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Perfect Libertarian Candidate?   Leave a comment

I looked at the Democratic field from a libertarian perspective.

The Libertarian Party of American is not my party. I say I’m a libertarian (note the small “l”), but I’ve never been a member of the party or, frankly, any party. I might have become a member of the Alaska Independence Party had it lasted for any length of time, but frankly, I’m just not loyal to political parties.

The LPA has a long history of nominating nuts who can’t win for losing. Whoa, did I say that aloud? It’s true. Some of the candidates just seemed — uh, crazy might be too harsh a word, but I’ve had a hard time viewing them seriously. And the current field of Libertarian potentials is not inspiring my confidence.

Justin Amash official photo.jpg

The last two cycles they selected Gary Johnson as their nominee and I voted for him. He had a depth of experience as well as solid libertarian principles and he had shown them at work in New Mexico. I didn’t like his VP candidate, Weld. He was a progressive Republican who didn’t even pretend to be a libertarian. And, it made me kind of think that the LPA was finally looking for candidates who could actually win an election — not that I thought Weld was a good choice for that.

So now they’re trying to get Justin Amash to run as President as a Libertarian. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) stirred the two-party political soup when he declared “President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.” That’ll make you a darling of the left these days, and gain respectful treatment from the likes of Mark Hamill, while journalists puzzle over how an alleged former “gadfly” could suddenly seem so resistance-y. Naturally, the Libertarian Party more or less begs him to switch teams.

Amash takes his job with a seriousness that is almost non-existent in the legislative branch of the US government. He holds the modern day congressional record for most consecutive votes not missed, 4,289 over six-plus years. I doubt most members of Congress have even read the Mueller report (I’m still slogging my way through it). Their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation. Who needs facts when you’ve party unity to keep you warm at night?

Amash is that nerd who insists on reading entire bills before voting on them, then explaining every vote on social media. And as an honest-to-goodness constitutional conservative, he gets stubborn when his own team violates its stated principles, or when Congress willingly abdicates its role as a co-equal branch of government.

Amash has gone out on a limb to oppose the president in past. He condemned Trump’s initial travel ban of residents from predominantly Muslim countries, helped doom Republican efforts to repeal/replace Obamacare, opposed the president’s emergency declaration along the southern border, called Trump’s comments about murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi “repugnant,” and was one of the only Republicans on Capitol Hill to support setting up a special counsel investigation after the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey.

Despite what House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) claims, Amash votes more with him than with Nancy Pelosi. He has an 88 percent score from the American Conservative Union and a 100 percent score from FreedomWorks. He’s anti-abortion, more anti-interventionist than the average Democrat (which isn’t really that hard since Democrats are interventionists when it suits their purposes), and he votes no on bills that contribute to the federal government’s red ink.

In other words, Amash sounds a lot like a libertarian (some of us are anti-abortion). He has been publicly mulling a third-party run at the White House all year. Meanwhile, the Libertarian presidential field is looking nutty again, and even two years ago Amash was saying things like, “Hopefully, over time, these two parties start to fall apart.” He was speaking of the Republican and Democratic parties.

Michigan’s straight-ticket voting system, whereby voters can choose a party’s entire slate of candidates by checking just one box, has probably kept Amash from jumping the Republican ship before this, but now that he has a primary challenger, and the House Freedom Caucus he co-founded unanimously voted to condemn him, the temptation to abandon Congress entirely and run for president as a Libertarian may prove irresistible.

The Libertarians don’t pick a nominee until May 2020. And, I don’t know—the chance that he would become president is small, but he could certainly derail either the Republican or Democratic candidate since Libertarians are fiscal conservatives and social (classical) liberal. Unlike Johnson, Amash knows about the city of Aleppo, as his mother is a Syrian immigrant and his father a Palestinian immigrant. And unlike Trump, Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, Amash is not a septuagenarian, but a 39-year-old fitness enthusiast who actually grasps basic technology and market economics.

