Primary and General Elections

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 15th, 2011

Politics 101

The Founding Fathers pledged to each other their Lives, their Fortunes and their Sacred Honor

People have protested and died fighting for the right to vote throughout history.  The American Revolutionary War was over taxation without representation.  Meaning that the American colonies wanted representation in British Parliament.  Something the British government did not allow.  Worse, they started taxing the Americans.  Who had no representation in Parliament.  And this did not go over well with the American colonists.  They had had enough.  They wanted a say in their government.

So the Founding Fathers committed treason.  They signed the Declaration of Independence.  And fought 8 years to have that say in their government.  It took awhile.  And a lot of the signers of the Declaration of Independence suffered for their treason.  They lost their property.  Their wealth.  And even their families.  Who suffered all sorts of brutality at the hands of the British.  These traitors.  Who defied their king.  But the cause persevered.  And the Americans won their independence.  As well as their right to self-government.

Back then people cared.  Enough to pledge to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.  But today?  People have other priorities in life.  Where reality television is more important in their lives than having that say in their government.  For they have no idea what the Founding Fathers paid to give us this cushy life of plenty.  And just assume the good times will continue to roll.  Especially if they keep voting for whoever promises to give them more free stuff.

Candidates move to the Center after Winning their Party’s Nomination and become someone Completely Different

In the country that struggled for 8 years to get the right to vote.  In the country that inspired people all around the world to follow them in the pursuit of happiness.  In the very bastion of liberty and self-government.  In America.  Guess how many people vote today in a typical presidential election.  Little more than half of eligible voters.  And that’s in the general election.  It’s far worse in the primary election.  Where we see maybe half of that turnout.  Which is rather sad.  Considering that these are the people who actually pay attention to politics.  For this is where a political party chooses their candidate for the general election.  You see, each party has a platform.  A set of political ideas.  Their core philosophy.  And the people choose who they think will best advance their party platform in the primary election.

So during the primary election candidates try to be that candidate.  The one who will best advance the party platform.  Typically the conservative moves as far right as possible to show his or her conservative bona fides.  And the liberal moves as far left as possible to show his or her liberal bona fides.  Here they’re trying to appeal to the party base.  The hardcore.  Those who are as far away from the political center as is possible.  Those who don’t give a whit about compromise or bipartisanship.  They want a purebred candidate that will take the country where they feel it should be.  They don’t want someone who will reach across the aisle and compromise away their most cherished principles.

The population roughly breaks down to 40% conservative, 20% liberal and 40% moderate/independent.  Which is all fine and dandy during the primary election.  But it’s a bit of a problem during the general election.  For that 40% moderate/independent forms the political center.  That area the candidates run away from during the primary election.  So they must scramble back to it after winning their party’s nomination.  And hope that most of those in the center didn’t pay attention during the primary.  To make the lying easier.  To no longer be who they said they were during the primary.  But to be someone completely different.  Someone who can reach across the aisle.  Someone who can compromise away their base’s most cherished principles.  Someone who believes politics should be bipartisan.  Or, better still, nonpartisan.  In other words, the last person their base would want.

When the Choice is between two Moderates, Democrats will always Choose the Democrat Moderate

Liberals have to run to the center.  For their base only amounts to about 20% of the electorate.  But it’s not quite the same for conservatives.  At 40% of the electorate they don’t have to run the center.  They only need another 10% or so of the vote to win.  So running to the center actually hurts them.  Because a lot of that political center is Democrat.  And if the vote comes down to 2 moderates they’re going to vote for the Democrat moderate over the Republican moderate every time.  Because all things being equal, a Democrat will vote for a Democrat.

When the Republicans ran a moderate who campaigned as someone who would reach across the aisle and compromise away his base’s most cherished principles, John McCain didn’t get the moderate vote.  They voted for the Democrat.  Who lied during the general election and ran as a moderate.  Sometimes he even talked like a conservative.  Even though Barack Obama was as liberal as they came.  At least based on his voting record in public office.

When Republican Ronald Reagan won his party nomination he didn’t run to the center.  He remained a conservative.  And he won.  Because a lot of Democrats voted for him.  The Reagan Democrats.  Because there was a real difference between him and Jimmy Carter.  There was a conservative and a liberal.  And the Reagan Democrats decided to vote for the conservative because they liked the conservative message better than the liberal message.  But when the choice is between two moderates who promise to reach across the aisle more than the other there’s no real difference between the candidates.  And no reason to vote for the other guy when he or she is no different than the one from your own party.

