Category Archives: Politics

Politics is the process by which representative governments are chosen. This category includes suggestions for Democratic Party campaigning and general thoughts about the political process.

Through the Looking Glass into 2017

We are on the wrong side of the looking glass. The Red Queen in the White House just Tweeted, “Off with his head!”

For just one moment, bring your mind to a halt. Look at life in America in 2017 as though you had just gotten out of a time machine from 1945.

At least half of everything is lies. Simple, empirical, no-that-ain’t-so lies.

Isn’t that bizarre?

People have always lied. Diogenese, we are told, carried a lantern in daylight, looking for an honest man. In spite of that I propose that the level of lying, the broad dissemination of untruth, has never before been as high in human society as it is in America (and certain other countries) today.

Never before have we had the tools to disseminate ideas like we have today. And only since World War II has the science of persuasion been so well investigated and understood. There are professionals out there who could sell salt to a stone.

They do it with pretty lies. Advertising is not about facts. Beautiful women are not automobiles. Spinning gloriously through the sands or through the city, everyone magically out of your way so you and your car can dance alone in the wind – that’s not driving. You know that. It’s OK. It’s life in America.

It’s a lie. It’s pretty fiction. People get used to buying lies with real money. We sell, buy, and operate our governments the same way.

I’m not talking about Donald Trump, although he does get people’s attention with the blatant disrespectful nature of his lies. He lies every day, and all the media reports his lies. They read his tweets. Every word is a lie. The clever reporters wink at you, saying, You, there, in the know – isn’t it outrageous how he lies?

They are telling his lies for him, and they are not explicitly reporting them as lies. Because that would be impolite. It would show bias. He is, after all, the President.

See? We are on the wrong side of the looking glass.

We are in a time and place so bizarre that a man who tells wild lies in plain language has a reputation for “telling it like it is.” He is not an aberration; he may be the pinnacle of American lying but he is by no means unique.

There is no mainstream media outlet in America today that is willing to show a bias in favor of empirical truth. We are on the wrong side of the looking glass. We special people who get the joke, who recognize the lies – we’re losing. Liars control our lives. Liars are our government; liars own roughly 90% of everything. It’s not just Donald Trump.

The topic of the day is (ahem) “Tax Reform.” The United States is currently blanketed with the same old lies about tax cuts for the rich that we’ve been told since 1980. There is no question: we are being empirically lied to every day over every form of media, text and electronic.

Tax cuts do not pay for themselves. Tax cuts do not create jobs. Tax cuts do not create economic growth. And tax cuts most emphatically do not reduce the deficit or the debt.

Here is where I’m supposed to tell you about Reagan and Bush and Brownback in Kansas and blah blah blah how their tax plans exploded, and refute all the lies, but there is no point. It’s the Super Bowl with no referees. I’m tired of having conversations where one side uses facts and the other side uses lies and the media pretends they are equal.

Facts and lies are not equal.

Most of the statements on which the tax cut debate is being based are empirically, provably false. There is a public record. Get it out. Read it.

The liars go out on TV and on the radio and they tell their lies and the anchor says, “The Democrats say your plan would take retirement security away from working Americans,” and the Senator says, “Lie lie blah blah blah improve the economy jobs,” and the anchor says, “Thank you for your time, Senator,” and it’s on to the next fiction.

This, remember, is the party that is identified and reported nearly universally as “fiscal conservatives.”

People who are about to pass a law that will result in the public borrowing an additional trillion or more dollars over and above the trillions we were already going to borrow identify themselves as fiscal conservatives and the United States media passes it on with a straight face.

If we are to have a two party system and govern ourselves we can’t have one party who lies about everything. We can’t have a media which presents lies and facts as equal and calls that unbiased reporting. Our nation is on the verge of dying.

When they’re not lying about taxes they’re lying about global warming. Here, once again, is where I’m supposed to refute their garbage, but it’s a waste of time. Do you believe science, yes or no? Science is a system. Humans created the world we live in using science. It’s all one thing. There is no grounds for debate.

Except to lie.

And the media still plays along. Did global warming cause Harvey, Irma, and Maria? Did global warming cause the west to burn up? (Let’s see… our globe is warmed. Those things happened. Yup, global warming caused them. Weather is caused by the climate. Next question.)

We are all admiring the emperor’s new clothes. Can you see our new Second Amendment where only the second half of the sentence applies? Isn’t it lovely? Did you hear the one about money being speech?