I personally haven’t found enough in the Mueller report to support impeachment, but I’m not a single issue voter. I think in these polarized time, it’s unlikely the voters would swing for a third-party candidate, but Johnson did get more than 3% of the vote in 2016, so I might vote for Amash and hope others consider it as well.

Posted June 28, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in politics

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Unicorn Debates Part 1   Leave a comment

Seventy-one percent of Americans say the economy is doing well, so why doesn’t Elizabeth Warren know this? Is it possible that she is so out of touch that she doesn’t know any ordinary Americans?

Tax capital at the same rate as income and you end investment in this country, not to mention you bankrupt retirees who are living on their capital investments. Tax rates of 70% were tried in the past and they worked for a while but eventually the economy slowed to a crawl. Anyone remember the 1970s?

How do any of these people plan to pay for these unicorns they’re promising? Pell grants drive up education costs. $15 an hour minimum wage caused a lot of jobs to end in New York City.

Automatic and same day registration – wow, nothing like totally uninformed voters making important decisions based on someone promising them the moon wrapped in rainbow bows by unicorns.

Booker is right about corporate consolidation, but generally you make more money working for a corporation than you do working for a small business. So take a pause and think about the unintended consequences for what you’re proposing. He’s also apparently unaware that the reason for corporate consolidation is federal regulation that favors larger businesses because small businesses can’t afford to pay the fees required to stay in business.

Women are paid fairly in this country, if you factor for the time we spend out of the workforce to have kids and for the fact that we take jobs that don’t pay as much as the jobs men take. “What they deserve?” How do you determine what they deserve?

I still like Tulsi Gabbard, but it bothers me that she is still in the military. I agree with her on foreign intervention, but if she’s in the military, I don’t know that she’s being honest about her viewpoint.

DeBlassio needs to acknowledge how many small businesses closed because of his $15 an hour minimum wage. Did he miss that working people in America voted Republican last time?

John Delaney actually sounds like he might know a thing or two. I’d like to hear him talk more about what he wants to do. How would he fix education – for example. Putting more money in workers pockets isn’t going to create more jobs, because the workers don’t create jobs.

Inslee – communist!

Tim Ryan – General Motors got a bail out from the OBAMA administration, not the Trump administration. And his “the bottom 60% hasn’t got a raise in 40 years” is fallacious.

So this is the “hate corporations” show. Here’s a concept. Remove all the business regulations and let the competitors drag the big corporations down. This forced economy crap will not work.

Abolish private insurance – great, so we’ll all have insurance and very few of us will be able to get medical care. Great! It’s a wonderful idea — if you like slavery and a 45% higher hospital death rate.

Do these people think Medicare is free? You pay all your working life to draw from it when you’re old. In order for us to pay for it, we would all have to pay about 60% of our income in combined taxes and insurance. Can you live on 40% of your income? I know I can’t. And I would have to pay that regardless of whether I need a high level of heath care. So they would bankrupt me for something I don’t need or want.

And Elizabeth Warren wants us to exchange fighting with insurance companies over the health care we need for fighting with government bureaucrats for that health care. How is that any better? I’ve just recently dealt with some government bureaucrats and, trust me, I’ve never had so much trouble with dealing with a health insurance company because I paid them money and they know that. They know they work for me. Our government doesn’t seem to know that. I’m not saying insurance companies shouldn’t be reformed, but that the government should be the last people to reform anything since they are so inefficient, rude and insolent themselves.

So, by and large, this debate was a waste of time — too short and too many participants to actually learn anything. I’m being snarky, but the fact is except for Tulsi Gabbard (who didn’t get to say much so the jury is still out) and John Delaney (who sounds good except I suspect he suffers from a little cognitive dissonance), none of these people has any economic good sense at all. So, onward until tomorrow night.

Posted June 27, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in politics

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Interesting Poll   Leave a comment

Something you might not recognize amid the fisticuffs happening on college campuses and the front steps of conservative think-tanks is that some people think the country is getting better.

