Democrats & Liberals Archives

Robots in Politics

I have been told that I am a robot because I vote pretty consistently for Democratic candidates. Following the same line of reasoning, people who vote consistently for Republican candidates are robots too. If this is the case, what would you call people who pay no attention to the record of candidates but vote consistently against incumbents?

Robots, of course.

A Democratic robot votes "yes" whenever the answer to "Is the candidate a Democrat?" is "yes." A Republican robot votes "yes" whenever the answer to "Is the candidate a Republican?" is "yes." An anti-incumbent robot votes "no" whenever the answer to "Is the candidate an incumbent?" is "yes." Not much difference. I guess America is filled with millions of political robots.

I went to the Vote Out Incumbents Democracy (VOID) website and found this:

Vote Out Incumbents Democracy provides Americans who have lost confidence in our political system, an opportunity to restore responsible, ethical, and efficient government. The vote is the power our Constitution provides the people to direct their elected representatives and shape the results of government. A vote for incumbents is a vote supporting a candidate's participation in, and results of, that government. A vote against an incumbent and for a challenger is a vote for change in government, and indicates the voter's disapproval of the incumbent's participation in or, results of, government.

A vote for a challenger of an incumbent is a vote for "responsible, ethical, and efficient government." It makes no difference what each of the two challengers stand for. If you want better government you should vote against the incumbent. Suppose you agree with everything the incumbent did while in office and disagree with everything the challenger proposes, should you still vote against the incumbent?

This makes no sense. When you vote you should vote for candidates that agree with you, as much as possible, on your political principles. Anti-incumbency is not a principle. It's a tactic that sometimes is useful.

Some people vote regularly for Republican candidates because they agree with the Republican Party's basic principle: encourage self reliance. This leads to reducing government regulation of business, and to advancing the interests of the rich and powerful.

I vote for Democratic candidates because I agree with the Democratic Party's basic principle: advancing the common good. This leads to the government regulation of business, and to advancing the interests of the "little guy."

What's the principle behind VOID? I hear a lot of complaining about the Republicans and about the Democrats.

I know what VOID is against. It is against irresponsible, unethical and inefficient government. It is against corruption. I am against these things too. I am sure that most decent Republicans are against these things as well. Merely changing incumbents will not necessarily produce a discernible difference. A president named Ralph Nader or Pat Buchanan will seek power and be just as likely to be corrupted as any of the Democratic or Republican presidents we have had up to now. The same is true if we remove legislative incumbents, as well.

All candidates may stray from principle and are potentially corruptible. This is why I consider it my duty to elect Democrats and then try to make sure they stick to principle and are removed when corrupted. I am sure there are many Republicans that do the same thing; I even see many conservatives now deserting the Republican Party because it does not stand for anything except having power.

I am not a robot. Neither are my Republican brethren robots. Neither are Independents - or members of any other political alignment. We all live in a great democracy where we may express what we are for. What are you for?

Posted by Paul Siegel at April 18, 2007 11:00 PM
Comment #217433
Paul Siegel wrote: Merely changing incumbents will not necessarily produce a discernible difference.

But rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing won’t make politicians more responsible either.

Paul Siegel wrote: I am not a robot. Neither are my Republican brethren robots. Neither are Independents
Paul, that’s good.

However, when you wrote in the Green column a few months ago … :

Paul Siegel wrote:
As far as national elections are concerned, you waste your vote if you vote for a third party candidate.
… it makes one wonder.

Posted by: d.a.n at April 18, 2007 11:37 PM
Comment #217436
But rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing won’t make politicians more responsible either.

So, in d.a.n’s world, Americans go to the voting booth and decide to vote for the “irresponsible” candidate..?

Posted by: American Pundit at April 18, 2007 11:45 PM
Comment #217438


I don’t think that’s what d.a.n. said at all. The subject was Robotic voting, not voting for irresponsibility. If you vote roboticly, be it Republican, Democratic or Anti incumbant, you do nothing to increase responsibility.

Posted by: gergle at April 18, 2007 11:53 PM
Comment #217449

Thanks gergle.

American Pundit: So, in d.a.n’s world, Americans go to the voting booth and decide to vote for the “irresponsible” candidate?

American Pudnit,
Do you think Congress is responsible?
Have you looked at Congress’ approval ratings?
Even after 7-Nov-2006, they are still in the 40% range.

Don’t you wonder how some politicians stay in Congress so long (especially Republians in your case)?

Don’t you think it might just be due to blind straight-ticket voting?
Or, are you of the opinion that such a thing never happens, and especially not to any significant degree?

Also, if Congress is so responsible, why are so many of these serious issues still being ignored? Still growing in number and severity?

It it because it is ALL the Republicans’ fault?
Or the independent voters?

In my opinion, it’s all of us.
Government won’t become more responsible and accountable until the voters do too.
And that won’t ever happen by continually rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them … caused largely by too much faith on PARTY, pulling the party-lever, wallowing in the partisan warfare, instead of holding each and every incumbent politician separately accountable.

And how about that Congress just giving themselves the 9th raise in 10 years?
Do you think they deserve it?
Especially when 90% of the 109th Congress is still within the 110th Congress?

Look at that list if serious issues above.
What should Congress’ priorities be?

Why was there ANY funding in the BILL just passed for the war in Iraq?
Should there have been?
And what about all the pork-barrel in the BILL just passed?
Are you OK with that?
What happened to the ban on earmarks?

Posted by: d.a.n at April 19, 2007 12:23 AM
Comment #217450


The two positions of Paul are not diametrically opposed, but one of practicality.

Voting for and encouraging candidates outside of the two party system is all good and well, but come election day many chooose the lesser of two evils. It can be argued voting for a third candidate may result in election of the greater of two evils.

Me personally, I only vote for a guy/gal I think has been reasonably honest and has an agenda similar to mine. I haven’t voted for a winning candidate for President ever.

Posted by: gergle at April 19, 2007 12:23 AM
Comment #217457

What if I told you:

As far as national elections are concerned, you waste your vote if you vote for a third party candidate.
Would you agree with that?
After all, you just said you have never voted for a winning president.
Were you always voting for independent/third-party candidates?

Posted by: d.a.n at April 19, 2007 1:05 AM
Comment #217459
I don’t think that’s what d.a.n. said at all.

Those were d.a.n’s own words, gergle. He said Americans are, “rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing” them. I don’t know how else to interpret that other than that he believes Americans go to the polls and vote for the “irresponsible” candidate.

Do you think Congress is responsible?

I know that all the candidates I vote for are responsible. That goes for every one I know who votes.

On the other hand, a knee-jerk vote against all incumbents is bound to result in a vote for an irresponsible person.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 19, 2007 1:21 AM
Comment #217461

Umm AP,

You CAN vote for responsible ones. He’s just saying don’t blindly vote a ticket.

Voting because you agree with a platform is not voting responsibly, in d.a.n.’s parlance. Look at the actual records of candidates.

We all know incumbants are much more likely to get reelected unless they do something completely stupid. He’s arguing for disrupting that comfort.

He isn’t pushing for knee-jerk anything.

Posted by: gergle at April 19, 2007 1:30 AM
Comment #217462


No, I wouldn’t agree. But sometimes it can cause the opposite effect of what I want.

No, I don’t always vote third party. I often vote against poor performance, as I will in the case of Bush and the Republican juggernaut.

I’m likely to vote for a Democrat, but that depends on the condition of the race and candidates at on election day.

Posted by: gergle at April 19, 2007 1:35 AM
Comment #217463

In 2000, I voted for Nader.

In 2004, I voted for Kerry.

In both cases, it could be argued I wasted my vote. I live in Houston, and Texas was ga-ga over Bush. I knew who was going to be elected. Electorally, my vote meant nothing. I seriously considered in 2004 claiming to be an Ohio resident (I was born there) where my vote had a better chance of being meaningful. But that would be cheating wouldn’t it?

