“Independents” in All But Action

Over the holiday weekend, Timothy Egan (whose work I usually admire) published an uncharacteristically muddle-headed paean to every centrist’s favorite unicorn chasers:

The election this fall will most certainly return to power the most despised Congress in the modern era, if not ever. The House, already a graveyard for common sense, will fall further under the control of politicians whose idea of legislating is to stage a hearing for Fox News. The Senate, padlocked by filibusters over everyday business, will be more of the same, with one party in nominal control.

The fastest-growing, most open-minded and least-partisan group of voters will have no say. That’s right: The independents, on this Independence Day, have never been more numerous. But they’ve never been more shut out of power…

Well, Mr. Egan, maybe that’s because a two-party legislative system is never going to be the happiest place for those who cannot stretch their minds, or their political ambitions, beyond the proclamation that they are, each of them, a proud majority of one. Politics may not be beanbag, but it is most assuredly a team sport. But then, if the pollsters are to be believed, most self-styled Independents are either Republican voters who want to disassociate themselves from the raging nutjobs, or Democratic voters who’d prefer not to be labelled as baby-murdering drug fiends in thrall to the secret Muslim in the Oval Office. (Egan himself: “Pew put the pro-Democratic cohort at 55 percent, the pro-Republican at 36 percent. But the two party brands are so soiled now by the current do-nothing Congress and their screaming advocates that voters prefer not to have anything to do with either of them….”)

I was working on fisking this “Declaration of Independents”, but David “Goldy” Goldstein has already done a far more professional job of it:

… Honestly, I’ve never understood the argument that we should hand political control to the people who can’t make up their minds. No doubt there are some Americans who self-identify as independent because they’re too good to sully themselves with party politics, or something, but adopting a political label that stands for nothing is not inherently a sign of intellectual conviction or rigor…

Is the American political system broken? No shit, Sherlock! Anybody can see that. But where Egan goes wrong is that he sees the rise of “independents” as some sort of a solution, when in fact what it really is, is a symptom.

Independents are by definition less engaged in electoral politics. They’ve opted out. They don’t caucus. They don’t doorbell. They don’t participate in the hard grassroots work that characterizes the very best of American politics. So of course their voices aren’t heard. Have you ever been to an LD meeting, Tim? Have you ever sat through one of those godawful party platform debates? It’s boring, tedious, frustrating hard work. But imagine if the 36 percent of independents who lean Republican got themselves engaged in party politics, how quickly they’d overwhelm their Tea Party counterparts, restoring some sanity to the GOP?…

Goldy’s checklist for actual reform: Proportional representation, eliminating the Electoral College, nationally standardized election laws, and “real campaign finance and disclosure reform. If that means a constitutional amendment, so be it…”

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, only the first of these proposals is even theoretically possible working upwards from the states. On the other hand, there’s the (extremely slim) chance that working for an actual constitutional amendment might be as life-changingly informative for today’s Independents as working for the Equal Rights Amendment was for a generation of feminists in the 1970s and 1980s… and that would be a good thing for our battered Republic, in my opinion.

144 replies
  1. 1
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    If that means a constitutional amendment, so be it…”

    Wouldn’t work. The 5 white Catholic men would just declare it unconstitutional.

  2. 2
    Patricia Kayden says:

    I gather that Americans like things to be either black or white — hence the two-party system. Most other Western democracies have more than 2 major parties, i.e., Canada has at least three that I can think of. Ditto England.

    Perhaps in 20 or so years a viable third party will arise here but right now we need to focus on keeping the Senate in Democratic hands. Focusing on a nonexistent third party at this point in time seems like a recipe for handing over the Senate to the Republicans, which would be a frightening prospect.

  3. 3
    MattF says:

    The difficulty is that elections are generally decided at the margins, i.e., by, precisely, those people who can’t make up their minds. Partisans always try to mobilize the base, but it (almost) always falls short. I’m not personally thrilled by this, but it’s reality.

  4. 4
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    Watching Maddow. Can we give Texas back?

  5. 5
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    FYWP. why am i in moderation? Par for the course though.

    OT: i’m trying to write a response to a grant peer review with more typos than a drunk freshman’s essay. It’s honestly infuriating that some fucking lazy ass ‘expert’ can fail to spellcheck and still be considered worthy of commenting on my work.

  6. 6
  7. 7
    David Koch says:

    @Sarah Silverman

    Keep your filthy hands off my guns while I decide what you can & can’t do with your uterus

  8. 8
    David Koch says:

    @LOLGOP

    Be back in a few hours. Boss is making me get circumcised.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    Chris says:

    Well, Mr. Egan, maybe that’s because a two-party legislative system is never going to be the happiest place for those who cannot stretch their minds, or their political ambitions, beyond the proclamation that they are, each of them, a proud majority of one. Politics may not be beanbag, but it is most assuredly a team sport. But then, if the pollsters are to be believed, most self-styled Independents are either Republican voters who want to disassociate themselves from the raging nutjobs, or Democratic voters who’d prefer not to be labelled as baby-murdering drug fiends in thrall to the secret Muslim in the Oval Office. (Egan himself: “Pew put the pro-Democratic cohort at 55 percent, the pro-Republican at 36 percent. But the two party brands are so soiled now by the current do-nothing Congress and their screaming advocates that voters prefer not to have anything to do with either of them….”)

    I thought it was the opposite: that most independents were either left wingers in search of a purity unicorn, or “the raging nutjobs” who thought Mitt Romney was a liberal. In other words, people for whom the parties aren’t too extreme, but not extreme enough.

    Independent =/= centrist or moderate

  11. 11
    Kay says:

    I think Egan has to address who is making money off what he calls “the lobbyist industrial complex”. A LOT of people are, but a big beneficiary is media:

    July 1 is a bright summer day for most of the nation, made even more so by a new tool designed to shed light on the dark money behind political advertising this year.
    On Tuesday, every major broadcast television station in the United States is required to post online information about the political ads that they air. These broadcasters were already required by law to keep a “political file” on site at their stations.
    Now, this file will also be maintained at the Federal Communications Commission website — with stations posting copies of contracts showing who these political advertisers are, how much they’re spending on ads, and where and when their ads air.
    Political ad spending in 2014 could top $2.8 billion, according to Kantar Media CMAG, with the lion’s share going to purchase ads in local television markets.
    This is critical in this age of rampant dark money. While the Federal Elections Commission has a limited ability to identify the shadowy political advertisers that have emerged in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, the FCC has a clear legal path to transparency. Broadcasters are obliged by law to disclose who pays for political ads in exchange for using the airwaves. It’s a public interest bargain stretching back almost a century, and one that forms the foundation of U.S. communications law.
    Free Press, the Sunlight Foundation and other allies won a major victory in April 2012 when the FCC ordered television stations to post this information to an online database managed by the federal agency. Prior to the ruling, you could find this information only by visiting each station, a time-consuming process that uncooperative staff, steep photocopying fees and incomplete and unwieldy paper files made even more complicated.
    Sunlight Foundation has gone one further, using political-file data to write a series of investigative pieces that expose spending by shadowy groups and negligence by broadcasters in markets with hotly contested elections and ballot issues.

    Media companies fought disclosure tooth and nail. They didn’t want to reveal who is paying for ads, because it’s worse than just “ads”. The ads ARE the news in many local markets. They don’t provide any substantive news coverage of issues. They just run political ads and get paid.

  12. 12

    Goldy’s great (and he’s looking for a job—does BJ pay its front pagers?) Further down in the comments he endorses the “urban archipelago” proposal—the idea of starting reform in liberal cities, which is an interesting idea, but I think he will find that the rich of Seattle, at least, are not liberal at all and that the state lege of Washington will work even harder on turning Seattle into Detroit.

    I think it used to be the case that independents were low-information voters, but these days, especially in Seattle where Goldy lives in a hoity-toity suburb they are increasingly people whose parties have left them. I’ve had trouble voting Democratic for years now, but they sure beat the alternative. Maybe if the Republican Party wrecks itself, a liberal party can move in on the left—that’s how we got the Republicans in the first place, after all.

  13. 13
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Patricia Kayden: I doubt that in our political system, 3rd parties are feasible. They either replace one of the existing ones, or co-opt or are co-opted by one of the existing ones. Or just fade away having done little more than throw an election one way or the other.

  14. 14
    WereBear says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: True. The system, by design, excludes the possibility of a working third party. They tossed that tricky work out onto the populace to sort out in their own parties.

    It takes one party losing a lot of power to create a vacuum large enough for a new coalition to develop, and all the Republican whining about opening the tent, while the Tea Party stands ready to pour hot water on those who dare enter, will come to nothing.

    Because Republicans, by their very nature, fear change. Let them choke on it.

  15. 15
    Kay says:

    I don’t think they’re checking out because they dislike partisans- people with strong opinions.

    I think they’re checking out because they think it’s hopelessly corrupt, captured and compromised.

    I have no idea why a slate of independent candidates would have any effect on the corruption and capture problem. Arguably, independents would be even more vulnerable to capture because they don’t have a local Party structure so would be completely dependent on “issue” money and lobbyists.

    They have to reform campaign finance. It will be really difficult because all of that money is going somewhere, a lot of people are benefitting, and most of them are not politicians.

  16. 16
    Marmot says:

    You’re on fire this morn, Anne.

  17. 17
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    This just in:

    Call it the asshole effect. That is the term coined by US psychologist Paul Piff after he did some stunning new research into the effects of wealth and inequality on people’s attitudes.”