Rasmussen polls asked people if they thought the country was headed in the right direction. It’s a question they ask several times a year. This week’s poll is an improvement over last week’s poll.

  • 42% of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction

That’s up a point from the previous week. Prior to that, this number had been dropping steadily to new lows for the Trump administration from the mid-40s for the previous four weeks. It ran in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016.

The national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from April 16-20, 2017. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

In addition, Rasmussen Polls asked 1000 likely voters:

Have efforts by national Democrats to oppose Trump during his first 100 days in office been a success, a failure or somewhere in between the two?”

Few Democrats are pleased with their own party’s attempts to oppose Donald Trump in his first 100 days as president.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey found:

  • 11% of Likely Democratic Voters believe efforts by the Democrats to oppose Trump during his first 100 days in office were successful.
  • 24% of Democrats think those efforts were a failure
  • 63% say they’re somewhere in between.

This correlates with a February poll that found the following:

Most voters agree that it’s bad for America and bad for the Democratic Party if Democrats continue to flat out oppose everything President Trump does. Even Democrats are conflicted about their party’s scorched earth policy.

Here are the questions that were asked:

  1. The national Democratic Party has reportedly decided to engage in total opposition to President Trump and his agenda. Is it better for the country if Democrats oppose the president in every way possible, or is it better for the country if Democrats try to work with him?
  2. Is it better for the Democratic Party if Democrats oppose the president in every way possible, or is it better for their party if they try to work with him?

The February 28 Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey found:

  • 29% of all Likely U.S. Voters think it’s better for the country if Democrats oppose the president in every way possible.
  • 63% say it’s better for the country if Democrats try to work with the president instead.

The findings were identical when voters are asked about the impact of the Democrats’ reported strategy on the fortunes of their own party.

  • 29% say it’s better for the Democratic Party if Democrats oppose the president in every way possible.
  • 63% disagree and think it’s better for the party if Democrats try to work with Trump.
  • 44% of Democrats feel it’s better for both the country and their party if they oppose the new president as much as possible, but
  • 46% say it’s better for America if Democrats try to work with Trump, and
  • 45% say it’s better for their party, too.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on February 26-27, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Most voters blame disagreements between Trump and congressional Democrats on politics alone but don’t think the ongoing protests against the new president are going to make any difference.

Sizable majorities of Republicans and voters not affiliated with either major party agree that the country and the Democratic Party are better off if Democrats try to work with the president.

Most voters in nearly every demographic category think it’s bad for the country and bad for Democrats if they totally oppose Trump and his agenda.

Most self-described politically liberal voters, however, believe it is better for America and better for the Democratic Party to fight the president in every way possible. An overwhelming majority of conservatives and most moderates disagree.

Over 90% of voters who Strongly Approve of the job the president is doing say it’s bad for the country and for Democrats to totally oppose Trump. Among voters who Strongly Disapprove of the president’s job performance, 60% say it’s better for the country and 58% think it’s better for the Democratic Party if Democrats oppose the president in every way possible.

Just after the election in November, 64% of Democrats said it is more important for their party to stand up for what it believes in rather than work with the new president.  Thirty-two percent (32%) disagreed and said Democrats should work with Trump.

But a majority of all voters – including half of Democrats – say Democrats in Congress won’t be able to halt the president’s agenda.

83% believe Trump is likely to reverse or abolish most of President Obama’s accomplishments.

45% of voters say the country is headed in the right direction. That compares to 29% a year ago and is higher than during any week of Obama’s presidency, which I think is very significant.

I’m not a Trump supporter, but I’m not in the “Oppose him at all costs” camp and I think this poll supports me in that choice.

 

Posted April 29, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in politics

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Hillary’s Economically Clueless Plans Will Create Poverty | Daniel J. Mitchell   Leave a comment

Hillary Will Tax You to Death... And Then Tax You for DyingBecause of my disdain for the two statists that were nominated by the Republicans and Democrats, I’m trying to ignore the election. But every so often, something gets said or written that cries out for analysis.