Posted by: gergle at April 19, 2007 1:44 AM
Comment #217465

Voting Guidelines

from VOID: A vote against an incumbent and for a challenger is a vote for change in government, and indicates the voter’s disapproval of the incumbent’s participation in or, results of, government.
Paul Siegel wrote: It makes no difference what each of the two challengers stand for.
Sure it does, and VOID doesn’t say otherwise.

VOID states “the voter’s disapproval of the incumbent’s participation” is the basis for not re-electing an incumbent.
The very first sentence of the Mission Statement states:

VOID’s mission is to educate and organize Americans, who are dissatisfied with the results of their government or, elected officials.

Paul Siegel wrote: If you want better government you should vote against the incumbent.
No, not necessarily.

Only if the voter “disapproves” of the incumbent. Note the words above:

  • “disapproval of the incumbent’s participation”

  • “VOID’s mission is to educate and organize Americans, who are dissatisfied with the results of their government or, elected officials.

Paul Siegel wrote: Suppose you agree with everything the incumbent did while in office and disagree with everything the challenger proposes, should you still vote against the incumbent?
No. Not unless the incumbent is irresponsible.
Paul Siegel wrote: This makes no sense.
You are twisting it. VOID encourages voters to stop re-electing irresponsible incumbent politicians. No where does is say vote out good politicians.

Please re-read it …

from VOID:
A vote against an incumbent and for a challenger is a vote for change in government, and indicates the voter’s disapproval of the incumbent’s participation in or, results of, government.

It presumes the reader agrees that too many in Congress are irresponsible, and re-electing them, merely because they belong to any particular party, will not make them more responsible.
The logic is sound.
Keep the good ones.
Vote out the bad ones.
Don’t pull the party-lever.
Don’t be a robot.
That’s all.
Twisting the facts and mischaracterizing VOID won’t change the facts.
VOID merely recommends what voters were supposed to be doing all along. Nothing more. And that is to stop re-electing irresponsible incumbent politicians.

Paul Siegel wrote: When you vote you should vote for candidates that agree with you, as much as possible, on your political principles. Anti-incumbency is not a principle. It’s a tactic that sometimes is useful.
Voting out irresponsible incumbents is what voters are supposed to do. That’s all.

Now, the question is, which politicians are responsible and accountable?
Unfortunately, getting a good answer to that may be impossible, due to far too much partisan bias.
Too many Republicans believe the Democrats are evil, and vice-versa.

The problem is ALL of us.
Government will NOT become more responsible until the voters do too.
The voters won’t become more responsible, until the consequences of their laziness and irresponsibility becomes too painful.
Already, some painful consequences for 30+ years of so much fiscal and moral bankruptcy is already in the pipeline.
Things will have to get much worse before they get better.

And I do not believe the 110th Congress has turned over a new leaf, since over 90% of the 110th Congress is from the 109th Congress.
I don’t think nearly enough incumbents get it yet.
Congress just gave itself it’s 9th raise in 10 years.
Do they deserve it?

Paul Siegel wrote: As far as national elections are concerned, you waste your vote if you vote for a third party candidate.
So, how are we not supposed to wonder about a partisan bias?

One thing is for certain: telling other voters a vote for a third party is a wasted voter, and continually rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them; blindly pulling the party-lever without even knowing about the person being voted for (i.e. straight-ticket), will not make the politicians more responsible. In fact, it will make them more irresponsible, arrogant, and lazy.

The 109th Congress was called the Do-Nothing Congress.
Perhaps worse than the 80th Do-Nothing Congress.
Has Congress really turned over a new leaf?
Lots of Democrats don’t wan’t to hear even a peep otherwise.
Well, voters may be running out of patience.
Especially as the economic factors to worsen:

  • incessant inflation

  • stagnant wages,

  • illegal immigration costing Americans over $70 billion annually in net losses,

  • the approaching 77million baby boomers/entitlements iceberg,

  • baby boomers becoming eligible for benefits at a rate of 13,175 per day

  • the escalation and continued occupation of Iraq,

  • rising energy costs, energy vulnerability,

  • more pork-barrel

  • government FOR-SALE; no campaign finance reform

  • no election reform

  • no end to Gerrymandering

  • no tax reform

  • masisve unfunded liabilities for Medicare

  • massive $8.9 trillion National Debt

  • Social Security ($12.8 trillion of debt)

  • $450 billion PBGC debt

  • $22 trillion total federal debt

  • $42 trillion nation-wide

  • growing trade deficits

  • increasingly expensive but decreasing quaility of public education,

  • increasingly unaffordable healthcare, “An average of 195,000 people in the U.S. died due to potentially preventable, in-hospital medical errors in each of the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, according to a new study of 37 million patient records”. Once again, part of the problem is the growing corpocrisy, corporatism, and influence of government by corporations and some that abuse vast amounts of money to control government.

  • not to mention, global warming, 25% of the worlds CO2 emissions from the U.S., and world population increasing by 249,000 per day

  • etc., etc., etc.

A 90%+ re-election rate will not make irresponsible incubment politicians more responsible.

    P.S. In the last election of 7-Nov-2007, I voted for some Democrats, some Libertarians, some Greens, and one unopposed non-incumbent Republican for a local office. I used to be a robot and blindly pulled the party-lever, but no more. It’s not working, is it?
Posted by: d.a.n at April 19, 2007 2:00 AM
Comment #217480

Paul Siegel said: “If this is the case, what would you call people who pay no attention to the record of candidates but vote consistently against incumbents?”

What a strawman question. Fact is, most people who vote consistently anti-incumbent are Democrats living in Republican dominated districts, or vice versa, or, voters who vote consistently against incumbents PRECISELY BECAUSE of their record of failure to address and solve the problems our nation face.

I am used to hearing this argument of yours from Republicans. But, now Democrats are in power, so, apparently, I will have to get used to hearing from Democrats now. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

If we have not made substantial progress on saving Soc. Sec., ending deficits, ending our involvement in the Civil War in Iraq, reforming our Health Care system and rescuing it from inflationary collapse, improving educational quality, and leading on global climate change, reducing violence in America, and substantial effective campaign finance reform, then, yes, based on the record I recommend most voters vote out incumbents.

Only by voting out incumbents can we teach politicians to reset their priorities away from special interests, wealthy campaign donors, and corporate bribes, and back to representing the needs and expectations of the public, the nation, and the future of her people.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 19, 2007 5:31 AM
Comment #217481

gergle, your vote was not irrelevant. It was part and parcel of a growing groundswell of dissatisfied votes that ultimately resulted in a rout of Republican incumbents in November 2006. No vote is wasted. Though some precede a trend that has not yet peaked.

And every vote is an exercise of liberty whose muscles must remain strong and fit and ready.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 19, 2007 5:37 AM
Comment #217484


I’m old enough and cranky enough to call it the way I see it. I’m not a big fan of the electoral college. I thnk it diminishes our democracy.

I choose to believe my lobbying and education of friends and aquaintenances is more effective than my single vote in a state that enshrines the bought and paid for vote. The older I get, the deeper my cynicism grows. But in the end, when confronted with reality, I think most people are fair. It’s just that the pile of B.S. you have to dig through to get to reality seems to keep getting deeper.

Of course, it helps when greed and stupidity outstrip common sense, and exposes charlatans like Bush and Delay for what they are.

Posted by: gergle at April 19, 2007 6:34 AM
Comment #217512

The real question here is whether our votes are tied to the actual behavior of the candidates.

They people who don’t have a problem with their candidates are going to ask why they should kick them out, and they aren’t going to be well motivated to just kick them out based on some abstract sensibility.

Moreover, such questions will create inertia for any broad-based program of repeatedly kicking out most incumbents. Honestly, people will not remain frustrated enough for that long. A truly effective means of punishing the irresponsible and the incompetent cannot depend upon mere strong feelings.