    “Piff conducted a series of revealing experiments. One was remarkably simple. Researchers positioned themselves at crossroads. They watched out for aggressive, selfish behaviour among drivers, and recorded the make and model of the car. Piff found drivers of expensive, high-status vehicles behave worse than those sputtering along in battered Toyota Corollas.”

    “They were four times more likely to cut off drivers with lower status vehicles. As a pedestrian looking carefully left and right before using a crossing, you should pay attention to the kind of car bearing down on you. Drivers of high-status vehicles were three times as likely to fail to yield at pedestrian crossings. In contrast, all the drivers of the least expensive type of car gave way to pedestrians.”

    I am shocked, SHOCKED!!!! to learn this.

  18. 18
    dmsilev says:

    Goldy’s checklist for actual reform: Proportional representation, eliminating the Electoral College, nationally standardized election laws, and “real campaign finance and disclosure reform. If that means a constitutional amendment, so be it…”

    Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, only the first of these proposals is even theoretically possible working upwards from the states.

    The National Popular Vote movement is a states-upward approach to effectively eliminating the Electoral College. Basically, a group of states pass laws stating that they will award their electoral votes to whichever candidates wins a plurality of the national vote. Once 270 electoral votes worth of states sign on, it doesn’t matter what the rest of the states do. The legislation is designed to only trigger once that critical mass is reached, so it’s an all or nothing thing.

  19. 19
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Kay:

    I think they’re checking out because they think it’s hopelessly corrupt, captured and compromised.

    Yes, and they aren’t wrong, but they need to realize that taking themselves out of the game makes the situation worse. You make a good point about independent candidates potentially being MORE dependent on outside influences due to lack of structure.

    As a partisan, I see this as a huge opportunity for the Democrats to define themselves anew as the party for the working people and against big money influence and corruption. Now’s the time.

  20. 20
    Cermet says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: Just shows that to be a first rate asshole one must end up being a texas.

  21. 21
    gene108 says:

    Increase the number of Representatives in the House. 435 members is not a fixed upper limit. And make sure the districts even out over representation of rural districts. That should help elect more Democrats and either force Republicans to get urban votes, rather than be exclusively beholden to rural fundies, or be a “permanent” minority status.

  22. 22
    MattF says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Hey, if you’re talking to your broker on the phone, it’s about stuff that matters.

  23. 23
    Kay says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    As a partisan, I see this as a huge opportunity for the Democrats to define themselves anew as the party for the working people and against big money influence and corruption. Now’s the time.

    I do too. I’m completely convinced that they not only could win with this, but have to grab it. I’m wondering if Democrats will “get it”. I see no indication they are at this time, but Republicans don’t either, so they have time.

    I think it’s such sloppy, lazy thinking to keep falling back on “bipartisan” or “independent”. There is absolutely nothing that says “bipartisan” or “independent” means “good idea”.

    Invading Iraq was bipartisan. So was deregulating the financial system.

    I’m a mediator as part of my work and one of the things that drives me crazy is when mediators say “both sides went away unhappy so I know it was fair”. It’s this constant theme. It’s just dumb. Maybe it was “even-steven” because they’re both unhappy but what does that mean? Or, maybe it was a dumb agreement and will fall apart and that’s why they’re unhappy. “Middle” doesn’t mean “good”. It just means “middle”.

  24. 24
    Emma says:

    To quote my second-favorite Texan, ain’t nothing down the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos. Independents are freeloaders.

  25. 25
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Kay:

    “Middle” doesn’t mean “good”. It just means “middle”.

    So true it should be committed to needlepoint!

  26. 26
    Keith G says:

    @Kay: You have submitted two outstanding comments that go a long way in explaining the “lay of the land” in our little polity.

    Or, as Hal Holbrook once darkly intoned, “Follow the money.”

    For at least one hundred and fifty years, money has been an important determinant of “who gets what amount of say” in our democratic process. The horrors in the high industrial revolution combined with massive immigration (outsiders with different views of how things should work – and the will to get very obnoxious about it) gave us a once in an epoch ability to change the power dynamic. Two successive world wars, especially the second, were able to temporarily change the relationship connecting worker and owner.

    Some seem to have begun to believe that these changes were forever.

    Nope.

    The empire of the monied has struck back.

    I think Egan has to address who is making money off what he calls “the lobbyist industrial complex”. A LOT of people are, but a big beneficiary is media:

    There is a closed off, nearly self-sustaining, circular money flow. In one form: Corporations give to lobbyists; Lobbyists give to PACs; PACs spend on media: Media (owned by corporations) put a palatable façade on the whole money-grubing adventure.

    Since political parties are no longer the “make or break” source of campaign funding, they can put a face on what is happening but they have less control than ever before.

    I don’t think they’re checking out because they dislike partisans- people with strong opinions.

    I think they’re checking out because they think it’s hopelessly corrupt, captured and compromised.

    It’s hard to blame them.

    This era has been compared the the Gilded Age. Once in it’s full stride, America’s industrial revolution had such a high need for geographically specific mass labor, that workers were able to gain leverage and increase their power. That changed both our economics and our politics for the better.

    I am at a loss to know what the next catalyst could be, but I hope it happens soon…or should I?

  27. 27
    Kay says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I think these lectures by people like Egan are really convenient and way too easy. He’s not attacking the people who are really benefitting from this. That’s too scary. It’s so easy to go after “screaming partisans” and say that John Boehner is serving the “base” of the GOP. The GOP is just a mechanism Boehner needs to stay elected and serve his constituents, who are monied interests. They sort of airily mention this “money” in politics as if it’s collected and not disbursed and not purchasing anything. We can look at where it’s coming from but you also have to look at where it’s going and what goods and services and laws and lawmakers it buys.

  28. 28
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kay:

    I’m a mediator as part of my work and one of the things that drives me crazy

    I’ve been thru court ordered mediation a couple times with my ex. What drove me crazy was that as soon as the mediator came to the conclusion that my ex was a lying thieving drug addict, they would be removed because they were “obviously prejudiced against” her. Same thing happened with guardian ad litems.

    I’m not real sure what mediation is good for beyond keeping down costs for corporations.

  29. 29
    Baud says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    As a partisan, I see this as a huge opportunity for the Democrats to define themselves anew as the party for the working people and against big money influence and corruption. Now’s the time.

    I do too. But I’m not as convinced as you are there is a substantial constituency out there (yet) who would be receptive to that message coming from Democrats.

  30. 30
    Kay says:

    @Keith G:

    I am at a loss to know what the next catalyst could be, but I hope it happens soon…or should I?

    I’m an optimist to the point of delusion sometimes, but I am one. Politicians and government will address this or something non-governmental will fill the void. They can choose. Listen and respond to the rabble they know, one that is bounded and tamed by rules and laws or take their chances on what comes next. If I were a zillionaire I’d go with the rabble I know.

    Citizens polls at 25%. People know it will and has led to corruption and they’re not going to be satisfied forever with “this is legal, so therefore not actionable corruption under state and federal law”. That’s not responsive to their concerns. That isn’t the question they asked.

  31. 31
    Kay says:

    @Baud:

    I think Democrats could approach this as “good government”. Ethical. Transparent. High standards. A culture where Eric Cantor can’t go on MSNBC and idly speculate on whether he will immediately become a lobbyist, and everyone in the savvy media-pundit choir nods their head because “that’s the way it works”.

    It’s unacceptable.

  32. 32
    Keith G says:

    @Baud:

    But I’m not as convinced as you are there is a substantial constituency out there (yet) who would be receptive to that message coming from Democrats.

    Numerically, there is and it is substantial. The issue is how to aggregate it – How to get the most diverse American political constituency that has ever existed to see everything that they do have in common.

    I believe that it can be done. The trick is to raise the resources to do this in an environment controlled by folks with money who would be much happier if these work-a-day folks never understood our common interests.

  33. 33
    Dr. Dave says:

    @Betty Cracker: Totally agree with both you and Kay. It drives me nuts when I see “polls” about questions that have an objective, verifiable answer, as though reality can be put to a popular vote. Sometimes, when there are two points of view, one is right and the other is wrong–are opinions are NOT equally valid.

  34. 34
    Baud says:

    @Kay:

    I recall that Obama imposed the first ever restrictions on lobbyists participating in government — apparently so draconian a ban that the lobbyists have sued Obama under the First Amendment — and all Obama got was derision about how his rule wasn’t good enough. I’ve seen this type of tying over an over again since 2009.

    We’re probably in 99% agreement in what we’d like to see the Dems do. But I really can’t reasonably expect a Democrat candidate to pass up cold hard cash for a phantom constituency. If “good government” Dems are greeted with nothing but cynicism from the voters they’re trying to reach, then they’ll learn quickly to abandon that strategy.

    I don’t think we’re going to be successful at changing the attitude of the party leadership unless we also change the way voters react to the Democratic message. The problem I have with this debate whenever it comes up is that it never acknowledges, much less addresses, that side of the problem.

  35. 35
    Baud says:

    @Keith G:

    I agree, the numbers are there. The problem is turning those raw numbers into some sort of action.

  36. 36
    Kay says:

    @Baud:

    It’s a good point. I’m okay with the Obama Administration on ethics. I think they’re solid enough there, for now, for the current climate.

    I have to tell you though, Democrats (not just Obama) had a problem with grifters post-Clinton and it wasn’t bloggers or internet commenters. It was professional campaign people and liberal orgs. Obama started over to a certain extent and cleared out a lot of the old timers but it creeps back in and it has crept back in with his people. A lot of them will be the new campaign industrial complex going forward. They have a problem with the revolving door, too. I just watch the Dept of Ed (my area of interest) and they ALL go to either lobbying groups or for-profit concerns who lobby government when they leave there.