We have gone through the looking glass to get to 2017. On the other side of the looking glass it was 1890 and they were snake oil salesmen and medicine show con artists. On this side they are Senators, Congresspersons, Presidents and CEOs, and own newspapers and television networks. They run one of our nation’s two major parties, our government, and our economy.

It is a very strange experience.

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Talking to Republicans

Today (October 20, 2017) David Brooks, speaking on All Things Considered, said that members of the two major parties should talk to one another no matter how much they disagree. In theory I agree with him, but there is a problem.

It seems that Republicans and I do not share a common language or reality and are therefore unable to converse.

Either that, or the entire Republican platform and position is based on falsehood.

For two parties to discuss political options and solutions they must begin with an agreement as to what the current facts are, and then discuss how to address those facts.

When Republicans deny the existence of global climate change / warming, there is nothing left to discuss.

“You’re wrong.”

“Am not.”

“Global warming is real, Houston hasn’t dried out yet, Puerto Rico looks like an atomic wasteland, and California is on fire.”

“Is not.”

From here, where is the discussion supposed to go?

When Republicans say that tax cuts pay for themselves, balance budgets, create jobs, and create economic growth there is nothing left to discuss.

“Reagan Deficits.”

“Pay for themselves.”

“Bush Deficits.”

“Pay for themselves.”

“Kansas.”

“Create jobs.”

37 years ago when Ronald Reagan proposed his “supply side” theory it sounded pretty unlikely but, in fairness, it had not been tried and there was a possibility it might work. It has been tried. Over and over. It doesn’t work. Once is a mistake. Twice is foolishness. After the Kansas Experiment continuing to promote the same ideas is, to be gentle, hogwash. What’s to discuss?

When Republicans say that the second amendment expressly permits “shoot[ing] at our government when it becomes tyrannical,”

there is nothing left to discuss. I fought in a war because my government sent me to. Now the Republican party says it is all right for citizens to take up arms against it. On what basis can we debate this? When Republicans see paramilitary armed gangs intimidating citizens on the streets of major cities and say the second amendment permits it, there is, sadly, nothing left to discuss.

When Republicans say that all of America’s intelligence agencies, and the intelligence agencies of our allies, are lying about Russia’s influence on our last election, there is nothing to discuss.

And above all, when Republicans say, over and over, that money is speech, there is nothing left to discuss. I offer to buy them dictionaries but they don’t respond.

Of all the horrors, all the irrational ideas and falsehoods being put forward for “debate,” none is more poisonous than the claim that money is speech.

When payday comes I propose that the New York Times offers David Brooks a heartfelt “Thank you.” Nothing more. Because if money is speech then speech is money, and words are all the paycheck he needs.

The Court might as well have said that money is citizenship. One dollar one vote. I am serious. As a combat veteran living on a veteran’s disability, my voice has been utterly silenced in the nation I fought for. Every voice but the voice of the very wealthy has been silenced. A few hundred to a few thousand individuals absolutely control our government, because our Congress knows that those individuals hold the keys to their election. They don’t need us; they don’t hear us. Money is speech and we don’t have any.

I know I sound almost flippant, but this is absolutely critical to the survival of our republic. If the voting public is not presented with two more-or-less factual party platforms to choose between, elections are meaningless. Our last Presidential election, although possibly critical to our survival as a nation, was presented to the voters in terms far less factual than the election for my high school homecoming queen.

Sadly, while I understand David’s hope, there is nothing real to talk about.

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Never-Trump Republicans: An Open Letter

Dear Never-Trump Republicans,

Dear @ananavarrow,
Dear @morningmika,
Dear @JoeNBC,
Dear @TheRickWilson,
Dear @MaxBoot,
Dear @BillKristol,
Dear @Evan_McMullen,
Dear @senbobcorker,

Dear All of you, big names and anonymous citizens, all Never Trump Republicans,

I have a favor to ask. Please help me restore the United States of America to Constitutional small-r republican government.

In order to do that I am asking you to decide whether you are the party of Lincoln or the party of Trump.

In broader terms, are you the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Eisenhower, or are you the party of Reagan, McConnell, and Trump?

They really are not the same party. You have to choose.

Lincoln said, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”

Reagan said, “The government is the problem,”

Lincoln created the United States Department of Agriculture, and later said of it, “The Agricultural Department, under the supervision of its present energetic and faithful head, is rapidly commending itself to the great and vital interest it was created to advance. It is precisely the people’s Department, in which they feel more directly concerned that in any other. I commend it to the continued attention and fostering care of Congress.”