Moreover, what we’re seeking here isn’t some in/out paradigm. We’re trying to force responsibility on these people, which gives us two additional options: putting pressure on one particular politician, encouraging reform in their behavior, and targeting the corrupt and detailing their deeds, such that the voter will not want to support their continued tenure. The examples made of these people, and the political survival of those who reform will send the message: we will not tolerate Congress as a den of thieves.

The strongest strike against reasonable efforts to unseat those unworthy of the office is that voters do not know the story of what their candidats are doing that is so objectionable. People can’t develop strong feelings against their leaders when they don’t know what they’ve done wrong.

People have natural defenses when they like a candidate. The task, the challenge, is to get past those, and the best way to do that is to calmly, soberly fill people in on things.

If the third party challengers and political discontents simply berate people for being partisan robots, they can and will be legitimately ignored. It’s standard political rhetoric from an opposing side towards the members of the other party, and its an insult that alienates others.

No, you have to make friends with people, and do it for real. Don’t lie, make sure of your information, listen to them, respect them- the alternative is create a rather hostile environment for convincing people of the things you believe.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 19, 2007 10:04 AM
Comment #217530

Speaking of robots on “politically correct” issues. Ethanol, they now believe, may be MORE HARMFUL to humans than gas! LAUGH.

Posted by: Stephen at April 19, 2007 10:50 AM
Comment #217539
“No, you have to make friends with people, and do it for real. Don’t lie, make sure of your information, listen to them, respect them- the alternative is create a rather hostile environment for convincing people of the things you believe.”

I would love to lock you in a room with Cheney or Rush or DeLay or Gingrich or Coulter—or maybe all five of them. I’m all for giving people the respect they deserve— when such respect is reciprocated. Problem is, these people are playing for keeps, and the Democrats think they can talk the Right out of it’s regressivism. And therein lies the crux of the issue. The neo-cons disrespect reason, the truth, the sanctity of the language. They would, if they could, revoke the Enlightenment. That they do it under the guise of Christian values makes them all the more dangerous.

This static about third-party relevance is just that—static. One of the reasons why this country is teetering on the edge of fascism is that there is no true Left in this country anymore; a Left grounded in labor rights and populist economic
justice, a vibrant Left that monitors the Right and challenges it on it’s more egregious nonsense.

As Robert Jensen has said the liberals have a time-honored method of betraying their populist roots; “I’m against the damaging policies of the far Right—but not like those crazies on the Left.” And thusly, we receive pablum and platitudes from the Democrats, while the Right busily dismantles Constitutional government and governmental oversight in the name of this God-fearing laisse fare free-for-all masquerading as a democracy.

We, as a nation, are one serious economic crisis or terrorist attack away from kissing this masquerade goodbye. Let the healing begin, because it ain’t going to happen at the ballot box.

Posted by: Tim Crow at April 19, 2007 11:31 AM
Comment #217559

Tim Crow-
Am I aiming my efforts at these people you list? Of course not. Not everybody is as devoted to the Republican party as those people.

More to the point, our efforts are working. We’ve won the House and Senate, and are more likely to keep them than lose them. New voters are lining up behind our party, and the Republicans are having to deal with President Bush, the gift that keeps on giving. President Bush took a Republican Congress that could have lasted at least another decade, and broke its back. Additionally, their unity on many issues has broken, with all the different factions competing against each other, burning through campaign funds like a thermite charge.

The Republican insiders themselves have little confidence. Now is not the time to be intimidated, or to panic about Republican fortunes. With Bush, they’ve poured gasoline over their heads and lit the match.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 19, 2007 12:17 PM
Comment #217560
But, now Democrats are in power, so, apparently, I will have to get used to hearing from Democrats now.

I don’t remember VOID getting ever much traction over here, David. I know Stephen and I have always argued against a knee-jerk anti-incumbent vote.

Now, if you’re going to argue that VOID doesn’t advocate voting against incumbents across the board, then I fail to see how your philosophy is any different from mine: Vote for the good candidate.

And “good”, of course, is very subjective.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 19, 2007 12:18 PM
Comment #217562
We, as a nation, are one serious economic crisis or terrorist attack away from kissing this masquerade goodbye. Let the healing begin, because it ain’t going to happen at the ballot box.
Yes, an economic meltdown is not far-fetched.
Let the healing begin, because it ain’t going to happen at the ballot box.
The thing is, technically, it could, and it probably will.

But will it be in time?
There is a built-in correction mechanism (pain).
Unfortunately, things continue too long on the wrong path, and don’t always adjust course in time to avoid the inevitable painful consequences of so much fiscal irresponsibility.

Until the full force of the consequences are felt, things will continue along the same course until it becomes too painful.

Posted by: d.a.n at April 19, 2007 12:23 PM
Comment #217566

“This is why I consider it my duty to elect Democrats”

Which is why you vote like a robot Paul.
Instead of 0’s and 1’s, you only see Democrats as right and everybody else is wrong.
You are a robot because you accept and encourage the two party paradigm.

“there is no true Left in this country anymore”

Totally wrong. It is the extreme left which is in control of two houses now and they got that power how? Putting up more moderate candidates?

As I do not believe our country’s form of liberalism and our Constitution can co-exist, I really hope the hard-left Dems start putting up candidates like they did in previous elections so they can get swept again.
Maybe then they would understand that there is more to America than the west coast, northeast and big city’s.

Anybody who believes there is a major difference between Reps and Dems is a robot.
Programmed to ignore, excuse and defend the side which programmed them.

You are right though, it ain’t gonna happen at the ballot box.
Thank god I’ll be on the side that is armed.

Posted by: kctim at April 19, 2007 12:30 PM
Comment #217568
Now, if you’re going to argue that VOID doesn’t advocate voting against incumbents across the board, then I fail to see how your philosophy is any different from mine: Vote for the good candidate.
VOID encourages voting out irresponsible politicians.
And “good”, of course, is very subjective.
Yes, it is.

Because many just blindly vote along party lines; often not even knowing much (if anything) about the candidates they are voting for.

The real question is: Is voting straight ticket a good way to vote?

One might say yes only if all the candidates were truly responsible and deserved to be elected more than all the candidates. But how is that truly possible; that the only quailifed candidates are from only THEIR party?

Is that a good way to vote?
I’m sure some will say yes.
I used vote straight ticket (as a Republican).
Was that the right thing to do?
I don’t think so.

Posted by: d.a.n at April 19, 2007 12:31 PM
Comment #217577
Because many just blindly vote along party lines

So, the whole purpose of VOID is to stop people from blindly voting a party ticket?

Well, I don’t personally know of anyone who does that — Democrat or Republican or Green or Libertarian or Independent. Every voter I know personally has a good (in their view) reason for their vote. There’s nothing blind about it.

So, just like I would recuse myself from any other debate that is irrelevant and meaningless to me, I bow out…

Posted by: American Pundit at April 19, 2007 12:49 PM
Comment #217587


“More to the point, our efforts are working. We’ve won the House and Senate, and are more likely to keep them than lose them.”

Be careful for what you wish for—you just might get it. There are no doubt undecideds, and Republicans that are having second thoughts about where this country is headed. And for those people, we have you, The Good Political Shephard, to herd them over to greener pastures. I don’t have a lot of use for people that are still undecided this late in the game. You’re from the what I call the “Come—let us reason together” school. I’m from the “Come, somnambulists, I shall kick you in the ass” school of communication.

There are two major issues where I part with the Democratic Party—and with most Americans, evidently. One, I am not enthralled with capitalism, in fact, I trust it about as much as I trust Dick Cheney to be transparent about governmental policy.

Secondly, I very much differ with the Party and liberals in general with their go-along to get-along attitude regarding the obvious imperialist nature of American foreign policy, a policy that has been nurtured as much by Democratic presidents and Congresses as GOP ones.

As one person put it, “America went off to war in 1941 and never returned.” In short, we can be an imperial power, policing the world to our economic benefit and to most everyone else’s detriment, or we can be a democracy. We can’t be both.

