Tag Archives: stupid

Winning the Unpopular Vote

We the Republicans © Dana S. Rothstein #133535On face value, it might seem stupid to run for office on issues sure to piss off the majority of people. Take, for instance, the Republican party (please). They are, of course, against Democrats who make up 34-45% of the US population, depending on the day and who’s counting. The percentage of each party varies by state or district, but generally, about 15% of the voters decide who will win and who will lose.

Some might argue, a campaign of inclusion (suggested search term: democracy) would be the best way to reach that 15% swing vote. So how do the Republicans expect to win elections when they are also in lockstep against:

  • People on Medicare (at least, 15% of US population)
  • People on Medicaid (at least, 12.6% of US population)
  • People who are unemployed (at least, 9.1% of US population, unless you also include those of us who have given up or work multiple jobs, etc.)
  • People who believe abortion should be legal (at least, 56% of US population)
  • People who believe and are concerned about global climate change (at least, 71% of US population)
  • People without health insurance (at least, 14.3% of US population – under 65, not eligible for Medicaid)
  • Immigrants (at least, 13% of US population, most all of us if you go back a few generations)
  • Blacks (at least, 12.6% of US population)
  • Union members (at least, 12.1% of US population)
  • Government workers (at least, 4% of US population)
  • LGBT (at least, 3.8% of US population)
  • Muslims (at least, .6% of US population)
  • Agnostic and athiests (at least, .9% of US population)
  • Plus, all those little groups, including elites, people who believe in science, are against guns, war, monopolies, corporate funding of campaigns, listen to NPR, don’t watch Fox, etc.

You shouldn’t just add these numbers up. People are members of more than one group. Groups don’t vote as a block. And people are more likely these days to vote against a candidate or even a single issue than for one. But with only 15% in play, it still doesn’t seem to pass a logic test that this Republican strategy can be successful.

It might surprise you, but according to Gallop,

“The most balanced political states in 2008 were Texas (+2% Democratic), South Dakota (+1% Democratic), Mississippi (+1% Democratic), North Dakota (+1% Democratic), South Carolina (even), Arizona (even), Alabama (+1% Republican), and Kansas (+2% Republican).”

Each of these states voted for McCain in the 2008 Presidential election. Each with a Republican governor, Republican upper and lower house majority, with a solidly Republican US house delegation, and at least one Republican Senator (only South Dakota, North Dakota and Mississippi had a Democrat Senator).

How is that possible in these “balanced” states? Assuming vote counting was accurate, the only answer can be that it is about who votes, and more importantly these days, who doesn’t vote.

Let’s start with voter suppression 101:

  • Make it hard to vote. Limit early voting to a few inconvenient locations away from poor areas with limited hours, few machines and rumors of long lines. Force people to take time off from work, give up their hourly pay and put their jobs at risk. Works particularly well for people who are struggling.
  • Require a valid photo ID. This works well for those who are older and may not have a drivers license or be able to afford to apply and pay for an alternative. It is also effective to keep away the homeless or those whose identification doesn’t reflect an accurate address because of eviction, foreclosure or change of status.
  • Purge the voter rolls. This is very popular, effective and there a lot of variations to the scheme. Mismatch names or social security numbers and make people prove they aren’t who some computer thinks they might be (suggested search terms: Georgia purge voters). Or prove they are citizen. Or make them wait in long lines to vote on a provisional ballot that may not be counted.
  • Create long lines. Easy to do. Just send few voting booths to the polling place you want to suppress and more to the polling place you wish to help. Also very effective to provide few people or broken machines. Long enough lines, and people will go home (suggested search term: Ohio long lines polls).
  • Caging lists. Republicans send out registered mail to the address of a voter in a district they wish to suppress. If returned, they contest the ballot. Expected to be particularly effective with the foreclosure crisis.
  • Robo calls. Hire your telemarketer to call registered voters who you don’t wish to vote and tell them their polling place has changed. Or they’ll be arrested (suggested search term: Virginia robo calls vote).
  • Contest new registration. A favorite of Republicans during the last few cycles. Republicans have attempted to force verifications of mail in forms. They have even offered rewards to find bogus registration by community groups and have threatened prosecutions.
  • Make absentee ballots as confusing as possible. Seems obvious. Put the right information in the wrong place and your vote doesn’t count.
  • Prison disenfranchisement. 5.3 million mentally competent and able adult Americans (we are the only democracy in the world that does it) are not allowed to vote because they have been either incarcerated, on parole or on probation. Click here for a state list.
  • Pray for rain, sleet, snow, dark of night. Surely, the Republicans will do this. Time will tell if it will be effective.

In 2008, more than 130 million people voted – the highest percentage in a generation. The surge of voters were mostly among black, Hispanic and young voters. Without that higher turnout, McCain would have won. The Republicans are counting on making your life so miserable this time around that you stay at home.

