An astroturf campaign a fake one (like astroturf).  It starts at the top of industry or politics and works its way down prentending to be real.  They aren't, but the sure sound like it.

1. 'The Center For Consumer Freedom' supports tobacco companies and fast food restaurants.
2.  'Al Gore's Penguin Army' looked like a local criticism of  his movie 'An Inconvenient Truth', but was sponored by ExxonMobile.
3.  'Americans for Technology Leadership and Citizens Against Government Waste' was funded by Microsoft, which organized a letter drive.
4.  'Save Our Species Alliance'  - Many of these false flag operations have vaguely Orwellian names, but perhaps none are so bad as the Save Our Species Alliance. The group describes itself as “a nationwide grassroots organization comprised of property owners, farmers, ranchers, miners, foresters, builders/developers, sportsmen, recreationists, business owners and ordinary citizens sharing the common goal of making the Endangered Species Act friendlier to local conservation efforts, property owners, and local governments while at the same time, doing a better job of actually saving species at risk.” Naturally it actually opposes most of the Endangered Species Act, especially all the parts that inconvenience the logging/timber and cattle industries. Who naturally bankroll most of the group’s operations.
5. 'Working Families For Wal-Mart' was/is a group created by Wal-Mart and PR firm Edelman to give the appearance that a grassroots organization was rising up to support Wal-Mart against unions and labor. The effort mainly consisted of fake blogs including one called “Wal-Marting Across America”.

Another corporate and political trick is to pack the microphones at some town hall meetings with prepared speakers.  The announcement is made that the mikes are open, and a dozen people wearing identical clothes instantly stand in line up to say nearly identical speeches.  They are all sitting at the aisle seats waiting to go.  They use up all the audience speaking time and no one else gets a chance.

We have to find a way to stop this nonsense.  Otherwise, we will go the way of the Greeks and Romans and French and British.  Things can change, but it will take effort and determination. 

Vote for the most centrist candidate in the primary (and VOTE).  Vote for the most centrist moniee in the election.  Get people elected who will stand more toward the center.  The CENTER CAN HOLD!  We just have to all decide to reconstruct it.

Sure, we have had hotly contested elections.  But most were closer to the center than you may know.  Kennedy and Nixon were like 45-60 on the political scale.  Kennedy was hard on the Communists and he wasn't friends with hard line unions.  He expanded our actions in Vietnam.  Later Nixon worked to make peace with China and created the Environmental Protection Agency.  Watergate aside (and Kennedy had persoanal faults)  they weren't 80-20 apart. 

And now we are.  We have to get back to some degree of general agreements.  Or we will fail. 









1 comment:

Megan said...

Interesting thoughts, Mark. Apart from voting every couple of years, what other actions might 'ordinary' people take?

Megan
Sydney, Australia