As Warren Zevon aptly put it, “You can dream the American Dream, but you sleep with the lights on and wake up with a scream.”

I think this country, I pray this country, is in the process of waking up. The screams will follow shortly.

Posted by: Tim Crow at April 19, 2007 1:19 PM
Comment #217599

Was this thread started as a joke? It is bad enough that they have an advertisement for VOID on the page. Why provide that organization with a forum here?

Posted by: ohrealy at April 19, 2007 1:53 PM
Comment #217604


I don’t remember saying that if you vote for a third party you are wasting your vote. If I did, then I change my mind. Every vote counts, whether it’s for the winner or the loser.

My major challenge for you anti-incumbent people is to tell me what principle you are for. Everybody is against irresponsible politicians and everybody defines irresponsibility differently.

About anti-incumbency. I remeber Remer telling us that even though he thought Russ Feingold was a good man he would have to vote against him because he was an incumbent. Dave, do you still say this?

Posted by: Paul Siegel at April 19, 2007 2:13 PM
Comment #217638

Your right! Going to the poll and pulling the party lever regardless of your party affiliation is robotic voting. So is automatically voting anti incumbent. Amazing aint it? I agree with ya on something.
But now the rub.
I aint seen a major party candidate running for state or national office worth voting for in more than 20 years. Incumbent or not.
The candidates records (if they have one) need to be examined and where they really stand on issues carefully weighed before the lever is pulled. Blindly voting for a candidate because he’s a Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian,
Constitutional, Independent, or whatever is what gets irresponsible politicians elected, and reelected.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 19, 2007 3:53 PM
Comment #217648

Anybody who looks at the Bush administration and doesn’t see any difference from what a Democrat would do, is ignoring some serious deviations from what Democrats would accept as policy. Since the Republicans pretty much backed Bush to the hilt on these things, I think we can assume that Bush’s deviation is theirs as well.

Democrats would not have attempted a unilateral approach, nor the demonization of the UN that Bush has done. They would not have suppressed global warming studies, that the Bush administration has time and time again edited to avoid the necessary policy consequences of acknowledging the issue. They would not have been so hand in glove with the Energy industry, so supportive of letting speculators drive prices sky high.

They would not have endangered their own reputation and that of the parties by raising another deficit. There would have been politically bound to keep pay-go in place.

They would not have backed the Neocon play willingly, unquestioningly. They would not deviate the focus of the war on terror from al-Qaeda to Iraq, especially not on the basis of a conspiracy theory that alleged that Saddam was the man behind the curtain manipulating Osama Bin Laden.

They would not have let Katrina go down as it did, would not have put cronies in place the way this administration has.

Certainly, the Democrats would not have given the free passes to the President that this Congress has.

The Democrats are not the same as the Republicans. In the last 26 years, 18 have been under Republican presidents, and the last half of that 26 years were under a Republican Congress.

The Democrats, in responding to the rise of the Republican party, may have come to more resemble the Republicans, but that does not mean that the average Democrat has been happy about this, or that in their heart of hearts the Democrats would taken the same directions at all times.

So I don’t think there will be no difference. Already, a great number of differences have arisen between the way things done. As in actual oversight, as in actual opposition to the president’s policy.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 19, 2007 4:33 PM
Comment #217654

Tim Crow
My thinking is that uncertainty has spread regarding the Republican Party. People who long held strong beliefs are questioning those beliefs, or in a position where they might begin that.

My response is not merely “come, let us reason together”. It’s also “come, let us dispense with the the bullshit, because here are the facts”. It’s easy for ideologues to believe that the there are a world of people that need to wake up, but the judgment to change or maintain the support of these candidates rests with these people, and we do not always know the character of those we disagree with.

You can’t win an argument where you’re trying to force people to believe something. You only win it if you lead them to believe they either have no choice but to believe, or a very good reason to believe what you say. It’s also important to understand that you don’t have to win everything all at once.

The stonewalling of the Republicans have been meant to get in the way of that, to prevent members of the party from openly questioning things. Unfortunately for them, there are logical limits to what different people are willing to believe, and if you get enough of the different lies going down in flames, you’re going to reach that turning point for different groups of people, and that will crack the facade. Think of it in terms of moisture getting at bad concrete. The foundations of this Administration are not that well laid.

I’m in favor of capitalism, but not from a position of trusting it. I believe that law and order need to be applied at all levels of society, to prevent deceptive and harmful practices. Capitalists should not be excused from the rule of law, and government power is in my opinion highly necessary to counter these people’s financial and political power.

I believe that we need a truly more humble foreign policy, but one that maintains our influence in the world. Generally, most people around the world seriously want us to be a good presence out there. They’re just tired of the unilateralism, and I think most Americans are tired of being isolated by their Commander in Chief’s policies.

If we give people too little credit for being able to understand our points the implications of what we say, or whatever else, we end up depriving ourselves of the opportunity to persuade them. Speaking for myself, I do not have the patience to simply have people wake up. I have learned through years of experience that browbeating from any side rarely works with others. It makes us feel tough, but it doesn’t do much good. People have to wake themselves up. You have to give them that opportunity to join the rational side of the issue.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 19, 2007 5:19 PM
Comment #217660


“Capitalists should not be excused from the rule of law…”

Excused from?! Hell, they’re writing the laws!

“…and government power is in my opinion highly necessary to counter these people’s financial and political power.”

In principle, I obviously agree—but how does that work exactly, when the entire political process has been bought and sold by capitalist plutocrats? When was the last time that working people had a seat at the policy table in this country? Really?

“You can’t win an argument where you’re trying to force people to believe something.”

I think it goes beyond that—you can’t ‘win’arguments, really, and as you say people need to lead themselves to self-awareness. All I’m saying is a swift intellectual kick in the ass can sometimes have an enlightening effect.

“I believe that we need a truly more humble foreign policy, but one that maintains our influence in the world.”

Stephen, I must say, this is a classic statement from you. True humility surrenders any need for influence in my book. Be that as it may, though, I’m not sure ‘humility’ is wanted or needed in a nation’s foreign policy—that, after all, was your term, not mine. Frankly, I think any policy, foreign or domestic, needs to governed by the truth and honesty before anything else, including humility. I think integrity can only win allies and perplex your enemies.

But, perhaps this isn’t something that a nation as diverse as ours can embrace. Or any nation, for that matter. But it is a vision I think we as a people should aspire to.

Posted by: Tim Crow at April 19, 2007 5:46 PM
Comment #217664

“Robotic politics” goes far beyond who somebody actually votes for in an election. Choosing who to vote for is often a kind of intellectual compromise, and it can make good sense to simply pull the lever for those who generally share your views over those who generally don’t in the hopes of giving your side the edge of a majority.

What I see as “robotic politics” is something else, the very common tendency to start with a party affiliation and then support causes or politicians based on their identification with the “home team.” This is not thinking. This is running with the herd.

Take any number of issues.

Schooling vouchers.
Global Warming.
Gay Marriage.
Social Security reform.
Affirmative action.

The list goes on. But just looking at the above list, there are positions on each of them which can be clearly identified with one party. What besides that is the common link running through all those issues?

Yet, how many people hold a straight-party line view on each of these diverse questions? And disturbingly, how many of those who do hold strict party-line views on every issue actually believe they arrived at all of those views through independent thought?

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 19, 2007 6:03 PM
Comment #217691

Tim Crow-
As I said, they should not be excused from the rule of law, meaning that they should not be privileged to write the laws to suit them.

If you want to believe that we have no power, then, you really leave yourself with no options. The Corporations do have a strong influence, but at the end of the day, we play a large part in determining what that influence remains. If we send the message that too much proximity will bring down the axe, we can begin to pry them apart.

You can win an argument, but you got to go in knowing whose choice it is to believe and not to believe, and not simply assume that people must see things your way. The swift intellectual kick in the ass doesn’t work if people don’t agree with it.

