What’s the First Rule of Politics?

28 Oct

Because I’m working the polls on Election Day, I voted early this week. It should’ve been an exciting experience–this is the first time Massachusetts is doing early voting, and it’s a historical Presidential election–but instead, it made me so angry.

The only contested election on my ballot was the Presidential election.

That’s messed up.

What happened to the choice? I live in a democracy! We’re supposed to be about being able to decide who should be running the main offices in our government at all levels. Where’s the Green Party or the Libertarians who are making such a stink at the Presidential level? Why aren’t they running for state office or sheriff?

I truly don’t understand how alternative candidates like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson have deluded themselves into thinking that the American public would really pick one of them when they don’t bother to let the voters get to know their party on the local level. They have no chance, and even if they did, federal government would have serious issues because the legislature likely wouldn’t allow them to get anything done.

In my area, the Republicans just gave up (they gave up in the primary too). Why didn’t they throw some names on the ballot? They have to hold meetings. They couldn’t stand around in a circle and say, “OK. We have to have some people running. Larry, you good with running for sheriff? Great! DeShawn, how about you run for state representative in your district? All right, that’s two races accounted for. Let’s get some more candidates, people!”

Even if your party doesn’t put you up, you can go as an Independent. It’s not like you can’t get on the ballot. I had to look longingly at the other ballot in my city because they had a choice in one race, and that was between a Democrat and an Independent. I even decided to do a legit write-in candidate because I wanted to have options and didn’t like the one choice I had.

Maybe your part of the country is different. Maybe you do have choices in other races. But if you don’t, then let’s agree that we’re going to do something about it next election cycle. Let’s stop all the lip service. Let’s stop all of the focus on one race. Let’s give the talking heads something to really talk about and analyze besides the minute-by-minute movements of two people. Let’s choose to give our voters real choices.

Heck, you don’t even have to put a ton of money into those races if you don’t want to. Treat it like a hobby–spend a small amount of money and some time and see how you do. Even if you don’t win, get involved and make a difference at the local level, because that’s where the real races are. That’s where you’re really affecting people’s daily lives. Are there really only one-size-fits-all candidates? Surely not. So let’s have some real choices–at all levels of government.




4 Responses to “What’s the First Rule of Politics?”

  1. DavID October 31, 2016 at 8:46 am #

    I’ve been wondering more and more, given that Civics seems to be a standard part of schooling in the USA, why it seems that so many there mainly blame or credit the POTUSA for things (s)he has limited influence over. (For example, laws.) And probably related somehow, why the elections for those who will enact laws seem to get so little attention. This year more than ever.

    But I don’t agree that the same parties should be involved at every level, and recruite a candidate for positions like sheriff. Just because an office is elected does that make it a political office?

    (Are all sheriffs in the USA elected, or just in some states, countys or whatever?),


    • Jill October 31, 2016 at 11:23 am #

      Some of the “smaller” offices like sheriff are managed at the state or county level, and not all states have sheriffs or elected sheriffs. Another example is coroner–I grew up in Indiana, where there are elections for the coroner’s office, but here in Massachusetts, there isn’t. Personally, I think that if it’s an elected office, then yes, it’s political. That’s inherent with an election.

      Not having a choice really lends itself to a dictatorship-effect, and that’s the opposite of the democracy we tout. I don’t mind having elected officials from a specific party, if there was a choice to begin with. But when the options are Party X and Write-In, you don’t have a democracy. You have a system that’s seen in other countries and is roundly criticized for not being democratic. We’re becoming no different than other authoritarian nations who boast about having free and democratic elections.


  2. DavID October 31, 2016 at 10:29 am #

    On the first Tuesday of November each year, Australia hold’s it’s biggest horse race.
    Every four years, the USA has a metaphorical equivalent. Presumably if a competitor in the US contest is seriously injured, the procedure is different.

