Thursday, June 10, 2010

voting rights = civil rights


mikey said...

And what voting rights do residents of New York City have, now that they have a mayor that the the Independence Party championed who has demonstrated a willingness to to use his power and wealth to bulldoze and trample the twice passed will of the voters when he engineered extending term limits? From the Independence Party's perspective, do the power hungry whims of a billionaire trump (no pun intended) "voting rights" when that billionaire is also funding the party? During last year's campaign in support of him stealing a 3rd term, NYC Independence Party callers would repeat the identical scripted meme, to the effect of "I wasn't happy about what he did with term limits, but he has been a great independent mayor."

Which make about as much friggin' sense as Martin Luther King Jr endorsing George Wallace in 1968 and saying "I'm not happy about his racism, but he really speaks his mind and stands up for people, which is what the civil rights movement is all about."

And although there is nothing horribly wrong with non-partisan elections, there is zero demonstrable evidence thus far that if passed, politics as usual won't proceed exactly as it did before (except more billionaires will now be further empowered, not having to purchase political parties, as Bloomberg did with the Republicans and the Independence Party)

mikey said...

The newest propaganda meme of the Independence Party--"voting rights =civil rights" is not only insulting to those who sacrificed so much (for both of those rights), it's also wrong. Independent voters could always participate in the primary process; if they wished to vote in a party primary, they could register thusly and do so. If they choose not too, they have their choice of the smorgasbord offered in the general election. And if they don't like those choices, they have the opportunity anywhere along the line to organize support for a candidate or party who represents them. And if they dont like the way that big money power interests make it impossible to organize thusly, then they should deal with THAT. Nonpartisan elections makes it so that one of the top 2 corporate funded or wealthy or DP/RP backed candidates will likely prevail. It simply rearranges the pegs slightly, and leaves the whole corrupt system entrenched.

If you want to claim the mantle of the heroic and courageous participants and leaders of the Civil Rights movement, then emulate their courage and SERIOUSLY "speak truth to power." You'd be surprised--even the thoroughly corrupted Independence Party could regain some of its nonexistent credibility by standing up to its corporate masters and saying "we're not going to take it anymore--keep your trinkets, we're going to stand with the people of this city."

Randy Miller said...

Well-healed partisans will continue to do well in non-partisan elections but they will have to try something new--pay attention to what the people want or go home defeated.

I'm sure IPNYC will tell you they aren't pleased about the term limits switch, but that it isn't the poke in the eye you are making out to be in the grand scheme of things. They will probably also say rightly that you have to choose your battles.

As a non New Yorker isn't that about right Nancy? Sarah?

mikey said...

Randy--is there any empirical evidence, or any kind of evidence, that demonstrates that instituting nonpartisan elections results in politicians having to "pay attention to what the people want or go home defeated" as compared to other types of system?
"You have to choose your battles" is a bit abstract, dontcha think? Of course you have to choose, assuming we are sentient beings with a modicum of free agency. I'm raising the ramifications of choosing to be on the wrong side of a battle. The IPNYC also uses the meme "you have to choose your battles," because it serves as a nonsequitorial diversion from the NOT-abstract reality that it chooses it battles based on what's good for its self-preservation as an organization and a wanna-be player for power for power's sake.

Randy Miller said...

The empirical evidence is simply mathematical, the candidate with the most votes wins the race and all the others go home vanquished. In partisan election systems typically non-party voters are excluded from primary elections. So with the target audience already narrowed, they have to appeal to the majority of that narrowed audience to win that stage of the race. There is no constitutional basis for a citizens to have to choose a party then participate in part of an election. more here

I have no problem whatsoever with parties conducting their internal affairs as they see fit. But they cross the line when public dollars are used to fund a primary election. When that happens it is no longer an internal administrative affair, but one of taxation without representation no?

If you could rewind and rewrite the story from the end of Bloomberg's 2nd term until now how would it read?

Money buys votes in partisan elections, in non-partisan elections, not so much. I think people see through all the bologna and 'trinkets' as you say as well as the money wasted on radio and television spots. "Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable."

I'm aware Bloomberg spent hugely to win his latest re-election, but he also did that within a partisan election process. Who is to say what is unremarkable here, the candidate or the process? I'm saying the process is and I can see where folks, even you, might disagree with me. Maybe it's a little of both.