Influence and humility are not mutually exclusive. In fact, a degree of the latter can gain you a degree of the former. You say things need to be governed by truth and honesty, well so many people are convinced about what constitutes one or the other. Integrity is part of what we need, but it’s still not enough. Humility is simply being able to set aside your pride, not to let your belief in one avenue or another blind you to effective strategy

People can and do embrace integrity. The question is, is that integrity pragmatically constructed enough to create good outcomes? If it isn’t, people will turn to the dark side to get what they want.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 19, 2007 7:52 PM
Comment #217702

Paul just saw this article and as it is basically a response to mine I should at least comment.

First I in no way support just voting against incumbents, and have never stated anything along those lines. Moreover to make my point again I didn’t mean people who vote for Democrats because they agree with the Democratic candidate or vote Republican because they agree with the Republican candidate. I meant people who don’t agree with either and whose views come closer to a third party candidate on the ballot or independent on the ballot but instead vote for one of the two major party candidates, despite not agreeing with them on many issues, because they believe only the two major parties can win and thus they have too vote for the lesser of two evils.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at April 19, 2007 8:40 PM
Comment #217725

Loyal Opposition, The main problem with your list is that party affiliation in actuality does NOT determine a candidates position on these issues; instead it is one of many factors including geography, economic status, gender etc… For example, here in New England and the rest of the Northeast a Republican running for local office means someone who is socially liberal and fiscally conservative (think of Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani), whereas a republican in most other areas means a conservative in all aspects.

BTW I identify with the liberal/Democratic side of all those issues mainly because while I have been growing up in Massachusetts I have seen the liberal position pursued by state and local governments and the success that has ensued in the Commonwealth: Top tier education, high standards of living, better health care, etc…
The reason why I reject most of the conservative/Republican side of the issue is mainly because I have seen the problems it has brought this country under the current administration or in other localities that do not benefit from liberal policies.

Kctim, If you think the current composition of the house contains mostly “extreme leftists”, then I think you should take a look at the composition of state governments in states such as Massachusetts. (There are only five republicans in the Massachusetts state senate and nineteen in the Massachusetts House of Representatives). You will surely see that Congress is currently at best left-leaning to moderately liberal when compared a government truly dominated by far left politicians.

Posted by: Warren P at April 19, 2007 10:48 PM
Comment #217842

“As I said, they [corporations?] should not be excused from the rule of law, meaning that they should not be privileged to write the laws to suit them.”

Swell. I submit the Bankruptcy and Protection Act of 2005 as an example of Democratic mendacity in fulfilling such platitudes. Nineteen Senators and 73 congresscreatures of the Democratic persuasion voted for that tripe. The Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and other legislation that endangers constitutional law, all had substantial Democratic support. Refusal to filibuster cloture votes on the Alito and Roberts nominations, nominations obvious to anyone that were corporate soporifics (and now, American women are going to start paying the price with eroding abortion rights because of this recalcitrance) and in general, an insipid and totally ineffectual opposition to one of the most ideological-driven and corrupt administrations in the history of this country.

Let me be clear—the Democratic Party is part of the problem in this country. It is not part of the solution. There was a time when it could have been. But the Conservatives and the GOP aren’t the only ones that have lost credibility with American voters. Of course there are differences between the Dems and the fascists masquerading as conservatives—but I’ve stopped hyperventilating whenever I detect daylight between the positions of the Democratic Party and the GOP. With the DLC in charge of policy in DC, those moments of daylight are becoming fewer and farther between. And even when they appear, it all seems to go for naught in the end.

As Robert Kuttner, editor of The American Prospect explains in his article Conservatism’s Third Failure, the Democratic Party had some real chances to ameliorate this thirty-year decline into neo-con dementia, and instead gave us two centrist southerners that did more placating of conservatism than challenging of it. And now, the third failure of conservatism is upon us, and Dems are enthusiastically arguing for plaid curtains for the prison windows the American worker, and American citizens in general, inhabit.

Call me a cynic, but I’m coming to the conclusion that the best, most radical way to effect change in this country politically, is to vote Republican. Their collective incompetence, their vicious economic theories and policies, their hair-brained, unilateral foreign policies may be just the ticket to wake the American people up to this unfolding catastrophe. And no vision of America going down the drain is complete without the Democratic Party enabling and abetting such policies.

I wonder if this reforming the margins which I think your position represents is the best thing for the country, really. I really wonder if enabling this dysfunction, this joke of a democracy, is really what is called for.

I still believe that the only real hope is a third party, cabaled together by a few central premises that can unite a badly divided country. I think the number one issue should be economic populism—that is, a decent living wage for everyone that works, progressive taxation, extremely high estate taxes that prevent inherited wealth— and universal health care.

The Democratic track record is there for all to see—enthralled with corporate money, enthusiastically embracing foreign adventures and imperial pretensions, a cynical disregard for the very constituancies that made it a national party, a complete and utter disregard for the grassroots—and, frankly, people like me, who represent what once was the backbone of the party: aggressive, unapologetic progressivism linked to human and worker rights and protections, and a firm belief that everyone does better when everyone does better.

Posted by: Tim Crow at April 20, 2007 2:31 PM
Comment #217881

Tim Crow-
Why is it that some folks think its their job to punish the great masses? That’s too much the ego trip for my tastes. People choose wrong, they suffer. Enough punishment. What people need is deliverance, especially after the mistake of re-electing Bush.

Appeal to what people want, for crying out loud! More to the point, what people want out of the Democratic party is more important than the directions the politicians have chosen. If we want more liberal, that’s how we got to choose.

The DLC’s left its mark, but it’s no longer the driving force. Howard Dean’s movement, the more pugnacious, more committed liberals are the ones heading in the new direction.

2006 has changed things. The pressure is no longer on Democrats to conform to a Republican majority. The truth is, The American Public is sick and tired of how things have been. They want more labor rights, they want a bigger share of the pie. They want Congress to reform business, want it to re-regulate and start turning America back towards better emphasis on education and the sciences.

Democrats have been given a mandate, a license to be the liberals they once were. When folks see successful candidates once again succeeding on this basis, liberalism will once again be in full bloom.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 20, 2007 5:08 PM
Comment #217890


First of all, your snide remarks about ego are uncalled for.

Secondly, the American people aren’t looking for deliverance from a ‘mistake’, they’re wondering when the opposition party is going to get into the game. The party has had ample opportunity to uphold constitutional law, to fight for a fair and judicious economic environment, to truly represent the aspirations of workers, women, the elderly. The party grassroots have been looking for some teeth against these neo-con thugs, and have seen nothing but tail as the Dems have retreated from one fight after another.

“Democrats have been given a mandate, a license to be the liberals they once were. “

The only people that took that mandate away was the Democratic Party leadership. The mandate has always been there— the leadership chose to walk away from it.

No surprise that many former Democrats, in turn, have walked away from the party.

“2006 has changed things. The pressure is no longer on Democrats to conform to a Republican majority.”

That pressure to conform to a Republican majority lived only in the DLC business wing’s head—which was their natural inclination anyway.

Wages and benefits for American workers have been declining for thirty years. Not coincidently, union memebership in the private sector is on life support. Health care in this country is in a shambles. This can not be entirely laid at the Republican’s feet.

“Democrats have been given a mandate, a license to be the liberals they once were.”

You’re acting as if this loss of liberalism by the Dems was some act of God, or something neutral and unforseen like a car accident. The Democratic Party walked away from it’s mandate, and couldn’t do enough for the corporations and business interests under Carter and Clinton.

And now, the American worker and the country are reaping the whirlwind—a massive hollowing out of the manufacturing sector, a liscense to steal in the financial sector, a ridiculous war with no end in sight, and a very serious errosion of individual rights and privacy in the name of some will’0’ the whisp security.

The Democratic Party has either enabled, supported
or steadfastly refused to stem the tide of this carnage.

