Saturday, November 8, 2008

Electing a BLACK President is not real change

...So let me say something that other people can't or won't say

A rose is a rose is a rose? A man is a man is a man
In America we believe in the equality of people. I understand that electing a BLACK man is an important symbol for America and for others in the rest of the world. But it's only a symbol, so get over it. America does not become more free, black rights are not enhanced nor are black people's opportunities made more even by having a black man as President.

Color is only skin deep
Barack is not smarter than a white man. He does not jump higher, run faster or legislate better, just because he is 'black'. True he breaks a string of Republican control in Washington at the helm. But that is his 'democratness' not his blackness. As politicians go he is not even particularly radical. We did not elect Al Sharpton or Al Gore.

People who want REAL CHANGE need to look for something else.

Another democrat...
The fact is that OBAMA is simply another democrat. And, to me, as long as there is democrat or a republican in the White House it is ALL THE SAME. The great fiction of the Obama campaign and why I am less than impressed with him was that John McCain, a war hero, was said to be the same as George W. Bush, a near draft dodger and national guard member. Bush invaded Iraq something McCain surely would not have done. This was a stupid tactic and I don't really think it got traction outside of the party faithful (who liked it very much). Moreover Barack's claims to have been against the war while true was sort of irrelevant. At the time he was a 'nobody senator.' Had Hillary voted against the war THAT would have been bold. The acid test? Barack's dissent did not make headlines.

IF OBAMA wants to be an agent of change then he should work to DISMANTLE the electoral college. Gore would have beaten Bush had the president been elected by popular vote in that contest.

Election Shenanigans
In this election there are allegations that in Mississippi and in Alabama some counties had more registered voters than they had residents of legal voting age. When Kennedy beat Nixon there was talk of election shenanigans in Chicago that might have cost Nixon the White House but he refused to pursue it 'for the good of the country.' That's not the sort of thing we remember Nixon for, is it? Gore and Bush fought over votes (hanging chads...) in Florida with the Supreme court weighing in. Why all this conflict over a few votes? Because the electoral vote system is a winner take all system. Fifty one point one percent is worth 100 percent in electoral arithmetic and forty nine point 9 percent can be worth nothing. the system and its stakes are fraught with the incentive for and possibility of corruption.

But all these shenanigans are for one thing: a state's electoral vote. Ross Perot got about 19% of the popular vote and NO ELECTORAL VOTES when he ran (apologies: in an earlier posting I wrote that Ross got 27% but that was his high-water poll number; in the general election he actually tallied 19%). The electoral vote winner take all schemes is stacked against outsiders - and mavericks, too. The scheme for for resolving ties is through a vote in the House, another factor that favors existing parties. . Obviously no outsider would win the tie vote in the House if that happened. Ross Perot's campaign underlines how futile it is to run as an independent. The major parties OWN the elections and they in turn are heavily influenced by big money and lobbyists. NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg thought of running early in this campaign but did not I think after pondering the Perot result. You must win states, not just votes, and a lot of them.

Party TIME!!
The electoral system is supposed to be a sort of large state/small state compromise since states get votes in proportion to their number of senators and representatives. In fact this arrangement is a conservative system that supports the existing party structure. Parties own America not the voters. Parties even OWN the primaries in some states. I cannot vote in NY unless I am a registered something such as a republicans or democrat. Yet my tax dollars pay for these 'elections'. Parties have divvied up the states. Most have such set behavioral tendencies that they are committed almost without regard to the candidate to republicans or democrats election after election.

One state, two state, red state, blue state, Independent? screwed state
Electoral votes were thought to be a way to make small states relevant. But voting patterns have become so set that democrats always know they win NY so why spend much time there? Republicans have similar states/regions of strength. Modern elections focus on campaigning in swing states and so those voters come to have the most influence. As a resident in NY I might not even bother to vote for a republican in the national election since democrats will win the state and all the electoral votes will go to their candidate. The system disenfranchises minority voters in states that are overwhelmingly Red or Blue.

This is I contend is unamerican and certainly NOT democratic. IF ever we want real change - and here I think also of what we are trying to achieve in the financial markets as well with the role of big money and lobbyists - we need to break out of this two-party choke hold.

It is not one man one vote. For a republican in NYC it is one man no vote. For voters in Ohio or Florida it is one man swing vote. Those are the sorts of states that decide who gets to be president these days not NY, not Texas, not California. Big states begone.

If we had a popular vote all votes would count equally as we now pretend they do.

Moreover with q popular vote tally, anyone could run for president. The party structure would not loom as large. We could have more factions that could combine to back a candidate. We could 'unbundle' the parties. For example the Republican party is a factionalized amalgam of religious conservatives and small government advocates that want taxes low. The republican party lumps them together as 'republicans'. Why? These points of view have nothing in common. The same is true of democrats and their factions. Will Rogers famously said, 'I don't belong to an organized political party, I'm a democrat.' With factions formed to support candidates we would have swing factions instead of swing states. Elections would be determined by ideology on the margin instead of by an assault on a piece of geography where voters were thought to be more pliable. Or where gobs of money could turn the tide. That is not democracy. But it is what we got.

So Barack, want to implement some real change? Try that.

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