Ignoring the Primary Elections ignores the Philosophical Debate and turns the General Election into a Populist Contest

It is a shame the level of voter apathy in the country that stands for self-government.  Almost half of the eligible voters ignore politics 3 years out of 4.  And only vote in the presidential general election.  It’s a shame because we have a 2-party system.  Like it or not.  There are only two core political philosophies to choose from.  For those in the middle don’t have a philosophy.  A party.  A party platform.  A primary election.  Or a political convention.  They only get involved once every 4 years at the general election.  And ultimately end up voting for a Democrat or a Republican.  Even though they refuse to identify themselves with either party.

But ignoring the primary elections ignores the party platforms.  The meat and potatoes of the philosophical debate.  And turns the general election into nothing but a populist contest.  True democracy.  Mob rule.  With the winner often being the one who promises the most to the least politically informed.

Politics has come a long way since the Founding Fathers pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.  It’s probably a good thing they’re not here to see what has become of their self-government.  They wouldn’t like what they would see.  Especially the voter apathy.

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Independent (ĭn’dĭ-pĕn’dənt), n., One that is independent, especially a voter, officeholder, or political candidate who is not committed to a political party.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 24th, 2011

Politics 101

Independents have no Political Philosophy and can be Swayed by a Candidate’s Charisma or Populist Issue

Independents have little interest in politics.  They don’t follow the issues.  Have no philosophical basis to form a political belief.  And have no political beliefs.  As demonstrated by their voting for both Republicans.  And Democrats.  Showing that they can easily vote for and against the same fundamental beliefs.

Independents don’t understand what a party platform is.  The philosophical basis for a political party.  The things the party believes in.  And tries to advance.  In the United States there are 2 major political parties.  The Republicans.  And the Democrats.  Who stand for very different things.

Yet at elections the Independents form that great center of the electorate that tends to decide elections.  So both Republicans and Democrats try to woo them.  Because they both feel they have an equal chance.  Even though they couldn’t be more different in their political philosophy.  Because Independents have no political philosophy.  And can be swayed by a candidate’s charisma.  Or a populist issue.

There are no Independent Conventions to Nominate Independent Candidates because Independents Stand for Nothing

Democrats are for active government and income redistribution via high taxes.  Republicans are for limited government and low taxes.  The Independents are neither Republicans nor Democrats.  And that’s the extent of their party platform.

There are few Independents in politics.  Often a politician will run as an Independent after they lose the primary election for their own party.  Sort of like having a temper tantrum.  They weren’t a good enough Republican or Democrat to win the support of Republican or Democrat voters in the primary election.  So they stamp their feet and whine, “I’ll run as an Independent then in the general election.”  Where they stand a good chance of winning.  Because there are a lot of people out there who don’t vote according to any political philosophy.  Like they do during the primaries.  The Independents.

There are no party caucuses for Independents.  No Independent debates.  No Independent primary elections.  No Independent conventions to nominate an Independent candidate.  Because Independents stand for nothing.  For they are the disengaged.  The uninformed.  And out of touch.  They only think about politics at election time.  And then base their vote on how they feel at that time.  Choosing their candidate by who charms them the most.  Or stands for the populist issue they are most familiar with.

Independents eschew Republicans and Democrats yet Vote Republican or Democrat in the End

Independents eschew Republicans and Democrats.  They’re above them.  They study the issues.  And make informed decisions.  They don’t just vote the party line.  Or so they say.  But they often do.  Vote the party line.  By voting either Republican or Democrat in the end.  Often without a clue of the consequences of their vote.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #23: “Those who seek a third party cede the election to the opposition.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 20th, 2010

THIRD PARTY CANDIDATES are often election spoilers.  Dissatisfied with the direction of their party, they leave that party to form a new party.  This, of course, will split the party they left.  Some may follow.  Most will probably not.

Third party candidates have small followings.  They typically have a single issue that pushes them to leave their party.  That single issue, though, may not be as important to those they leave behind.  And this one issue may be anathema to the opposition.  Guaranteeing very few, if any, will follow that candidate into a third party.

The Green Party, for example, is an environmental party.  Environmental issues, then, dominate their political agenda.  Environmental policies typically do not result in jobs or economic prosperity.  They will draw some people from the Democratic Party.  But only those with extreme environmental views.  They will draw no one from the Republican Party which is more associated with jobs and economic issues than environmental issues.  They, then, would have little impact on the party they oppose.  But they may have a negative impact on the party that they would have otherwise supported.

And then you have your core voters.  They have and always will vote for their party.  Populist movements rarely change the way they vote.  Populist movements may be single-issue.  They may be more of a subset of an existing political party.  Or they may be vague on details completely.  They may be many things but the paramount thing they are is popular.  And they pander to the people that are demanding something.  And whatever that is, they say they will give it to them.  Populist trends, though, don’t sway core voters.