What the people need is deliverance, alright. That you think the Democratic Party has earned—that’s right, EARNED—that right, is almost as delusional has George’s foisting ‘democracy’ on the camel jockeys in the Middle East.

Posted by: Tim Crow at April 20, 2007 6:22 PM
Comment #217921

“it is the extreme left in control of both houses now…”
Nonsense. Your idea of what is “extreme left” is rather limited. The extreme left would have moved to nationalize the oil companies by now for example. Have you heard even a peep about that?Even on social issues,have you heard any attempt to legalize drug use?Not a wimper. This congress is just not extreme anything. Mores the pity if you ask me.

Vote your heart in the primaries and your head in the election. The arrogant disregard for political reality by the greens in 2000 gave us 8 years of one of the most dangerious ,corrupt and destructive presidents ever. It was a selfish act and hurt people,many people, so they could feel smug for a moment.

One does not have to agree or support every Democrat but a look at the past should convince every person that cares about their fellows to at least give them preference. The Democratic Party has been responsible for every great piece of social legislation since the Civil War. A partial list:Womens suffrage, the Wagner Act, Voting Rights Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Social Security, Medicare, Family Leave Act, all civil rights actions,Unemployment Insurance and many more.Pretty much most of the stuff that makes this a good country to live in. Us Dems have plenty to be proud of.

Posted by: BillS at April 20, 2007 9:52 PM
Comment #217931

Why we must Vati.
[Vote Against The Incumbents]

I believe, most people in America, old enough to vote, know that corruption is flourishing in our Nation=s Capital. Yet incredibly, this knowledge seems to generate very little real concern. It definitely should: Because corrupt politicians can even bring America, the richest, most powerful country that ever existed, to her knees.

Every day the Republican and Democratic Party Lords work at enacting bills, which cedes one international conglomerate after another some financial quid pro quo, for pac-money received. And nearly all concessions to Big Business prove to be detrimental to America=s working people. Under the present system America will eventually have hungry masses without health care, millionaires, and no middle class. America, as we know her, is at this moment rapidly degenerating.

Our National debt has now exceeded $8,548,384,110,614 as of the first of October 2006. To put that number in perspective, we just passed 300,000,000 citizens, so for every legal man, woman and child in America, we now owe $28,494.61. Talk about selling children into slavery, America has to be, the all time number one, on this list. Just the interest on our debt is costing us 427 billion, 419 million, 205 thousand, 5 hundred, and 30 dollars a year, at 5 percent. Actually we don=t borrow our money that cheaply. That is 1 billion, 171 million, 11 thousand, 5 hundred, 22 dollars each and every day, which our legislators are throwing away, because they failed to balance our budget. And every day, they are in session, our misguided politicians continue to give away, more and more money to Big Business. Their insatiable greed is like a growing cancer, sucking the life-blood out of America. Even if we could elect legislators, which prudently budgeted America=s great wealth: It would take our children, at least, thirty years to pay off the incredible debts, we have recklessly accumulated.

Still not concerned? Well let me relate one more fact: If America=s lenders all get nervous, and cut off our credit, our government will disintegrate, beyond resurrection, in less than a year. Soup-lines, power outages, riots, fires, violence, hunger and sickness will be the future, of what was once the greatest Nation On Earth, the United States of America.

Obviously the Senators and Congressmen, who rule the House and Senate, are never going to voluntarily give up their seats, or the source of their power, their pac-money. And stated, short and quick: The only way, we are ever going to oust enough corrupt officials to demand drastic political reform, is to vati. Washington is in sad shape, and if we love this country we had best wake up, and do something to correct this untenable situation. If you have a better idea, I=ll listen to you, if not, let=s vati.

By: GrandpaNate @ Rawlins, Wyoming. Also see:

Posted by: GrandpaNate at April 21, 2007 12:18 AM
Comment #217941

Tim Crow-
Do you think it’s your job to punish the masses? If not, then the remark doesn’t apply to you. I frankly can’t see how you’d actually do it. The trick isn’t to punish the masses, it’s to punish the leaders who fail us. If you want to curse the darkness and complain about what fools and tools the rest of us are, feel free. Meanwhile, I’m going to keep my ears open, find out what I can about what’s going wrong and tell others.

Cynicism, in my experience, is the reverse form of naivete. It allows you to stand aside and watch all kinds of foul things to go on, about which you do nothing, because you’ve told yourself nothing can or should be done. It’s telling yourself you know the way of the world, when the truth is, you’re human, capable of being mistaken about the nature of things, and mistaken for the better.

I’m for trying. I’m for playing my part to inform others, and letting them decide what they want to do. I’m not for playing a bunch of pointless games that would even go so far as to bring back the Republicans. This country needs a break from people like Bush, not a continuation of things

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 21, 2007 2:05 AM
Comment #217956

[Vote Against The Incumbents.]
That’s V-A-T-I, with a long ‘A’ and long ‘I’.

The present state of America makes me sick. It actually makes me nauseous to ponder how far this once magnificent country has slipped into mediocrity. When I was a young man, fifty years ago, you could mention just about anything: And America was best at that. Now we rarely lead the World in anything. We can still claim one title; America has become the World’s Biggest Debtor Nation.

Back then, America enjoyed the best health care, the best schools, and the best working conditions on Earth, while we worked less hours, made more money, and enjoyed a life style never before seen upon this planet.

Our coal mines were producing more coal, our steel-mills smelting more iron, and our assembly-lines led the World in manufacturing beautiful automobiles, refrigerators, wash-machines, dryers, and the hoard of smaller appliances and gadgets (which eliminated most of the drudgery of our daily chores) and introduced us to the life-of-ease, we all now enjoy.

Now, American High School Graduates rank only average (whether tested in Mathematics, World History, Language, Science or any other critical field of expertise) and compared with the test scores of students from other industrialized nations.

Our so-called health care system stinks, it is without question, the most dysfunctional conglomeration of nonsensical laws bureaucrats have ever assembled. It assures illegal aliens and greedy politicians unlimited free health care, while it renders millions of hard working, honest citizens, incapable of obtaining any kind of health insurance.

The new Social Security Drug Plan deducts a premium for drug insurance, which you can bet will raise every year, from the social security checks, of subscribers. [AARP just raised my premium from $25.25 to $28.50, a 12.87% raise for 2007.] A great many drugs are not covered by this new plan, and it only pays a maximum of about 70% on any drug, a lot less on most. When the total drug bill (what the retiree and the government pays) reaches $2250.00, Grandma gets cut off, has to pay it all herself, until her total drug bill reaches $3500.00. Obviously if Grandma can not afford her drugs, her bill will never get to $3500.00, so she will go without her drugs for the rest of the year. Of course the monthly premium will still be deducted from her Social Security Check. The drug companies formulated this drug bill, got it enacted, and only the drug companies are going to benefit from it. (Our government gives them the premiums.) In short, this Shaft Our Grandparents Bill is nothing but a multi-million dollar windfall for the drug companies.

[AARP also broadened the gap between when they quit paying for Grandma’s drugs, and when they start paying again. During 2006 they quit paying when the drug cost reach $2250, and restarted at $3600, leaving a $1350 gap. In 2007 the gap will be extended to $1450.]

The above bill is sure not the worst medical bill our elected officials have ever enacted. It just happens to be the last that made me angry. Hundreds of anti-consumer bills and amendments are on the books, which benefit only the medical and or the drug industries. Foreign competition to American Drug Companies is nonexistent. If it was legitimized, we could import drugs from reputable foreign drug facilities, for as little as 10% of the extortion we are now forced to pay our American Drug Companies.

Sad to say, but the Medical Cartels and Drug Companies, with their unchallenged power, are not the worst villains when it comes to manipulating our government into giving them a license to gouge us. The international oil and gas conglomerates, the interstate utility companies, railroad cartels, automobile and airplane manufacturing companies, the cable companies, international shipping cartels and a score of other business concerns all wield as much or more power over our Congress, Senate and President, than the drug companies do.