  37. 37
    PurpleGirl says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: Have you considered that the “lazy ass” expert did run Spellcheck but in automatic mode and didn’t actually look at it as it ran. Not defending the “lazy ass” expert; I think running Spellcheck and NOT looking at it makes expert even lazier. First thing I do with any system I use is to turn on underlining for misspelled words and I have to deal with errors as they are made.

  38. 38
    Sherparick says:

    Usually Egan thinks a little harder than this, but apparently he just engaged in a lot of unicorn thinking here (a unicorn dream that goes back to the American Constitutional Convention because Madison and his comrades were trying to create a Governments without “parties.”) If what he talked about really occurred, it would just mean more Teabaggers in the House and Senate as Democrats and “Independents” split the vote.

    The U.S. is a continental nation strong class, sectional, religious and race (duh) divisions. It has a “first past the post” electoral system with usually a plurality of the vote enough to win a primary or general election. To win an election one has to put together a team of those “factions” that at least prefer you to the alternative (see Texas Republican Party Platform). And I hate the “green lanternism” of “Obama failed to unite us” (even though Obama indulged in language himself in 2007-09 which has come back to haunt him.)

  39. 39
    PurpleGirl says:

    @David Koch: Definitely agree that the funny looking guy has an incandescent smile.

  40. 40
    Keith G says:

    @Baud:

    I don’t think we’re going to be successful at changing the attitude of the party leadership unless we also change the way voters react to the Democratic message.

    I have heard a variation of this before. That leads me to mull over the notion that voters are who they are and if one pines for better voters…well how does that translate in to action?

    It reminds me of my days as a young teacher in public schools – as the older teachers wistfully remembered the days of better students. A new superintendent addressed that by saying, “The students who walk in our door are the students we have and we can not change that. What we will do is reach out to them as they are and help them get to where they need to be.”

    How we change the way voters react to the Democratic message will depend on finding a Democratic leadership who is committed to this difficult grunt work of constant outreach and engagement: of meeting folks where they are and then moving them along toward a better understanding of their relationship to the whole.

  41. 41
    Kay says:

    @Baud:

    Liberals have a huge advantage over conservatives. They believe in regulation and they don’t believe money is speech. That’s what 75% of Americans believe, too, if Citizens polling is accurate because Citizens polling isn’t about Citizens, it’s about corruption and capture.

    They’d have to turn on a lot of their compatriots though, so we’ll see if they can do it :)

  42. 42
    Sherparick says:

    @Kay: Did you watch the movie “Lincoln?” Did you notice the vote buying and grifting Lincoln used to get enough Democratic votes to have House pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery? (Note, at that time Congress would go usually hold winter sessions that started in December and lasted to April, so the second session of each Congress would start after a November election where a significant number of members had either loss election and were retiring from their seats. A great number of the Democrats had lost seats in the election of November 1864 and Lincoln was able to pick off enough to have the House pass the Amendment so it would have the illusion of “bi-partisan” support. Most of these Democrats were still believers in White Supremacy and regretted the demise of slavery, but were willing to sell their principles for “jobs.” “…The amendment passed narrowly after heavy pressure exerted by Lincoln himself, along with offers of political appointments from the “Seward lobby”. Allegations of bribery were made by Democrats;[79][80] Stevens stated “the greatest measure of the nineteenth century was passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America.”[81] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thaddeus_Stevens

  43. 43
    danielx says:

    @Baud:

    But I’m not as convinced as you are there is a substantial constituency out there (yet) who would be receptive to that message coming from Democrats.

    Can’t speak for anyone else, but I wouldn’t be very receptive to that message as long as the Dems are still considering the likes of Larry Summers and Robert Rubin as economic sages. That’s not to say I don’t regard the Dems as a better alternative than Republicans (repeat after me: There.Is.No.Tea.Party.), since as far as I can tell Republicans want to return us to the 1850s politically, economically and socially.

    But seriously, “…the party for the working people and against big money influence and corruption.”? Get real. The Dems, generally speaking, are be willing to let a few more crumbs fall from the table of the 1% and a little less inclined to piss down your back and tell you it’s the trickle down theory in operation, but with the exceptions of Elizabeth Warren and a few others (Hillary Clinton not included), their collective lips are just as firmly affixed to the buttocks of the financial industry – to name one example – as those of just about any Republican. As with Willie Sutton and his views on banks, that’s where the money is. They don’t have any choice, as long as the likes of the Koch Bros can drop a hundred million a year on influencing elections for the next decade and have it amount to about a percentage point of their net worth. Gotta get elected somehow, and small donor contributions aren’t going to get it done.

    All that being said, the Dems – again – are a hell of a lot better alternative than the collection of corrupt fucknozzles, theocrats, warmongers and all-round ignorant shitheads to which the Republican Party has been reduced.

  44. 44
    Woodrowfan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I did a little test during the 2004 elections. I decided that if I saw a rude, selfish, or thoughtless driver I;d not what bumper-stickers they had on their car and tally republicans vs. Democrats. I had to spot the rudeness first. I couldn’t watch a car with a “Bush 04” sticker and then see if he acted like a jerk.

    Even though I live and work in a very heavily Democratic area you would probably not be surprised to learn that the Republicans “won.” I don;t remember the final vote, but there were far more rude, selfish drivers with right-wing stickers that those with left-wing. (A lot had neither and non-political stickers did not count).

    to be fair, the worst driver of them all was a Volvo who was making an illegal u-turn in downtown Georgetown on a Saturday morning, who managed to block not only the main road going both ways, but two side streets as well. His back bumper was covered in Dennis Kuchinich (sp) stickers.

  45. 45
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Baud: But what happened as a result of the lobbying reform efforts? Didn’t the number of registered lobbyists drop while spending on lobbyists increased, suggesting that activities simply went underground?

    I’m glad Obama took the issue on — that’s important — but we can’t expect rank and file voters to applaud good intentions unless we can demonstrate results.

    @danielx:

    The Dems, generally speaking, are be willing to let a few more crumbs fall from the table of the 1% and a little less inclined to piss down your back and tell you it’s the trickle down theory in operation, but with the exceptions of Elizabeth Warren and a few others (Hillary Clinton not included), their collective lips are just as firmly affixed to the buttocks of the financial industry – to name one example – as those of just about any Republican.

    That’s a fairly accurate description of the way things are now, but it doesn’t have to be that way forever; in fact, the current state of affairs isn’t sustainable long term. We’re discussing ways to change it rather than pissing and moaning about how hopeless it all is (the latter being, I’ll admit, an attractive alternative that I often resort to myself…).

  46. 46
    C.V. Danes says:

    But imagine if the 36 percent of independents who lean Republican got themselves engaged in party politics, how quickly they’d overwhelm their Tea Party counterparts, restoring some sanity to the GOP?…

    He’s assuming, of course, that a significant fraction of this this 36 percent of independents didn’t leave the Republican Party because the tea partiers weren’t crazy enough

  47. 47
    Woodrowfan says:

    Democrat: For dinner I am offering chicken breast on wild rice, with some steamed green beans and roasted red potatoes.

    Republican: For dinner I am offering dog poop on ground glass with a side order of a green salad made with poison ivy and topped with Round-Up dressing.

    Independent: hummmm, how is the chicken prepared?

    Firebagger: THAT CHICKEN ISN’T FREE RANGE!

  48. 48
    Baud says:

    @Kay:

    The reality is, IMHO, that money replaced racists as the third leg of the Democratic tripod. If we want to reduce the influence of money, we need to find something that can replace it. It’s not as if the money is going down a hole — for the most part, it’s being used to complete against well-financed Republicans in elections.

    I don’t know you can realistically do about the revolving door. There are already rules in place that ban agency personnel from lobbying the agency they left for a period of time. People who leave government need to find a job somewhere, and unfortunately, business and industry have more opportunities to offer people than other areas.

    @Kay:

    Who’s been soft on the Dem side on Citizen’s United? I haven’t paid attention to that in a while, but I wasn’t aware of anyone going off the reservation on that issue.

  49. 49
    Baud says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    we can’t expect rank and file voters to applaud good intentions unless we can demonstrate results.

    I can and do. If we’re not going to reward the fight, we’re never going to achieve the results. If there’s one lesson we can learn from Republicans, it’s this.

  50. 50
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Woodrowfan: Heh.

  51. 51
    Baud says:

    @Keith G:

    Again, I agree. I’m a big fan of on-the-ground organizers right now.

  52. 52
    danielx says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    We’re discussing ways to change it rather than pissing and moaning about how hopeless it all is, which I’ll admit, is an attractive alternative that I often resort to myself…

    Agreed. Now if our efforts could just be combined with some deux ex machina like a very selective painful but nonfatal illness which would sideline at least three of the five members of the Supremes’ conservative majority, like for the next decade…

    Fat Tony Scalia with a furunculosis problem? Hey, what’s life without a dream here or there?

  53. 53
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Baud: I’m talking about unaffiliated-lightly affiliated voters, not the base, so I’m not sure how the Republican analogy applies?

    Voters who suspect the entire government is in thrall to lobbyists will naturally believe a reform effort that does not stem the tide of dollars is symbolism over substance. We folks in the base can clap as hard as we want (and we should clap, since it encourages our party to undertake more necessary reform), but it’s going to fizzle as outreach unless it delivers results.

  54. 54
    khead says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    THIS. So this.

