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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
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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.

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.

Progressives following the SIV strategy, even more than Ralph Nader did by following a third-party strategy, would alienate Democrats for whom their propaganda-induced partisanship and LOTE fallacy is more important than rescuing democracy from both corrupt parties. But these critics are not the political allies that progressives need to win back democracy anyway. Their continued unreflective support for "vapid, unprincipled hacks" makes partisan Democratic voters an uninfluential part of a corrupt system that they could instead control by surrendering their outdated, uninformed partisanship in exchange for SIV.

To win with an SIV strategy, single-issue progressives need to align on this single issue of money in politics with those who vote on the right but who also, polls show, oppose the merger of big business and big government and therefore, money in politics. Free marketeers understand that crony capitalism and influence peddling obstruct a free market. To them political corruption is socialism. To progressives it is capitalism. Getting past such labels, both sides could work together to stop political corruption by throwing a book as fat as the Patriot Act at it. Who cares if one side thinks they ended capitalism and the other thinks they ended socialism? Both will be saving democracy in order to achive practical policies that will serve voting majorities rather than paying minorities.

This realignment of progressives from being the poodles of liberals will certainly generate heat. On the other hand there would be no need for a unique martyr like Ralph Nader to courageously withstand that heat from both establishment and quotidian Democrats alike, since the whole strategy can be carried out anonymously, online, and without identified leaders, aside from decentralized citizen leadership in grass-roots advocacy.

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