alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)
[personal profile] alexandra_thorn
I'll start by admitting that I am a liberal democrat, and that I am tremendously relieved by the outcome of the 2012 United States elections. But I'm resisting the temptation to let my relief spill over into elation.

Here are some reminders.

Like many recent elections, the split of the popular vote was very close to a tie. Which party got the actual majority doesn't matter so much when the majority numbers we're talking about are 50.1%, 51%, or even 53%. For every voter who's feeling good right now, there's probably another voter somewhere who is feeling like crud. I don't know that that's how republican voters are feeling, but it's definitely how I'd feel if the election had gone the other way.

This campaign season has been expensive. One of the reasons that I'd feel particularly let down if things had gone the other way is the amount of money that I've donated to political campaigns and action groups this election. In fact, from what I hear, this has been the most expensive election in history. Honestly, I didn't like donating as much as I did, but confronted with the threat of huge spending by corporate lobbyists and the hyperwealthy in support of the republicans, I felt compelled to give what I could. And I hate to think where the democrats would be right now if not for their larger contributors.

Passion isn't enough. True, it isn't *just* about cash. A lot of people put in a lot of sweat and tears too. Canvassing door-to-door, helping folks get registered to vote, holding phone-call parties to "get out the vote." I don't think Obama would have been re-elected without the blood, sweat, and tears of people who believe he's the better choice. We have a representative government, and if elections aren't influenced by passionate people willing to invest their labor and love, then I'm really not sure what we're doing. But I also don't think that Obama would have been re-elected without big donors. And that's a problem: it means that candidates can't get elected without corporate support. They become accountable to big businesses (which are driven by profits), when they are supposed to be representing the interests of human beings (who are driven by many things).

Speaking of passion, I'd like to take a moment to send kudos to the guy who spent half the day yesterday standing in the middle of hyper-liberal Davis Square, in freezing temperatures, holding up the Scott Brown sign. That kind of energy should be what our elections run on.

Not all states are created equal. Most of the money -- and most of the volunteer efforts -- were concentrated in a small number of largish states that happen to contain roughly equal numbers of voters from the two major parties and/or a lot of independent voters. Something is wrong with a system that drives people in one state to organize phone call parties in order to drum up electoral enthusiasm on the other side of the country. The only silver lining to this is that I feel like maybe my dollars went further by being concentrated in a few key places. It still doesn't feel right, though.

I think part of the problem is that we've gotten so caught up in political identification. Sometimes we forget what unifies us. I spent the latter portion of Election Day collecting signatures to demonstrate popular support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission supreme court decision. I did this because I am deeply frustrated with the degree to which our politics have become dominated by large financial interests.

I am not alone. There is strong bipartisan opposition to the Citizens United decision. In fact, one poll showed that 85% of Democrats, 76% of Republicans, and 81% of independent voters oppose the ruling (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/17/AR2010021701151.html).

There is similar (though somewhat more partisan) support for doing away with the Electoral College (http://www.gallup.com/poll/150245/Americans-Swap-Electoral-College-Popular-Vote.aspx).

I don't know what all of the answers are. I do think going after the Citizens United decision is a good start, though. With 70% of the public already opposed to the decision, a constitutional amendment begins to look plausible. I also know that it won't happen if we convince ourselves it can't be done.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-08 02:49 am (UTC)
feste_sylvain: (Default)
From: [personal profile] feste_sylvain
the split of the popular vote was very close to a tie.

All the more reason to keep the Electoral College. Can you imagine what a nationwide recount would look like? How long it would last? What it would do to the attitudes of the electorate?

(There are other, much better, reasons to keep the Electoral College, but I'm going to try to keep my replies here brief and thought-provoking, because you analysis here is brief and thought-provoking. Thank you for it.)

This campaign season has been expensive.

And yet, not as much was spent on political advertizing as was spent on fast-food advertizing during the same time-period. One could say that what the political ads were selling was more important, and so should have had more spent on it. Of course, the money for this must come from somewhere; I would actively oppose public funding, as I found most of the candidates not worthy of the time of day, let alone my money.

confronted with the threat of huge spending by corporate lobbyists and the hyperwealthy in support of the republicans [...]

And yet, they got profoundly little results from all that spending. Even the best ad campaigns can't sell crap like that.

Passion [...]

One of the things that scares me most about political campaigns is just how rapidly they become cults of personality. WCVB was just slavering over Joe Kennedy III's victory. I have no idea what the red-headed JFK is like; I couldn't see or hear a thing from the blazing image that was burned into my retinas. Brown also fostered this among his volunteers; if Kerry takes a position in the Obama administration, I'd be surprised if Brown doesn't run for that seat.

Most of the [campaign resources] were concentrated in a small number of largish states

Small number, yes (9). "Largish"? Not exactly.
NH - 4
CO - 9
NV - 6
IA - 6
WI - 10

Sure, FL and OH got most of the attention due to their size, but VA and NC were also in play. The main factor is that these states were available.
All politics take place in the middle of the bell curve.
David Link


I don't know what the answers are either. I have some ideas, but as this is a democratic-flavored country, and these ideas are not popular, they will not be implemented anyway. But mostly, I'd like to see more attention paid to states' rights, and thus devolve which level of government takes jurisdiction of the changing parts of public policy. I believe that CO and WA both passing the legalization of recreational marijuana will be the driving force for that.

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