Reagan said, “The biggest lie on Earth is ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help you,’ ”

Teddy Roosevelt broke up the trusts and created the National Park Service.

Charles and David Koch demanded the Congress repeal the Affordable Care Act and Mitch McConnell called the Senate into session to do it.

Donald Trump’s Interior Department is selling off Roosevelt’s legacy.

So – party of Lincoln? Party of Eisenhower? or Party of Reagan and Trump? The twain shall never meet.

There is a possibly apocryphal story about Lincoln.

Abe Lincoln said, “How many legs does a sheep have?” 

“Four,” came the response.

“Then how many if you call the tail a leg?”

“Well, five.”

“No. Still four. Calling the tail a leg doesn’t make it one.”

Claiming that tax cuts will create jobs doesn’t make it so. Claiming tax cuts will balance the budget doesn’t make it so. It’s been tried. For thirty-seven years. Kansas gave it the Full Monte. It absolutely, empirically, does not work. Stop it. Be the Party of Lincoln. Reagan either (a) was wrong, or (b) lied. Either way: now we know. For sure. It doesn’t work.

Abraham Lincoln fought against the Confederate States of America. Today’s Republicans march under their flag.

Eisenhower fought against the Nazis. Today’s Republicans march under their flag.

Party of Lincoln and Eisenhower? Or Party of Reagan and Trump?

While the newly created FEMA was in Alabama and Mississippi cleaning up the mess from Hurricane Frederic, at that time the most costly hurricane in American history, Ronald Reagan was saying, “The biggest lie in the world is, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help you,’ ” and the very people FEMA had helped voted for… Ronald Reagan.

So yes, being the party of Reagan, Newt Gingrich, and Donald Trump has worked for you.

A great teacher long ago said, “What profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?”

I propose that the same question applies to a political party.

Party of Lincoln? Party of Teddy Roosevelt? Party of Eisenhower?

Or party of Reagan, party of Newt, party of McConnell, party of Trump?

Your country is asking.

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1300 Lies

This is a Tweet thread of mine. Presentation here is made possible by the good folks at tttthreads.com, for which I am grateful.


Thread Reader is happy to present an unrolled Twitter story by @homemadeguitars

I’m going to build a little thread on this article. Come along if you like. 2. So Day-care Donnie has told 1300-some certified lies since he has been President, and that’s not counting his campaign. 3. People who aren’t loyal Trumpeters express outra

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Four out of Five

Four out of every five Americans hate their government.

The Democratic Party is the party of government.

This cannot be made to work.

“Hate” may be a little strong, but at best, by current surveys, slightly fewer than one out of five Americans trust their government to do the right thing at any time for any reason. Slightly more than four out of five distrust their government and believe it to be hopelessly oppressive, corrupt, and incompetent.

It has not always been this way but it is now.

This was the case even before the hopelessly corrupt and incompetent Trump regime and complicit Congress were elected. This is not a survey regarding “This specific government,” this is “The United States Government.”

80 percent of Americans are largely unaware that their government consists of the people they elect, and the people their elected officials appoint and confirm. 80 percent of Americans seem to view their government as some permanently existing, permanently corrupt, permanently incompetent entity, and appear, in turn, to view elections as choosing a sort of police agency to ride herd on said government. And this is how Republicans campaign: The Government is your enemy; elect us and we will constrain its power to hurt  you.

It is not possible to operate a healthy republic under these circumstances. It is even less possible for a party (presumably the Democratic Party) to campaign on providing government services to the public without acknowledging and addressing this widespread belief. Every time some Democrat says, “The Government can…,” four out of five Americans hear, “The Very Bad Evil Thing will…”

And we lose another election.

I frequently return to Lincoln’s immortal phrase from his Gettysburg Address, his fervent wish that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

I would say that it has, in fact, vanished, at least from the once-United states of America.

Allow me, if you will, to unpack that now-hackneyed phrase, that string of words of long-forgotten meaning. President Lincoln said them for the first time amid the stench of rotting dead soldiers at the Gettysburg battlefield, and his words had meaning. They were not yet a cliche.

