On second thought… »« That’s an excellent message

Ignore that presidential campaign over there

I don’t like Obama.

There. I said it. I think he’ll go down in history as a mediocre president — not a bad one, just one who didn’t change a flawed system at all, who was so focused on being moderate and compromising that there was no hope of any significant change. I also think his foreign policy is bloody-handed and disastrous, and if you’re interested in church-state separation and secular government, I’m sorry, but he’s had you all fooled. He’s not a closet atheist, but quite the opposite.

But next week, I’m going to go into the voting both and punch that ballot next to Obama’s name.

I’m not happy about it.

Here’s the problem: we’ve all been played. All of the focus is on the presidential election, in a winner-take-all two party system. And the presidential election is a distraction. It’s been reduced to a numbers game, a horse race where policies don’t matter, and all you have left to do is to pick one out of two. All the work has been done before you enter the voting booth, and that work is aimed at limiting your choices. So this time around, your choice is the evangelical Christian who brags about killing terrorists while making incremental improvements to the economy, or the Mormon robot who’s going to serve as a slave to the bankers and merchants of greed who destroy the economy, or nothing. So you try to pick the lesser of two evils.

I know what people will say. You have to vote on your principles, or nothing will change. When I just look at the issues, I agree: I ought to vote for Jill Stein, whose stand on just about everything agrees with mine. (Don’t tell me about Gary Johnson — I look at his positions and see a selfish moron who’d be worse than Romney). But Jill Stein isn’t going to win, and my vote would be thrown away, and worse, Jill Stein is throwing away her time and effort in a quixotic race that has already been decided. It will be one of two. The two are fixed. Third party candidates are a snare and an illusion.

I’m not saying that we’re doomed, though, just that the presidential race is the wrong place to effect change.

The right place is everywhere else. Maybe the primary campaigns would be better: we need to get candidates in place that don’t require us to hold our noses in order to vote for them. The Republican field is always a race to find the one candidate just crazy enough to satisfy a badly deranged base, while not so obviously crazy as to alienate everyone else, so forget them. The Democrats always seem to be looking for the moderate who won’t really change the system (that would be scary) and who will inspire just enough to squeak into office…but not inspire so much that people will wake up to our problems. I suspect that both parties will fundamentally resist change.

So maybe that’s not even the best place to work on fixing the election system. Especially in this election, the power of incumbency is so great that no one was even going to look seriously at an alternative to Obama.

You know where the elections really matter, where you really have a choice? At the local level. The Green Party is stupid to throw so much effort into a presidential campaign right now — they ought to be focused on building a base. I would vote for a Green for city council or district representative in a heartbeat. And once they’ve built a deep party structure, they become serious candidates for higher office, because they will have the backing of people doing good work on the ground.

This is the same advice we give to people fighting creationism. Run for local school boards, because that’s where you can make a difference. Our opponents know that; these small offices are packed with ideologically conservative Christians who can have an effect far greater than their numbers should allow. While you’re focused on who is running for president, they’ve placed a team of cretins on local government to stymie any progressive, rational efforts towards bettering the country.

Stein has served two terms as a town meeting representative in Lexington, Massachusetts, which is a good start. But we’d have been better served if she’d then moved up to a county or district office, instead of leaping for governor (failed) or president (doomed). She ran for the house of representatives, once, and lost…I’d rather she tried for that again. And I’d rather see Green Party candidates appearing all over the place, on zoning boards and city councils and school boards, rather than gambling on presidencies and governorships where they’ll preside over an army of Democrats and Republicans who’ll feel no loyalty at all to them.

So ignore the presidential campaign. We know we’re going to be stuck with the lesser of two evils, so just get it done. But what we people need to do next, and what we can do in this election, is vote everywhere else for third party candidates who better fit your values, and most importantly, donate and campaign for those candidates. Personally, I know that in the future my political donations (they aren’t much, I’m not a wealthy guy, so I’ll be realistic) will be aimed towards parties other than the Democrats. Any Greens looking for local office? Labor? Socialists? You can have my pennies. Democrats? Not until you acquire the vision to nominate real liberals and progressives. Until you stand for something other than not-Republican.

Comments

  1. broboxley OT says

    Well Stated PZ, There are enough dissatisfied voters out there that withhold their vote to put a different party into power. They have zero visibility because of the stranglehold on the ballot held by the democrats and republicans. Until we get rid of those policies it will be more of the same.

  2. says

    We don’t have a proportional parliamentary system (and do we really want one?), so our form of governance falls fairly naturally into a two-party system. I agree that third parties are good for little more than mischief, distraction, and occasional disaster (thank you, Ralph Nader). Unless a major party collapses and a new one takes over (e.g., the Whigs being supplanted by the Republicans), third parties don’t get anywhere. The real way to advance a political platform is to take over one of the two major parties. That’s what the Goldwaterites did, making the GOP into a bastion of conservatism. That’s what the Tea Partiers are trying to do right now, pushing the Republicans into totally insane Know-Nothingism.

    The Democratic Party is the obvious target for pushing in the sane direction, the Republicans being all but a lost cause. George McGovern did what he could in the seventies, but couldn’t make it stick. Time to try again. From within.

  3. mikecline says

    Great advice PZ, and we all should take it. Change does start from the base and our country definately needs another viable party, or two, ASAP.

  4. Dick the Damned says

    When i first heard of the Green Party, about 30 years ago (in Canada), i thought they would be a party i could vote for. But i was disappointed by the anti-science stance i perceived. Last time i looked, (in the UK), the Greens were still somewhat anti-science. Does anyone know what are they like now, (country by country)?

  5. dannysichel says

    zeno@2 – hm. Why wouldn’t you want a proportional parliamentary system?

    When’s the last time an American state had a government that was neither R or D? How many non-R and non-D representatives and senators are there at the national level?

    (Neither of those is a rhetorical question, by the way.)

  6. says

    You know where the elections really matter, where you really have a choice? At the local level. The Green Party is stupid to throw so much effort into a presidential campaign right now — they ought to be focused on building a base. I would vote for a Green for city council or district representative in a heartbeat.

    Yes, absolutely correct.

  7. says

    I’m not persuaded that a parliamentary system is a panacea. Are we talking about Britain’s or Italy’s?

    Besides, we’re not getting one.

  8. khms says

    We don’t have a proportional parliamentary system (and do we really want one?),

    Personally, I think that’d be a vast improvement. For one, it creates a situation where voting for someone who doesn’t “win” doesn’t mean your vote is essentially thrown away, so people vote for third (or fourth, or …) parties more often, so the big parties notice when people are unhappy with what they do, and tend to adjust their politics to include some of what the more popular third or fourth parties do. Which means not only does a vote for those give you a few representatives from that party, it actually pressures the bigger parties quite effectively. Oh, and it’s effective against gerrymandering.

    If you wanted, you could have a mixed system like we do, but it tends to give a bigger set of representatives (see current discussion about recent supreme court rulings in this matter in Germany).

    Incidentally, German radio just informed me about donations in the US race – I think it was Obama >1B$, > 50% < 200$, and Romney <1B$, > 50% max – I forget if that was 2000$ or 2500$. Rmoney indeed. They also mentioned SuperPACs.

  9. mitchgarside says

    Without electoral reform it’s hard to see any real 3rd party emerge in America, to open up to 3rd parties you need to do stuff like:
    - Preferential voting: so that if your candidate doesn’t get up the vote isn’t wasted, it goes to your next preference, e.g. vote 1 Greens, vote 2 Democrat.
    - Proportional representation: Winner takes all kills 3rd parties as it always comes down to the top 2
    - Elimination of primary races: As you see with the Libertarians in the Republican party primary races tend to stifle 3rd parties by giving them the illusion that they could effect change within the 2 party structure, outsiders never win primaries because primary candidates need support from all corners of the party (Hence Romney over Perry etc).
    - Compulsory Voting: Here in the land down under there’s a $40 fine if your name isn’t marked off the roll on election day, but the fact that voting is compulsory by law encourages far more people to do it, because parties don’t have to appeal to their bases to motivate them it leaves more room for 3rd parties to nip away at the margins on various issues and make electoral inroads.

    Here we’ve had 3rd parties come and go, The Country party eventually compromised with the Liberals (Right wing) and combined into the Coalition where they don’t contest each others seats (mostly) anymore. The Democrats were a big deal for a while, controlling the balance of power in the upper house whenever Labor and the Coalition disagreed on any legislation. Nowadays The Greens are surging as a strong 3rd party and have the balance of power in both houses (though in the lower house independents have the numbers to swing the balance as well)

    It’s pretty good.

  10. Tony–Queer Duck Overlord of The Bronze– says

    From the link:

    These days, when the president talks about his faith, he sounds like a born-again Christian.

    That’s something to be proud of?

  11. infraredeyes says

    For my part, I think Obama will be remembered for doing the best he could in exceptionally tough circumstances. He inherited a cratering economy, two stupid foreign wars, and a recalcitrant opposition party. He’s delivered a reasonable (in the circumstances) health care plan, extracted us from one of the wars, kept the auto industry going… Not perfect by any means, but a better-than-passing grade.

  12. khms says

    Are we talking about Britain’s or Italy’s?

    I’m not sure about the current state of Britain, but at least for most of the recent half century, Britain had a similar system as the US, and a similar two party system.

    As for Italy – I think the problem isn’t the construction of their political system, it’s the elephant in the nation: the Mafia. Similar to the rich in the US, except they don’t need to even seem to follow the rules.

    So, I personally think both are poor examples. Also Belgium, which consists too obviously of two rather unequal halves.

    But that still leaves quite a number of other examples.