    Y’all just wouldn’t believe the number of nice, well meaning folks on my FB who were SHOCKED! when the HL decision came down. You know, because there’s no difference between the parties. The only good news is most of those nice well-meaning folks are women in purple states that didn’t get mad when I pointed out – yet again – that yes there is a difference.

  55. 55
    low-tech cyclist says:

    To the extent that ‘independents’ are centrists/moderates (and I know a few such), that mostly shows they’re ignorant of the state of our politics, and nothing important should be entrusted to them until they take the trouble to educate themselves.

    This isn’t the 1970s or 1980s, where one party wanted a bit more in the way of government programs, and was OK with a bit more in the way of taxes to finance them, and the other party wanted a bit less of each, and the question was how much of each you’d actually have. You could be in the middle back then, because there was a spectrum, and there was a middle to it.

    But now we have two parties with two fundamentally incompatible worldviews. There is no halfway in between, any more than there is a halfway between Beethoven and Van Gogh. Anyone who thinks of him/herself as a centrist is either ignorant or fooling themselves. If such people try to publicly pat themselves on the back for being above the fray and having the answers, they should be ridiculed. They are playing a game in their heads that has nothing to do with real life.

  56. 56
    danielx says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    And yes, there is an urban legend-type fable that illustrates your point – and more to the point, why one might well classify independents with invertebrates, as far as their lack of involvement is concerned. From a site way back in the dark ages:

    Politics: The necessity for every citizen to participate in politics is found in the following non-vegetarian story.

    You walk into the only restaurant in town and smell the exquisite odor of steak coming from the kitchen.

    The waiter brings you a menu that has “Column A: Steamed unsalted squash” and “Column B: Boiled unpeppered rutabaga.”

    “Wait a minute”, you say, “I smell really great steak in the kitchen.”

    “Yes”, says the waiter, “But that’s for the kitchen workers.”

    If all you have to do with politics is wait until you get to the ballot and have only steamed squash or boiled rutabaga on those two columns, then either starve or shut up and choke it down. You’re getting what you deserve. If you want steak on the menu, get into the kitchen.

    (Vegetarians may substitute tofu, bacon, and lamb chops, as appropriate.)

  57. 57
    Baud says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I’m talking about unaffiliated-lightly affiliated voters, not the base, so I’m not sure how the Republican analogy applies?

    Unaffiliated-lightly affiliated voters probably aren’t paying attention to the sort of minutiae we’re discussing. I think they do pay attention to what other people are saying, however, and if the base (who are people too!) is saying “the Dems aren’t good enough” instead of “the Dems have taken a good step forward” (where warranted, of course), that messaging filters its way into the public attitude and consciousness.

  58. 58
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Baud: We were talking about two different groups, then. I agree the base should support lobby reform efforts, even if they’re half-assed (ditto healthcare reform, financial regulation reform, etc.).

  59. 59
    amk says:

    @Woodrowfan:

    yup, yup. That about sums it up.

  60. 60
    Linnaeus says:

    This piece by Egan strikes me as similar in spirit to the one he did about a month or so ago decrying the students who had the temerity to lodge protests against speakers that were chosen to give commencement speeches at their universities.

  61. 61
    Jasmine Bleach says:

    @Chris:

    Independent =/= centrist or moderate

    This is all just silly.

    Sure, there are liberal independents, there are conservative independents, there are libertarian independents, and there are middle of the road independents. I love how people insecurely try to categorize them all into “buckets” (to use a common corporate term) in order to fit them into their universe. “Quick–we have to generalize with a label!”

    Most independents I know are the most solid people with regard to their values and views on life. Most don’t like the main parties because of the deep corruption inherent in them, so they look for the person who most represents what they’re looking for.

    As a liberal independent, sometimes that means I vote Democrat, sometimes Green, sometimes another independent or other minor party, sometimes a write in if nobody is worth voting for. It’s not even about “purity unicorns”. It’s about a candidate being close enough to what we need (in my opinion).

    And all this talk of us being “invertebrates as far as their lack of involvement” or “unaffiliated voters who aren’t paying attention to the sort of minutiae we’re discussing” is bigoted stupidity. You can try to blame the lack of success of Democratic candidates and Democratic elected officials on us if you think that’s useful (I know I’m feeling the love!), but you should instead look inward to your own party–maybe that big tent is no longer really very big. Maybe the party needs to change and stand for useful, non-destructive things.

  62. 62
    Cervantes says:

    @Kay:

    I don’t think they’re checking out because they dislike partisans- people with strong opinions. I think they’re checking out because they think it’s hopelessly corrupt, captured and compromised.

    Who is “they”?

    Are some people “checking out” of the system because, frankly, it just seems easier?[*] Laziness may be part of it, but for many people “checking out” really is all they can manage — and exactly what the proprietors of the system want them to do.

    [*] Seems easier, but may not be easier, in the long run.

  63. 63
    Cervantes says:

    @Jasmine Bleach: Glad you’re against hasty generalizations, but with regard to this:

    Most independents I know are the most solid people with regard to their values and views on life. Most don’t like the main parties because of the deep corruption inherent in them, so they look for the person who most represents what they’re looking for.

    Polls have suggested for a while that “most independents” usually vote reliably for one of the two major parties, despite calling themselves “independents.”

  64. 64
    Botsplainer says:

    The ur-Teabagging gun nut.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4eo0OY8GOuc

  65. 65
    Jinchi says:

    I never understand the need for partisans to insist that there are no independents, or the need to create self-serving definitions of what the word “independent” means.

    Independents are people who don’t identify with the major political parties, period. Most likely this is because they feel the major parties aren’t addressing their needs. It doesn’t make them centrists, it doesn’t make them less engaged in the political process and it doesn’t make them less well-informed.

    There is a reason virtually everyone assumes that Democrats will do badly in this off-year election. It’s because many of the people you insist are “Democrats”, really aren’t. Instead of engaging in this ritualistic dismissal of a significant portion of the voting population, Democrats would be better served if they figured out why so many of “their voters” will sit out an election that could give Republicans control of Congress.

  66. 66
    Jinchi says:

    @Cervantes:

    Polls have suggested for a while that “most independents” usually vote reliably for one of the two major parties, despite calling themselves “independents.”

    Liberal independents tend to vote for Democrats. Conservative independents tend to vote for Republicans. The third option, which about 60% of the population will select, is not to vote at all. Voters select from the choices given to them. Why are partisans constantly surprised by this result?

  67. 67

    In a two party system, being an independent makes little sense. Align with the party that closely represents your interests. The .1% have.

  68. 68
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    @MattF: That’s the common media wisdom, but haven’t the numbers been giving the lie to this over the last decade? Or if it was ever true it was true during the era of split tickets (not even sure how true THAT is, with the Dixiecrat xover being a rolling phenom that hit local politics last) but frankly politics are more polarized now?

    Dems have been winning lately by turning out the base and that means boots on the ground and calling the fuck out of people. Labor has been calling the fuck out of people and going door to door too. GOP has focused on persuasion but their shit-nola is only appealing to resentful whites and they are losing mindshare everywhere else.

  69. 69
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Jinchi:

    The third option, which about 60% of the population will select, is not to vote at all.

    And it’s working out so well for all of us!

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    The other countries that have multiple parties generally also have a parliamentary system where the members of the legislature elect the head of government/the executive branch from within their own ranks rather than having the head of government/the executive branch elected directly, as we do it. That’s what makes it tough for third parties in the US — their ability to form coalitions and the power of those coalitions is much more limited since they don’t have the power to help select the head of government.

  71. 71
    Cervantes says:

    @Jinchi: Sorry, I’m not sure who you think is surprised.

    Me, I was responding to someone’s statement …

    Most [independents I know] don’t like the main parties because of the deep corruption inherent in them

    … by observing that despite this (ostensible) dislike, most self-described independents vote reliably for one of the major parties. Speaking analytically, how are they “independent”?

    Put another way: how would you estimate the actual size of “the swing vote”?

    Also re:

    Voters select from the choices given to them.

    Voters are those who select from the choices given to them.

    And re:

    Democrats would be [well] served if they figured out why so many of “their voters” will sit out an election that could give Republicans control of Congress.

    You’re right.

  72. 72
    Elizabelle says:

    Meanwhile, the usually better David Leonhardt serves up a batch of stupid, front and center on NYTimes website right now.

    Why Teenagers Today May Grow Up Conservative

    … In the simplest terms, the Democrats control the White House (and, for now, the Senate) at a time when the country is struggling. Economic growth has been disappointing for almost 15 years now. Most Americans think this country is on the wrong track. Our foreign policy often seems messy and complex, at best.

    To Americans in their 20s and early 30s — the so-called millennials — many of these problems have their roots in George W. Bush’s presidency. But think about people who were born in 1998, the youngest eligible voters in the next presidential election. They are too young to remember much about the Bush years or the excitement surrounding the first Obama presidential campaign. They instead are coming of age with a Democratic president who often seems unable to fix the world’s problems.

    “We’re in a period in which the federal government is simply not performing,” says Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center, the author of a recent book on generational politics, “and that can’t be good for the Democrats.”

    Bullshit, triple strength.

    And if “the youngs” can’t understand why the federal government is not performing, maybe it’s the “view from nowhere” unbiased (by reality) reporting they get served up, in between loads of celebrity gossip and cynicism.

  73. 73
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    @Sherparick: I’ve noticed that mandatory runoffs/majority vote systems are more common in the South. I suspect it’s to ensure that even if whites split their vote they can come back and crush a challenger who got a plurality. In the North when I left plurality (and party primaries, not jungle primaries) was the rule.