Big Business is our real enemy. Big Business controls both our National and State Governments, and Big Business is the real reason America is losing ground on all fronts, the reason America is slowly but steadily slipping into mediocrity.

The companies mentioned above, along with a score of Countries and a hoard of other mighty forces, funnel billions of dollars annually into Washington, to influence the Republican and Democratic Party Leaders to legislate on their behalf.

The leaders of the Democratic and Republican Parties, in the Congress and Senate, now have more control over their subservient Congressman and Senators, than a Marine General has over his troops. The Political Party Lords control the pac-money. And the pac-money is what decides who will get elected, or heaven forbid, smeared. The Political Lords can’t just walk down on the floor and tell a congressman or senator that they are fired. But they can have anyone that fails to kowtow to the powers that be, ostracized, and rendered powerless. And by denying pac-money and support, they can keep anyone from being re-elected.

It is crucial to America’s future that we, the voters, acknowledge that the Political Lords are running this country. When all the Republicans vote yea, and all the Democrats vote nay, our Congressman and/or Senators are not voting their conscience, and they sure aren’t voting the way we want them to vote. They are voting exactly the way the Party Lords have decreed they vote. And folks that’s not Democracy, that’s flagrant Bureaucracy. If we are going to declare war, prudence behooves us to first learn all we can about our enemy.

Now, I just pulled what I have written here off the top of my head. So if you find a mistake, don’t get excited, it is not that important, the overall theme of this opinion is correct. And furthermore it is also correct that with a minimum of research, anyone can ascertain for themselves that this greatest of all nations, is rapidly slipping into mediocrity.

And even the United States of America, the greatest nation that ever existed, can fall from within, if we continue to allow misguided politicians, to barter piece after piece of good government away to any group able and willing to pay for preferential treatment.

I have been telling people for years; when in doubt always vati. But only in this last year has the urge to really push this concept become obligatory.

Actually, voting against the incumbents is a very viable method of straightening out what is wrong with America. The power of our vote is awesome, if used wisely. Many congressmen and senators win their seats by very small margins, less than 5%. So if just 5% of the voters would vati, we would probably retire near a quarter of our Senators and Congressmen. And you can bet we would get their attention. If as many voters vati-ed, as voted for Ross Perot in 1992, we’d probably unseat about 75% of both houses. Very few politicians win their seats with an 18.9% margin.

Folks this plan definitely has possibilities. Politician’s egos are all wrapped up in their positions. Actually the only thing in the World, politicians love more than pac-money, is their influential positions, their jobs. And on the very day our legislators learn that their electorate is actually threatening to vote them out of office, they are going to be magically stricken with a burning desire to legislate on behave of their constituency.

The only question left is, where are you going to place your loyalty, to the Political Parties that you have been blindly supporting, or to America? You can’t serve two masters, and be loyal to both. We have to take the power away from the Party Lords; to the extent that it allows our elected representatives to vote the way we tell them to vote. Or in thirty years you are not going to be able to tell the difference between Washington and the corrupt Government of Mexico, or for that matter, tell the difference between America and Mexico.

I wrote this poem more than twenty years ago, and it reverberates my sentiment now as vibrantly, as it did then.


As Mighty Rome Fell, America Could Die.
Whether It Falls Or Not, Is Up To You And I.

I worried and stewed, but by-and-by,
came up with a plan, where you and I,
can put America the a road, to a brand-new high.
Just blame the politicians, get blood in your eye,
and vote against the incumbents. Vati, vati.

Now just voting won’t do it, we’ve got to vati.
That’s v, a, t, i, with a long “A”, and long “I.”
Vote Against The Incumbents, and you vati.
Things will never get better, until we vati.
Vote against the incumbents, Vati, vati.

There is no time, to just set and sigh.
America will fail, without you and I.
The time has come, we must do or die.
We must all vote, and we must vati.
Vote against the incumbents, Vati, vati.

Things won’t just get better, by-and-by.
Unless the apathetic voters, you and I,
hit those poles with blood in our eye.
And not only vote, but wisely vati,
Vote against the incumbent. Vati, vati.

We must not buy, some political lie,
the America we love, is about to die.
Politicians no longer, serve you and I,
but all acquiesce, to the powers that buy.
Vote against the incumbents. Vati, vati.

The newly elected may want to serve you and I,
until that powerful pac-money catches their eye.
Then party loyalty becomes, their big lie.
As they vote with the Pac, for their piece of the pie.
Vote against the incumbents, Vati, vati.

Congressmen and Senators are nigh as apt to die,
as meet defeat at the poles, by you and I.
They know we’ll vote for’em, they don’t have to try.
America is declining, as democracy goes awry.
Vote against the incumbent. Vati, vati.

Waxing fat on the apathy, shown by you and I,
politicians became hogs, and Washington’s a sty.
But we can change all that, in the blink of an eye,
if we just get off our apathy, and dutifully vati.
Vote against the incumbents. Vati, vati.

If just one out of twenty, of us would vati,
we*d get nigh a forth of that Washington sty.
Now that might he to few, to help you and I,
But we’d darn sure make, the rest of them shy.
Vote against the incumbents. Vati, vati.

And when; “Foul, foul,” the politicians cry.
And charge that; “great careers will sadly die.”
Stand up and look them, straight in the eye,
And vow; “Losing only makes the truly-great try.”
Vote against the incumbents. Vati, vati.

From the County Coroner, to that Washington sty,
if you don’t love the incumbent, always vati.
Help turn America toward, a brand-new high.
Teach your kids and your friends, they must vati.
Vote against the incumbents. Vati, vati.

If the state of America, makes you want to cry,
then help start a revolution, no one has to die.
Our party loyalty sent elections go so far awry.
And we can fix that error, just revolt and vati.
Vote against the incumbents. Vati, vati.

Part your 2nd and 3rd finger; that “V” means vati.
Send this to a friend, who you think will comply.
Let’s all band together and give’em a black eye.
Vati, vati, and hearty bye-bye.

Grandpa Nate @ Rawlins, Wyoming.
[If you like this, copy it, and pass it on.]

Posted by: GrandpaNate at April 21, 2007 10:11 AM
Comment #217991


“This country needs a break from people like Bush, not a continuation of things.”

We agree. Where we disagree is your belief that the Democratic Party isn’t a continuation of said policies—albeit with prettier music and flowers to cover up the fact that Americans are eating spam and crackers so the oligarchs stay comfy in their gated political community.

“I’m for trying. I’m for playing my part to inform others, and letting them decide what they want to do.”

Knock yourself out, Stevie my boy. But the political duopoly in this country has a knack of not putting all the options on the table; the GOP because they don’t trust the people to do the ‘right’ thing and the Dems… well, for pretty much the same reason. There’s just too much money to be made, Stephen. They’re not going to let some decrepit, 200-year-old democracy formed by some fat, rich white guys get in the way of some fat, rich, white guys making unconscionable amounts of wealth. And you can take that one to the bank. Assuming it hasn’t folded yet.

The next five years are going to be very interesting. Frankly, I don’t think the Dems can handle leadership—not with the compromised litter that’s leading the party these days. As for your perception of my cynicism—perhaps you’re right. But you’d better hone your skills in dealing with it. Because if this war is still going in the fall of ‘08, and the country is teetering on economic collapse because foreign investors are heading for the proverbial exits, the cynicism you’re going to experience while trying to sell brand Dem is going to pale next to mine. Millions and millions of folks out there have been playing by the rules, doing the right thing, raising a family, etc. etc. When, not if, this country’s political and economic karma finally catches up with it, there are going to be some very, very pissed off people. And the great part about it is—we’re sooooo well armed!!

This country, and humankind for that matter, is staring down the barrel of major challeges—and I don’t think the leadership of this country has a clue in how to proceed. Not surprising, since they have been part and parcel of putting this country behind the eight-ball economically, politically, environmentally.