  13. says

    Mark Henderson’s “The Geek Manifesto” has a lot of interesting ideas and suggestions on how we can influence politics from below, encouraging more rational candidates and policies. Well worth a read.

  14. Q.E.D says

    I have been dissuaded from taking my local Greens too seriously because of some high profile issues such as their opposition to nuclear and airports (happy to be convinced otherwise but nuclear may be the best place-setter Green(er) tech we have until we can actually implement better greener tech that solves all our energy demand. Not flying isn’t happening given I live on an Island and have work, friends and family abroad).

    But I just heard the head of the Green party in the UK on the radio this morning and it seemed liked their platform and social justice sensibilities were far more attractive on many issue than the tory or labour alternatives (Lib dems have taken their 30 pieces of silver and can go hang)

    Platform here

  15. says

    When’s the last time an American state had a government that was neither R or D?

    In Minnesota, our third-party governor left office about 10 years ago. Any governor more recent would be an independent, I think, though I can’t think of one. Minnesota has had stronger third-party traditions than most other states.

  16. khms says

    I should also mention that the German Green party is just such a party built up from the base. It started as a lot of completely independent citizen groups which aimed for more-or-less environmental policy changes. These joined into bigger groups, and then into the first versions of the Green party. Oh, and in the unification, they went together with the political arm of the Eastern protest movement (Bündnis 90). And now they have their first state government.

    Building up from the base takes a lot of time, but it works.

  17. says

    Too much is made about what the US president “does” or “doesn’t do”. Honestly, in today’s terribly polarized political atmosphere, the most important reason for selecting Obama isn’t for what he’s done, or even what he can DO. For the most important issues facing the US currently (economy, earned benefits, health care, etc…) it’s the Congress that has the power to actually affect change. So the most critical reason, I believe, for any rational thinking person to elect Obama isn’t for what you might think he can do, or has done, but what he can PREVENT from being done with his power of veto.

    There are many things the president can do, by himself (and certainly I’ve not been his biggest fan on some of those military and foreign policy issues), but the president can’t spend a dime. He can propose a budget and then let congress hack the shit out of it, debate it for 6 months and maybe squeak it by, but he can’t fix anything on his own. He CAN however prevent the passing of what amounts to social warfare by vetoing any republican (Ryan) sponsored budget with its total dismantling of social programs. Neither party is going to be able to overcome a veto on the most polarizing issues, so by making sure Obama stays in office, we can prevent republicans with the narrowest margin of majority (which will be lost in the next round of congressional elections I believe) from passing egregious and harmful legislation.

    You can complain all you want about what Obama isn’t, but you were probably silly in the first place if you ever thought him to be anything but a slightly-left leaning centrist. He’s never been anything but. The fact is, given the veto power to prevent horrible republican legislature from becoming law, and the potential to re-shape what has become a horrifyingly ideological Supreme Court, voting to retain Obama is a huge deal, in my opinion.

  18. says

    You want to vote Green (face-palms…) Without even bothering to check, I can guess that the US Green Party, together with virtually all its supporters, are against nuclear power and for “organic” vegetables – way to go – let’s all enjoy trashing the planet; and I’d be surprised if the typical member has given their kids MMR or anti-HPV vaccines. Wake up! You’re deep in woo country!

  19. octopod says

    Anti-science? I get the feeling that the Greens are the only ones taking the sciences seriously these days — climatology, stem cell research, agricultural research…

  20. says

    And while I too like the idea of a Green Party, trying to organize it into a major player in this country has some serious blockades and possibly major negative implications. Right now, I’d wager that nearly 40% of the voting population of this country is flat out batshit insane and has at least one or more of the following qualities: religiously directed, self serving, racist and intolerant. They vote republican. They always will, and that percentage may shrink, but not by enough in the next 10 – 20 years. Add to that group the moderate social conservatives and you will have a base that will maintain itself at around 45 – 47%.

    Adding a viable Green party, in my opinion, would serve only to divide the current Democratic party… enough to ensure that the Republican party could easily defeat what’s left of either party. That would be disastrous, in my mind.

    Honestly, I think the only way a green party could have any real impact at this time and with the way our electorate is currently designed is to become a subset of the democratic party the way the Tea Party has become in the Republican Party.

    The problem with that, of course, is that the only way the Tea Party was able to succeed in doing that was by multi-millionaires injecting huge sums of money into their puppet campaigns. I don’t see the Green Party having that sort of financial backing… like ever.

  21. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Not seeing any third party building on my sample ballot. The only non dem/rep was for president, where the green and liberturds have candidates.

  22. anxiousobserver says

    We will never have more choices until our elections system is reformed. Our elections system will never be reformed with the two major parties in power. Voting Greens and other third parties to local level can only do so much. It won’t change the mainstream, it won’t change the fact that our congressional, senatorial, and presidential elections are winner take all. THAT is the fundamental problem, not there being too few people willing to vote for an alternative or not enough local third partiers or independents. The discussion should be about how we can change our system to on of proportional representation and/or ranked/instant runoff voting. Work towards that goal, because that is the only way we won’t be asking this question every single election.

  23. says

    To those of you pissing and moaning about Nader:

    Keep in mind that exit polls showed 11% of all self-described Democrats VOTED FOR BUSH in 2000. That is to say, far more Democrats voted to put the Worst President In History into office than the total number of votes cast for Nader.

    But somehow, that seems to be perfectly fine.

  24. drivenb4u says

    Damn, this really nails it for me. I thought I liked Obama, but I really just liked him because he is so despised by mainstream Christianity. Nothing about him appeals to me so much as the schaudenfrude of seeing them wax wroth if he wins. Which is still appealing but I have to admit not enough of a reason to blindly support him.

  25. Tyrant al-Kalām says

    Does anyone know what are they like now, (country by country)?

    The German Green Party, which I suspect might be the most powerful green party in the world, really is a mixed bag. For American standards they are probably super progressive with some crazy mixed in. In Germany, they are increasingly mainstream.

    They are roughly divided into two wings, on one extreme the affluent middle class super organic pendulum swinging anti GMO anti nuclear pacifist everything crowd. On the other hand the more pragmatic “meh, War’s not so bad after all, is it?” crowd among which one might for example count Germany’s former foreign minister Fischer, with some forme radical activists mixed in.

    None of the major German parties are currently as anti-science or socially conservative as the more crazy half of the US republicans, and even the more tame crazy statements from people like Bachmann or Palin would be over-night career enders here. This makes the Green party stand out much less in current German politics.

    Basically all major parties are anti-nuclear since Fukushima.

    What really drives me crazy about our Greens these days is that (and this is my own observation now) they have basically stopped talking about climate change – it would be in conflict with their radical “switch all nuclear plants off NOW” stance, and it is a messy topic. They even happily support or at least condone building new lignite powerplants, because much of their base are educated idiots who don’t care what’s what as long as there is no nuclear in it. Who cares that we are one of the leading emitters of CO2, as long as we recycle all our cans, right? In addition to that, many of the Greens at the national level openly support pseudoscience such as homeopathy, which is very very strongly embraced by most of their base.

  26. says

    The Danish government only has one chamber, and we have a prime minister who is appointed by the parliament, (well actually by the queen who is advised by the parties represented in the parliament).

    Elections are a mix of local representatives and regional “extra” representatives.

    Each district supplies a number of representatives, They are selected by a mathemathical formula, containin the number of votes cast for each party, and the number of votes cast for a particular candidate.

    When all districts in a region has been counted and the representatives selected, another round of selection kicks in. this looks at the distribution of votes within the larger region, and on the candidates allready selected. Additional candidates are now chosen from the larger region, again found by the number of votes by partyline and personal votes.

    This ensures that for each region the number of elected representatives align closely with the distribution of votes in the region (amongst party lines).

    While it is far from perfect it has the upside that we can vote for local representatives, but the overall distribution of MP’s by party line will follow the nation wide distribution of votes.

    It takes 2 percent of the vote for a party to represented.

  27. partidoverde says

    Agreed with your point about the Green Party needing to focus on local elections and build a solid base.

    Even if Stein were to win the presidential election (a snowballs chance in hell), she’d be crushed by the other two parties while in office, and wouldn’t have any base of support to help her get anything passed or to defend herself against attacks.

    The Green Party must focus on grassroots organizing and get their candidates into local offices and work up from there. They need a solid foundation.

    Another issue is, from personal experience; a good friend of mine ran as a Green Party candidate years ago in the midwest. He was a sharp guy, but thought he could win office by dressing in tie-dies, birkenstocks and ruffled hair. He thought a counter-culture look would carry him through. I tried to counsel him in the importance of “if you want to be taken seriously you have to look like you want to be taken seriously and dress for the position you want”. He didn’t go for it. He never won anything.

    It seems some other Greens have similar issues with presentation. What it may look hip while sipping an espresso at an indie, co-op coffee shop, it doesn’t translate to the campaign trail. Especially if one is trying to win votes from a more mainstream audience who hold the key the votes needed to get into office.

    There’s a lot of potential with the Green Party. But they need funding, publicity experts etc.

  28. viajera says

    You’ve made a really good point here about the best use of limited resources. I was planning to vote for Stein. I’m in a state that, per Nate Silver, Romney has a 100.0% chance of carrying so my vote won’t count, anyway. But do I really want to support the Greens pouring all of their energy and money into presidential campaigns? Not sure about that.

    Thank for this, PZ.

  29. Tyrant al-Kalām says

    I tried to counsel him in the importance of “if you want to be taken seriously you have to look like you want to be taken seriously and dress for the position you want”

    Being in congress with long hair, jeans and sneakers

    unimaginable

    Yeah… yeah… the 80s, those were the days…

  30. says

    Another issue is, from personal experience; a good friend of mine ran as a Green Party candidate years ago in the midwest. He was a sharp guy, but thought he could win office by dressing in tie-dies, birkenstocks and ruffled hair. He thought a counter-culture look would carry him through. I tried to counsel him in the importance of “if you want to be taken seriously you have to look like you want to be taken seriously and dress for the position you want”. He didn’t go for it. He never won anything.

