Isn’t It Amazing What You Can Accomplish When You Don’t Let the Nation Get in Your Way?

Martin Longman asks this question:

Here’s a question. Is the current situation in which the Republicans are systematically trying to limit how many people can vote (and the Democrats are trying to make it easier for people to vote) a natural byproduct of America’s two-party system?

In other words, would it really ever be in the interests of a major political party to restrict voting in a multi-party system?

I don’t know if it’s strictly in their interests, but the Conservatives in Canada (a multi-party system) are trying the same thing:

And so we face the likelihood, as incredible as it sounds, of the government using the majority it won in the last election to pass a bill widely perceived as intended to fix the next — and contesting that election in the shadow of illegitimacy the bill would cast. It will do so, what is more, not in spite of the opposition it has aroused, but because of it: because it has convinced itself that all such opposition, from whatever source, proceeds from the same implacably partisan motives as its own.

This is how you get to 28% in the polls: when every criticism is only further proof that you’re right. It’s one thing to fleece the rubes in the grassroots with this nonsense —They’re all out to get us! Please send money! — but when you start to believe your own rhetoric, your brains turn to mush. It makes you incapable of acknowledging error, or even the possibility of it. And so it blinds you to the train wreck to which you are headed.

Apparently after you figure in the exchange rate  27% in the US is 28% in Canada.

(That Canada link is from Jay Rosen.)

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42 replies
  1. 1
    Scott S. says:

    That’s really kinda sad for Canada. I’d assumed their Crazification Factor might be as low as 20%. :(

  2. 2
    EconWatcher says:

    @Scott S.:

    At least Canadian wingnuts actually have something to complain about: There really are democratic socialists in Canada, and they really do wield significant power.

    Here, socialism exists nowhere but in the fevered, paranoid imagination of our own wingnuts.

  3. 3
    Paul in KY says:

    I guess that (28% vs 27%) is one thing we’ve got going over Canada. Yay us!

  4. 4
    Belafon says:

    but when you start to believe your own rhetoric, your brains turn to mush. It makes you incapable of acknowledging error, or even the possibility of it. And so it blinds you to the train wreck to which you are headed.

    The single biggest flaw of human nature, not being able to admit you are wrong.

  5. 5
    Ferdzy says:

    @EconWatcher:

    “There really are democratic socialists in Canada”

    Not really. The NDP took “socialist” out of its name in the last year or so, in recognition of 40 years of reality. As a person who still does consider themselves a socialist, it makes me pretty bitter, but whatareyagonnado? It’s not like I’m going to start voting Conservative. Or liberal. So…

  6. 6
    Bob says:

    And the National Front, far right, won in the elections held in France yesterday. Jesus!

  7. 7
    Librarian says:

    I happen to have been doing a lot of reading about Nazi Germany lately, and the parallels I am seeing between the GOP and the Nazis are chilling. The GOP are Nazis, clear and simple. Their single objective is to attain and retain power, by any means they can, and if they have to take the vote away from millions of people to do it, that’s what they’ll do.

  8. 8
    Bob says:

    @Belafon: Chris Christie admitted he was wrong about them occupied territories. It takes a big man to admit a mistake.

  9. 9
    boatboy_srq says:

    @EconWatcher: In the US the wingnuts see socialism in paved roads and in sewer systems. OTOH, they see totalitarianism in CFL and LED light bulbs, so there’s no telling how they’ll view what. Apparently to them any change is bad – the trouble comes when assigning the blame.

  10. 10
    WereBear says:

    @Belafon: The single biggest flaw of human nature, not being able to admit you are wrong.

    It certainly seems to be the bedrock of conservative “thought.”

  11. 11
    inkadu says:

    How propaganda becomes a fixture in conservative thought:

    It seems there is first generation propaganda consciously published by the establishment as a political ploy, and soon the rubes believe it with all their shriveled little hearts. Soon, all newly-elected politicians have only known the one true truthiness. Speaking against the propaganda has now become a thought crime, punishable by RINO charges. The establishment that remembers a time before the propaganda is silent, and soon may even come to believe it themselves. How many times can you repeat a lie before you start thinking it’s true?

    And now that I think about it, this is really totally early Soviet-era shit right here.

    So, yes, I’m occasionally dismayed by Democrats inability to tell outrageous and systematic lies to attack Republicans, but, on the other hand, at least whatever policies we can dream up and enact have a chance of helping in the real world which we all physically inhabit (if not mentally inhabit).

