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Single Issue Voting: A Thought Experiment on the 2012 Election

By Rob Hager  Posted by George Flower (about the submitter)     Permalink       (Page 4 of 6 pages)
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SIV voters would have transparently pledged their vote in an online database in numbers proving that they swung the election to Romney. It would be obvious that, had Obama chosen to deliver on the paramount progressive SIV policy, the SIV voters could have just as easily swung the election the other way. It would be equally clear to all that, by using the same SIV strategy, organized progressives, along with any other voters who would join them by 2016 to prioritize an effective solution for "buy-partisan" corruption, could in 2016 even more easily and happily eject an uncooperative Republican incumbent.    

Partisan Democrats could, of course, not help themselves from bitterly and loudly blaming SIV voters for every authoritarian and neoliberal Romney policy on which they are now quietly giving Obama a pass to "go to China." They would not be partisans if they put principle ahead of party, or reality ahead of their LOTE fantasy. These partisans would therefore also insist on their own  habit partisanship as the only possible reality, refusing to accept the fundamental principle that an SIV vote for Obama's closest opponent was merely the means to eject an unworthy incumbent proven to have moved the country only deeper into the pockets of plutocrats, and in no way an endorsement of his closest challenger who is expected to do the same and will be a lame duck until similarly removed in 2016 if he too thwarts SIV demands. 

In a corrupt system there is in reality rarely an opportunity to vote "for" any worthy candidate.  The only vote worth casting is a strategic vote "against" an incumbent


The partisan attack from Democrats for voting against their candidate would undoubtedly be exponentially greater than the "tremendous vitriol" inspired by Matt Stoller for merely recounting prior to the election the reasons progressives should vote against Obama, noting Glen Ford's view that rather than the LOTE, Obama is arguably the "more effective evil." Without elaborating a thought experiment about the power and feasibility of an organized SIV strategy, such as presented here, Stoller nevertheless perceptively envisions a source of "power in resistance" to an unworthy incumbent.   

The SIV strategy would ultimately succeed to the extent that its publicly claimed and demonstrated power to defeat an incumbent were used prior to the next election to both force real political gains from other threatened incumbents and to attract further nonpartisan SIV pledges from voters who seek such empowerment for advancing their now irrelevant majority views. Meanwhile SIV voters would need to powerfully answer the partisan Democrats' vitriol with counterattacks on the Democrats' sell out to Wall Street, CEO's and the wealthy. Paradoxically, the greater the partisan invective against them, the more power and independent legitimacy would be conferred on SIV voters, and the less triumph felt on the right for the electoral results.

Second, after Obama's first term made what Thomas Frank labeled their "futility and irrelevance" very clear to progressives, they cannot rationally expect to have any greater influence on Obama's actions (as distinguished from his words) in his lame-duck term.

Any minor influence at all over Romney's typically vacillating views about money in politics, whether as a political reward for furnishing his 2012 margin of victory or more realistically from his fear of SIV voters furnishing his 2016 margin of loss, would have been preferable to a total lack of progressive influence or leverage on Obama's equally uncertain intentions about money in politics.

Would not a first-term incumbent be as likely to 'go to China' on this SIV issue, if so required to win a second term, as would a lame-duck Obama be to reward progressive voters and betray his own big funders and likely future benefactors? Taking effective action on this issue would end the corrupt system that helped Obama get where he is today. It is the failure of partisan Democratic voters to remain focused on the paramount issue of the corruption of democracy by money in politics, and even being so blinded as to get inveigled into participating in it, that permits them to assert any significant difference between their candidate and his Republican opponent. Left to themselves, as partisan voting assures they will be, neither candidate could be expected to take any effective action against the political corruption that won them their political status.

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In their service to plutocracy there is no discernible difference between the parties. Evidence shows, indeed, that Democratic incumbents actually give more bang for their corporate benefactors' boodle than do Republicans. Cooper, et al., Corporate Political Contributions and Stock Returns ("incremental impact on [increasing] abnormal returns is greater for contributions to Democratic candidates"). This statistical correlation based on over 70% of corporate political contributions and their impact on 60% of the capitalization of all publicly traded firms in the U.S. supports the observation that Obama and his Democratic Party will even more effectively advance plutocratic policies than would a Republican. 