Government,”
That entity which establishes and enforces the rules under which society lives

Of the people,”
Everyone is subject to the rules government establishes

By the people,”
The people themselves will form the government, the people will decide on the rules they live under

For the people,”
The rules will be established to provide the most benefit for the most people possible, with the least resultant harm or discomfort

Shall not perish from the earth.”

We fought the bloodiest war in our history to date to preserve that specific form of government over all the states which had originally agreed to participate.

Every people in world history has lived under some rules and some ruler. Chimpanzee tribes have a ruler. When proto-humans were nomadic hunter-gatherers traveling the savannas of Africa in extended family groups, some one individual decided when they would move and in what direction. Some set of rules kept them from freely killing, raping, and stealing from one another. Government of the people.

Throughout most of written history people have been governed by kings. Whoever could command the most men to kill others at his say-so was the boss, and that was government. Government of the people.

As long ago as we can find records or evidence kings had underlings who passed their rules and commands on to the separate households, neighborhoods, and groups of society. Between the king and the people were layers of government officials. Government of the people, by the few.

In most of those societies, the kings and their courts were more concerned for their own well-being than they were for the well-being of anyone else. Government of the people, by the few, for the few.

We are getting back to there today. Anyone who thinks that Donald Trump, or Charles and David Koch, or Vladimir Putin, or Robert and Rebecca Mercer, ever disregard their own benefit out of concern for the benefit of anyone else, isn’t paying attention.

In order to establish a route back to monarchy, a necessary first step was to convince a majority of Americans that the republic which had governed them for over two hundred years was their enemy. Their government was irretrievably, permanently, hopelessly flawed and corrupt. The government that Lincoln praised and wished might never perish from the earth was worthless and had to be discarded.

I address in other essays the means by which they did this. I am not going to go into detail again here, but I am going to acknowledge one simple fact that they used as their foundation: That government was flawed. The American republic was, and is, flawed. The Constitution is flawed. Every single thing that humans have ever created has been flawed; the larger and more complex the thing, the more and worse the flaws. Faced with that unpleasant fact there are two things one can do. One can accept it, commit one’s life to correcting such flaws as are correctable, and attempt to ameliorate the resultant damage. Or, one can deny the inevitability of flaws and throw away the flawed thing in pursuit of some elusive perfection.

Perfection is not possible for humans. Perfection is not possible even for one individual human, and humans do not exist in a vacuum. There is no society of one human. Humans are herd creatures. The more humans, the less perfection. We do not agree on what is good; we do not agree on who should be best served. We do not agree on religion, on food, on a comfortable temperature for a room. How could millions of us possibly agree on what a government should be and do? It is not possible.

So we face a quandary. We will be governed; we will be ruled. Every human society, and most primate societies, throughout all of time has been governed. We can’t agree on the details of how that governing should best be done. Now what?

I propose that, however flawed it is, the Constitution for the United States could be a workable framework for governing the people who live here. I further propose that any political party who advocates that we preserve government of the people, by the people, for the people, should continually explain to the people why that is best. Explain it clearly. Explain how government works. Explain why we want it. Explain that, no, it is never going to be perfect, but it’s the best we can do as humans.

Because as long as four out of every five Americans disagree with that proposition there is very little chance said government will survive.

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What Democrats Believe

The following is an excerpt from a longer essay. I hope it is self explanatory. I plan to link some other essays to it; it underlies much of my political thought and writing.

***

I’m going to take the liberty here to define Democratic values. I don’t speak for every Democrat, but this is a good faith effort.

Democrats believe that a good, functioning government can solve social and economic problems that cannot be solved by any other entity.

Democrats believe that, although scientists don’t know everything there is, science is the way to bet, and that betting against science is a sure fire recipe for disaster.

Democrats believe that the richest among us, the people who have benefited the very most from life in America, can help out the people who haven’t done as well, and can help fund some other public needs like a sensible, non-carbon-based nationwide transportation system.

Democrats believe that everybody has the right to a fair shake. We don’t care where you go to church, who you love, what color you are, or what your IQ is, we believe you have a right to be warm and well fed in America and should have a realistic chance to do such work as you are capable of, and make a decent living doing it. And be left alone to live in peace.

Democrats believe that if your church says you should not do something or marry somebody then you yourself should not do that. However, nobody else is obligated to what your church believes. At all. We actually don’t care. It’s not relevant to governing.

Democrats believe that when Americans get sick they have the right to go to a doctor and get the best treatment realistically available. We also understand that everybody dies sooner or later and we should help make that transformation as easy as we can for people.