  12. 12
    NotMax says:

    So much for the theory of maple infallibility.

  13. 13
    patrick II says:

    but when you start to believe your own rhetoric, your brains turn to mush. It makes you incapable of acknowledging error, or even the possibility of it. And so it blinds you to the train wreck to which you are headed. Mistermix

    You are what you pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

  14. 14
    GregB says:

    I am pretty pessimistic about the decay evident in so many of what used to be the most stable and reliable democracies.

    Meanwhile the mainstream media continues to run interference for the Republicans. Chuck Todd was just on MSNBC telling me that the Republicans have put the Virginia Senate seat into play. Last poll I saw had Mark Warner leading Ed Snufflenuts Gillespie by about 20 points.

  15. 15
    inkadu says:

    @NotMax: Argh! Help! What is maple infallibility? I must have it explained!

  16. 16
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @NotMax: The big maple syrup heist eroded that.

  17. 17
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @inkadu: Say it out loud and listen for a rhyme.

  18. 18
    NorthLeft12 says:

    Yes the Cons [short for Conservative Party] here in Canada, are on another crusade against a non-existent problem. Like their crime bill [crime is at its lowest level in years and still dropping sharply], they are proposing draconian measures which will actually cause more problems.

    Voting participation is already at an all time low, and the “reform” they are suggesting will lower it even further. But it is all good, because those that will not be able to vote [students, immigrants, economically poorer groups] were not going to vote for the Cons anyway.

  19. 19
    Mike in NC says:

    @NotMax: Your punishment for that pun should be a front row seat at Chris Christie’s next three hour long press conference.

  20. 20
    Lurking Canadian says:

    The only thing that surprises me about the linked piece is that it’s by Andrew Coyne. If I remember correctly from the days I regularly read the Globe and Mail, he is a pretty conservative guy. If you’ve lost Coyne, there’s pretty much nobody to his right until you get to people like Steyn and Amiel.

  21. 21
    inkadu says:

    @Gin & Tonic: I get where it comes from, just wondering if there’s more to it than that. Because I love maple syrup and would like to think it’s infallible.

  22. 22
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    There’s something that I can’t get my head around. If the cons ideas are so unpopular that they have to suppress the vote to win elections why do they refuse to even consider changing some of their ideas? Has politics at last been reduced to a zero-sum game for them – or do they simply enjoy fucking-over the people?

  23. 23
    Chris says:

    @GregB:

    Neoliberalism is destroying us.

    With the economy getting steadily worse and grinding more and more people down, and more and more indifferent and/or inefficient governments failing to correct it, it’s not hard for people to start concluding that democracy’s become a bad joke. And antidemocratic elements reap the benefits.

  24. 24
    Chris says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Why should they inconvenience themselves for the little people?

  25. 25
    danielx says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Yeah, but there are a lot more of us than there are Canadians. So (unfortunately) there are a lot more people in that 27%, etc etc.

    That approximate percentage does seem to be everywhere.

  26. 26
    C.V. Danes says:

    The difference is not between republican and democrat, or even conservative and liberal. The difference is between authoritarian and democratic.

    The authoritarians want to make sure they stay in charge, no matter what. That’s what authoritarians do.

  27. 27
    The Golux says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Has politics at last been reduced to a zero-sum game for them – or do they simply enjoy fucking-over the people?

    Yes and yes.

  28. 28
    MomSense says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    I think a big part of it is religious fanaticism. This is a video People for the American Way did back in ’82 about the moral majority movement. They talk about voter suppression in this. So I think it is a combination of religious fanaticism and racism. The confederates have a long history of denying the vote in order to maintain their power.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is_fhyhbAa4

  29. 29
    Paul in KY says:

    @danielx: True that. I bet their 28 percenters are more polite too.

  30. 30
    Roger Moore says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    I’m going to go with the people who say they don’t believe in democracy. They know what they want, and they see anything that lets them get it as good. Back when they could win honestly, they were fine with democracy because it kept the losers quiet. Now that they can’t win honestly, they’re more than happy to toss democracy aside and do whatever it takes to win.

  31. 31
    ET says:

    I have always thought that conservatives have never really liked universal voting. In the US that does tend to be all about the browns, but I also think that they really do thing that a lot of people should not be voting for a variety of reasons. Obviously the browns are out. Many have likely never been to comfortable with Jews and women voting either. 18 is too young and those who don’t have property don’t have a stake/shouldn’t have a stake. White males with property over the age of X (22-ish??) are the only ones that should have a vote because really, they are the only ones that should be running things.