Third, incumbent Democrats might learn the lesson that they need to actually serve up some significant progressive policy on money in politics before the 2014 midterms if they intend on keeping their seats with the help of progressive SIV voters.

SIV voting works for Congress too, though not as effectively as for the Presidency, or Senate. Gerrymandering of congressional districts enables representatives to pick their voters instead of the reverse. The victory margins of representatives are thereby artificially enlarged despite the razor-thin division of the national congressional vote between the parties, as is expected of an FPTP system. In 2012 Democrats won the overall vote in the congressional races by a little more than 1%, less than Obama's margin. (Some think that figure excludes a consistent 5% or so Republican election-machine fraud factor that would widen the true spread in favor of Democrats to 6%. Even if true, this factor would be irrelevant to this thought experiment about swinging the counted vote, not the real vote). Although Republicans lost the total House vote, because of their 2010 electoral victory and subsequent gerrymander in the states that they controlled, the Republicans were able to win a 33 seat majority of House seats.

Prohibition of gerrymandering after the 2020 census, which could be legislated by Congress requiring at-large elections in states where electoral districts deviate from a prescribed district mapping algorith m, will be a priority element of any long-range comprehensive election-reform strategy. Meanwhile, for the rest of this decade that we are stuck with it, the 2010 Republican gerrymander will provide far more congenial opportunities for an SIV strategy than for any partisan-Democrat voting strategy for achieving essential reform of money in politics.

To overcome the 2010 gerrymander, Democrats now require a virtual electoral landslide, or "wave election," to win the House and the ability to govern. While polls show that somewhat smaller majorities of Republican than Democratic voters respond to the issue of money in politics, fewer will also be needed to become SIV voters in order to overcome the tighter victory margins gerrymandered for the Republican districts in 2010. Moreover organized SIV voters would constitute a larger share of the typically lower turnout in midterm elections for a largely reviled Congress. A successful organized SIV effort in 2012 would thus have set up potentially significant legislative gains in Congress prior to 2014.

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Fourth, the SIV strategy works best when it draws pledged voters from the base of both parties. Polls show that voters identified with the Tea Party share one thing with progressives: intense opposition to the  interaction between big government and big business. The right focuses concern on the role of corrupt big government, adopting the neoliberal dogma that any regulation of corrupt business practices interferes with the infallible market. The left focuses its concern on the role of corrupt big business, adopting the myth that a systemically corrupted government will act democratically. But they both object to the interaction, which is based on the bribery/extortion process of influence peddling achieved by the two-way flow of political money and influence from and to a plutocratic elite.

The way to satisfy both of these otherwise polarized factions is to completely cut the involvement of interested money in politics by vigorous enforcement of comprehensive legislation against corrupt practices. By demonstrating their willingness to defeat a Democrat for this principle of obtaining a comprehensive solution to political corruption, progressives could have initiated some of the trans-partisan trust essential for these two opposed and theoretically flawed factions to join on the one paramount objection to political business as usual that they share in common.

So long as activists on opposite ends of the political spectrum remain divided on this issue, they will both remain conquered by the two corrupt centrist parties, and the plutocrats behind them. United within an SIV movement they can eliminate money from politics and recover democracy as a means to resolve policy differences they have without the theoretically flawed differences between them that corruption itself introduces.  Research shows that addressing those policy differences one issue at a time involves far less partisan polarization than when those issues are aggregated, as it is the function of parties to do. By disassociating those single issues from partisanship, better policy resolutions can be found that will attract approval from broader majorities.  Such political rapprochement would be especially feasible after corruption is removed from the system, because the fundamental economic disagreements are largely premised on the assumptions bred by corrupt politics.  Both market and regulatory solutions can be better assessed on their own respective merits when neither is distorted by political corruption.

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$6 billion was spent this election season not on... by George Flower on Friday, Apr 5, 2013 at 8:55:43 PM