Today is one of those days. Hillary Clinton has an editorial in the New York Timesentitled “My Plan for Helping America’s Poor” and it is so filled with errors and mistakes that it requires a full fisking (i.e., a “point-by-point debunking of lies and/or idiocies”).

We’ll start with her very first sentence.

Source: Hillary’s Economically Clueless Plans Will Create Poverty | Daniel J. Mitchell

Trump’s Big-Government Budget Plan | James Capretta   1 comment

Trump's Big-Government Budget PlanDonald Trump issued a revised economic plan last week, and claimed it would create 25 million new jobs over ten years, driven by 4 percent real annual growth. Real growth from 1983 through 2000 — the long period of expansion started under Ronald Reagan that many now understandably look back on with such fondness — averaged just 3.8 percent annually. Beating that over the coming decade would be remarkable, and highly unlikely, given that growth has topped 4 percent in only three of the last 61 quarters.

It should surprise no one at this point to hear Donald Trump make over-the-top promises. He’s been doing that his entire adult life, and especially over the last year.

The Status Quo Plus More Spending

Trump’s supporters say they are attracted to him because he is breaking all the normal rules, and it is certainly true that he has defied political convention in the way he has run his campaign. But with respect to policy — what he would actually do if elected — Trump invariably tells his supporters what they want to hear, whether it is true or not. That’s nothing if not typical for a presidential candidate.

Source: Trump’s Big-Government Budget Plan | James Capretta

Resisting the Dictatorship Mindset | J. Andrew Zalucky   1 comment

J. Andrew Zalucky

Found on FEE

Politics isn’t everything. Though everything has a political dimension, it is never the only dimension. The state, with its monopoly on coercion through physical violence, is the everyday arbiter of politics. Therefore, when people in power convince a population that every problem requires a political solution, that population is primed for authoritarianism. In other words, the population has adopted “The Dictatorship Mindset.” While political engagement is crucial to a functioning civil society, the politicization of every facet of life will eventually crush that society.

For example, Americans have a nasty habit of overstating the importance of the President. Important as the President is to signing/vetoing legislation and commanding the armed forces, he or she does not represent “who we are as a people” in any romantic sense. The media’s pathetic narrative of the President embodying our “hopes and dreams” is the modern equivalent of “Hail Caesar!” dressed up in insipid PR-speak. This is dangerous for two reasons.

Source: Resisting the Dictatorship Mindset | J. Andrew Zalucky

Five Differences Between the Alt-Right and Libertarianism | Jeffrey A. Tucker   Leave a comment

To the cheers of alt-righters everywhere, those angry lords of the green frog meme who hurl edgy un-PC insults at everyone to their left, the Democratic nominee has put them on the map at long last.

Found on FEE – Source: Five Differences Between the Alt-Right and Libertarianism | Jeffrey A. Tucker

Well, Hillary Clinton has gone and done it.

To the cheers of alt-righters everywhere, those angry lords of the green frog meme who hurl edgy un-PC insults at everyone to their left, the Democratic nominee has put them on the map at long last. Specifically, she accused Donald Trump of encouraging and giving voice to their dark and dangerous worldview.

Let’s leave aside the question of whether we are talking about an emergent brown-shirted takeover of American political culture, or perhaps merely a few thousand sock-puppet social media accounts adept at mischievous trolling on Twitter. The key issue is that more than a few alt-rightists claim some relationship to libertarianism, at least at their intellectual dawning until they begin to shed their libertarianism later on.

What are the differences in outlook between alt-right ideology and libertarianism?

