Audio Attitude Exploring situational influence on attitude and behavior.

October 27, 2008

What Happened to the Party in Politics?

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Brian @ 9:22 am

Have you wondered why turnout is so poor for elections in the United States? Shankar Vedantam in today’s Washington Post explains. (You might need free subscription to view the full article at the Washington Post.)

Elections in the mid-19th century were festive affairs, and people gathered to carouse, jostle one another and vote. They sometimes cast their ballots on a stage to cheers and jeers. Voting, even their choice of candidates, used to be extremely public.

A series of progressive reforms in the late 19th century turned voting into a private affair. Campaign operatives were kept clear of polling stations. People got to vote in secret, and few knew whether their neighbors voted.

Turnout plummeted.

Get out and meet some people this election. It’s fun. Joe and I got to meet our congressman (Rep. Bart Stupak) this weekend when he joined our group for a door-to-door canvassing. No booze, but the pizza at our little party was pretty good.

Me, Rep. Bart Stupak (D - Michigan's 1st district), and Joe

September 16, 2008

Truth or Republican?

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Brian @ 10:03 am

Unless one is extremely wealthy and completely selfish voting for Republicans this year is an indefensible idea. The only people who don’t understand this are the ones seduced by the Republican machine to believe Republicans care about abortion, gay marriage, or fundamentalist Christianity.

Republicans want one thing. To eliminate all regulation or oversight of big corporations.

But don’t Republicans care about social issues like protecting marriage and the sanctity of human life?

Please. Sanctity of human life? Show me what Republican policies actually do to human lives.

Republicans since the 1970’s act on behalf of environment-be-damned corporate earth plunderers who would sell out their own mothers before giving up a penny of profit.

How do Republicans get away with it?

By pandering to a group of social conservatives who care only about a few issues. These voters are suspicious of so-called “liberal elitists” and windbags like yours truly. and Republicans know how to stir the pot of anger and distrust by telling this group that Republicans care about their “values.” Republicans give their well-meaning religious pals keys to the club and even call them “Republicans” before stepping out back for a smoke and to snicker about tricking yet another election.

Republicans know the sizable portion of social conservative fundamentalists tend to be a very loyal group. Once they make up their mind, there is almost no changing it. So what better group to have on your team? And ever since the 1960’s and 1970’s Republicans have been feeding to this narrow (but significant) band of the electorate empty rhetoric about protecting marriage, stem cell research bans, and abstinence training for randy teens. Nice. Whatever works.

Republicans when in power are then more able to stay in power by turning government over to what it euphemistically calls “the private sector,” otherwise known as big business. So, 99 percent of Americans grow more dependent on deregulated corporations to get mortgages, provide health care, and deliver energy. Guess who profits? The 1% of the population who need you to vote Republican.

As corporations get stronger and bigger and take over more of the responsibilities of government the little businesses have a harder time competing and the private citizen has less recourse when getting screwed by power.

Simply put, Republicans want corporations to run your lives. Democrats want government to referee the game between corporate America and the little guy. And, libertarians are just Republicans who didn’t manipulate religious fundamentalists to gain power.

The new symbol of rural America is Walmart, who comes to a little town near you and gets to pay little or no tax because it creates jobs. Good thing, because the neighbor kids will need a place to work when Walmart closes the local grocer.

Exxon Mobile made more money this year from high gasoline prices than any corporation ever has. Yet, Republicans want to eliminate taxes and regulation from the oil industry so it can drill everywhere it wants like some kind of stud on an island of virgins who never cares for the kids that later come.

Republican single-minded focus on enabling corporate greed and misdeed is huge. They distract with social issues, which they care nothing about except to trick enough voters to keep them in power.

We may never get the Republican social conservatives to join the social conservatives in the Democratic party and vote with their brains instead of their feelings. But, if we do it will be in no small part because we learned how to talk with them.

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