Not so seismic

ABC News described today as a “seismic shifting” day, for Romney, exposing what he really thinks, with the release of his recorded comments at a fundraiser.

Is it scandalous to suggest that someone who has a financial interest in government may have a conflict of interest when it comes to casting their vote? I thought that was common sense.

Isn’t this very fact exploited over and over by Democrats in their campaigns when they try to scare these people into voting for them to keep getting their goodies?

Today is a seismic shift…to a new dumb.

I have a simple solution. You have a choice. If you are eligible to receive benefits from the “social safety net” you can choose to receive the benefit or choose to vote. It’s your choice. Choose wisely.

Why I may ‘throw away my vote’

We’ve all heard why it’s a bad idea to vote for a third party candidate.  The smart guys on the radio tell me that it’s…

…like throwing away your vote because you vote for someone who doesn’t have a chance to win and take away a vote from the party that you agree with more, thereby increasing the chances of putting the other party in power.

But, I believe it was in Peter Robinson’s book It’s My Party: A Republican’s Messy Love Affair with the GOP, where I found a good counterpoint to this argument.

It’s been awhile since I read it, but if I recall correctly, Robinson pointed out that Perot’s fiscal responsibility message in the 1992 Presidential election earned him 19% of the vote.

That got the attention of the other two parties.  They adopted the fiscal responsibility platform to attract those votes.  Republicans adopted some of Perot’s platform as their own in 1994 to retake control of Congress and even Bill Clinton adopted a more conservative fiscal stance to get re-elected in 1996.

It worked.  Most of the 19% of the people who voted for Perot in 1992 threw back in with one of the major parties in the next Presidential election.

I think Robinson even suggested that’s why we have two dominant political parties in the U.S.  When a third-party or fringe party makes headway and attracts votes, the other two parties respond and try to adopt that stance in some form or fashion.

This makes sense.  This is normal feedbacks at work.  If a new soda pop took enough business away from Coke and Pepsi, Coke and Pepsi would respond with a similar product or buy that new soda company outright.

This is also a good explanation as to why political parties (and businesses) evolve over time.  Democrat Kennedy cut taxes?  Republican Nixon imposed wage and price controls?

So, despite what the guys on the radio say, all those people who threw their votes away on a third-party candidate really made a difference.  It just took a little longer to make that difference.

They sent a message to Democrats and Republicans that fiscal responsibility was important enough to get their votes.  The feedback loop worked because both parties responded.

Let’s say I agree with 20% of the policies of one major party candidate and 65% of the policies of the other.

If there’s a third party candidate that I’m in 85% agreement with, but he has zero chance of winning, the guys on the radio would tell me to vote for the 65% candidate in order to improve my chances of not winding up with the 20% candidate in power.

But, I think I’m done with that.

Voting for the the 85% candidate is my best chance of moving both parties closer to what I want. Over time, if we all do this, perhaps we start moving all the candidate positions closer to our goals.

Instead of choosing between 20% and 65% shoe-ins and the 85% odd-duck (the percentages representing how much I agree with them on), I might get to choose between 48% and 74% candidates, which are both better options for me than the 20% and 65% guys or gals.

Maybe the political calculation of the guys on the radio is why we seem to have politicians that are out of touch with the American people.

Instead of voting for what we really want and moving those agreement percentages closer to what we want, we vote for the lesser of two evils but end up moving those agreement percentages away from our ideal over successive elections.

Think about it.  If you’re going to vote for the lesser of two evils anyway, what incentive does your less evil candidate (or future less evil candidates) have to give serious consideration to what he disagrees with you about?

Maybe in one election you begrudgingly vote for the 70% candidate over the 45% candidate.  The next politician thinks you’ll vote for him if he only gives you 65% of what you want — as long as it’s higher than the other candidate.  He moved down to 65% because he can pick up a few votes in another group, without risking losing your vote.  After all, you wouldn’t want to take the chance of his opponent being in power, would you?

At the same time, the next candidate for the other major party moves from 45% agreement to 40% agreement.

Until someone can give me a convincing argument otherwise, I say vote for the candidate you agree with most whether that candidate has a chance or not. It might be painful, but enough people do it, it will send a clearer message of what’s important to you.

Dr. Marc Lamont on O’Reilly Factor

I just watched an O’Reilly Factor from this past week with professor Marc Lamont of Columbia University.  I have not been able to find a link to this video yet, but I am hopeful that one will soon come available because I can find some older appearances by Dr.  Lamont on the Factor.

I found this one bothersome because of the assertions Dr. Lamont made without being asked for proof.  Commenting on the State of the Union address, he said that he liked it when Obama got around to coming down hard on the Republicans.

He said Republicans were being obstructionist because of their block voting against legislation.

O’Reilly made a couple of great points.

  • Democrats shouldn’t need the Republican votes since the Democrats have the majority in Congress.
  • Maybe the legislation has been so far leftist that Republicans can’t go for it and the reason the Democrats have trouble getting the Democrat vote is because it’s even too far left for conservative Democrats.

Then O’Reilly said that if you believe Republicans were being obstructionist, then they were either doing so because they don’t believe in the legislation or they’re doing so to hurt the country.   Lamont encouraged O’Reilly to complete that thought and say “Republicans are intentionally trying to hurt the country”

Lamont’s argument is weak and could have been toppled or strengthened had O’Reilly gone one step further.  O’Reilly should have asked Lamont to give an example of legislation that received a Republican block no-vote that’s not leftist.

Believing that Republican’s sole intentions are to hurt the country, may do a lot for the psyche of someone like Dr. Lamont, but it simply isn’t the truth.

Has Dr. Lamont ever read a book by a conservative?  Does he know what conservative principles are?  Conservative principles aren’t about bashing the opposing party for the sake of it.  It’s not like a Sunday afternoon football game where both teams are trying to simply outscore the other team.

Conservative principles, believe it or not, are about allowing people to live their lives freely with protections against the illegitimate use of power from others.  We think that gives everyone the best chance for achieving their goals in life.

If you apply that filter to the Republican no-votes, you may gain a better understanding of the reasoning behind the voting.  It’s not something as wispy as “they want to the Democrats” or “Obama” to fail.

The easiest test would be for Obama or Democrats to try something that does align with conservative principles and see how quickly Republicans rush to support it.

If Lamont has a problem with conservative principles, I encourage him to voice those problems and let’s discuss the merits of those principles.  Falsely accusing Republicans is another example of how one side talks past the other side and valuable TV air time was wasted talking about nothing of substance, rather than talking about the real issue.