1. The Driving Force of History

Every ideology has a theory of history, some sense of a driving theme that causes episodic movements from one stage to another. Such a theory helps us make sense of the past, present, and future. The libertarian theme of history is beautifully articulated by Murray Rothbard:

My own basic perspective on the history of man…is to place central importance on the great conflict which is eternally waged between Liberty and Power… I see the liberty of the individual not only as a great moral good in itself (or, with Lord Acton, as the highest political good), but also as the necessary condition for the flowering of all the other goods that mankind cherishes: moral virtue, civilization, the arts and sciences, economic prosperity. Out of liberty, then, stem the glories of civilized life.

There it is: liberty vs. power. Liberty unleashes human energy and builds civilization. Anything that interferes with the progress of liberty impedes the progress of humanity. One crowds out the other. The political (or anti-political) goal is clear: diminish power (which means reducing unjust violence) and enhance liberty.

Frédéric Bastiat described the free society as characterized by a “harmony of interests.”What is the alt-right theory of history? The movement inherits a long and dreary tradition of thought from Friedrich Hegel to Thomas Carlyle to Oswald Spengler to Madison Grantto Othmar Spann to Giovanni Gentile to Trump’s speeches. This tradition sees something else going on in history: not liberty vs. power, but something like a more meta struggle that concerns impersonal collectives of tribe, race, community, great men, and so on.

Whereas libertarianism speaks of individual choice, alt-right theory draws attention to collectives on the move. It imagines that despite appearances, we all default in our thinking back to some more fundamental instinct about our identity as a people, which is either being shored up by a more intense consciousness or eroded by a deracination and dispossession from what defines us. To criticize this as racist is often true but superficial. What’s really going on here is the depersonalization of history itself: the principle that we are all being buffeted about by Olympian historical forces beyond our control as mere individuals. It takes something mighty and ominous like a great leader, an embodiment of one of these great forces, to make a dent in history’s narrative.

2. Harmony vs. Conflict

A related issue concerns our capacity to get along with each other. Frédéric Bastiat described the free society as characterized by a “harmony of interests.” In order to overcome the state of nature, we gradually discover the capacity to find value in each other. The division of labor is the great fact of human community: the labor of each of us becomes more productive in cooperation with others, and this is even, or rather especially, true given the unequal distribution of talents, intelligence, and skills, and differences over religion, belief systems, race, language, and so on.

And truly, this is a beautiful thing to discover. The libertarian marvels at the cooperation we see in a construction project, an office building, a restaurant, a factory, a shopping mall, to say nothing of a city, a country, or a planet. The harmony of interests doesn’t mean that everyone gets along perfectly, but rather than we inhabit institutions that incentivize progress through ever more cooperative behavior. As the liberals of old say, we believe that the “brotherhood of man” is possible.

The libertarian believes that the best and most wonderful social outcomes are not those planned, structured, and anticipated, but rather the opposite.To the alt-right mind, this all seems ridiculous. Sure, shopping is fine. But what actually characterizes human association is deep-rooted conflict. The races are secretly at war, intellectually and genetically. There is an ongoing and perpetual conflict between the sexes. People of different religions must fight and always will, until one wins. Nations fight for a reason: the struggle is real.

Some argue that war is what defines us and even gives life meaning, and, in that sense, is glorious and celebratory. For this reason, all nations must aspire toward homogeneity in stock, religion, and so on, and, as for the sexes, there must be dominance, because cooperation is an illusion.

Maybe you notice a certain commonality with the left here. In the 19th century, the Marxists whipped themselves up in a frenzy about the allegedly inherent conflict between labor and capital. Their successors fret incessantly about race, ethnicity, ability, gender, and so on, pushing Marxian conflict theory into ever more exotic realms. Ludwig von Mises captured this parallel brilliantly when he wrote, “Nationalist ideology divides society vertically; the socialist ideology divides society horizontally.” Here, as with many other areas, the far right and far left are strangely aligned.