We believe that, by ratifying and agreeing to our Constitution, Americans agreed join together for our common defense and to promote our general welfare. Because that’s what the Constitution says, after which it spells out some details. Republicans stopped reading after they saw the word defense.

We don’t think government is everything, but we believe that a good functioning government is necessary for a healthy and free society. We understand that everybody everywhere lives under some government. so we think we ought to make ours the very best that we can for our people.

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This Can’t Be Happening

I am about to tell you something you already know. Pretend, when you read it, that you didn’t already know it and are just finding it out for the first time.

One of the two political “sides” or what used to be “parties” in the United States is telling almost 100% lies. They have chosen to not participate in reality as we know it.

Not Trump. The entire Republican Party, at least all I can see from here. Even the Never-Trumpers live so far off in a maze of untruth and outright fiction that one really cannot have a conversation with them. It is worse than not sharing a common language: Republicans refuse to acknowledge the existence of everyday reality. They have Alternative Facts. Their entire public position is One Hundred Percent Fiction, or close enough for the FDA.

***

Science is real. We’ve had that argument. We had it from about the 12th through 16th or 17th Centuries. That is a done deal. Denying science is one hundred percent a lie.

This is where I’m supposed to produce a convincing case for science, because of course the other side is worth rebutting.

No.

It’s bullshit. Even having the conversation is bullshit. A people cannot govern themselves when at least half of everything they are told is empirically false. It cannot be made to work. Presenting the opposing case is a waste of time and energy.

I’m pretty sure they all know they’re lying. They’re not that stupid. They just figure they’ll be dead before reality catches up with them. The young ones better not plan on getting very old. It’s here now.

***

Everybody knows tax cuts don’t balance the budget. There is no case in history where tax cuts can be shown to have improved an economy. The harder it is tried the worse it fails. Kansas tried it real hard, and it was an abject failure.

Republicans say, “We’re going to cut taxes to get this economy moving,” and everybody pretends there might be some truth to that. But everybody knows it’s a lie. They know it. Unfortunately not all the suckers on the sofas know it’s a lie. The reporters and talking heads know it. It’s just another lie. Alternative Facts were here a long time before Kellyanne Conway.

They are stealing your money. T-Bills provide an unending, streaming, upward redistribution of wealth.

Don’t say, “Trump.” Don’t say, “Fox.” I’ll bet you that for a thousand times various Mitch McConnells and Paul Ryans and Some Talking Heads say “tax cuts… get the economy going,” never once does the moderator say, “No it won’t. Everybody knows that. Kansas. We’re tired of your lies.”

I understand that politicians make rosy scenarios. I understand that politicians, try though they might, can’t make all their promises come true. Welcome to real life. What we are going through today is fundamentally different. One party is basing their entire position on a broad fabric of empirical lies. Denying arithmetic and the public record is not the moral equivalent of figuring out you have to raise taxes. No.

***

They lie about science. They lie about the economy. They lie about the debt. Every Republican in Congress knows Absolutely For Sure that no President ever spent one dime of that borrowed money. Congress spent it. Republican Congresses borrowed and spent it. We were in tolerable, although not great, shape regarding debts and deficits when Republicans took over Congress in 1995. Now our debt looks like Greece.  (OK not quite.) This really matters. Any sensible person would be at least concerned.

The Republicans borrowed it. All of it.

On purpose.

They cut taxes so they didn’t have enough income to run the government. They borrowed the difference.

This is the simplest arithmetic, written in the Congressional Record for all to see.

A people cannot govern themselves when one of the contestants for leadership bases every single concept of their program on out-and-out lies. It cannot be done.

***

Republicans run for government, get elected to govern, and still say government is terrible. The government can’t do anything. Government is an imposition on an otherwise blissfully unencumbered citizenry. Government is supposed to be Small. The Constitution Says So.

The government of the United States is huge, vast almost beyond comprehension. It could easily be the largest organization in the history of humankind. China might. One of the two is, almost for sure. Here is just a partial summary. At no time in their public presentations do Republicans acknowledge what government does, they just pick some one tiny thing and rave about how terrible it is that we don’t have Limited Government.

The proper scope and powers of government cannot be discussed with Republicans because they will not acknowledge the existence of the very entity they are both operating and denigrating. There is no agreed on factual basis from which to have a debate.

A people cannot rationally govern themselves when the choice they are offered is between reality and outright fiction.

