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Keith Poole-- Political Researcher-- How Conservative is Obama?

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Broadcast 12/9/2013 at 16:34:34
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This started out with me looking into research on how conservative Obama is in relationship to other presidents. I got a very specific answer and a lot more. 

Keith T. Poole

Philip H. Alston Jr. Distinguished Chair

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Department of Political Science

School of Public and International Affairs

University of Georgia

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Emeritus professor, U of california, San Diego


Analyzing Spatial Models of Choice and Judgment with R. Ann Arbor, MI:CRC Press, 2014 (forthcoming) (with David A. Armstrong II, Ryan Bakker, Royce Carroll, Christopher Hare, and Howard Rosenthal).

Political Bubbles: Financial Crises and the Failure of American Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013, (With Nolan M. McCarty and Howard Rosenthal).

Ideology and Congress. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Press, 2007 (With Howard Rosenthal).

Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches

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 co-founder of voteview.com a site which holds a treasure-trove of data and analytics.

Rough interview notes:   not for reading-- for enticing you to listen.

dwnominate is a statistical procedure that analyzes all roll-call votes in American history and assigns an ideological rank. 

How do you decide whether a vote is liberal or conservative?

Recap-- of statistical procedure

 Looking at this chart, it shows that Obama is the most conservative Democratic president since and including Roosevelt. 

The reason Obama comes in more toward the center is Obama supported/voted with republicans on terrorism, the patriot act, defense policy. Obama does not announce many positions compared to previous presidents. You're basing this on several hundred of his positions. 

Data shows that Carter was the most liberal of recent presidents, along with JFK and Roosevelt. 

"republican presidents were getting increasingly more conservative. 

Prior to Reagan years, there was an important divide between Northern states and the Confederate states plus Kentucky and Oklahoma. 

Southern Democrats were in the center, but opposed to civil rights laws. 

Used to be that 40% of politicians were moderates, like Sam Nunn. That's why president Reagan was able to pass all those bills. He was able to make deals with all those moderates. 

What's happened in the past 30 years is almost the complete disappearance of these moderates, and there's hardly any overlap at all between the two parties. 

You've done some research on gerrymandering. What have you found?

Sorting-- people moving to cities and some suburbs or rural areas and some suburbs.  ideology, married, religious, youth choose cities, poor stuck in cities.

What is income inequality tied to?

     Education (Claudia Golder at Harvard) college degree, ability to do non-repetitive tasks and use a computer. 

Top 10% have recovered. 

Are there ties between income inequality and the ideological measures that you look at?

Polarization is tightly correlated with income inequality. 

Causation is not totally clear. 

Book-- Political Bubbles Looked at board of directors of AIG over ten or twenty years.  were who's who of past political people and ivy league elite-- it's a revolving door. 

Geithner is now going to be a multi-zillionaire. 

Do you have any data on Elizabeth Warren?

unofficial, based on first six months--   comes in at -.5  similar to Udall of NM, Whitehouse,  in about same position as Bernie Sanders. 

Tammy Baldwin is to her left. 

The other question is where does Hillary Clinton fit in? 

     Clinton and Obama were dead center about -.39 like Schumer. Obama was -.373

You've been doing this for decades. 

What is the definition of polarization? And what does it mean to us?

The gap between the two political parties on the liberal conservative dimension. 

The two political parties are now more polarized since the civil war

Has there been a progression towards more conservative as well?

I think it's fair to say that American politics has drifted a little bit to the right, but not much. 

The republicans have never had enough to invoke cloture, ever. 

The Democrats could always block any big changes" 

In 1947, in conduction with conservative Democrats were able to pass the Taft Hartley act over Truman's veto. 

The filibuster is dead-- if the Republicans take unified control of the government in 2017, then they will be able to cancel medicare, 

If the Republicans get unified control they will almost certainly change the rule to eliminate the filibuster on legislation. It seems that the Democrats should get rid of the filibuster altogether. 

And really, its won't help the Democrats to change the filibuster for legislation because they'd need to win votes in the house. 

Rob: What are the big lessons  you've learned from all your research?

1 the public doesn't know much and doesn't pay much attention, and, as a consequence, politicians can p retty much get away with most things. The safety valve has failed.  Eric Elmer Shotsneider-- most of the time the moneyed interests rule. If the moneyed interests screw up, the public wakes up. Then the politicians will stampede to give the public what they want. That mechanism has now failed. 

The fact that political system couldn't respond to the economic crisis ".

Another crisis is inevitable. 

Have you seen, in history, ways that this has been resolved, or is this a new situation?

The political leadership of the country has failed. Unfortunately, there's no history in the United States of a third party coming into a two party system and succeeding. 

The likeliest scenario is that the Republican party will".  

Income i equality is going to drift, social tensions will increase"

Bottom up trend

What  you're describing is Jeffersonianism-- best government is government closest to the people. That concept was discredited because of Jim Crow in the south, where states rights were used to keep African American from education and jobs. Civil rights was a good thing but discredited states rights. 

Adam Bonica  of Stanford and Nolan McCarty of Princeton-- have applied methods to 

state legislatures-- money is very ideological-- in terms of campaign donors-- 

Elizabether Warren would have allies among libertarians if she goes after gigantic concentrations of economic power. 

Why do you say that Libertarians could get behind Elizabeth Warren?

They want big institutions reigned in. They would probably disagree on regulations  

if you were advising Elizabeth Warren if she were running in 2016, what advice would you give her? 

Could Hillary do the same thing? 

What could Elizabeth Warren or any democrats do to get the Southern Democrats back?

get rid of some of the regulations that are holding back infrastructure repairs.

I've recently written about the idea of the left taking the anti-big government meme from the right. 

What about dealing with the trade agreements? 

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 


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