3. Designed vs. Spontaneous Order

The libertarian believes that the best and most wonderful social outcomes are not those planned, structured, and anticipated, but rather the opposite. Society is the result of millions and billions of small acts of rational self interest that are channelled into an undesigned, unplanned, and unanticipated order that cannot be conceived by a single mind. The knowledge that is required to put together a functioning social order is conveyed through institutions: prices, manners, mores, habits, and traditions that no one can consciously will into existence. There must be a process in place, and stable rules governing that process, that permit such institutions to evolve, always in deference to the immutable laws of economics.

Again, the alt-right mind finds all of this uninspired and uninspiring. Society in their conception is built by the will of great thinkers and great leaders with unconstrained visions of what can be. What we see out there operating in society is a result of someone’s intentional and conscious planning from the top down.

If we cannot find the source, or if the source is somehow hiding, we imagine that it must be some shadowy group out there that is manipulating outcomes – and hence the alt-right’s obsession with conspiracy theory. The course of history is designed by someone, so “we” might as well engage in the great struggle to seize the controls – and hence the alt-right obsession with politics as a contact sport.

Oh, and, by the way, economics is a dismal science.

4. Trade and Migration

The libertarian celebrates the profound changes in the world from the late Middle Ages to the age of laissez faire, because we observed how commercial society broke down the barriers of class, race, and social isolation, bringing rights and dignity to ever more people.Of course the classical liberals fought for free trade and free migration of peoples, seeing national borders as arbitrary lines on a map that mercifully restrain the power of the state but otherwise inhibit the progress of prosperity and civilization. To think globally is not a bad thing, but a sign of enlightenment. Protectionism is nothing but a tax on consumers that inhibits industrial productivity and sets nations at odds with each other. The market process is a worldwide phenomenon that indicates an expansion of the division of labor, which means a progressive capacity of people to enhance their standard of living and ennoble their lives.

The alt-right is universally opposed to free trade and free migration. You can always tell a writer is dabbling in alt-right thought (or neoreactionary or Dark Enlightenment or outright fascism) if he or she has an intense focus on international trade as inherently bad or fraudulent or regrettable in some sense. To them, a nation must be strong enough to thrive as an independent unit, an economic sovereignty unto itself.

Today, the alt-right has a particular beef with trade deals, not because they are unnecessarily complex or bureaucratic (which are good reasons to doubt their merit) but because of their meritorious capacity to facilitate international cooperation. And it is the same with immigration. Beginning at some point in the late 19th century, migration came to be seen as a profound threat to national identity, which invariably means racial identity.

5. Emancipation and Progress

The libertarian celebrates the profound changes in the world from the late Middle Ages to the age of laissez faire, because we observed how commercial society broke down the barriers of class, race, and social isolation, bringing rights and dignity to ever more people. Slavery was ended. Women were emancipated, as marriage evolved from conquest and dominance into a free relationship of partnership and consent. This is all a wonderful thing, because rights are universal, which is to say, they rightly belong to everyone equally. Anything that interferes with people’s choices holds them back and hobbles the progress of prosperity, peace, and human flourishing. This perspective necessarily makes the libertarian optimistic about humanity’s potential.

The alt-right mind can’t bear this point of view, and regards it all as naive. What appears to be progress is actually loss: loss of culture, identity, and mission. They look back to what they imagine to be a golden age when elites ruled and peons obeyed. And thus we see the source of their romantic attachment to authority as the source of order, and the longing for authoritarian political rule. As for universal rights, forget it. Rights are granted by political communities and are completely contingent on culture. The ancients universally believed that some were born to serve and some to rule, and the alt-right embraces this perspective. Here again, identity is everything and the loss of identity is the greatest crime against self anyone can imagine.

Conclusion

The alt-right knows exactly who its enemies are, and the libertarians are among them.To be sure, as many commentators have pointed out, both libertarians and alt-rightist are deeply suspicious of democracy. This was not always the case. In the 19th century, the classical liberals generally had a favorable view of democracy, believing it to be the political analogy to choice in the marketplace. But here they imagined states that were local, rules that were fixed and clear, and democracy as a check on power. As states became huge, as power became total, and as rules became subject to pressure-group politics, the libertarianism’s attitude toward democracy shifted.