    It seems some other Greens have similar issues with presentation. What it may look hip while sipping an espresso at an indie, co-op coffee shop, it doesn’t translate to the campaign trail. Especially if one is trying to win votes from a more mainstream audience who hold the key the votes needed to get into office.

    You know pretty soon as a culture we are going to have to start accepting dyed hair, body piercings and tattoos as normal and respectable as I’m seeing my generation more and more enter the work force and not really give that all up.

  31. Esteleth, Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo says

    I’m semi-fortunate that NY State allows the same candidate to run on multiple party lists simultaneously, and there’s a decently progressive party, Working Families that is actually pretty viable. Many, but not all, WF candidates are also Dems. By voting WF, a candidate who is decent AND who has a shot of winning can be picked, AND a 3rd party is strengthened. It is imperfect, though. Obama has been endorsed by WF. My biggest complaint is that while WF is decently progressive, it has a notable streak of dogged pragmatism, which is both good and bad.

    WF’s platform is pretty good – they are for strong unions, workers’ rights in general, increasing (and equalizing) funding to public schools, health care access, public transportation, and other progressive stuff. If they have a stance on GMOs and such I have not found it.

    In any case, WF is focused on base-building. A peek at their candidates reveals a stack of people running for city councils, and state legislature (both Assembly and Senate) seats. Many of them have a reasonable shot of winning, too.

    FWIW, NY State also has a pretty viable Conservative party (again, many but not all Conservative candidates are also GOP candidates, and teabaggers at that).

    WRT Stein: at least she isn’t a raging transphobe like Roseanne Barr is. Seriously, there has been an epically ugly meltdown on Twitter.

  32. mekathleen says

    If you don’t live in a swing state, there’s no reason to vote lesser evils. Voting third party gives them more ballot access, visibility and access to matching funds.

    Also, they don’t have to win the election to influence political discourse. There’s a lot to be said for moving the Overton Window.

    As someone in Illinois, I know that Obama is going to win my state with or without me. A million extra votes here aren’t going to change anything in Ohio, and if things were to change that Romney had a shot at those electoral votes here, then he would have already have won enough electoral votes elsewhere to win before our polls close.

    Downticket it’s even more true. My Democratic congresswoman won 66% of the vote in the last election. If half of “her” votes went Green, the Republican still wouldn’t win. The Green would.

  33. mekathleen says

    The Socialist Party under Eugene Debs, the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party and many others had a profound influence on discourse in the United States without winning a majority. They create visibility for issues that are taken by the two dominant parties.

    I think it would be great if Democrats were willing to acknowledge climate change. There’s an anti-science faction in every party.

  34. tyro says

    We in Canada have several provincial and federal parties. There are some differences in the electoral system but we’re also using a simple first past the post vote (despite several attempts to change). Our largest parties first started at the local or provincial level and then grew. At the moment the federal government has representatives from five different political parties.

    It’s not all a great thing. Vote splitting is an issue, hence the attempts to provide some level of proportional representation, but one step at a time.

  35. firetree says

    Your approach to politics is about as naive as it can get. You have two political parties, one altruistic the other individualistic or greedy. No one should think they are voting for an individual; they are voting for a philosophy. Think about it this way; democracy is altruistic a plutocracy is greed. Obama is altruism and Romney is greed. Chart your course then work on the trim tabs.

  36. mekathleen says

    Obama is altruism? Drone attacks, the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts coupled with cuts to our social social safety net, privatizing education, the “Grand Bargain” to cut Medicare and Social Security?

    The party of Roosevelt is long in the past. Obama is bipartisanship. And that means nothing less than the adoption of Republican ideas.

  37. mekathleen says

    I honestly don’t know how any of the below can be called altruistic. Less evil than Republicans, maybe. But altruistic? That’s a new and different definition of the word.

    1. War On Whistleblowers. See Bradley Manning.
    2. War On Medical MJ. War on States MJ.
    3. Expanded ME Wars.
    4. Extra-judicial Drone Killings.
    5. Cuba opened up. joke.
    6 Expanded Security State. Cameras at Traffic Lights.
    7. Warrantless Wiretapping.
    8. No Habeus Corpus.
    9. Bank Bailouts. FI Bailouts. No relief for underwater homeowners.
    10. HCR – gift to AHIP
    11. Last minute reluctant DADT repeal.
    12. Bush Tax Cuts Extended
    13. Budget Crisis Created
    14. Revitalized an utterly Defeated R Party.
    15. Gates, Hillary Hawk, Geithner, Summers, Emmanuel, Sunstein, etc.
    16. Big Oil subsidies tax cuts, dereg.
    17. GMO’s
    18. Lobbyists
    19. Wind and Solar sucking wind.
    20. Pro Nuke, Coal, Gas
    21. I’m a Blue Dog – Barry O.
    22. Pending attack on SS Med “Entitlements”.
    23. Charter Schools/Expansion of Dubya’s NCLB/ war on unions
    24. Free Trade Deals that export jobs.
    25. Eric Prince/contractors still getting Rich
    26. SEC, Wall Street Dereg.
    27. Payroll tax cut defunds SS
    28. Chase Bank Jamie Dimon
    29. Citgroup
    30. Jobs Czar Jeff Immelt
    31. Immunity for Telco, Bankers, Warmongers
    32. No prosecutions for Banksters.
    33. Crackdown on Protestors/ OWS Labelled as Terrorists
    34. Expanded Police Brutality
    35. Government can’t create jobs.
    36. Mid Term Wipe Out of so-called Liberals.
    37. Never ending GWOT

  38. Esteleth, Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo says

    mekathleen, not disagreeing with any of your @40, but the name is Breanna Manning, not Bradley. The degree to which her status as a trans woman is being systematically ignored (or denied, even), including by her ostensible supporters, is appalling.

  39. says

    @firetree #38 – It is worse. We have a Two Party system: a single corporatist party with a conservative and a moderate wing, and a “center” that has been steadily moving to the right for the last 50 years. Earlier this year, Obama endorsed a number of Ronald Reagan’s economic policies, and the righter wing shouted them down as socialist. (Although, granted, Obama could endorse the Texas Republican Party’s platform, and he would be shouted down as socialist.)

    There is no major party in the US that actually represents progressive values and positions. Given the incredible animosity, even on the left, towards challenging the Two Party, things will probably never change.

  40. says

    @Esteleth #41 – There was an extensive discussion about Manning’s gender identity on the Wikipedia a few months ago (see here.) The fact is that there are no reliable sources expressing a female self-identity, while there are reliable sources expressing his own continued use of a male self-identity. Questioning is not the same as transitioning.

  41. generallerong says

    Anybody else read Dean Baker’s The End of Loser Liberalism?

    Or, watched his YouTube interview with Jared Bernstein?

  42. Matt Penfold says

    Manning is a Brtish citizen (she went to school not far from where I live) and it is disgusting that the UK Government is not doing more to help her.

  43. says

    Maybe this is a good time to replay the video tape of Romney proposing to shutter FEMA and move all emergency response to the states. Hurricane Sandy arrives, sticks around for a few days, and perhaps 60 million people to do without power in the aftermath. Romney effectively says to the affected states, “You’re on your own.”

    Or better yet, Romney thinks even the states should not be responsible for emergency response to disasters, instead private enterprise should take over this function. He was asked about FEMA specifically.

    Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. — Mitt Romney, speaking during a CNN debate for Republican presidential candidates.

    Uh, let me think about this. Oh, yeah, a coordinated effort between FEMA, state governments, the National Guard and private enterprise would be better. Romney is wrong, dangerously wrong. The dude with the perfect hair and the smile behind which no kindness lies simply doesn’t know how to run a country. He know how to ruthlessly, rapaciously, make money for his fellow businessmen.

    Video and commentary.

  44. says

    I live in Utah, there is virtually no harm in voting for stein. Obama has a zero percent chance of winning my state. I was under the impression that people in a position like mine could do a lot of good voting 3rd party so that they could possibly gain more funding the next year.

  45. consciousness razor says

    But what we people need to do next, and what we can do in this election, is vote everywhere else for third party candidates who better fit your values, and most importantly, donate and campaign for those candidates.

    Not “everywhere else;” that would be very bad. It works the same way for any political office: only do it if they stand a decent chance of winning. Sometimes, it’s harder to tell if that’s the case or not, since there’s much more polling for the presidential race than, say, the state attorney general or whatever. But it’s still a waste even if you don’t know it’s a waste; and like you said, in some ways it’s even more important than the presidency, so that we’re not overrun in state and local governments (and the US congress of course)*. In that sense, you have to be even more cautious about making your vote count.

    *By right-wingers or other bullshit artists, of whatever party.

  46. says

    Obama is altruism? Drone attacks, the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts coupled with cuts to our social social safety net, privatizing education, the “Grand Bargain” to cut Medicare and Social Security?

    The party of Roosevelt is long in the past. Obama is bipartisanship. And that means nothing less than the adoption of Republican ideas.

    I am sick and fucking tired of wankers showing up to only point out negatives and try to say that there is nothing good going on. Pretend you’re a pregnant teenager or a gay person for half a second and see if you can figure out what the fuck is wrong with saying that both parties are “the same”.

  47. anareenseer says

    The problem with Green Party is (as far as I know, someone who knows more please yell if I got it wrong), there is almost some sort of “inverse” anti-scientific thinking going on there.