    The contrasting connection could be seen in 1913 when George Julius made a prototype vote counting machine. Neither the Western Australian nor the Federal Government were interested so instead he developed an automatic totaliser for Pari-Muteul betting on horse races. https://hackaday.com/tag/george-julius/ An article in New Scientist magazine titled “A sure bet for understanding computers” described the Julius totes as the “earliest online real time data processing and computation system” that London Science Museum curators had identified. http://www.dontronics.com/first_multi_user_real_time.html

    Over a century later in Australia “Voting is almost entirely conducted by paper ballot.” – Wikipedia

    Due to that and our preferential voting voting, results are much slower to obtain, but arguably less likely to be invalid. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/30/opinion/who-tests-voting-machines.html?_r=0 etc.
    I don’t know how it would translate into Electoral Colleges but a preferential vote similar to our Federal House of Representatives would enable US citizens to express their real preferences among candidates for President, without the fear that a vote for a minor party may help bring about the result they least want. Presumably such voting could be done via new software for computerised machines, but the fuzzy logic software would be more complex, less reliable and less checked.


  3. DavID November 10, 2016 at 10:53 pm #

    I foolishly trusted my memory of someone’s contrasting the USA and Australian horse races. Second week for the USA elections and referendums. (I think that’s the right plural form, not referenda as I would have pecked until recently!)

    The Australian head of state could be regarded as the Governor-General or as the Queen of Australia, who is also Queen of 15 other nations and permanent head of the Commonwealth of nations which according to Wicked pedia covers “… 29,958,050 km2 (11,566,870 sq mi), 20% of the world’s land area, and spans all six inhabited continents. With an estimated population of 2.328 billion people …”

    (Instead of using any of the 17 titles she holds, USA residents generally refer to Elizabeth II by a title she doesn’t hold. Another formerly USA-only eccentricity is the USA connotations of “liberal” & “republican” but below I will use the terms as they mean in most English speaking nations. Anyone particularly interested in terminology might also like to look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/States_and_territories_of_Australia#Comparative_terminology I didn’t know most of that!)

    In 1999 Australia had a referendum about replacing the appointed Governor-General (officially chosen by the monarch but not really) with a Head of State, who might have retained that title, or been known as our President, Top Bloke or something else. In a fantasy I think even more ridiculous than thinking Donald trump is not an elite, many Australian republicans fantasized that if they voted “No” against the Republic model they didn’t want, this would somehow hasten another referendum where they could vote for a model they wanted. As I expect most Australians expected, all they achieved was a supposed endorsement of the status quo, in line with almost all Australian referendums. (I think the most crucial determinant is how the question is put, because most Australians will always vote no. This is why I think we should only have plebiscites where the voter has to choose which outcome they vote yes for. If, as seems common, they don’t know which is the current situation, I don’t think they should choose at all. So a “no preference” &/or “not sure” option would be good too!)

    Anyway, I’m much more interested in directly electing the speakers of Australia’s and Victoria’s Lower Houses and the equivalent Presidents of the Upper Houses. At the moment these are chosen effectively by and usually from the majority parties in their respective houses. They seem to make some effort to act in a fair minded way, but unsurprisingly are not completely neutral and can be removed from that office in the same way they were chosen. If direct election for these offices came in, I’d expect that parties would pick their own candidates and most party loyalists would vote for them. But if enough less aligned candidates were willing to run, I can imagine that one day the first independent directly elected Speaker or President would win, and hope it would then become more common. While not as extreme as Taiwan and Sth Korean parliaments at their brawling worst, I don’t admire broadcasts of Australian Lower House Question Times, and the relative volume of shameful interjections is apparently much worse if you are there. (In our federal parliament a statement beginning “I’m a country member …” was once interrupted by several MPs shouting “Yes, we remember!”)

    Instead of trying to hide it, I’d like to see that behavior shown on camera, the remarks clearly transmitted and the perps rapidly identified. Maybe some of them might lose office, and our parliaments could be less an expensive puppet show.
    (Matters are debated and how party members will vote is really decided in party rooms long before the three readings of a Bill & the official vote. Leaving more time for the main parties’ usual topic “We are perfect, your party is a useless menace.” )


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