Some Republicans – not all, but not just fringe loonies either, some people who are considered to be “reasonable” – have publicly said that it is acceptable and Constitutional for citizens to take up arms against their government. American citizens have been told this by sitting Senators and by widely heard and seen media figures. This is utter madness. The very concept is madness. There has never been a government in world history which has had a written policy that citizens could take up arms against it, and ours is not the first one, either.

Why do we have to waste so much time on bullshit, lies, fabrications, falsehoods, malarkey – these people are governing the United States of America. There is never a day when any one of them presents a predominantly factual position on anything to the citizens. What world is this?

I don’t know what to do. Anybody got any ideas?


I take a related look at this subject in the short essay here.

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The Republican Platform Debunked

Republicans can tell you what they stand for. Ask Rick Wilson. Ana Navarro. Ask any of the Never Trumpers. I’m not talking about the obvious lunatics, I’m talking about the former, allegedly grown up, Republican Party.

Republicans, they will tell you, stand for Limited Government, Fiscal Responsibility, and Social Conservatism. And everybody nods their heads.

This entire claim is empirically, provably false. Republicans do not stand for any one of those things. Republicans have a public record.

Limited Government: The U.S. Government is a vast enterprise (details here) possibly the largest on earth. The Republican Party only specifically wants to “limit” those portions of the government which provide direct benefit to over 90% of Americans at modest cost to the other 10%. National Parks. Public Use Areas of all kinds. Safe food. Food. Shelter. Medical care. Your retirement (which you paid for). A habitable planet. That’s it. Otherwise Republicans like big government. It’s on record. The Congressional Record.

Fiscal Conservatism: The Republican Party has controlled the Congress for 18 of the past 22 years. Congress has the sole power to tax, borrow, and spend the people’s money*. During that time Republicans have established tax, spending, and borrowing policies which have created an aggregate debt which the human mind can barely comprehend. This is empirically not fiscally responsible or conservative.

*How many times have you heard that a President's budget was "dead on arrival" at Congress? Of course they control the money,and they know it.

Social Conservatism: If by Conservative you mean a society which lives according to its traditions, the increasing power of the Christian church in government is about as far as you could get from 20th Century America’s traditions. Or 19th Century. Or 18th Century. Or any other time except right around the Salem Witch Trials. Church rulings drove Blue Laws, but the legislated Christianity in America today is like never before. Possibly worse, the United States of America has paramilitary gangs in full combat garb at high security carry swaggering around our cities intimidating citizens on the streets. This is farther from traditional American society than I ever dreamed we might come. This is radical and extreme. And dangerous.

The Republican Trademark Platform is a lie.

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Negative Campaigning: The Death of Democracy

“Negative campaigning works!” You hear it or read it if you are interested in the mechanics of politics and the people who operate it. “That’s why we do it.”

Essentially there are two ways to win an election. One, get people to vote for you. Two, get people to not vote for your opponent.

Unfortunately one of our political parties has spent the last 40 years teaching Americans to hate their government. If everybody hates the thing you’re running for it’s much harder to tell someone a positive reason to vote for you. Except, “She’s terrible. You can’t vote for her!

Think of your own life. Now imagine someone takes at least a million dollars, and often more, and hires investigators to go back over every day of your personal life, looking for anything which might be dirt, or which might even be made to sound like dirt. Your life.

Say they went back to middle school or junior high. Because they would. “Hillary was a Goldwater Girl when she was 15. She’s a flip flopper.” Yes. That really happened on national TV and all over social media. Now we’re doing it with your life.

You can hire a lot of person-on-the-street hours with a million dollars, or five, or ten. Those people look for everybody you ever met who didn’t like you. They look for everybody who called you a slut or a fag in high school, and if they’re still mad at you they get them on video.

Did you get too drunk to walk and then drive home? Good. Plan to see that on TV in every major market. 37 times a week.

Were you a butt patter? (I was. It was the 1960’s and we hadn’t heard your side yet.) Plan to see every pitiful aged remnant of the flaming foxes you knew in the parties of your youth, on TV, telling America that you sexually assaulted them on 16 separate occasions.

Did you shoplift a pair of sunglasses when you were in junior high?Headlines. Today. Nationwide.