If all citizens could participate in every election, would there need to be so much money spent on advertising? We live in a day in age where they cannot fake the funk. Money cannot buy sincerity and authenticity, so I'm not too concerned how much of their money they waste on plastering over their true colors, especially in an open-to-all election system where such advertising is wasted so much faster. They got it or they don't and money spent to appear otherwise is seen by most for the idiocy that it is.

This is a sideline observation as I didn't witness what Bloomberg did with his $100M campaign. It is pretty easy to yell at the radio about what a bunch of crap a campaign ad is, or to nod vigorously about how much one agrees with a media spot. Imagine if he had poured his money into other like minded causes and candidate campaigns. That kind of publicity is priceless and far more effective--it keeps on giving.

But again, being far from NY, how would you have liked to see the story written to date?

Randy Miller said...

also, I meant to type well-heeled, I'm sure their health is OK too though!

mikey said...

Randy--to your points: those are interesting conjectures, but hardly empirical evidence (as in empirical=originating in or based on observation or experience). Obviously a nonpartisan election rearranges the "target audience" of that election, but what you've conjectured doesn't at all appear to support the claim that compared to partisan primaries, nonpartisan primaries will have politicians "pay attention to what the people want or go home defeated." By empirical evidence of benefit, I'm thinking of stats that might show some benefit, eg, lower rates of entrenched incumbency, higher turnouts, more diversity of candidacies, less corruption, etc etc. The only claim I keep hearing is that it would force candidates to moderate their views to appeal to a broader range of voters (which I would assume someone would have to do in the general election regardless of the system). Not only is this unproven in practice, there is no mathematical reason to expect that this is even necessarily a good winning strategy (10 candidates can split the "moderate" vote and a highly charged partisan can benefit). But in any case, this line of argumentation comes down to trying to socially engineer the (ideological) types of candidates that would enter a race. Since you mention constitutionality, what could be more unconstitutional than legislation designed to benefit an ideological type?
There's definitely room for reform of public financing of primaries, although I don't think what we have now falls under "taxation without representation." We have representation, and can urge those representatives to enact serious electoral reforms.
I see no evidence whatsoever that money buys votes any less under nonpartisans. You can conjecture that its so, but, as Malcolm X liked to say, sayin' it’s so don't make it so.
I would conjecture that Bloomberg would pour just as much $$ into a nonpartisan primary and then general election as he did into the partisan setup--probably more, since it would be 2 full rounds (he bought the repub and Indy lines pretty cheap). Bloomberg's money did damage beyond the fact that it purchased the machinery to buy elections. Evidence from polling strongly indicates his crass cash steamroller was a serious factor in depressing voter turnout down to a record low for a mayoral election. Randy, his money and power isn't just used to pay for pretty ads to hoodwink voters. It pays for purchasing all the machinery--including non-profit groups he privately funds who are then cajoled to testify on behalf of his term limits swindle; buddy buddy relationships with the media barons of the city which gave him a pass on that, AND did zero vetting of the inflated claims of his accomplishments, particularly in his biggest swindle--fabricated educational "achievements." It bought his party lines--the Republicans and (somewhat cheaper) the Independence Party/CUIP, which went above and beyond helped him get his handpicked pro-corporate ticket into some offices.

mikey said...

What to have done differently? The rationale CUIP/IP gave for giving Bloomberg the line despite his apostasy and assault on voters by engineering the overturning of term limits (which was TWICE upheld by voters previously) was that the Democrat said no (or wouldnt support nonpartisan elections).

This is the INDEPENDENCE PARTY of NYC. To state the obvious, why not actually be INDEPENDENT, and run an independent candidate (a real one, not one who is INDEPENDENTly wealthy, but otherwise as partisan as any party hack. Why not exercise some real clout on behalf of the voters of the city, who were outraged by his term limits nonsense, and deny him the line. And I would advise not underplaying the value of maintaining integrity and honesty, something the IP/CUIP seems to have lost sight of. It may not be apparent from out west, Randy, but in NYC, the Independence Party--despite being the "swing" vote that supposedly made the difference for Bloomberg (although it could be argued that he could have bought or created ANY party to do that)--has negligible credibility at the grassroots, and among people who even are aware of it, its seen as a corrupt vehicle for hire that has partnered with some of (maybe all of) the most corrupt politicos in NY.

mikey said...

See here, for instance, on just the most recent Bloomberg/Independence Party corruption.