  32. 32
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    Apparently after you figure in the exchange rate 27% in the US is 28% in Canada.

    Okay that cracked me up. Thanks.

  33. 33
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @MomSense:
    Thank you or the link. I’ll give it a watch.

    @Roger Moore:
    It’s looking as though you’re right. The Republicans’ habit of ignoring the Constitution when they’re in power and then waving it like a flag when they aren’t tends to validate your thoughts.

  34. 34
    pzerzan says:

    Canada is still a majoritarian system. The Conservative Party isn’t competing against any other major right wing or center-right political party. It’s not like Germany or the Netherlands or any other proportional system. You still have the factionalism you get in the US…

  35. 35

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    I think it’s slightly more complicated than that. There’s a big helping of ‘My way, no matter what.’ As we’ve seen the last five years, racism is grotesquely alive and virulent. They never believed blacks should vote or have a say in government, but Reagan convinced them that blacks were too few and stupid for those votes to matter. Obama’s election proved that those votes can sway the most important election in the nation, and it’s top priority again to stop blacks from voting. There’s also an element that they believe they must be right, with no self-analysis or consideration of the other guy’s view. If they are absolutely right, that means there is no fair way for anyone else to win an election. In their mind they’re restoring democracy, because if the votes were really actually fairly counted they would always win. We have to be cheating somehow. That comes up in their ridiculous uses of the constitution. Since they must be right, the constitution must say that theirs is the only right way. It must. It’s inarguable.

  36. 36
    Chris says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I’m going to go with the people who say they don’t believe in democracy.

    In other words, the Republicans themselves. There’s a reason the “we’re a REPUBLIC not a DEMOCRACY” meme suddenly popped out of the ground after November 3, 2008. I seriously doubt if 99% of the people using it could tell you what that distinction exactly means, but what they’re getting at is “yeah, Obummer won the election, but it doesn’t matter because all the people who voted for him are people who didn’t deserve to vote anyway.”

    @ET:

    I have always thought that conservatives have never really liked universal voting

    Oh, they don’t. Hang around a right wing blog for long enough and the topic will come up, and they’re quite unembarrassed about it. They don’t think everyone should vote. They’ve even got an apocryphal Tocqueville quote going around to legitimize their high-minded thoughts, about how if poor people are allowed to vote, they’ll just vote themselves more money and bankrupt the nation and that’s how nations fail. Then there’s Ann Coulter’s quote about how it’d be a better country if women couldn’t vote. Etc.

    No, they really don’t like democracy. The original American kind was okay because it limited voting to those who were rich, white, and male. But it’s all been downhill from there, as far as they’re concerned.

  37. 37
    Paul in KY says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: It’s more like “we can’t let any facts, however true they may be, deter us from our mission of lowering taxes & taking all financial burdens off our masters, the 1%ers”.

    You saw this very clearly when Dubya & his gang were stealing the surplus.

  38. 38
    danielx says:

    I’m trying to remember the source of the estimate/statement that 20-25% of the US population believes that the country would be better off under an out-and-out dictatorship.

  39. 39
    patrick II says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Welcome to the club. I approached that conclusion in the Florida 2000 aftermath, but thought it might be a Bush family anomaly. Wrong. Since, I have decided the top .01 don’t believe in democracy or anything else that holds them back from doing pretty much whatever they want. Power is the name of the game.

  40. 40
    Ruckus says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Has politics at last been reduced to a zero-sum game for them – or do they simply enjoy fucking-over the people?

    A twofer!
    Always has been a zero sum game. That’s why they are so bad at maths. They only know one answer. Unfortunately it’s always the wrong answer.

    And, Yes. Yes they do.

  41. 41
    Craigie says:

    @Roger Moore:
    This. A thousand times, this.

  42. 42
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Scott S.:

    That’s really kinda sad for Canada. I’d assumed their Crazification Factor might be as low as 20%. :(

    They’re talking about the total poll numbers for the CPC, not just the crazies. Harper’s party is in the shit right now, and the imported “OMG votefraudz!” from the USA smells like the shit generated by fear.

    The last numbers on federal polling put the Liberals at 34%, the CPC at 28% and the NDP at 25%. Now, the problem there remains vote-splitting between the Liberals and NDP in genuine three-party ridings, but by late 2015, we’ll see how things stand.

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