It’s even worse if you have dared to try to help run your society, from school board through US Senator. Every  word you said in official business or campaigning for office, plus half of everything else you said during that time, is on official record and digital video. Ever say anything you wished afterward you hadn’t? Plan to hear that, every day, for the rest of your political life, any time you run for office or do anything that annoys somebody with money.

The odds are, if somebody spent, say, 7 million dollars digging up dirt on you, and 240 million dollars buying ads spreading that dirt nationwide on prime time TV and drive time radio, if you’re just a regular, mostly good person, they could make you look so bad your mother wouldn’t vote for you.

To make it better, your own party would do it too. We got rid of the bad old days where party pro’s got together and said, “Lucille looks good for the House, and Bob for the Senate, and…” picked candidates and people just went along with it. Now some old man and some old woman want to be president, and the next thing you know people supporting each of them are buying up dirt and putting it on TV. And Facebook. And Twitter.

The separate entities, the Democrats and the Republicans, the Sam campaign and the Mary campaign, don’t each have to hire their own flocks of investigators to do this. They used to, but it became so lucrative that investigators started searching out dirt on spec. Forming big multi-million dollar companies to dig dirt. Now when some campaign needs to butcher Mary’s reputation all they have to do is call one or more Opposition Research Professionals. Pretty soon if you wet your pants in second grade it will be on national TV.

None of the dollar figures I am using here are exaggerations. People really would spend that kind of money to savage your reputation and your public image if you ran for President. Maybe for Governor or Senator, depending on the state. Possibly even Representative if you’ve stumbled into a Media Frenzy Race.

Because the ads aren’t the big deal. What they really want is Free Media. If a campaign can run a really sneaky, nasty negative ad on you, they have a chance of getting all the Sunday morning TV shows to talk about it. “Did Mary really run over her neighbor’s dog over poop in her flowers? Video after these messages…”

And nobody will ever know whether you did in fact run over your neighbor’s dog out of spite or not. Fact will not be established. Even if you never drove a car, the TV station will have somebody on each side of the story. One will swear it didn’t happen. The other will swear it did. Next story.

Leaving aside for a moment the question of why anyone would run for any office anytime anywhere ever, why would anyone vote?

By the time the election rolls around everybody in the country is certain that at least one of the candidates is all the terrible things that have been reported plus more. In fact, the plus more, made up dirt industry is booming too.

Unfortunately, about half of the voters are convinced that both candidates are every bad thing that’s ever been said about them, and figure, why vote? It’s not the lesser of two evils, it’s the flip-a-coin no difference choice between two total slimeballs you wouldn’t trust in your house.

To add insult to injury, besides doing it to individual candidates they do it to political parties. Many of the people I talk to appear to be utterly convinced that both political parties are entirely corrupt and evil. Katherine Pickering Antonova, in The GOP is No Longer a Conservative Party (Huffington Post, July 25, 2017) gives the clearest definition of a political party I have ever seen: “Political parties are fundraising organizations attached to a policy platform.” A political party coalesces around a theory of government and raises money in order to get people elected and try to govern according to that theory.

If you’ve ever done, made, or attempted anything you are probably aware that theories never translate 100% into practice. So it is easy to slaughter the reputation of any political party. Almost no matter what they said they would do, it didn’t come out quite like that. So they didn’t do what they said they’d do. Liar, liar, pants on fire. And more Americans register as Independent than as either Democratic or Republican, even though Independent is technically defined as “no fundraising organization attached to no policy platform / theory of government.”

So over a third of voters hate both political parties and some unknown quantity appearing to be up around half of voters hate both candidates. Half the people don’t bother to vote. Can’t bear to vote.

The press and TV spends all the time between elections telling the American people that of all the candidates are being pushed into office for nefarious reasons by bunches of anonymous crooks called political parties, and none of them are fit to vote for anyway. Then the day after the election this same press corps looks up and says, Gee, why didn’t anybody vote? Couldn’t they see this was an important election?

Um… fellas…

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Third Parties and Independents

In states where voters choose a party affiliation when registering, the largest single affiliation is “Independent.” More people register and identify as Independent than as either Democrat or Republican.

The largest “party” cannot participate in Congress without “caucusing” (sitting, meeting, and voting) with one of the two “smaller” parties.

The largest party cannot run candidates in most elections or get on ballots in most states.

The largest party is, in governing terms, irrelevant. The largest party does not participate in self-government in the United States.

This is bizarre.