Keep your friends close & family closer

Defriend on FacebookI defriended my cousin on Facebook. My father’s mother’s brother’s son. I feel bad about it, but he had stepped over the virtual line we had drawn by posting another pseudo-political diatribe/comment on my wall.

My cousin’s belief system has little room for fact and he has found that Facebook is the perfect pulpit for his sputem-stained dogma. Please don’t misunderstand, I have tremendous respect and admiration for people of faith – especially, religious faith, faith in aliens, faith in spouses, children, the dollar – that sort of thing. I really don’t think it is any of my business what someone believes that makes them happy or provides them the peace or comfort we all need to get through this life. Shoot, at appropriate times, I even think it might be wonderful when they share their life’s experience in the context of faith. I actually believe a couple things, too.

However, I do have a problem with people who pick fights on my Facebook wall, in front of my virtual friends and family, and lie, misrepresent, subvert and attempt to recruit others into drinking the cult tea of faith-cloaked narcissistic xenophobic ignorance, hatred and racism. It’s perfectly ok to be stupid, but keep it to yourself or share it quietly with people of a similar dementia. And for goodness sakes, don’t publicly embarrass the whole family after we have all spent a lifetime trying to hide our variations of bat shit crazy.

My cousin’s mom and dad were two of the kindest and enlightened people I have known. They were conservative when that label had nothing to do with politics – they were humble, loving and devoted. My cousin’s dad spent his working life as a government social worker – giving up better pay for the service of people. At least on Facebook, my cousin is an arrogant self-righteous sociopath.

I used to meet my cousin’s dad for coffee at Carpenter Brothers’ drug store where we’d talk and laugh about the news and politics. My cousin listens to talk radio, parrots it on Facebook and has no visible sense of humor.

For years, I tried to pretend his rants were a sophisticated, but twisted form of satire. That I could learn about this strange side of America who believes our President is not a citizen; a practicing Muslim, as if that mattered; both a socialist and a fascist; has a goal to bankrupt the country to achieve some unknown goal somehow related to illegal immigration; unregulated greed is better than equal protection; that democracy has been subverted when their candidate loses; that there can be simplistic solutions to solve complicated problems; and success is an indication of your favor with god while kindness, respect and understanding are abominations.

I had turned down his volume as low as Facebook allows, what was I to do, poke him?

Plan A

elephant-in-the-roomThere’s a cold dark secret inside the White House, your state house and your city hall. You aren’t likely to hear it discussed on talk tv. There are no talking points prepared. Don’t expect mass email blasts raising money for it. No one wants to talk about it. It is the elephant (or donkey depending on your affiliation) in every room.

It explains why healthcare reform will be in name only. Why regulation of banks and Wall Street will be studied in committee well into next year. It is why K Street still has its way on the hill. Why oil prices are going back up although demand isn’t driving it. Why our investments in green are longterm. Why there’s no hurry to get our troops home. Why we can throw money at GM and buy a few extra weapons programs we don’t want and won’t use. Why so much of our stimulus was to help the states who can’t borrow, or was for shovel-ready projects that were just another name for pork. The cold dark secret explains why Republican Bush and Democrat Obama would each bet the house (ours) and ask willing bi-partisan Congresses for blank checks –  all caring less how they are cashed.

This secret is more important than jobs, foreclosures, funding pensions, deficits, global warming, peace, food or clean water. It keeps every sober politician up at night and makes every other drink themselves to sleep. It is the source of their power. This isn’t about mid-term elections. For them, it is all of it. Every last senator, congressperson, governor, mayor and political appointee, regardless of party, has known the crisis was coming, but they had already drank the Kool-Aid. Now, there’s only one way out.

Tax revenues are way down and falling. Their only hope is a Wall Street bubble.

The villains who caused it are now heroes in waiting. “It’s the economy stupid” has been replaced with “it’s the Dow Jones stupid.” The only answer found by our best and brightest is to purposely have history repeat. The speculators are speculating. Our government has provided all the chips and is covering all the bets. They don’t care who gets rich, or how rich. They just know that it is the only way quick enough for enough people to make enough income so enough people pay enough taxes that our great nation of cards won’t fall during their watch. At least not this year.

Our cities and states are suffering. It is way too late to raise taxes and too few are left to pay. Cutting enough spending will just make it worse. Creating jobs is too hard and takes too long. Another housing bubble can’t work until we have finished burping the last. They have never had faith in the middle class and had just as soon be rid of them. Wall Street bubbles are quick, cheap and they’ve done it before. Plus, you can do it with half the country unemployed or paralyzed in debt.

Don’t get your hopes up for anything else. There is no plan B. All the rest is just sport to keep us distracted.