You do your work, I will do mine. I suspect we will meet again down the road—I may have less cynicism then, and you may have a lot more.

Posted by: Tim Crow at April 21, 2007 3:32 PM
Comment #217994

The secret to purifying the government of all corruption, is that there is no secret. Or rather, the secrets you need to know have little do to with whether you vote Republican, Democrat, anti-incumbent, or -God forbid- pro-incumbent.

The secrets you need to know are what your representatives are doing, what they have done, what they have said. The more secrets you let them keep, the more likely you are that at least one of those secrets will be a problem for you.

I don’t mind people thinking that they don’t want to favor the incumbent when they vote. Good idea. But the deliberate sweep of all incumbents a cure for corruption? I don’t think so.

I think the American people live hectic enough lives that most people are not going to make long term political commitments of this type just on general principles.

If your mission is to depose those who shame their office, the important thing is not to approach things unable to rebut the candidate’s claims of quality performance. You need to be able, after a candidate has unreeled a litany of accomplishments, to come back and give an account of their misdeeds sufficient to undermine everything people thought of them.

If you can’t do that, two things might be true: either you’ve failed to do your research well enough, or they’re actually serving their people well in the balance, in which case there are others who more richly deserve ouster. The key is to focus one’s efforts on those who deserve to be kicked out.

The only way not to be a robot at the polls is to decide who to vote for by using your brain.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 21, 2007 3:57 PM
Comment #218000

My sense is that these people are adapted to years of Republican ascendancy. These were the people who we hired basically to get us the concessions that were possible. They’re not fully adapted to the new situation, and some might never be. Those folks are expendable.

I’ve looked over the political history of this country, and I’m damned if I can find an instance where turning to one part or another really produced long terms salvation for the people of America.

I’ve also not seen where frustration alone can really change things for the better. Take a look at the the society that was shaped in the wake of the late sixties, and you see some of the reason for my concern.

What good is giving in to anger and lashing out at people if it seperates us from them? What good is getting all high and mighty and opinionated, if we’re ignorant, and end up mere ideologues? I’ve seen the Democrats and Republicans both fail as the parties become reduced to repeating tired old slogans and trying to enforce party orthodoxy on a population that does not have an integrated, experiential understanding of it.

Nuts and bolts. That’s what matters. What matters here is education, that people know what’s going on. It is next to impossible to both disrespect and educate a person at once.

Moreover, let me tell you something: I know how bad things are getting. I know what a mess the Bush administration and the Republican Congress has made a thing. The Country knows at this point. What people need to know is not that they’ve been party to their own impoverishment, or some other similar verbal kick in the ass. People need hope.

One of the primary weapons of the Republicans in these past few years has been the claim that things could not be done better, that this all due to the inherent weakness of the federal government. They have been selling despair about the Government, about Washington for years now, and they’ve sold themselves that, too.

We don’t need to sell more despair. Americans have little enough confidence in their government, and if all you do is confirm that even more, the real question they will ask you is “why should we even try?”

The really difficult part of this party’s comeback will be moving past cynicism, moving past even hope, and moving towards the reconstruction of the Government as a regulatory force, and the reduction of the corruption in its ranks. This will take the better part of the next generation, just as the Republican deconstruction has taken the better part of mine.

I’m sorry if I’ve given you the impression that I think anything is over at this point, that the status quo, even with our people in place, is the desired end, already reached. 2006 was a necessary, and - God Yes - welcome shift in power. But it’s only the beginning.

I don’t have any desire to be cynical. If being naive is engaging in unfounded optimism as a habit, being cynical seems to be its opposite. People take advantage of both. No, I want to keep my eyes open for the good and the bad, because neither is completely predictable or knowable. We cannot properly take risks or avoid them if we bubble ourselves off from either the better or the worse possibilities.

The real dichotomy with politics today is not between cynicism and naivete, it’s between engagement and disengagement. My sense of the sixties is that for far too many people on the left, the choice was disengagement, and that lent itself both to the excesses of the liberal counterculture, and those of the Republican reaction to that. Result? Much of the politics of this country became divorced from reality. The beginnings of the 24 hour news cycle and the subsequent obsession with forming perfect bubbles of PR didn’t help things. We have to get back to the sense of government being a practical job with its own unique and necessary skillsets, rather than simply being some sort of official performance art.

So, the melodramatics most people attempt with politics don’t appeal to me. What matters are the policies, and their quality, and relating that through the mediums we choose to communicate through in a clear concise manner. We have to realize that there is a world beyond our agenda, a world which we ignore at our peril.

Additionally, I have no desire to simply sit back and wait for the options to be laid before us. I think our representatives should be notified on a regular basis of what we want, and what we don’t want.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 21, 2007 4:53 PM
Comment #218003

“The real dichotomy with politics today is not between cynicism and naivete, it’s between engagement and disengagement. “

Posted by: Tim Crow at April 21, 2007 5:10 PM
Comment #218008

“Do not depend on the hope of results, concentrate on the value and the truth of the work itself.”

Thomas Merton

Posted by: Tim Crow at April 21, 2007 5:23 PM
Comment #218044

Tim Crow-
I would say that you cannot separate one from the other. All good political philsophies must have a pragmatic component integrated into them. That pragmatic component must be part of a feedback loop of critical thinking and principles refined in the crucible of real world experience. Otherwise, we get systems that survive well only in the confines of grey matter and academic papers. Results matter. Observations matter, Experience matters, Imagination matters. All these matter most, though when they are brought together in the service of critical thought and moral action.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 21, 2007 10:04 PM
Comment #218050

“No sinner is ever saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon. “

Mark Twain

Posted by: Tim Crow at April 21, 2007 11:17 PM
Comment #232583

Vati Party

VATI is the first letter in “Vote Against The Incumbents,” and that is what it means. Vati means you always vote against the person holding the office, the incumbent, regardless of political affiliation.

The majority of our Congressmen and Senators have absolutely no fear of losing their offices. They know that party loyalty [be it Republican or Democrat] of their constituency will assure their perpetual reelecting. In the whole Senate you are likely to have only five or six seats [in the Congress less than 30 seats] that are not securely locked-up by one, or the other, political parties.

And actually, nothing is gained when we do manage to send an occasional new representative to Washington. In short: They are simply gobbled up by the system. They are introduced to pac-money, and the powerful party leaders [Party Lords] and end up cuddling up to Big Business, and voting the party line, for legislation that enhances the Conglomerate’s bottom line, to the determent of their constituency, to the determent of America.

Now, a large percentage of Congressmen and Senators win their seats by very small margins, less than 5%, so if just 10% of the voters Vati, we would likely unseat nearly 20% of our Representatives. If we could generate as much support as Ross Perot did, [according to the last election] we would kick out close to 90% of the House and Senate.

But more important than just getting rid of some self-serving politicians, unseating just 10% of the House and Senate would definitely get their attention. And then we could demand drastic change. We could demand a clean break between our Legislators and Big Business. We could outlaw all soft-money, and make any contact between our Legislators and Big Business [except publicized discussion in an open forum] illegal.
We can demand term limits. I am for an eight-year term limit, for all Government Offices. Let Senators serve one six year term or change the length their terms to four years. We can demand secure borders, and that everything entering our ports be inspected. We could demand a rigidly enforced alien worker program, which caters to America’s needs. And demand a viable plan which honorably ends the war in Iraq.

We can let Washington know, anyone who votes against anything the majority of America clearly wants, had better start looking for a new job.

Vatiing is a very viable method of voting to save America, to cure what is wrong with America, a viable way of stopping America’s rapid descent into mediocrity.

The interest in “vote against the incumbents” is growing exponentially. Now we need to get organized, form a political party. Much like any other political party, except we won’t run candidates for office. Our challenge will be to make the other Parties Candidates legislate for American, and America’s People.

If you have any ideas, comments, want to help get organized, or whatever, please leave a message at:

Posted by: GrandpaNate at September 11, 2007 4:22 PM
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