I have a feeling that most self-identified “independents” really are either Democrats or Republicans on election day. I think that most of them vote for the same party over and over but just don’t want to have the name hung on them,  but I don’t actually know that. If this is not the case, these people’s view of governance is so different from mine that it is not likely that I could comprehend an explanation should they offer one.

I don’t know the details of registration in other states. In my state we don’t state a party preference until primary election day; we ask for a Democratic or Republican ballot to vote in the primary. So maybe some of the Independents are people who would register Green, or Libertarian, or Constitution Party, but they don’t get that choice in their states. So third party affiliation might explain some of the imbalance too. I don’t know.

But whatever the reasoning is, registering Independent is a poor fit with the American system as it has evolved.

There are many Americans who express dissatisfaction with our two party system. If, as I believe, registering as an Independent is an expression of dissatisfaction with our two party system, then more than a third of registered voters are dissatisfied. Fewer than a third are registered Republican; fewer than a third are registered Democrat. That’s our two party system. Over a third are registered Independent. That is dissatisfaction.

It may not be obvious, but every actual real republic, every openly and honestly elected government, is a two party government every day but election day. There is a majority party, and there is a minority party. That’s it. One group of elected officials controls the government. The other group of elected officials tries to keep the group in control from going off the deep end.

That’s it. Two parties. Majority, and minority. I don’t care if there are two names, three names, or twenty named parties. Except on election day there is a governing majority and everybody else.

We hold elections to choose our government. How do you want to be governed? That is the question.

Most of the people I hear talking about third parties – parties in the United States other than the Republican Party or the Democratic Party -seem to have an image in their mind of a governing party. I don’t think anyone really desires to create a party that gets, year after year, 1/10 of 1% of the vote nationwide, and 2% of the vote in their stronghold states. Why bother? No, I think people have a vision of displacing the Democrats (at least of the ones I talk to most want to displace the Democrats) and replacing them with a different second party in a two party system.

Because remember: Majority Party. Minority Party. Show me a legislature on Earth that can’t be defined in those terms, or accept them. Majority parties enact laws. Period.

OK, so what is a political party? If one were to make a serious effort to replace the Democrats what would it take? Tweets? Facebook pages? Voting for Greens? Libertarians? So far none of those approaches have shown any sign of success. They are 1/10 of 1% parties. Their voters are not attempting to elect a government.

I operate on the following principle: to produce results requires action. Laws of thermodynamics: nothing moves until energy is applied to it. So say the desired result is to replace a nationwide political party which has ballot access in 3,142 counties or county equivalents in the United States and is written by name into the rules of the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate as well as many state governments. What actions will this take?

First, a political party requires organization. A national political party requires a national organization. Humans cannot even make a grade school co-educational soccer league without creating an organizational structure. It is how we work, we herd creatures. I am confident that when we were pre-human hunter gatherers, even before we evolved into Homo (allegedly) Sapiens, we had organizational structures. Wolves have organizational structures. Coyotes do. Chimpanzees do. So let’s just agree that in order for a group of like-minded people to be a nationwide political party requires a nationwide organizational structure. This new party needs to organize 3,142 county committees. These 3,142 local committees need to work towards a common goal, electing a government. In order to communicate and share efforts they will need a nationwide umbrella organizational structure to collect and pass messages if nothing else. The most logical place to put such a headquarters would be in Washington DC, because  Washington DC is where the national government is. Once again, the stated objective is to create a governing political party.

So far we have 3,142 county offices and one national office. That won’t work. One office can’t communicate with 3,142 offices. Information going up has to be consolidated; information going out has to be distributed.There will have to be one or more intermediate layers of organization. States. Districts.

This is why armies have generals, two layers of colonels, majors, captains, two layers of lieutenants, and and four layers of non-commissioned officers between the civilian command and the troops on the line. One general can’t command a few hundred thousand soldiers directly. And those few hundred thousand soldiers are just one tiny fragment of what the new political party will have to manage, should they become the majority party.

Remember, the United States government is probably the largest organization ever created by humans. If the objective is to create a party to operate this government, that party has to be widespread and organized.

In my lifetime this is not how attempts to create a third party or independent party in the United States have gone. Some small group of people, loosely organized in a few dots on the map, picks a candidate for President. They get their candidate on the ballot in some states. They campaign ferociously, negatively, against the opposition candidate who most nearly agrees with their policies.

This is not an attempt to elect a government. This is not even a serious attempt to elect a President. This is an attempt to pass a miracle.

 

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