    Many of the so-called “Greens” don’t embrace environmental issues based on scientific evidence, but rather resort to emotional appeal and blackmail (an example given above would be the universal condemnation of nuclear power by Green Parties). And then there’s the anti-GM food stance, and then there’s the anti-vaxxers, so on and so forth.

    Creationism and climate change denialism is terrible, but I doubt replacing them with the above issues would be any better. Granted, Greens seems to be universally better on social issues compared to Republicans and Democrats, so based on that alone maybe they are worthy of the vote, so I am just pointing out possible issues here. Given the current (US) political breakdown, maybe I would vote for Greens if I were an US voter? I don’t know.

  48. mekathleen says

    skeptifem 50. I don’t pretend that Rick Warren and Westboro Baptist are the same either. But that doesn’t give me any reason to support them.

  49. says

    “disgusted” is a huge voting-bloc. It just needs to be mobilized.

    The problem is that the last time “disgusted” started to mobilize it turned into the tea party.

  50. Amphiox says

    It is worse. We have a Two Party system: a single corporatist party with a conservative and a moderate wing, and a “center” that has been steadily moving to the right for the last 50 years.

    And why is that?

    Because over the last 30 years the radical right decided that, instead of forming a useless third party and be ignored, they would infiltrate and slowly take over one of the two major parties, and drag it as far to the right as they could. And that dragged the so-called “center” rightward as well.

    And if the progressive left wants to reverse this, then they are best advised to do the same thing to the other major party. It is far, far easier and far, far more effective than trying to construct a third party from the ground up.

  51. consciousness razor says

    The problem with Green Party is (as far as I know, someone who knows more please yell if I got it wrong), there is almost some sort of “inverse” anti-scientific thinking going on there.

    I’d say it’s just ordinary, run-of-the-mill anti-scientific thinking. It doesn’t get inverted (or differ in any relevant way) when liberals do it rather than conservatives.

  52. mekathleen says

    @54. One of the things that the far right did, was accept that there’d be losses in the short term when they challenged the Republicans that didn’t represent them. Democrats are in such a state of terror about Republicans that they aren’t willing to go up against even anti-choice, anti-union, anti-privacy, anti-environment corporate Democrats.

    Progressives aren’t willing to play the long game. As long as they’ll vote one hair to the left of whatever Republican is on the ticket, political discourse in the US is going to move inexorably to the right. Rallying behind Bart Stupak and Blanche Lincoln isn’t going to move anything to the left. (And that’s exactly what President Obama did – against progressive primary opponents.)

  53. anteprepro says

    I don’t pretend that Rick Warren and Westboro Baptist are the same either. But that doesn’t give me any reason to support them.

    Because random pastors are analogous to the only two parties that have any possibility of holding offices that need to be held.

    Here’s a question: If your town was some sort of theocratic hellhole run by a megachurch, and it was about to choose a new Pastor-In-Chief, and the only choices offered were Fred Phelps or Rick Warren, would you still go the “I have no reason to support either of them” route? Would you still refuse to prefer one over the other, even though one is clearly and significantly worse than the other, because they are both bad?

  54. says

    hair to the left of whatever Republican is on the ticket, political discourse in the US is going to move inexorably to the right. Rallying behind Bart Stupak and Blanche Lincoln isn’t going to move anything to the left. (And that’s exactly what President Obama did – against progressive primary opponents.)

    Except it ISN’T just moving to the right. It’s yoyoing at worst and in many ways moving to the left. The Democratic Party barely got God mentioned in its platform this year, they are accepting equal rights for gays as a platform. Obama is fucking addressing Randianism and the 1% entitlement bullshit. There isn’t one axis here. You’re ignoring the many ways the Democratic party is moving to the left more than it was in the past.

  55. anareenseer says

    @consciousness razor

    Yes, you are correct, the basic underlying “forces” are most likely the same, they just manifest most strongly in different scientific fields for liberals and for conservatives.

  56. anareenseer says

    @consciousness razor

    What I meant was, eh, yes, you are correct, when I wrote “inverted”, I just want to express that they are holding crazy idea in a separate set of scientific fields. That is all. I agree with your assessment that that’s probably the same anti-scientific reasoning behind.

  57. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    mekathleen,
    I am sorry, but the perfect candidate did not make it on to the ballot. We are instead left with better and worse. I have already voted for Obama as the better candidate over Mitt the Magic Mormon.

    Although I was more voting against R-Money, rather than for Obama. I would have probably voted for Obama even had his opposition been sane. Obama showed some significant political and personal courage coming out for ending DADT and for gay marriage. It has cost him with his base, and indeed, it could cost him the election. He is seemingly trying to keep us out of Iran–which is essential if the US is to avoid third world status in the near term.

    More to the point, when my enemies tell me what the fear most (an Obama victory), I am inclined to do them the courtesy of listening to them. They keep saying that they want their country back. Voting for Obama is the only way I have of trying to keep it out of their hands.

  58. consciousness razor says

    Because over the last 30 years the radical right decided that, instead of forming a useless third party and be ignored, they would infiltrate and slowly take over one of the two major parties, and drag it as far to the right as they could. And that dragged the so-called “center” rightward as well.

    It’s not as if the “center” in the 1940s or ’50s was liberal, though. They did probably drag people rightward a little bit, but we started out on the right a long time ago. The problem is that we haven’t been dragging people in our direction, except in a few areas (e.g., civil rights have made big improvements obviously, but there’s a long way to go).

    They’re “conservatives” after all, so we shouldn’t forget they want a few basic things: the status quo, tradition, family values, often their Southern “heritage,” and so on. Notice a pattern? They want the good old days. A lot of that is total bullshit, of course: they’re making up new shit all the time, too, like the way abortion wasn’t a big issue before Roe v. Wade. But the fact that they’re reactionary assholes doesn’t mean a lot of people in the “center” weren’t right-wingers way back when. So some things like Reganonomics and the War on Drugs have changed their party a bit. For the most part, though, a right-winger is still a right-winger, and it’s never been a very liberal country in the “center.”

  59. mekathleen says

    If you don’t live in a swing state you don’t have to hold out for a perfect candidate. Because of the Electoral College, you have no impact on whether Romney or Obama wins anyway. You can vote for the platform you prefer to reflect your preferences. There is more than one purpose to voting.

  60. mekathleen says

    And exactly how does the Bowles-Simpson commission and Obama’s call for a Grand Bargain to cut our safety net count as being against the 1%.

  61. strange gods before me ॐ says

    drivenb4u,

    Damn, this really nails it for me. I thought I liked Obama, but I really just liked him because he is so despised by mainstream Christianity. Nothing about him appeals to me so much as the schaudenfrude of seeing them wax wroth if he wins. Which is still appealing but I have to admit not enough of a reason to blindly support him.

    So, does it really nail it for you? Did you understand that PZ is still saying you should vote for Obama? “We know we’re going to be stuck with the lesser of two evils, so just get it done.”

  62. mekathleen says

    If you aren’t in Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida or North Carolina, it’s not as if you have the remotest impact on the Presidential election anyway. The President isn’t determined by the majority vote, he is determined by the Electoral College. Changing the margin of victory only reflects the power of the platform and can impact political discussion. If you have nothing to lose, why not?

  63. Trebuchet says

    My state, Washington, has unfortunately gone to a “top two” primary system, essentially having been forced to do so by lawsuits filed by the two major parties who didn’t like the former “wide open” system. The “top two” system is pretty much designed to keep minor parties off the General Election ballot. It would, of course, allow for two Democrats or two Republicans, but I don’t know of that happening yet.

  64. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    skeptifem 50. I don’t pretend that Rick Warren and Westboro Baptist are the same either. But that doesn’t give me any reason to support them.

    Really do not see that much of a difference in what they believe. Just a difference in how they react when called on their beliefs. The Phelps clan revels in their hatred. Rick Warren was happy to help out politician who worked on laws that would kill LGBT people; that is until he was called on it. At that point, he acted like a cockroach, scurrying for cover.

  65. says

    Someone talked about liberals not playing the long game. Actually we are. A Romney loss could set the GOp back for a long time. Look at what THEY are saying to their audience. They are terrified of an Obama win and pulling out every stop for this election. Think about what they are afraid of. Palpatine is on the Death Star people, pull up your pants, stop whining and take the tactical shot.

  66. Aratina Cage says

    don’t like Obama.

    There. I said it. I think he’ll go down in history as a mediocre president — not a bad one, just one who didn’t change a flawed system at all, who was so focused on being moderate and compromising that there was no hope of any significant change.

    Just laughable. But whatever.

  67. strange gods before me ॐ says

    skeptifem,

    I live in Utah, there is virtually no harm in voting for stein. Obama has a zero percent chance of winning my state. I was under the impression that people in a position like mine could do a lot of good voting 3rd party so that they could possibly gain more funding the next year.

    Not really. The “idea” is to get 5% of the popular vote nationwide, so as to get federal matching funds. It’s not going to happen.

    In 2008, the Green Party got 0.12% of the vote. Ralph Nader, who was not the Green candidate, got 0.56%. The goddamn Libertarians are the most successful third party nowadays, and they got 0.40%.

    Adding up all the votes for all the non-Obama and non-McCain candidates, it’s 1.48%.

    The most successful Green ticket was Nader 2000, who got 2.74%. A bit more than half of what they needed. And 2000 was their best chance for a generation or two. It’s just not going to happen now. They’d have to run twice as competitively as Nader did, without Nader’s “big” name, and in all 50 states — but now, after Florida, nobody who’s thinking rationally will vote for them in any swing states, so it’s more like 35 states they can dream of getting votes in, and they’d have to do about 7.5x better than Nader and McKinney combined did in 2008.

    So it’s not going to happen.

