Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Old Parties, New Politics: Will Obama Get the Message About Political Reform In Time?

Everybody has advice for President Obama. The message that the organized force of independents is trying to get through to him is: we need structural political reform. Unless independents are allowed to participate fully in the political process through changes like open primaries, citizen initiative and referendum, participation on the Boards of Election and the Federal Election Commission, change will not come to America.

  • The Fighter Fallacy (By DAVID BROOKS, NY Times) Democrats do not have that luxury. The party of government cannot win an orthodox vs. orthodox campaign when 15 percent of Americans trust government. It certainly can’t do it presiding over 9 percent unemployment. It’s suicide. Yet this is the course the Obama campaign has chosen. He’s campaigning these days as the populist fighter, the scourge of the privileged class.
  • Will voters kick out all incumbents in 2012? Probably not – even though most Americans dislike both political parties. There are three scenarios for 2012. The most likely: If the economy remains weak and the GOP picks an acceptable candidate, voters will kick out both Obama and Democrats from power. (By John. J. Pitney Jr., Christian Science Monitor) Most Americans already dislike both major parties and think that a third party is necessary. It would be difficult to translate this sentiment into political change. New parties face tough barriers, including state laws that hinder their access to the ballot and campaign finance rules that put them at a fundraising disadvantage.
  • How they get away with obstruction (By Steve Kornacki, Salon) Then there are the actual swing voters, authentic independents who don’t have a strong loyalty to either party. They are a smaller bunch than most people realize, but in theory Obama should have more luck getting through to them with his jobs crusade. But, like most other voters, they don’t pay close attention to Washington or to politics in general. If they even hear about last night’s filibuster, it may be through a 20-second news summary they half-listen to on their way to work, or through a headline on a newspaper article they skim or don’t read at all. But instead of falling back on party loyalty to form their judgments, these voters tend to rely on the state of the economy — something that spells disaster for Obama right now.

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