In contrast, the alt-right’s opposition to democracy traces to its loathing of the masses generally and its overarching suspicion of anything that smacks of equality. In other words, they tend to hate democracy for all the wrong reasons. This similarity is historically contingent and largely superficial given the vast differences that separate the two worldviews. Does society contain within itself the capacity for self management or not? That is the question.

None of this will stop the mainstream media from lumping us all together, given that we share a dread of what has become of the left in politics today.

But make no mistake: the alt-right knows exactly who its enemies are, and the libertarians are among them.

Posted August 30, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Liberty

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The Two Party Crackup Could Be Upon Us | Stephen Weese   Leave a comment

The parties are divided and their candidates are weak. This election could be their undoing.

Found on FEE – Source: The Two Party Crackup Could Be Upon Us | Stephen Weese

Stephen Weese

Imagine living in a world where there are only two choices. Chocolate or vanilla. Hot or cold. Light or darkness. There are no in-betweens. No “shades of gray.” You must explain everything as a “yes or no” dichotomy. On or off. False or true. This binary reality leaves little room for human diversity or creativity – yet it is in this exact reality we find ourselves trapped with the US political system.

Prelude to Deception

The parties are divided and their candidates are weak.It all starts with a sociological phenomenon created due to our political election process. First Past the Post means that in our elections, winner takes all and the loser gets nothing. We are told that if we do not vote for one of the two major parties, our vote is wasted. (I mathematically analyzed this myth in a previous article.)

The concept that underlies the two party phenomenon is not only mathematical in principle, it is sociological. Duverger’s law assumes that people faced with more than two choices in a First Past the Post election will vote against the most radical or undesired opponent, instead of for the candidate they most desire. This demonstrates what is called a “negative” vote – it could be more precisely described as a vote made out of fear of the worst candidate.

Another principle of Duverger’s law is that it filters out “weaker” parties in that people will not vote for a party that has no chance of winning. This weakness is only psychologically defined; a party could appear weaker simply due to less publicity. Certainly a third party could have better ideas than the main two – but if the ideas are not heard, then no one can know about them. The purely cognitive illusion that there are only two “worthy” parties is perpetuated by lack of media coverage and the false appeal to common practice that it’s the “way things always have been done.”

The simple truth is, Duverger’s law depends on the psychological basis of fear and ignorance. Without these factors in society, the mathematical differences would disappear.

The Two Major Parties are Weak

People only think of politics as “right” or “left” because this is all they have ever known.At this point, the two major candidates for election, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, have historically high negative numbers. In fact, the two frontrunners have the highest unfavorable ratings since those numbers have been tracked: Trump is net negative 33, and Clinton negative 21.

More voters see these candidates in an unfavorable light than a favorable one. This would be a perfect time for the rise of a third party, even according to Duverger’s law. It only takes a cursory look at the news to see the large anti-Trump movement among major Republicans as well as the staunch Sanders wing of the Democratic party. The parties are divided and their candidates are weak, as shown by the polls above.

The Electorate Is Polarized

If you have the feeling that in the last decade partisan politics has become more extreme and vitriolic you’d be correct – Pew researchhas been tracking this phenomenon. Both the extremity of Democratic and Republican views have increased, as well as dislike and intolerance for the “other” party. At this point, 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, and 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.

There are double the amount of pure liberals and conservatives than a decade ago, and the fear of the opposing party has doubled as well. Twice as many people think that the alternate party threatens the “nation’s well-being.”

If people could overcome the fear of the “worst” candidate and voted for what they believed in, the facade would begin to crumble.This polarization affects people’s choices of where to live, shop, and travel, and even goes to the extent of opposition to a family member marrying someone of the opposing party. The Pew study also shows that those on the extreme ends of the spectrum are the most politically active – writing letters, posting on social media, travelling to political events (though this is hardly surprising.) The effect of this of course is that these parties are represented more by their extreme elements.