    A lot of the “reforms” over the years have had unintended consequences. Electing judges, for example. Progressives pushed for that back in the day (because farmers feared losing everything in bankrupcy proceedings, handled by a you-got-it, judge). I might concede that a runoff does convey legitimacy in the form of a majority, but then again, that majority is a joke because it’s not always the same electorate showing up to a runoff. That’s why instant runoff was invented but IRV schemes seem to work out to bizarre and suck and actually cloud election results so fuck that.

    In a country where it is NOT supposed to be about “majority rules–suck it, minority members” how is majority as opposed to plurality supposed to be more democratic? I’m not sure I agree.

    Totally agree with national election reform and we need universal suffrage, stronger protections, something we’ve never had. Felons should be able to vote again, too. Even in prison. And I’m a Democrat and I think a lot of Democrats agree with me except on the felons in prison bit. So why is this an “independent” view?

    I find richer people can avoid social contact more than poorer people so they can go on about how they’re special snowflakes and not joiners and la di da and being a Democrat means being part of a difficult coalition with competing interests and conflicting cultural styles so I can see why the privileged would agree on policy yet want to distance themselves but they’re still just being privileged snowflakes.

  74. 74

    Why is election day not a holiday? That would definitely increase voter participation. That and a fine for not voting like they do in Australia. Also too, uniform voting rules across states for Congress, Senate and Presidential elections and a federal body to oversee elections like the Election Commission does in India.

  75. 75
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    @Jinchi: Bullshit. If you’re not involved, you’re not engaged. I’m not impressed by internet slacktivism. The only person who can tell me they’re independent because Dems suck and they’re a Socialist and still get my respect is someone who works with coalitions on lobbying and direct action (and no I don’t mean “I’m having a trustafarian party direct action,” fuck those losers). And quite frankly almost all of those people DO vote early and often because they engage in lobbying and ballot measures and direct action and coalition building and they KNOW what they’re up against on the other side.

    And frankly those are the people who sit out when the Dems decide to sell out to corporatists or uterus-botherers because they’re just not going to spend their efforts on a lost cause. Which is why the Dem party apparatus is always trying to sweep activists into their employ or waste time on their party shit to coopt them because they don’t just run along and do what the big donors want and they know it. But eff the big donors, we’re all trying to survive out here.

  76. 76

    @Elizabelle: I am not loving NYT’s 538 lite. So much fail. They also killed Indiaink got rid of Nate Silver, while David Brooks and his gibberish lives on. And then they wonder why they are losing readers.

  77. 77
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    @Jasmine Bleach: Being an “independent voter” seems so intrinsically tied to whiteness. Maybe an academic can join the conversation and weigh in on this.

  78. 78
    Gus diZerega says:

    When I read proposals for reform like Egan’s I want to tear my hair out. Proportional representation in the House would likely be a good idea, but it will not happen in my lifetime or yours. It’s too unfamaliar and requires those benefitting from the status quo to pursue a change against their interests. There is a reform that could make a huge difference and could be implemented almost immediately in much of the country: switch to majority vote elections.

    Plurality elections are poison for third parties. Unless they win they help the main party you like least. That is why these parties are built around personalities and have no staying power except as ’boutique’ parties mostly good for massaging the egos of their leaders. Only locally is it sometimes different.

    BUT if they pushed state initiatives switching to majority vote from plurality vote people wiuld have an alternative to a corporatist insane Republican and corporatist corrupt Democratic Part. States like Maine are perfect for this because they have an initiative process and a thuggish governor who holds office ONLY because of the plurality rules.

    That third parties are not pushing this reform in states like Maine or California tells me most are truly only vehicles for the egos of their leaders.

    As with women’s suffrage, some states will lead, others will want to join in, and in time the nation will catch up. Then you get the amendment to the constitution. It’s how our system works.

    That ‘pundits’ do not grasp the importance of this reform tells me they do not understand politics very well beyond the most immediate and ephemeral issues. If that.

  79. 79
    Cervantes says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: We do have a Federal Election Commission — but we also have Article II of the Constitution that reserves some relevant powers to the States.

  80. 80
    Aardvark Cheeselog says:

    On the other hand, there’s the (extremely slim) chance that working for an actual constitutional amendment might be as life-changingly informative for today’s Independents as working for the Equal Rights Amendment was for a generation of feminists in the 1970s and 1980s… and that would be a good thing for our battered Republic, in my opinion.

    If these “independents” were politically engaged enough to actually work on getting an Amendment passed, they would already be partisans and not “independents.”

  81. 81
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Elizabelle: Yes. I can understand how the youth COULD become conservative. But then they’ll be hard pressed to find anything but reactionaries in the Republican party. Because when the federal government is failing, the best place to look for a solution is with the Party whose new big shiny idea is that county sherrifs are the solution.

  82. 82
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Cervantes:

    most self-described independents vote reliably for one of the major parties. Speaking analytically, how are they “independent”?

    It’s a brand name, it’s not a political orientation

  83. 83
    amk says:

    @Jasmine Bleach:

    Maybe the party needs to change and stand for useful, non-destructive things.

    Are you confusing dems with gop? Very nice of you to give the thugs a complete pass.

  84. 84
    Jinchi says:

    @Another Holocene Humann:

    Bullshit. If you’re not involved, you’re not engaged.

    You’re making the assumption that “independents” are less engaged than those who call themselves Democrats or Republicans. What percentage of partisans qualify as “engaged” under your definition? We just had a series of primaries where turnout was in the 10-20% range. So what difference does is make to you what people call themselves?

  85. 85
    cokane says:

    Most important that Goldstein doesn’t mention is that independents are less likely to vote, especially in non-presidential years. The idea that their needs should be catered to is bullshit. And it’s the same weaksauce cowardly centrist pundits have been ladeling out for decades. Not attacking Goldstein on this last point btw.

    The legislative branch of the federal government is indeed very much broken. But there’s an easy to spot reason for that. No mewling centrist pundit dare say its name however.

  86. 86
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    In Europe, you fight the election, form the coalition, and govern.
    In the US, you form the coalition, fight the election, then govern.

    We have two labels, but more than two parties. The two ‘parties’ have always had two or more blocs, going back to the days of the Cotton Whigs and Conscience Whigs, or the Dixiecrats and the Democrats, or the Isolationist and internationalist Republcans of the ’50’s.

    The Senate of my youth, e.g., had John Stennis and Eugene McCarthy serving side by side in the same caucus.

  87. 87
    gene108 says:

    @Keith G:

    How we change the way voters react to the Democratic message will depend on finding a Democratic leadership who is committed to this difficult grunt work of constant outreach and engagement: of meeting folks where they are and then moving them along toward a better understanding of their relationship to the whole.

    The problem is simple. The right-wing controls the media. They have their dedicated media outlets, which are usually able to set the narrative for the news cycle.

    Bowe Berghdal coming home, would normally be a positive thing for a Presidential Administration. Republicans countered that he was a traitor, deserter, etc. and their media flunkies made so much noise the MSM decided to make it an issue.

    What should have been a boost to President Obama’s popularity turned into something neutral, at best.

    Until there is a way to flush right-wing money out of the media business, we’ll stuck where we are.

    And this goes beyond the Fairness Doctrine. Rev. Moon, Mellon-Scaife, Buckley, etc. were crunching out right-wing rags masquerading as news organizations, while the Fairness Doctrine still existed. The push for making White Water a major Presidential scandal, Paula Jones, etc. came from these right-wing rags and would have gotten the same attention, even with the Fairness Doctrine in place.

    What has shielded President Obama, from being hounded like President Clinton, is the internet provides real-time methods to verify right-wing lies. They can float out a statement that President Obama spent $100 quadrillion dollars on a trip to Asia, people can find estimates of the cost of operating Air Force one, his security detail, etc. from the internet and can compare it to what other Presidents have spent on such trips.

    What’s killing Democrats right now is the constant “the sky is falling” message coming from the media. Even what should be uplifting stories, like Bowe Bergdhal coming home, get turned into “scandals” that we should be angry about.

    Hell, crime is at a 50 year low, high school graduation rates are at a record high, the economy is recovering, yet no good news comes out of the media filter to the general public and a lot of that has to do with the right-wing media organizations being able to set the narrative for the rest of the media.

  88. 88
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    @Gus diZerega: How does a third party with any pull avoid being “corporate, corrupt Democrats”? Didn’t the Democrats court the finance sector because that’s where the dollars are (and a lot of them are horrified by the “social” agenda of the GOP, plus the GOP’s brinkmanship on every matter)?

    We had a Green party. It died. Not enough work on winning local elections, putting forward unserious statewide and national candidates who acted as spoilers in favor of R’s. I mean, the D’s were sucky too (NOT defending Nader here, don’t even start), that’s why the Greens got started. But they lacked both the gumption and organization in the grass roots and enough financial support. Shit, you could break off a splinter of Mass Dems into a more liberal party but it would be really fucking tough. And Walsh just won an election AS a Dem IN Boston which just goes to show that sometimes the most progressive candidate with the most broad, forward-thinking coalition can be achieved within the corrupt (South Boston crony kickback) system where the purity ponies failed and failed hard. Sometimes accepting the gray is what you need to win. The FACT is that any “fuck you Southie” D coalition back in the day would have run against the fact that they weren’t a majority and the power brokers were all too happy to make common cause with the worst kind of Republicans to stay in power. Had they split the party then Mass would be a hellhole today. Just imagine angry racist Catholic wankers + angry exurb racist gas guzzling assholes running Mass into the fucking ground. Instead we finally get an ex-Clintonite D governor and a fucking recovery out of the recession, go Hub. That took a lot of SUCKING UP by people like the guy who was my rep in the House of Delegates for many years. We voters and our reps had to suck up shit for years and years and it paid the fuck off.