    +++++
    But if that’s not pathetic enough, wait! There’s more!

    It turns out the Green Party has been fucking lying to you all these years! They don’t have to get 5% of the vote!

    See how the goddamn Libertarians got only 0.40% of the vote in 2008? Yet, this year, they are getting those federal matching funds. How did they do it? Read for yourself. It’s an extremely low bar. The Green Party could damn well do the same thing, if they weren’t completely incompetent.

    +++++
    If they did get federal matching funds, though, what good would it do? The money isn’t for spending around to state and local elections. It’s for the presidential race, and it’s given to the candidate’s campaign, not the party itself. So in some weird alternate reality where the Green Party isn’t totally incompetent, the government would just be funding the 2016 Green presidential candidate, and simply helping her to be a more effective spoiler for the Democrat.

    If you want to grow your local and state Green Parties, really the only thing you can do is donate directly to them and/or be an activist.

  68. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Ing, no reason to think that Rick Warren changed what he believed. That fucker was and is supportive of those wannabe killers in Uganda. But being open about it conflicts with his desire to be a warmer and fuzzier theocrat. Best to keep these thing under wraps until you have the power to act on your convictions.

  69. says

    Speaking of derangement within Republican campaigns, I’m cross-posting this from the Whedon “On second thought” thread:

    Journalist David Corn at Mother Jones, the same guy that brought the 47% video to national prominence, has posted more material from Romney’s fundraisers.

    One thing stood out for me from this latest tape, the tendency of both Mitt an Ann Romney to characterize President Obama as not manly, as not grown up. They’ve done this a lot, but in this tape, Ann Romney, in her paradoxically childish way, hits the subject harder:

    You know—the ship’s going over the waterfall, it’s almost there. And we look what’s happening in Greece, and we look what’s happening around the world, we look what’s happening internationally. This is a frightening world, and we need a grown-up, and we need someone that understands the economy. So I’m glad…Mitt is grown up to you all.

    WTF? Obama is a 51-year-old-man who does not come off as childish or as not grown up — unless you watch too much Fox News where they harp on his playing basketball as childish.

    In this tape, Mitt flips the story of Ann’s supposed reluctance for him to run on its head. The official campaign story up to now has been that Ann said, “Never again” regarding another presidential run, but that she slowly came around. That’s not how Mitt sees it in this March 27, 2012 fundraising speech:

    David, you mentioned Ann, and the fact that she insisted that I get in this race. That is the truth. I wanted to talk it over with her. And every time I’d say, “Let’s talk about the pros and cons,” she’d say, “Talk to the hand, talk to the hand. We’re just doing this. We’ve got to do it.” And so she absolutely insisted that I get in this because she was convinced that I was the only one that had the capacity to beat President Obama.

    Uh, somehow that’s worse than the official story. Another WTF moment.

  70. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Actually, even in deep red and deep blue states, one’s vote does count in a way. If Obama were to win in the electoral college but lose the popular vote, it would seriously weaken his already weakened ability to govern. Voting for Obama increases his ability to claim legitimacy.

  71. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Actually, even in deep red and deep blue states, one’s vote does count in a way. If Obama were to win in the electoral college but lose the popular vote, it would seriously weaken his already weakened ability to govern. Voting for Obama increases his ability to claim legitimacy.

    This is a good point.

    Nate Silver currently forecasts a 5.2% chance that Obama wins the electoral college but loses the popular vote. So, with a 74.6% chance of winning the electoral college, about 1 in 14 of Obama’s win scenarios involve losing the popular vote (a reverse-Gore).

    That would not be the worst outcome, but it would be pretty bad. It would probably mean Congressional Republicans basking in glory, and a reduced chance of progressive policies being enacted.

  72. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Actually, even in deep red and deep blue states, one’s vote does count in a way. If Obama were to win in the electoral college but lose the popular vote, it would seriously weaken his already weakened ability to govern. Voting for Obama increases his ability to claim legitimacy.

    Which is why throughout my entire voting life I’ve never lived in a “blue state”, but have never once missed an election (ok maybe one or two local ones) and typically vote blue.

  73. says

    PZ said:

    I think he’ll go down in history as a mediocre president

    I keep coming back to this and I have to ask… using what criteria, exactly? Your own hopes and expectations? I don’t agree with that sentiment at all if the criteria is direct comparison to other presidents, as a whole, and certainly not with modern presidents of the last 30 or so years… in that sense I’d measure him as more or less above average, given the mess he inherited, the built-in opposition he’s faced, and the uprising of (occasionally not-so) subtle “nouveau-racism” that only the first african-american president could have brought forth…

    I think you may be applying a somewhat subjective and possibly unfair standard in your overall assessment.

  74. A. R says

    mekathleen: This is an unofficial warning pursuant teh Poopyhead’s New Rules: You are in danger of a motormouth ban.

  75. Esteleth, Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo says

    My own thoughts are very similar to PZ’s. I dislike Obama, but I can tolerate him, because as mediocre as he is, he is light-years ahead of Romney, especially on issues that I care deeply about: LGBT and women’s rights, abortion access, the value of science, and others. On many issues, Obama engages in scrap-tossing and head-patting, such sucks, but Romney is horrifying on many of these issues, and Ryan is worse. I disagree deeply with him regarding the war, drones, and many others, but my calculus says very simply that as bad as Obama is, as antithetical many of his views are to mine, Romney is so much worse as it to make this irrelevant.

    “No real difference” between Obama and Romney, my ass.

  76. mekathleen says

    @80 If it were demonstrable that Obama lost the popular vote because of support of third-parties to the left, that would be more of a justification for moving left than simply getting the popular vote from Democrats. Voting for Democrats can easily be spun as support for the corporatist, bipartisan adoption of historically Republican positions.

  77. says

    I don’t think PZ mentions where he lives. I’m guessing perhaps MA, judging by his knowledge of Jill Stein’s earlier candidacies?

    So I can’t tell PZ if in fact he does have any Greens in local or state races in his area. But PZ, and everyone, can find out about Greens in their area by visiting:

    http://www.gp.org/states.php

    Click your state, and in most cases you’ll get to a state Green web site that should list state candidates, and either local candidates or local party chapter web sites which in turn lists local candidates.

    I’m in Ohio; we have candidates for the U.S. House in the 1st, 3rd, and 14th Districts in Ohio.

    Special note to any readers in the Third Congressional District of Arkansas: the Democratic candidate for Congress in that district DROPPED OUT, leaving only a Republican and a Green.

  78. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I don’t think PZ mentions where he lives. I’m guessing perhaps MA

    Pay attention the the masthead/sidebar info, and this appears:

    PZ Myers is a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

  79. nms says

    If Obama won in a reverse-Gore it might at least motivate electoral reform? Though given the current Republican attitude towards democracy I guess that might not be a good thing.

  80. unclefrogy says

    the problem I have with all political parties here is I have not heard of one that I agree with all the way, none at least as much as the D’s I have found some I do not agree with profoundly if their was a antiwar socialist scientific rational labor green party that looked to the future with the guide of a democratic society I might be interested but I do not know of any. the R’s seem to be taking the path of oligarchy and reactionary politics. Some of the radical left as well as the far right seem stuck with the ideas and beliefs they have as creating their own reality.
    Despite any arguments to the contrary much of the politics I hear about is really about emotional issues, resentments, fears and power. there is little interest in really looking at things rationally.

    When the modern societies look at “the primitive” they are characterized often and ignorant and superstitious. We may be technologically advanced from them but the understanding of most people of the world is uninformed and superstitious. Most people do not know haw a cell phone works or anything about the water cycle or even where anything they buy really comes from or what money is.

    I feel some what of an outsider.

    uncle frogy

  81. nickdiorio says

    I think the biggest problem with the Democrats is that they are still fundamentally a capitalist party focused on placating big business. I too will vote for them, simply for lack of good options. If I had a choice of the kind of person to vote for President, Bernie Sanders is the guy I’d pick. As far as I know he’s the only elected socialist in the United States (though he goes by Independent) and one of the few who actually promotes policies helping the middle class.

    There of course is still a difference between Romney and Obama, but the point is, that Obama is hardly the liberal beacon that we had hoped for and ultimately does what he thinks will get him re-elected.

  82. says

    Cross-posted from the “Please stay safe…” thread:

    Well, you knew it was just a matter of time:


    In an “urgent call to prayer,” founder of Defend and Proclaim the Faith Ministries and amateur “end times” bible analyst John McTernan has proclaimed that “God is systematically destroying America” for our misdeeds. He’d like you to look at the record. “Just last August, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans seven years later, on the exact day of Hurricane Katrina,” he writes ungrammatically. “Both hit during the week of the homosexual event called Southern Decadence in New Orleans!” Strangely, both also hit at the height of hurricane season. COINCIDENCE?

    McTernan goes on to explain that “Obama is 100 percent behind the Muslim Brotherhood which has vowed to destroy Israel and take Jerusalem.” But — and here’s the shocking twist — “Both candidates are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda.” Clearly a vote for either Obama or Romney is a vote for a FRANKENGAYSTORM….

    http://www.salon.com/2012/10/29/pastor_blame_gays_for_hurricane_sandy/

  83. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Hey! Let us play the game of “Blame God!” instead to looking at how we humans are fucking up our preparations for these events. It is easier and more profitable to blame God’s hatred of homosexuals instead of the piss poor job that The Army Corp Of Engineers did in New Orleans.

    Fucking parasite.

  84. harvardmba says

    Ummmm … yeah. The Green Party does have people in office already, at lower levels than President. They didn’t just wake up a few years ago and say, “let’s run a presidential candidate!”. Take a look at their site, and you’ll see they have officeholders of various types all over the country.