This polarization also results in one-dimensional thinking. People only think of politics as “right” or “left” because this is all they have ever known. As humans, are we only one-dimensional? Aren’t there more ways to look at solving the problems of a nation than just left and right?

Most of us are trapped in this one-dimensional illusory world, like a train stuck on a single track. The mere idea that we could travel in a completely different direction is a foreign concept. Even a middle-school student can tell you that we live in a world with three dimensions, that we can travel in an infinite variety of paths. Yet we find ourselves confined to this oversimplified model of reality that goes counter to our interests and only allows us choices that leave most dissatisfied.

Majority in the Middle

Another effect of this polarization is that moderate Americans find themselves in the middle of this extremism. Most voters do not view the other party as a threat to the nation and are not 100% liberal or conservative in their views. There are actually more people in the middle, yet they find themselves forced to choose to side with one extreme or the other. In 2014, the “mixed” electorate (holding views from both sides) was 39%.

There are less of them now, due to extremism, yet this 39% in the middle is enough to completely take over an election, if they only had a different option to choose from. Unfortunately, the Pew data also shows that the people in the middle are less likely to vote and participate in the election process. Duverger’s law is working here because these moderates do not know that they are a huge bloc that could elect a moderate candidate with ease.

Overcoming Ignorance and Fear

We live in the age of new media – a social movement can begin online without the backing of a major television or news network.As we have seen, voting tendencies in our system are predicated on fear of a radical candidate as well as ignorance of third party platforms or even their existence. This is the one-dimensional illusion we live in. If we continue to be more polarized, more and more of the electorate will hate the other half.

If nothing stops this progress, those in the middle will be forced to choose a side as the tolerance for opposing views decreases. Others could stand up and speak and become a driving force pulling opinions back toward some sense of centrism – or even better, they could propose ideas outside of the traditional “left vs. right” paradigm.

The truth is, if people could overcome the fear of the “worst” candidate and voted for what they believed in, the facade would begin to crumble. If the media and others covered third parties more, unaligned voters – for example, people who believe in peace and freedom – would have a new incentive to participate and give a positive vote.

Fortunately, we now live in the age of new media – a social movement can begin online without the backing of a major television or news network. This election is the most opportune time for this to happen given the record negative views of both candidates. Thus it behooves the unaligned voter to find her or his voice in this election. If these voters together decided that “enough is enough” and realized that they are actually the most powerful voting bloc, they could simply say “no” to the two major parties – and nothing could stop them.

The GOP Implosion and the Rebirth of (Classical) Liberalism | Jeffrey Tucker   Leave a comment

This is a great article that does a wonderful job explaining the history of the two-party system in both Europe and America and why a third party represents true liberalism rather than the phony version espoused by the Democrats and Republicans.

What we have developing here is a new epoch in American politics: an authentically liberal (in the classical sense) political movement in the US is being born as an alternative to a deeply corrupt and ideologically dangerous mainstream dominated by two parties that have trended inexorably socialist and fascist.

Found on FEE – Source: The GOP Implosion and the Rebirth of (Classical) Liberalism | Jeffrey Tucker

 

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Are in Lockstep on Government Spying | Anthony Gregory   1 comment

The surveillance state has once again disappeared from the public debate, just the way it likes it.

 

Whatever else it might be, November’s election won’t be a referendum on surveillance and privAnthony Gregoryacy. Hillary Rodham Clinton voted as Senator for the Patriot Act in 2001 and 2006, and Donald Trump has approved its renewal, saying he tends to “err on the side of security.”

Trump has called Snowden a traitor worthy of execution.In the Democratic debates, Clinton harshly criticized NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, insisting, probably wrongly, that he “could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower” and “raised all the issues” without breaking the law. Trump has called Snowden a traitor, promised to get Russian president Vladimir Putin to hand him over, and, in the past, even suggested him worthy of execution.

Source: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Are in Lockstep on Government Spying | Anthony Gregory

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