    Circular firing squad anyone? Look at what happened in NC. Just look at the state of things. THAT’S what happens when you elevate principle above the practical and let the evil fuckers sweep in.

  89. 89
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Another Holocene Humann:

    Sometimes accepting the gray is what you need to win.

    Assumes a desire to win.

    Internalize the message that power corrupts, that actual participation in the system is a form of complicity, and winning isn’t so important any more — at least to you. At that point consequentialism goes out the window, and you’re competing for style points.

  90. 90
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    @Another Holocene Humann: Even better, look at fucking New York State. What a fucking shithole of a state. Worse inequality than Pennsyltucky. Miserable people north of NYC. Miserable, corrupt, openly corrupt politics. Conservadems and quislings and red county jerkfaces running things.

    NYC has this semi-split ticket boutique party thing going on, just like many people want for Mass. I just don’t see the unicorns and rainbows yet. NY took forever to get same sex marriage even though they probably had more support statewide than MA did in 2004. And people in Boston could never be accused of being not engaged in politics. They just know that you have to work with people and sometimes you have to eat shit for a while. NY’s purity pony stuff hasn’t improved conditions for everyday citizens. In fact, NYS has more poverty areas than any other state in the NEC north of the Mason-Dixon line. Don’t blame Wall Street because RI and MA have their own finance sectors (and RI does have pretty bad inequality, worst in NE, but nothing compared to NYS).

    A lot of the “solutions” being pushed by these third-way-ers, independents, purity trolls, special snowflakes, etcet just have absolutely NO track record of actually working in the real world. Give it a fucking rest. Politics is dirty and you have to eat shit and smile at people you despise sometimes. (Sometimes real crooks, like the Bulgers … I mean, look what happened to Harshbarger. Fucking crime that election, but the electorate is an ass sometimes too.)

  91. 91
    cokane says:

    @Davis X. Machina: This! Thank you. So many Americans seem to think the grass is greener on the multi-party side. Multi party systems just end up with a governing coalition and an opposition coalition, essentially two parties. Adding multiple parties is not a damn panacea to effective government.

    Hell, a number of European multiparty countries had more trouble mustering a correct response to the 2007-2008 economic crisis than the U.S.

  92. 92
    Cervantes says:

    @gene108: Agree with you by and large.

    The push for making White Water a major Presidential scandal, Paula Jones, etc. came from these right-wing rags and would have gotten the same attention, even with the Fairness Doctrine in place.

    To be precise, it was the NYT that inflated the Whitewater deal into a scandal. One is tempted to call it journalistic fraud.

  93. 93
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Internalize the message that power corrupts, that actual participation in the system is a form of complicity, and winning isn’t so important any more — at least to you. At that point consequentialism goes out the window, and you’re competing for style points.

    Only possible if you have the privilege to be immune from political consequences.

    This is why rich white script kiddiez were so outraged about Aaron Schwartz (not to say it wasn’t outrageous, but most of them cared not about other judicial overreach going on that year), because stuff like that shouldn’t happen to “them”. That’s why so many Republican women still vote Republican, because their bc/abortions are different (hence the “pay for it” talking point, complete denial that their own party coalition is working overtime to make such things illegal, never mind unaffordable) and they know they can always fly little Madysyn across state lines for her “operation”.

    White lefties who enjoy picking fights with police at protests will always go on that they don’t have white privilege but somehow they never feel the pinch of the GOPers they put in power, after all they can always couch surf with their magically employed friends or they have some tiny inheritance to spend and they can dull the pain with weed because they won’t realistically get caught or if caught, punished.

  94. 94
    Cervantes says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Or a “lifestyle,” as opposed to an actual life.

    In some cases.

  95. 95
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @cokane: Thanks.

    I’ve been teaching so long I dream in Powerpoint[1] slides.

    [1] Meant generically. I of course have only used OpenOffice/NeoOffice/Staroffice since 2004.

  96. 96
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    @cokane: Being able to call elections abruptly and having coalitions break up so readily is a real incentive to cowardice.

    Kind of like NYS politics, but writ large, fa fa.

    The 2009-2010 Dems were afraid of the election too but at least they knew they had a timeline and they knew their future timelines and they by and large were able to carry the thing off and will survive as a party in the end. But in a parliamentary system with no-confidence votes and such any group that attempts to make difficult choices may be quickly punished and replaced with their ideological opposite. It’s like what tends to happen in the US but more intense and immediate and potentially devastating.

  97. 97
    gene108 says:

    @Elizabelle:

    And if “the youngs” can’t understand why the federal government is not performing,

    But Democrats support NSA spying and drones, so both sides do it.

    For liberalism to work, as we liberals want it to work, people have to buy into the idea of government being a force for good.

    All Republicans have to do is muddy the waters and that will dampen people’s trust in government and lower the willingness for a liberal agenda.

  98. 98
    artem1s says:

    I just don’t see large numbers of self identified independent voters leaning leftwards. Most research on voting habits shows that self identified independents almost exclusively vote Republican. There is no organized far left, or even left-left, movement. And given how the GOP has been affected by trying to respond to its rightwing, I’m fairly certain that the DNC shouldn’t be that worried about just grabbing independents for the sake of saying they have done so.

    OBA strategies worked. They worked because they got out and made unengaged voters feel needed and wanted. The DNC didn’t go out and throw the party platform out the window or change the faces in the party all that much. They did make room for some more leftward leaning candidates, like Brown, Frankin and Warren. But it’s harder to get people to buy into midterms and local elections. The grass roots organizing isn’t as well funded and they just aren’t as sexy as white house campaigns. And there isn’t the fervor present that was there during the civil right days because its just harder to sell garbage pick up and monitoring chemical plants.

    What the major parties used to fight about was who is better about getting stuff done. I think a significant portion of the Dems (and civil servants) still are trying to fight that fight. But the GOP has given up on governing so it can appeal to big money and one issue voters. It has done an excellent job of selling ‘we’ll be better off if we do nothing’ or ‘throw the bums out’ messaging. And that is an inherently easier sell than ‘getting the country to run well isn’t going to happen by magic and will probably take lots of complicated, different ideas to get right’. IMO independents tend to translate that message into ‘all politician are corrupt’.

  99. 99
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    @gene108:

    Hell, crime is at a 50 year low, high school graduation rates are at a record high, the economy is recovering, yet no good news comes out of the media filter to the general public and a lot of that has to do with the right-wing media organizations being able to set the narrative for the rest of the media.

    You’re so right. It’s really gross. Recently the hate machine has fixed its gaze on the Mexican border again. The people plugged into that shit are really, really angry. It has a lot of Dems questioning themselves but, you know, we don’t have a future without those young, progressive Latino/a activists. As a party, I mean. They are one of the linchpins to winning Florida. They are working on AZ as well. I suspect if they start winning in AZ (and NV) then it will be TX. Possibly GA, certainly VA. Don’t shit on these kids. They’ve got the moral high ground here and they are our future.

  100. 100
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    @artem1s:

    And there isn’t the fervor present that was there during the civil right days because its just harder to sell garbage pick up and monitoring chemical plants.

    Speak for yourself. They are trying to roll back the VRA. They are giving whites a license to kill with SYG.

    The civil rights movement wave we’re all familiar with started working in the 40s, built big in the grassroots in the 50s, and brought in national parties and got big media in the 60s, culminating in CRA and VRA (and then the assassinations). The 40s got going because of GIs who came home and were tired of how they were being treated. Today you have elderly people who saw the VRA be put into place, who fought the battle over access to the ballot box, being denied the right to vote again.

    The MSM doesn’t cover this stuff much. Why would they? Papers are for people who need to know what the new hot frou frou restaurant is and What To Think about the damn dirty furriners in the latest “hotspot”.

  101. 101
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @artem1s:

    There is no organized far left, or even left-left, movement.

    There is, actually. I belong to it — or part of it — and have since the early ’80’s. But its membership couldn’t fill our local Double-A minor league stadium. (Although I’d love to see “Socialists at the Seadogs” night.) Which is why I’m also on the county and town Democratic committees.

    Possibilism. It’s what’s for dinner.

    IMO independents tend to translate that message into ‘all politician are corrupt’.

    Of course they are. They’re humans. I don’t recall the repeal of the fundamental depravity of mankind being part of the New Deal. Complaining about corrupt politicians is like sending your ice cream back to the restaurant kitchen because it’s cold.

    The genius of the less-than-perfect Madisonian system is to look that fact in the eye, and attempt to deal with its structural consequences.

  102. 102
    Another Holocene Humann says:

    @Jinchi: Can’t speak to your CA politics. Maybe with the D supermajority CA voters are feeling less agitated and feel pleased about the status quo?

    Usually elected officials take low turnout as a sign the voters are happy with status quo. Of course, those on the outside looking in always claim low voting rates means the process lacks legitimacy. That may be true in SE Texas….

  103. 103
    Cervantes says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Maybe it’s more like shooting yourself in the foot because your ice-cream is too cold.

  104. 104
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    I don’t think they’re checking out because they dislike partisans- people with strong opinions.

    I think they’re checking out because they think it’s hopelessly corrupt, captured and compromised.

    @Kay: I vote every election, but damn if it isn’t hard to drag myself to the polling booth sometimes. Seems like a waste of time and effort more often than not. So yeah, Kay, you’re right on with this.