    So, other than being completely wrong? Brilliant analysis. As usual.

  85. says

    Actually, even in deep red and deep blue states, one’s vote does count in a way. If Obama were to win in the electoral college but lose the popular vote, it would seriously weaken his already weakened ability to govern. Voting for Obama increases his ability to claim legitimacy.

    yeah because that shit really stopped GWB dead in his tracks, and the fact that Obama won by so much last time has really increased the public’s confidence in his legitimacy as president (while half the republican base questions his legitimacy as a citizen). fucking please. Try an argument based on what actually has happened.

  86. says

    skeptifem 50. I don’t pretend that Rick Warren and Westboro Baptist are the same either. But that doesn’t give me any reason to support them.

    The idea that you can actually choose to have no effect is an illusion. Not getting involved fucks things up. You don’t get to opt out of society any more than people who are chest thumping romney supporters. When you toss up your hands and say “neither one is worth a damn!” instead of looking at the practical cost of such a strategy to others you are being an asshole. If you want a real example try the funding of planned parenthood- defunding it, as romney has promised, would mean a shitload of women dying because they are women. Maybe you’re cool with that but I am not.

  87. says

    Even if a third-party candidate won, how exactly would that President put anything into effect?

    That requires Congress, and there are zero Greens (and a total of one Socialist who endorses the Democratic Presidential Candidate) in Congress.

  88. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Uh, Skeptifem, did you notice that George Bush was white, while Obama is black? Did it escape your notice how much of the opposition to Obama is racially motivated? Legitimacy is essential if we are going to demoralize the rightwing nutjobs.

    I want them to give up on getting their country back so they will leave mine.

  89. says

    You know what I got on the “local level”. Lets see -

    City – No clue what they think, what they do, what they want, except, they all seem to own a lot of the city buildings, and I am just waiting for the next time they “misplace” a few million, and can’t figure out where it went, because I don’t think the new people are any different than the old ones, nor have any of them even tried to suggest/indicate/prove otherwise.

    County – Hmm.. Nearly impossible to find party affiliation, even harder to find records of what they voted, or even on what. The closest I got to finding one single bloody person that I could find something on, I got from a news paper article, and it took two words for me to conclude that they where someone to avoid “tea party”. The other half dozen.. don’t have a damn clue, so I had to vote party, in the few cases I could find what one they where even in.

    Judges – More of the same as County, only possibly worse, because not even the news papers seemed to be at all interested in bothering to cover their records.

    State – Now we are getting some place, sort of. More information, a lot of it total BS and propaganda from various sides, but at least you could, sort of, more or less, tell what the hell party they where in, and extrapolate from that some sense of what they stood for.

    Don’t know if all of Arizona works like this, but, at least where I live, the farther you are from the presidency, the less actually information is available, directly, indirectly, never mind officially, with respect to what the frack any of them actually stand for.

    Kind of makes it hard to promote change from the ground up… And, that is even without the little hiccup that, given the idiocy running right now, especially from the right, its a bit like setting up a grass roots effort to solve climate change over 50 years, when the problems have already started, and even 5 years might be a questionable framework to be looking at.

    But, yeah, unfortunately, short of one of the parties, themselves, waking up to reality, all we can do is try to change things from the bottom.

  90. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Nickdiorio: “There of course is still a difference between Romney and Obama, but the point is, that Obama is hardly the liberal beacon that we had hoped for and ultimately does what he thinks will get him re-elected.”

    Well, duh! Did you expect him to alienate 3 quarters of the electorate and ensure he’d be a one-term President, so that he could watch his predecessor dismantle what he accomplished in his term?

    It astounds me that people actually expected the first black President to be a frigging bombthrower! Dudes, we are a long way from the day where we’ll have a hoodie wearing President. He’s got the Secret Service working overtme as it is.

  91. says

    Re: Marcus Ranum 29 October 2012 at 11:35 am

    The problem is that the last time “disgusted” started to mobilize it turned into the tea party.

    ~60M votes for McCain, 2008
    ~44M votes for every Republican Congressional candidate.

    No. Teabaggers are just Republicans, period.

  92. says

    Re: Trebuchet 29 October 2012 at 12:20 pm

    The “top two” system is pretty much designed to keep minor parties off the General Election ballot.

    So you’re saying they’ll magically get more votes in the General instead of the Primary? Why?

    If you’re voting third party in the General election, you’re generally not voting for someone who can win. That’s why we have General and Primary elections.

  93. says

    Ummmm … yeah. The Green Party does have people in office already, at lower levels than President. They didn’t just wake up a few years ago and say, “let’s run a presidential candidate!”. Take a look at their site, and you’ll see they have officeholders of various types all over the country.

    So, other than being completely wrong? Brilliant analysis. As usual.

    I do not think PZ said anything that indicated that they did not have some presence at this time, but that list is hardly impressive and does not make much of a case that they are suddenly ready to run a presidential candidate. There are Green Party members elected in 18 states, if I counted correctly. In 7 of those states there is a single officeholder. Five of them are mayors, the rest appear to be lower offices, country board members, auditors, school board members, etc. Hey, that is great, but overall they really need to concentrate on growing that base because it is still tiny and they have no representation at all in most states.

  94. Stacy says

    As a couple couple of people have pointed out above, there’s a big problem with our voting system, and along with more work at the local level we need to educate ourselves about that. Cross-posting from Almost Diamonds:

    We still need to change the voting system. You don’t just want the occasional successful third party candidate. At best, with the system we’ve got, a third party might replace one of the Big Two as one of the major parties, but the problem–the inevitable marginalization of other voices–will remain. People who don’t like one of the Two will still find themselves in a bind, unable to vote for their preferred candidate because that would amount to a vote for the candidate they like least. With a First Past the Post system, we’re doomed to have two majors battling it out.

    ~ ~ ~

    William Poundstone advocates range voting in his excellent book Gaming the Vote.

    The math and science behind voting systems and their results is fascinating, and much more complicated and problematic than people realize.

    http://www.rangevoting.org/PoundstoneRev.html

  95. says

    I hate jumping in late. Anyhow.

    Re: mekathleen 29 October 2012 at 1:40 pm

    @80 If it were demonstrable that Obama lost the popular vote because of support of third-parties to the left,

    Like it was so demonstrable that up to half of those who didn’t like the ACA wanted something more Socialist? That’s never stopped Republicans before… 9-9 I do agree it might rally reform, but if it didn’t rally it in 2000, when?

    I really do agree with Kagehi @98: Media is so centralized now that it’s nearly impossible to get local information. There’s a good (tiny, but good) local paper we have in my town, but I know that’s rarely the case across the country. I had that problem when in a town a magnitude of ten or two larger: No local media, no where to find the information on candidates or remember their histories at all.

  96. shoeguy says

    I personally served as the mayor of a small town here in Washington, and chair of the county Democratic Party, but it didn’t happen by waking up one morning and deciding to run for office. For years I did the crap jobs that make any community work. Two years as a grunt on the hospital board, ten years as a volunteer fireman, managed a couple of elections, appointed to a vacancy on the town council. Ate enough potluck dinners to feed a village in Sub Saharan Africa for years. Ever heard of “The Grange”? That’s how you gain your bonafides to run for public office, and as a Democrat you couldn’t slip a rolling paper between me and any Green Party candidate. Our little rural county sent a delegation to the State convention in 1988 pledged to Jessy Jackson. All our county officials were Democrats. There is plenty of room for greens in the Democratic Party, you just can’t expect to walk in and take over. Old line Dems could have a thing or two to teach a committed progressive about the art of the possible. I had to move over to Seattle, and my old home turned rural red. If you want political influence, make yourself indispensable inside the political matrix and keep it up. Greens and the other third parties are a damn waste of time in our system. Jumping in and running for president as your first stab at public office is just an exercise in political masturbation, I’m looking at you, Ralph.

    I like Obama, even though he deeply disappointed me. I will live with it, and work for better next time.

  97. says

    While I agree that change in the electoral system is required because FPTP really does cause problems in electing third parties, I do not think it is an absolute requirement. Sometimes I feel that people are throwing their hands up in the air and giving up due to this. Perhaps I am reading them incorrectly and they are not, but to me this just indicates that one has to hard to get other candidates elected as well as working on electoral reform. FPTP might tend toward two party systems but it is not a given. Sure, here in Canada we have really only had Liberal and Conservative governments, federally at least, and mainly majorities but third parties have been represented (and yes, one of those parties is very regional, but the NDP is there and while currently has an unusually large numbers of members, it has often had a respectable 20-30 in the house).

  98. firetree says

    I like Obama. If he did what most of you wanted he could not have done anything . . . he would have been blocked by an even higher Republican wall. My point in comment #38 is that it is almost true that organized money controls Washington; vote after vote they fellow party lines. Both vote in block but one party votes for big business the other for the people. It is the swing vote that is decisive and therefore is what is bought. Voting is different from setting back and calling them all fools.

    For those in genetics, think of individual selection verses group selection. What is most important to you; caring for your fellow man or stuffing money in your pocket. This is what I was talking about in the comment and what I blog about. I go along with the party that cares for people, I wish my party could do more, a lot more, I wish Obama could have done a lot more but then reality set in. It can never be per saltum. For me, people who what to form a Green Party are like U.S. Vietnam Generals talking about a village, we have to destroy the democratic Party to save it.

  99. Trebuchet says

    @104, Crissa:

    Minor parties used to be able to nominate their own candidates, by whatever means, and put them on the General Election ballot. That’s how we got the OWL party back in 1976. Now, ONLY the top two candidates from the primary can be on the General Election ballot.

    Re-reading your post, perhaps you understood that. But it still severely limits the options for protest votes in the general.

