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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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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.   

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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.

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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.

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. 

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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.

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