  105. 105
    Keith G says:

    @Elizabelle:

    And if “the youngs” can’t understand why the federal government is not performing, maybe it’s the “view from nowhere” unbiased (by reality) reporting they get served up, in between loads of celebrity gossip and cynicism.

    Folks do like to blame the media, and there is some sense to it, but this is the way the current press will conduct business no matter how much B-J complains. What will have to change, then, is the behavior of political leadership and their operations. I believe that it can be done. The question is: Will someone in the Democratic Party move outside of their comfort zone and begin the new things that need to be done to use (manipulate) the press even as they work around it using new ways to spread information.

    @Another Holocene Humann:

    The only person who can tell me they’re independent because Dems suck and they’re a Socialist and still get my respect is….

    Whether you respect them or not is less of an issue than if we (Democrat-type folks) can find ways to approach them and nudge them into a different behavior. The relationship to voters and political parties has been undergoing remarkable change. We have to find ways to get better at working within this new reality.
    @Another Holocene Humann:

    Being an “independent voter” seems so intrinsically tied to whiteness. Maybe an academic can join the conversation and weigh in on this

    White voters now make up 73 % of American voters so on a numerical basis, claims of independence are more often heard from white voters. I am not sure if that can support a claim of inherence. It seems more likely that opportunism is a key to race related voter behavior of those who are (have been) suffering from political inequity. Most Black voters voted Republican until there was an obvious advantage in voting for Democrats. Is that in inherent behavior?

    Specific calculations of opportunism seem to vary more widely among the white population, where culture affiliation, religion, occupation, and geography have traditionally been significant drivers of voting behavior.

    As I think through this: Is inherent behavior the same as opportunistic behavior? I don’t know.

    What I do know is that there is a large number of mostly younger voters out there who are choosing to be less involved in the political process than we need them to be. We need to find ways to lead them into a stronger connection to thoughtful political behavior. If Democrats can work this out, we will be all the better for it.

  106. 106

    @Cervantes: The Chief Election Commissioner basically runs the elections in India, I don’t think FEC has the same powers.

  107. 107

    @Kay:

    I don’t think they’re checking out because they dislike partisans- people with strong opinions.

    I think they’re checking out because they think it’s hopelessly corrupt, captured and compromised.

    Next they will complain that water is wet. How is sitting on the sidelines going to change anything?

  108. 108
    Cervantes says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Right, because our Constitution says otherwise.

  109. 109
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Meanwhile, the usually better David Leonhardt serves up a batch of stupid, front and center on NYTimes website right now.

    @Elizabelle: That was an unusually fucktarded piece, even for the NYT, from which I expect a daily blizzard of irrelevant made-up bullshit. “The kids” today know that politics is bullshit, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see record numbers of them not voting for their entire lives, but they also know that those who identify as “Republicans” or “conservatives” are hypocritical Jesus-mocking assholes who either either trying to violate your genitals, your wallet or what few of your freedoms we have left. The few of them who vote won’t be voting for the GOP.

  110. 110
    Keith G says:

    @gene108:

    Until there is a way to flush right-wing money out of the media business, we’ll stuck where we are

    That flushing sound is not going to happen. We are going to have to get more creative.

    Obama and his team were very innovative as campaigners, but something happened around the time of the Oath of Office. It’s almost as if the thinking became, “Okay now that we are here we need to play by the established rules instead of continuing the revolutionary thinking and new rules-making that got us here.”

    Now, much of that is inevitable, as there is a difference between competing for power and holding on to power. The next version of our political leadership will need to be even more innovative – an idea that leave me a bit worried as I look around the party.

  111. 111
    Someguy says:

    Independents baffle me. For the most part, we’re talking about people who can’t make up their mind about who to vote for until shortly before – or shortly after – they pull the curtain closed on the voting booth. They honestly just can’t see the difference between, say, Newt Gingrich and Elizabeth Warren. They control national elections, these ‘swing’ voters, and they are morons.

    I would support their disenfranchisement, but only if we can disenfranchise registered Republicans while we’re at it, on the grounds that the only thing dumber and more disqualifying of citizenship rights than being stupid, is being resolutely, demonstrably, unshakeably stupid.

  112. 112
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jinchi:

    I’m in California and I turned out for the primaries. Where the hell were you?

  113. 113
    gene108 says:

    @Cervantes:

    To be precise, it was the NYT that inflated the Whitewater deal into a scandal. One is tempted to call it journalistic fraud.

    What I understand about media in the 1990’s was the right-wing media would push a story. The MSM would see the Washington Times perpetually going on and on about Whitewater and they’d decide that if it is getting so much attention we should also run with it.

    Pretty much all the scandals Clinton got himself into were the result of right-wingers pushing conspiracy theories and on a couple of occasions – Whitewater and Paula Jones – there was something real that actually happened, so the media could investigate (plus a big boost from Ken Starr, who had subpoena power) and have something to report on.

    It still goes on today, with right-wing media talking about something and talking heads on Fox News talking about it and all of a sudden it becomes a news worthy story because “so-and-so reported it and so-and-so keeps talking about it” so if people at these other media outlets are paying attention to it, it must be news worthy.

  114. 114
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Another Holocene Humann:

    There was an interesting piece on my local NPR this morning that pointed out that the US is not the only country being flooded by young refugees from Central America right now — places like Belize are getting hit as well, because there are MASSIVE problems in Central America right now. There is a major international crisis, and all the Republicans can do is stick their thumbs up their asses and act like it’s still 1980.

  115. 115

    @Someguy: My guess is that most “Independents” aren’t really, rather they are people who are embarrassed of their party affiliation.

  116. 116
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Keith G:

    What will have to change, then, is the behavior of political leadership and their operations. I believe that it can be done. The question is: Will someone in the Democratic Party move outside of their comfort zone and begin the new things that need to be done to use (manipulate) the press even as they work around it using new ways to spread information.

    Such as? I honestly would like to know what your ideas are for getting around the national press, and I can’t remember if you’ve posted them here before.

  117. 117
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cervantes:

    I wonder, though — would there be a way for the federal government to set a minimum “floor” that had to be in place for all elections in all states, and then states could add on their own refinements? We’ve done it with things like Medicaid and environmental laws, but I honestly don’t know if there’s some Constitutional barrier to doing the same thing with voting.

  118. 118
    oldgulph says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: National Popular Vote could increase down-ballot turnout voters during presidential election years.

    Under National Popular Vote, every voter, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count.

    National Popular Vote would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state. Now their votes are counted only for the candidate they did not vote for. Now they don’t matter to their candidate. In 2012, 56,256,178 (44%) of the 128,954,498 voters had their vote diverted by the winner-take-all rule to a candidate they opposed (namely, their state’s first-place candidate).

    And now votes, beyond the one needed to get the most votes in the state, for winning in a state are wasted and don’t matter to candidates. Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

    In 2008, voter turnout in the then 15 battleground states averaged seven points higher than in the 35 non-battleground states.

    In 2012, voter turnout was 11% higher in the 9 battleground states than in the remainder of the country.

    If presidential campaigns polled, organized, visited, and appealed to more than the current 100,000,000 of 300,000,000 Americans, one would reasonably expect that voter turnout would rise in 80% of the country that is currently ignored by presidential campaigns.

  119. 119
    D58826 says:

    The sage of Wasilla has spoken

    It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment,” Palin wrote. “The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored. If after all this he’s not impeachable, then no one is.”

  120. 120
    oldgulph says:

    @dmsilev: To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

    Instead, by state laws, The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes, and thus the presidency, to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by replacing state winner-take-all laws for awarding electoral votes.

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of Electoral College votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). The candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) would get all the 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states.

    The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founders. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founders in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. States can, and have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. Historically, major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).

    Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls
    in recent or past closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA –75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%;
    in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE -74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%;
    in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and
    in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%.
    Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 250 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    NationalPopularVote
    Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  121. 121
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @D58826: I expect what’s got her wound up is the drones, and the extrajudicial executions of citizens, and the surveillance, and the invasions (Chad, Libya, Jordan, Mali).

    Right?

  122. 122
    rikyrah says:

    Backlash stirs in US against foreign worker visas
    By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ and PAUL WISEMAN

    July 6, 2014 10:57 AM

    Kelly Parker was thrilled when she landed her dream job in 2012 providing tech support for Harley-Davidson’s Tomahawk, Wisconsin, plants. The divorced mother of three hoped it was the beginning of a new career with the motorcycle company.

    The dream didn’t last long. Parker claims she was laid off one year later after she trained her replacement, a newly arrived worker from India. Now she has joined a federal lawsuit alleging the global staffing firm that ran Harley-Davidson’s tech support discriminated against American workers — in part by replacing them with temporary workers from South Asia.

    The firm, India-based Infosys Ltd., denies wrongdoing and contends, as many companies do, that it has faced a shortage of talent and specialized skill sets in the U.S. Like other firms, Infosys wants Congress to allow even more of these temporary workers.

    But amid calls for expanding the nation’s so-called H-1B visa program, there is growing pushback from Americans who argue the program has been hijacked by staffing companies that import cheaper, lower-level workers to replace more expensive U.S. employees — or keep them from getting hired in the first place.

    “It’s getting pretty frustrating when you can’t compete on salary for a skilled job,” said Rich Hajinlian, a veteran computer programmer from the Boston area. “You hear references all the time that these big companies … can’t find skilled workers. I am a skilled worker.”

    Hajinlian, 56, who develops his own web applications on the side, said he applied for a job in April through a headhunter and that the potential client appeared interested, scheduling a longer interview. Then, said Hajinlian, the headhunter called back and said the client had gone with an H-1B worker whose annual salary was about $10,000 less.