  100. flit says

    @Skeptifem

    I am sick and fucking tired of wankers showing up to only point out negatives and try to say that there is nothing good going on. Pretend you’re a pregnant teenager or a gay person for half a second and see if you can figure out what the fuck is wrong with saying that both parties are “the same”.

    I wish I could put this all directly after PZ’s rant.

    I understand drones are bad and wars on drugs are bad, but BOTH PARTIES have the same stance on these things, So fucking look at the REST of what the Parties disagree on and Use your fucking moral compass to realize that Republicans have become sociopaths.

    Did you know that Obama said that he wants to work with congress to reign in Drone strikes and Restrict the power of the President to use drone strikes, and this was on the Fuckin Daily Show. What about Mitt Romney, What the fuck do you think he’d say about limiting presidential power WRT drone strikes? What is Mitt’s Stance on Warrantless Wiretapping or Bradley Manning or Wikileaks, I’m pretty goddamn sure that he’s at a minimum agreeing with Obama’s stances, if not more hawkish.

    These two are not the same, and it makes me lose my head when people claim they are. You all sound like RATM putting out the “Justify” Video before 2000 showing that Gore/Bush are exactly the same. I Bet you all look to them right now as political geniuses, with all the awesome stances Bush took on Tax cuts and Global Warming, but no, they were both just corporate pawns and they were exactly the same.

    Get a grip people.

  101. mildlymagnificent says

    Many of the so-called “Greens” don’t embrace environmental issues based on scientific evidence, but rather resort to emotional appeal and blackmail (an example given above would be the universal condemnation of nuclear power by Green Parties). And then there’s the anti-GM food stance, and then there’s the anti-vaxxers, so on and so forth.
    Creationism and climate change denialism is terrible, but I doubt replacing them with the above issues would be any better.

    Well, parties need time and space to grow into mature, balanced organisations – a bit like teens to adults really. 20 years ago the green movement in Australia had captured the imagination of the population at large with big issues like stopping the damming of the Franklin River. But the Greens, as a political force had very much the tree-hugger-dole-bludger, knit-your-own-yogurt(-unless-you’re-a-vegan) image.

    Now they’re the serious third party with a continuing balance of power in the Senate. They currently have a powerful voice in the lower house but that’s only thanks to a hung election. They have some core issues they won’t budge on. Nuclear power, nuclear waste, uranium mining is one of them – but they’ve learned something.

    You can’t just oppose stuff. They would now be the most informed people in parliament on the issue itself and on the scientific and technical alternatives. The party might have started from a lot of Luddite, fact-free, emotion based opposition on that issue, but they’ve done the hard yards in assembling good materials and experts. Nowadays they spend more time and effort on promoting ways to avoid needing nuclear power in Australia and elsewhere.

    The other thing they’ve done is “fill the gap”. Just as Obama looks like a moderate Republican of not many decades ago, so our Labor Party has steadily shifted rightwards. The previous “gap-filler” party got a lot of flack because they were more left wing than Labor. And they were – but when you looked at platforms and policies, what did you find? They’d started out and had always claimed the role of “Keep the bastards honest”. They’d never moved on the basic policy stance – but the rest of the major politicians had moved so far that these people were stranded outside the new mainstream looking like Trotskyites.

    And I can’t agree that creationism and climate denial is ‘just as bad’ as opposition to GMOs and nuclear power. Once such a party is dealing with the nitty gritties of negotiating within the country’s political power structures, they go with the evidence, they seek out alliances and they’ll agree to defer certain things because others are more urgent or vital. One thing a Green party will support is good science education. Even if you hate the party or its representatives, there’s nothing better for a good democracy than good education.

  102. md says

    The idea of local political power, as opposed to federal, is one that appeals across partisan lines. Run with this idea, liberals, and you will find some allies beyond this echo chamber.

    Build not the government you wish you had if you were in power, build the one you can live with when your worst enemy takes power.

  103. blbt5 says

    People often forget that Obama is a white person and also a black person, both physically and culturally – most cannot get their heads around that fact, and what it means for his mere existence in a thoroughly racist society, yet still also changing in progressive directions. All that has been said is true, but still Obama is a heroic figure, and just the way he cares for his family and the inspiration he constantly provides to the powerless and dispossessed exempts him from a lot of criticism. He gave up the promise of power to work as a community organizer, a euphemism for the thankless job of getting power for the powerless and squeezing blood from stones, day in and day out, living the poverty and desperation.

  104. flit says

    The idea of local political power, as opposed to federal, is one that appeals across partisan lines. Run with this idea, liberals, and you will find some allies beyond this echo chamber.

    As a Utah resident, Local political power with no federal checks is absolutely frightening.

    Good luck convincing me that state legislatures are less corruptible.

  105. unclefrogy says

    until we as a country reach some kind of consensus on policies we will have conflict and divided government with the balance switching back and forth.
    I do not see any consensus on much of anything let alone the major problems we are facing, I do not see many even trying to reach any agreement but I do see an awful lot of us vs them.
    and the bull shit is so thick boots do not even help.

    uncle frogy

  106. says

    I have often contemplated voting for one of the progressive third parties. I talked myself out of it in 2004, because my state was said to have been in play. In the last two cycles, I simply haven’t thought much about doing it. I agree with a more social democratic economic system that these parties represent, but they often aren’t even on the ballot on all states.

    I don’t know if I would say Obama’s presidency has been that mediocre. That Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is pretty significant, as is the simple fact that we’re not in Iraq right now. I think Obamacare could be something good once it’s implemented.

    He could be doing better in some areas:

    I don’t agree with drone strikes. I don’t agree with no action on climate change. I wanted out of Afghanistan yesterday. I don’t like war, and I was very skeptical of the Libyan intervention, though I do support the Arab Spring risings.

    But he’s on the whole much better than Bush and would definitely be better than Romney.

    The Republican Party is driven by two fanatical cults: one that is based upon religious extremism and another that is based upon free market fanaticism. Neither of these ideologies offers much hope to a world that is suffering so much economically.

    I do worry the supreme court. He’s going to appoint people to the supreme court who will further affirm the Citizens United decision and who will also be very much more likely to strike down Roe v. Wade, which is something they might do now if an abortion case appeared before them.

    I don’t think we can play games here. Obama is the only thing standing between us and absolute barbarism of the worst sort.

  107. says

    The thing is I think a better strategy is to do what we can to ensure that the Democrats are in power and then build a movement that will both hold them accountable and cover their backs when they take progressive stands. This is the long-run strategy that worked in the 1930′s. FDR had a much more conservative record than Obama, but when he came to power, there was an clamoring progressive movement that he was able to harness in order to do amazing thing.

    We can do that again, but we need to make sure that the Democrats are in power. The Republicans always have the religious right to cover their backs. That’s why they can stay as fanatically right wing as they are.

    I don’t think the Democrats are perfect, but of all the strategies we have, this is the one that is most likely to work.

    Voting for a Democrat is the easy part. It’s building up a progressive movement that’s the hard part.

    But it is the most vital. Otherwise, you’re going to get boring centrists running for office in that party, who totally discount liberals and progressives. When the Democrats know they have a progressive movement backing them up, that’s when we’ve done great things.

  108. says

    Well, parties need time and space to grow into mature, balanced organisations – a bit like teens to adults really.

    Of course, the opposite is possible too. Some environmental organizations, precisely because they didn’t get instant results, and their views on what “should” happen where already extreme, only got worse with age. One could argue that the Republicans are another example of this. They haven’t matured, they simply gave up on trying to get what they wanted via compromise, and went all in instead.

  109. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Build not the government you wish you had if you were in power, build the one you can live with when your worst enemy takes power. – md

    IOW, make government so weak it cannot in any way stand up to corporate power. I don’t think you’re going to fool many here with that approach, md.

  110. alwayscurious says

    The Republican Party is driven by two fanatical cults: one that is based upon religious extremism and another that is based upon free market fanaticism. Neither of these ideologies offers much hope to a world that is suffering so much economically.

    I keep hoping that these two ideologies will conflict enough with each other and with moderate Republicans to pull the party completely apart. Thus far, I’ve been impatiently waiting for 5 years.

  111. gaspode says

    Apologies if someone has already mentioned this, I haven’t read through all the comments, but this is exactly why I love Australia’s preferential voting system.

    You can happily vote no 1 for the third party everyone is sure won’t win because you know that, if they get knocked out, your vote for one of the main two will still count.

    You could vote for Jill Stein and still have your vote for Obama over Romney. It allows all those people who are scared of “wasting their vote” to cast their vote for the independent that they really like and sometimes, there are enough of them that the independent actually wins.

  112. says

    NO.

    PZ, I love you, but this post irritates the shit out of me. It’s the sort of thing you read on DailyKos that makes you want to scream.

    You have a right to be disappointed that our country is not as liberal as you are, but I think this assessment of Obama is unfair.

    Obama and the Democrats spent huge political capitol to pass the Affordable Care Act. It is the most progressive piece of legislation to be passed in our lifetime. PZ, you’re a professor; you deal every day with young people whose lives are already being transformed by this. They get to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies until the age of 26. And the most important aspects of Obamacare haven’t come into effect yet. Our country will become healthier, more humane, and saner because of this legislation. People will have access to health care and lives will be saved because Obama has been our president.

    He has improved America’s image abroad, especially in Muslim countries. His so called “apology tour” reduced the scapegoating of America by young people angry at their governments, and was a contributing factor in the Arab Spring. Our world is more democratic because Obama has been our president.

    He ended the war in Iraq, as promised. He focused attention the terrorists who attacked us instead of continuing the neo-conversative agenda, as promised. Our country is safer because Obama has been our president.