SO WHO ARE in the two core parties?  The liberals?  And the conservatives?

Liberals are pseudo-intellectuals who want to tell others how to live.  Because they are ‘smarter’ than everyone else.  Most have never held a real job.  They inherited their money or made it big in Hollywood or in some other entertainment genre (the guilty rich), are college professors, sponged off of government (the self-proclaimed political aristocracy) or are in the mainstream media. 

Conservatives typically have jobs.

Few people agree with liberals so they have to offer special privileges in exchange for votes and political power.  They get the support of the poor because they get the poor dependent on their charity.  They get the entertainment elite by stroking their intellectual vanity.  They get the various minorities and single-issue groups by throwing a few bones to them (i.e., by buying their votes).  They get Big Business with crony capitalism.  They get the unions in exchange for anti-business legislation.  They get the young by being weak on drugs and morality.  They get a lot of women because of their abortion stance.  They get the illegal immigration community because they dangle citizenship in front of them while getting as many as they can addicted to welfare (so when they do become citizens they will become good Democrats.  Of course, with the majority of illegal immigrants in question being Hispanic, it will be interesting to see how that loyalty will play out.  A lot of Hispanics are practicing Catholics.  Will they continue to support the party that attacks their religion and religious values?  After all, they’re leaving a corrupt nation where only the ruling elite live well.  They come here for a better life for themselves and their families.  And many work hard for it.  With their religious values being a strong part of their lives.  Will the liberals tempt them with their welfare state after citizenship?  Time will tell).

Many agree with conservatives because they, too, just want to work and provide for their families.  And they would like their children’s future to be a good one.  (Again, the Hispanic question is interesting.  For they have conservative values, too.  Amnesty for illegals may be a Faustian bargain, but wouldn’t be ironic if it’s the Democrats who are selling their souls?  I mean, this large bloc of Catholics could very well vote for the religious right after citizenship.)

So liberals must appeal to their base during the primary election to get their party’s nomination.  Once they have that, they then must start lying about who they really are during the general election.  Because their views and opinions are minority views and opinions. 

The conservatives just need to be themselves.  When Ronald Reagan did just that, he won in a landslide.  Twice.

LET’S CRUNCH SOME numbers.  Some simple numbers.  Let’s say there are only 11 voters.  America is a center-right country based on honest polling.  So let’s say that 4 voters are conservative and 3 voters are liberals.  The 4 in the middle are independents and moderates.  So what happens at an election?

If all of the independents and moderates do not vote, conservatives win (4-3). 

Liberals cannot win unless some moderates and independents do vote.  So liberals must encourage the moderates and independents to vote.  And, of course, to vote for them.  While making sure their base votes (‘vote early and often’ is their mantra).  As well as some criminals.  And some dead who haven’t been purged from the election rolls.

Independents and moderates, therefore, determine elections.  And the general election is all about getting these votes.  Both sides turn down the volume on the ‘extremist’ positions they held during the primaries.  Conservatives talk about bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle.  Liberals campaign as conservatives.  (Bill Clinton ran as a new kind of Democrat with some very conservative planks in his platform.  When he won, though, he moved so far back to the left that he lost the House and Senate at the midterm elections, proving once again America is a center-right country.)

So back to our little example.  If the conservatives get 2 of the 4 independent and moderate votes, they win (6-5).  Liberals need 3 of their votes for the same winning margin.  Advantage, conservatives.

Now let’s look at a rift in the conservative party.  Two leave and form a third party.  And take 2 votes with them.  For the sake of argument, let’s say these two call themselves the Anti-Abortion Party.  It is doubtful that any liberals will leave their party to join them.  And it is doubtful that independents and moderates would make overturning a Supreme Court decision a key voting issue.  They tend to tack to a centrist course through the prevailing political winds.

So the Anti-Abortion Party candidate will only get 2 votes.  This candidate will not win.  That leaves only 9 votes in play.  Which means getting only 5 votes will win the election (less than a majority of the total 11).  All the third party candidate did was to make it easier for the liberals to win.  They only need 2 of the 4 of the independent and moderate votes.  Conservatives now need 3.  The third party took the conservative advantage (only needing 2 additional votes to win) and gave it to the liberals.

THE MORAL OF the story here is that a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for the opposition.  The lesser of two evils may still be evil, but it is still ‘less’ evil.  You should never lose sight of that.  If a political statement is only going to result in the greater evil, it is better to be more pragmatic than idealistic when voting in a general election. 

The energy of a third party or third party-like movements (such as the new Tea Party) should be marshaled during the primary election.  To get good candidates who can win general elections.  And who will remember that they are the people’s representative, not a member of a privileged, ruling elite.

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