    “I didn’t even get a chance to negotiate down,” he said.

    http://news.yahoo.com/backlash.....arebuttons

  123. 123
    Cervantes says:

    @gene108: There was nothing real about the Whitewater “scandal” so far as the Clintons were involved. When I blame the NYT for it, I am speaking particularly about the work of reporter Jeff Gerth — who pushed the Wen-Ho Lee story as well.

    The Paula Jones saga was quite different, of course.

  124. 124
    D58826 says:

    @Davis X. Machina: No this time it seems it’s all those people that he is importing into Texas. She and Rick Perry are signing a duet.

  125. 125
    oldgulph says:

    @Mnemosyne: The U.S. Constitution specifically permits diversity of election laws among the states because it explicitly gives the states control over the conduct of presidential elections (article II) as well as congressional elections (article I).

  126. 126
    Cervantes says:

    @Mnemosyne: For a short answer, look at how this Court has dealt with the Voting Rights Act, which attempts to do some of what you’re talking about.

  127. 127
    Gus diZerega says:

    @Another Holocene Humann:
    I think you did not understand the reasoning behind the post. And I have no respect for Nader. None.
    The Green Party died most places because in part at least voting Green helped Republicans, as you say. many of us who were sympathetic to them did not vote for them for that reason. Ditto the Libertarians for that matter, who are good on civil liberties. Plus when the Greens nominated Nader they proved they were not at all grass roots controlled like they claimed and they did not care as much for green values as they claimed, since Nader had not been a member and ecology was low on his list of priorities.

    Some local Greens are worth supporting, and it is they and those like them who would benefit from majority voting because then supporting them would NOT help the main party you loathe most.

    Not being corporate would be a selling point for many Americans and if they started at the state level they would be able to build up a local organization and quality candidates.

  128. 128
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Kay:

    I don’t think they’re checking out because they dislike partisans- people with strong opinions.

    No, that’s all it is pure and simple; they’ve been raised on High Brodorism from the News Media and entertainment that teaches them that if you come to a conclusion, you are close minded and wrong. (take just about any movie, the hero is always the character who is the open minded waffler) Personally I blame religion – the only way it can work in this day in age is convincing their followers to refuse to think things threw logically.

  129. 129
    agorabum says:

    The Egan article is garbage, as are his proposals, because it fails to acknowledge the most important recent developments: the Republican party has g one insane and is just a mix of rage – ball and slavish fealty to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. They gussy it up with free market talk, but the goal is always lower taxes on the rich, screw everyone else, and be against whatever liberals are for.
    It’s no way to govern a republic founded on the idea of rational and enlightened government.
    Starting an article talking about ‘both sides’ without any mention of Republican nihilism and obstruction is just bogus.

  130. 130
    Mnemosyne says:

    @oldgulph:

    But there’s Article I, Section 4:

    The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

    That does seem to indicate that Congress is allowed to regulate elections as needed, and can even override state legislators. The executive branch can’t do it, but Congress can.

    @Cervantes:

    As I understood it, the SC’s objection to the Voting Rights Act was that certain states and counties were singled out for special scrutiny. Again, from what I understand, if all states’ election laws were subject to the same (equal) scrutiny, that would pass constitutional muster, at least according to that ruling.

  131. 131
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Jasmine Bleach:

    Most independents I know…don’t like the main parties because of the deep corruption inherent in them,

    1) Come see the deep corruption inherent in the system! (Are you sure you’re not Dennis the Peasant?)

    2) Ah, the sweet smell of bothsidesdoitism. Both parties are corrupted, and we can’t for the life of us make any useful distinction between them!

    It doesn’t matter that one party is doing its damnedest to bring affordable health care to all Americans, and the other is fighting it, tooth and nail, even now. It doesn’t matter that one party has been the one to push for the last several minimum wage increases, and the other has thrown up roadblocks. It doesn’t matter that one party tried to privatize Social Security, and the other kept it from happening. Etcetera.

    No, no freakin’ way to distinguish between the two. They’re both corrupt. So be it, say our independents.

    I repeat: these people are ignorant of the state of our politics, and nothing important should be entrusted to them until they take the trouble to educate themselves. They are playing a game in their heads that has nothing to do with real life.

  132. 132
    another Holocene human says:

    @rikyrah: oh ffs, this has been going on since the 1980s, did they just fall off a turnip truck and scratch they widdle haid?

  133. 133
    another Holocene human says:

    ?@Gus diZerega: No, I’m not disagreeing, I just think in New England they initially got traction because of very real problems in the Democratic caucus, but I feel that it was a Gordian knot and without some sort of Art Pope bankrolling the thing it was either going to fizzle or put evil gopers in power. In MA it fizzled AND put Mitt Romney in power.

  134. 134
    catclub says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    As I understood it, the SC’s objection to the Voting Rights Act was that certain states and counties were singled out for special scrutiny

    yep, the solution is to make all jurisdictions subject to the VRA, which is too simple by half if you don;t want a solution.

    OTOH, those jurisdictions were picked out for good and sufficient reasons, plus they were STILL the same ones being sanctioned by the Justice Department 40 years later, so were put on the list again.
    This gave the SC majority a sad.

  135. 135
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @another Holocene human I’m not sure it’s ever going to happen absent a really major, single, polarizing issue.

    Slavery, and the civil rights revolution, drove the two big changes in the two-party landscape.

    Even something as contentious as Vietnam couldn’t split a major party, never mind leave a rump with staying power. As I mentioned above, Eugene McCarthy and John Stennis caucused together as Democrats right through the war.

    I suppose it’s possible a state part might fission with a surviving third fraction easier, because the stakes are smaller.

  136. 136
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yeah. But it still doesn’t explain what is going on in Latin America that there is such a surge in children. It is a refugee problem, as no one willingly sends their own children away. But what has happened in the last year that has caused such a surge? Its not like they’ve suddenly realized that there isn’t much future for their children. That’s been the case for awhile. But it seems like suddenly a lot of people hit on the solution that evacuating their children was the right thing to do. What has caused that?

  137. 137
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    The proximate cause, I’m not sure, but the underlying cause seems to be gangs.

  138. 138
    Elizabelle says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Ashamed of their party affiliation? That’s my working assumption too.

    As well they should be.

  139. 139
    catclub says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Slavery, and the civil rights revolution, drove the two big changes in the two-party landscape.

    I would put FDR in there. Long string of GOP presidents before him. Congress democratic for 40 years after.

  140. 140
    Chickamin Slam says:

    Egan is probably coming out with a book soon. He needs to massage all his corporate overloads so they will distribute it. Lords know what the title will be … Two parties no longer? Search for Independence Day beyond two parties?

    Then he will appear on Meet the Press to bemoan “Both sides do it.” and how we need something without labels. Soup can labels?

  141. 141
    Cervantes says:

    @Mnemosyne: You asked if there was a Constitutional barrier that would prevent the federal government from setting minimum standards for all elections in all states. The Voting Rights Act was devised to set standards of that sort and you can see how the Court is treating it. Barriers can be created where needed.

    As I understood it, [1] the SC’s objection to the Voting Rights Act was that [2] certain states and counties were singled out for special scrutiny.

    [2] is true: after decades of unconscionable malingering (at best) on the part of those jurisdictions, it was apparent that justice would not simply transpire there without our scrutiny. [1] is not a good-faith objection on the part of the majority on the Court; it is transparent Republican excuse-making with a view to prolonging injustice.

  142. 142
    Jinchi says:

    @Cervantes:

    Sorry, I’m not sure who you think is surprised.

    The title of the post is “Independents” in All But Action which is a popular meme among partisans who simply can’t believe that there are people out there who don’t consider themselves part of either party.

    The argument, repeated throughout the post and in the comments, is that independents are disengaged, apolitical, uneducated, centrists who are too stupid to realize that they are “really” partisans, and the evidence used to “prove” the point is the fact that independents vote for Republicans and Democrats just like the rest of us. Which party they vote for more often simply tells you roughly where they sit on the ideological spectrum.

    It seems to spark fury any time I point out that, when a plurality of voters identify as politically independent, it’s pretty good evidence that political independents actually exist. All the argument about who independents “really” are is projection. Mnemosyne apparently takes it personally when I state that partisans aren’t particularly more engaged: You voted in the primaries? Good for you. 75% of your fellow Californians didn’t.

    In America voters typically have one of 3 options. They can vote D. They can vote R. Or they can decline to vote at all. It’s not just independents who chose the last one. Whether you think it “works well” or not, that final choice is a pretty powerful one. You should obsess less about how independents define themselves and more about convincing your allies not to chose that 3rd option.

  143. 143
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    What Davis X Machina said. Last week, they had a story on NPR about an illegal immigrant mother who paid a coyote $10K to bring her kids to the US because the gangs were telling her that they were going to murder her kids if she didn’t pay them protection money. So she figured it was better to pay to bring them here than to pay protection money that probably wasn’t going to work anyway.

  144. 144
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jinchi:

    Mnemosyne apparently takes it personally when I state that partisans aren’t particularly more engaged: You voted in the primaries? Good for you. 75% of your fellow Californians didn’t.

    I’m still confused as to how you’ve decided that not voting counts as being “engaged” in the political process. Abandoning the political process is pretty much the opposite of being engaged in it.

    Given the multiple studies out there of non-voters, infrequent voters, and independent voters, I also suspect that you’re projecting your personal feelings onto a lot of people who in fact are not engaged at all in politics and don’t really care no matter who’s in charge.

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