    He stopped the financial collapse. He saved the auto industry. This was hugely unpopular at the time, and also, incidentally, hugely progressive. It proved to be a wise move. Our country avoided collision with a fiscal iceberg, and now has set a new course toward calmer waters, because Obama has been our president.

    He appointed two women to the Supreme Court, including the court’s first Hispanic. Our country is making great strides in gay rights, women’s rights, and equality for minorities because Obama has been our president.

    Mediocre? BAH! Obama is a great president.

    It’s so unfair to say Obama is merely the better of two evils. He may not be perfect, but he is clearly a force for good. Romney is the etch-a-sketch, say-anything-to-get-elected plutocrat who will look presidential while fucking our country in the ass. A Romney administration will increase CO2 emissions, undermine climate science, unfetter corporations from even the mildest regulations, increase the already abominable wealth inequality in our country, and overall be a force for evil.

    If you can’t see this, you are holding Obama to a nutty standard. Or maybe you just don’t understand that you live in a democracy where about half the country disagrees vehemently with everything you believe, and they all get a say too. No green party candidate could change that. The problem is not Obama and not the Democrats. The problem is that about 150 million of our next door neighbors see the world in a totally different way than we do. I don’t know how to solve this problem, but trashing people like Obama who are trying to make things better isn’t helping.

  113. Amphiox says

    I keep hoping that these two ideologies will conflict enough with each other and with moderate Republicans to pull the party completely apart. Thus far, I’ve been impatiently waiting for 5 years.

    Highly, highly unlikely. Because say what you will about right winger’s level of intellect/engagement with reality, one thing they do understand is that if you want to have power in a democratic system, you do NOT split yourself into multiple third parties and dilute your voting power. You select one party and make it as big and powerful as possible, and then you subvert it to your own ends from within.

    Meanwhile too many elements of the progressive left, which loves to pride itself on how much more reality-based and rational it is, babbles on and on about third parties, and abandons their large and powerful party in droves at the slightest bit of disappointment, and are frankly directly complicit in how the Overton Window has moved rightward over the last 20 years.

    You want to talk about reality-based thinking and rational behavior, well that applies to how politics works too.

  114. John Morales says

    Merrily Dancing Ape, has Obama actually done anything that is other than admirable to the degree it could be contrasted with his achievements, in your opinion?

    (Could it be that your list is selective?)

  115. Amphiox says

    I agree with Merrily Dancing Ape that the hindsight of history will most likely view Obama as a better than average if not great President, given his accomplishments against the environment in which he had to achieve them.

    But PZ is quite right that Obama has been a mediocre progressive president. He’s probably still the best progressive president America has had in recent memory, but that’s only because America has never actually ever had a good progressive president.

    Whether that is because the political environment did not allow Obama to be a progressive president or because Obama himself is actually more a centrist pragmatist than a progressive is an open question.

  116. stanton says

    In other words, marginally competent versus actively malicious bordering on catastrophically incompetent.

  117. says

    #128:
    I could nitpick. People who say Obama has done nothing on global warming forget that he is doubling fuel efficiency standards by 2024, the largest increase in automobile mileage standards ever. They also forget that Obama’s stimulus package was the biggest clean energy bill in history. But there are a few areas where Obama has placed economic growth over the environment or public health, which is disappointing. Al Gore sums up my view nicely in this YouTube video.

    Beyond the environment, it’s the same thing with other issues — foreign affairs, tax policy, etc. Sure, there are missteps and areas where I disagree. But to compile those into a list of grievances and present the list as evidence that Obama is non-progressive, or marginally competent, or a mediocre president, or nearly equivalent to a Republican, is ludicrous.

  118. richcon says

    What we need is an Instant Runoff election system. Instead of picking your choice of the two top candidates or throw your vote away (and risk pulling a Nader and getting Bush elected against the popular will), you rank your choices in order. Whoever gets too few votes to have a chance of winning gets removed and their supporters’ votes switch to their ballots’ second or third choices. This repeats until someone has over 50% of all votes.

    So in 2000, all those Green Party supporters in Florida could have given their second choice vote to Al Gore (who, lets face it, has better environmental credentials than most Green candidates), and we would not have been stuck with W. for eight years. And you could give your first choice to Stein if you want without putting Romney one half vote closer to winning your state. (Ultra conservatives can likewise vote Constitution or Libertarian without silencing themselves on Obama-Romney as well.)

    That would give us a real way to measure who people support and what people want from their government, and maybe some good people will actually get elected. Until then, either vote for the top two or help the guy you hate most get elected.

  119. says

    until we as a country reach some kind of consensus on policies we will have conflict and divided government with the balance switching back and forth.
    I do not see any consensus on much of anything let alone the major problems we are facing, I do not see many even trying to reach any agreement but I do see an awful lot of us vs them.
    and the bull shit is so thick boots do not even help.

    Well, consensus is possible, has, and does happen, but it tends to be kind of hampered when your elected officials start claiming we are really living in Narnia and fighting the White Queen, and half the country goes, “Gosh! I would love to live in Narnia!” Just saying…

  120. alwayscurious says

    Because say what you will about right winger’s level of intellect/engagement with reality, one thing they do understand is that if you want to have power in a democratic system, you do NOT split yourself into multiple third parties and dilute your voting power. You select one party and make it as big and powerful as possible, and then you subvert it to your own ends from within.

    Well put! However, I’m waiting (in vain) for the day that either the Christian Right realizes that Republican officials are morally bankrupt and vote Democrat to improve government’s social programs. Or for the fiscal conservatives to throw up their hands and admit that balancing the budget can happen with higher taxes. Or for business owners to finally support better eduction & science investments because failing to do that is stifling them in the long term. Or for the Tea Party to alienate enough moderates who finally pack up & leave.

    From time to time I’m amused by the amount of policing of the elected Republicans that is (and sometimes isn’t) happening behind the scenes. Maybe that is what is required to stay top dog. I feel like that our present crop of Republicans politicians are attempting to run us off a cliff like never before. Will the men behind the curtains be able to steer the herd away at the last possible moment? Or will they decide that they have finally got theirs and retire to summer homes in the South Pacific while the rest of the country collapses?

  121. says

    You know, what’s happened to the Democratic Party’s economic and foreign policies isn’t some US-only phenomenon. It’s endemic to the established leftist parties pretty much anywhere.

    mildlymagnificent at #114 mentioned…

    Just as Obama looks like a moderate Republican of not many decades ago, so our Labor Party has steadily shifted rightwards.

    And guess what — the ALP invented this trajectory. It’s called the Third Way. It is not functionally different from austerity, aside from being somewhat open to raising taxes where the right-wing parties will just go NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NO TAXES EVER and being somewhat open to actually spending money during an economic downturn.

    Bob Hawke won with it in Australia during the right-dominated 1980s, and UK Labor, and the Dems, and the Liberals up here in Canada all went and took notes. Then ran with it here. Even the NDP, the only major North American party that’s not afraid to identify as ‘social democratic’, starts backing into things like ‘welfare reform’ whenever they have a legitimate shot at power (that is to say, they stand to win a close election rather than getting a surprise result or winning because they’re the major alternative to a scandal-ridden government).

    And there is hardly any questioning of the policies of the “Third Way” or the rationalizations for why the “progressive” option is just watered-down conservatism with bike lanes and equal marriage (which are many of the same rationalizations that conservatives spew for things like their damn Debt Clock) in the public discourse. There is no longer “left” or “right”; with major parties on both sides embracing austerity it has now become “centre-left” or “centre-right” with neither side questioning things like the right-wing’s “moral hazard” of national debt (or why we even need to keep track of national debt, though I fully expect some sophisticated economist to come in here waving around complex math and telling me that I need to be well-off enough to afford a degree in economics before I’m allowed to question such things because, y’know, poor people like me are just stupid).

    And short of a revolution (which I am not in favour of; historically, the only revolution I can name that ended remotely ‘well’ was the American Revolution; all the others eventually wound up with some form of dictatorship), the only plausible way to make things better is to follow the Teabagger lead and take over the Democratic Party from within. That way we can both hold off the Reptilians and make some actual change in the electoral system. Until that is done, third parties will be (for the most part) a lost cause.

  122. camkrout says

    to Esteleth, Elen síla lúmenn’ omentielvo

    No, the name is not Breanna Manning, it’s Bradley Manning. He has been a male for his entire life; go to his Wikipedia page and look at his childhood history. There is no record of him filing for a name-change, nor seeking sex-reversal surgery.

    his supporters don’t talk about it because IT’S NOT KNOWN PUBLICLY…assuming what you say is true, which seems a bit of a stretch to me, in and of itself. His name is Bradley Manning

  123. Ichthyic says

    In other words, marginally competent versus actively malicious bordering on catastrophically incompetent.

    the new “good”.

    It will be hard to qualify someone against the atrocious performance of W for some time to come I think. maybe 20 years will see the back of it, and then a more reasonable view of performance can be had.

  124. Ichthyic says

    You know, what’s happened to the Democratic Party’s economic and foreign policies isn’t some US-only phenomenon. It’s endemic to the established leftist parties pretty much anywhere.

    true. progressiveism has apparently been dying a slow death here in NZ too, even though NZ was teh socialist jewel in the crown of the West in the 70s.

    the blitz campaign to make socialism look *evil* over the last 50 years has pretty much destroyed what was a grand functioning socialist system here in NZ.

    and progressiveism is dying here in the wake of those losses. there are a LOT of similarities between the current PM here, John Key, and the economic policies of the Reagan administration in the States in the 80s. Pushes for privatizing government resources (which 90% of the academic economists here have openly derided), supply side economics, etc. all there, and the majority of the voting population here has been brainwashed into thinking these are good things, just like Americans were in the 80s.

    sad to see.