On 1/17/2014 8:10 AM, Kevin Zeese wrote:
> You are misunderstanding me, I have not said don’t vote. No one is saying don’t vote. I’ve been fighting for a better democracy for years. So, I’m not against voting.
Glad to hear this.
> It is just not that important in the US as political strategy.
As it’s being practiced by most people, that’s correct. I’m not proposing that Americans line up, like “Good Germans”, to vote a slightly lesser evil Dem or Repub in general elections. I’m arguing for intelligent voting, the lowest (= least developed, least amount of buy-in by the public) rung of which is punitive voting in primaries. In the case of multiple challengers, where there is no reform candidate, vote splitting can be avoided by a simple algorithm, one example of which I gave here: ).
I’ve had extensive discussions with Nancy Bordier about her proposal to develop an enabling system supporting the use of vote blocs (which function mainly in their own, democratic interests, and just use political parties as vehicles). You can read these mostly at openleft.com. She calls her (patented) system IVCS – Interactive Voter Choice System.
It’s years late, and I’m afraid it’s effectively dead (I can’t know, for sure, because she doesn’t communicate about it’s status much.) She’s lives in Washington, D.C., so you can probably meet her pretty easily, is you want to discuss it.
While I think IVCS is the single best idea I’ve ever encountered for reforming democracy, I feel Nancy puts too much faith in it’s potential. In point of fact, she could screw up it’s implementation and promotion, and no how, no way, is IVCS capable of filling every void in the democratic infrastructure we could and should have.
> I’m saying it is much more important for us to focus our time on building a mass movement that challenges the legitimacy of a very corrupt government, rather than spend our time in those corrupt elections.
Well, we seem to mostly agree. The way that I put things is that citizens should only spend something like 10% of their time and money on electioneering. They should be spending 90% on recruiting, educating, social service(that builds social capital) , etc.
However, that 10% is very important. Once a politician knows that you will do nothing to remove them from office, you are taken for granted. Sure, if you can put enough people on the street, consistently, you might frighten them into doing the right thing. But which is far, far easier to do?
I participated in the 2nd largest march against the impending Iraq invasion during the reign of Bush II. I had a painful knee, and about $200 in the bank. Almost no Congress critter came out to meet us. Some Democrats deliberately left town.
Those well-paid jerks – both the Dems and Repubs – simply waited us out and ignored us, even though the demonstrations were the largest since the Vietnam War. It was from that painful experience that I derived a good deal of my conviction that public actions should:
1) target fellow citizens, not Congress critters (who will CERTAINLY find out if you’ve amassed, or are amassing, a large enough vote bloc to defeat them in their next primary; this would be done noisily, so no need to chase them around)
2) be ubiquitous and persistent, instead of large and infrequent ( part of the idea behind occupypublicspaces.org; my implementation didn’t catch on, but I’ve done next to no promotion; and, as you said, my implementation is not intuitive.)
> Major social change in the US has not come because of who is in office, but whether there is a social movement demanding change. Nixon — one of the most corrupt presidents, and most right-wing (up until his time) — not only ended the Vietnam War but created the Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, updated the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts . . . the list goes on.
My stressing of the essential nature of credible electoral threats has little to do with faith in having ‘good’ politicians installed, into office. (At least not before extensive mobilization of the public, the building out and adoption of missing/under-utilized democratic infrastructure, etc. I.e., not until some years have passed.) Rather, it reflects my belief (and observation) that Congress critters are self-serving, and their arms can, indeed, be twisted, due to their self-centered desire to continue and ‘succeed’ in their careers.
> The point is, he was not an anti-war environmentalist but there was a strong anti-war, pro-environment movement and to be legitimate as president he had to listen to it. Even FDR would not have pushed the New Deal but for a social movement demanding it. He came from a background as a banker! But when there is no social movement as in the Clinton era, all sorts of bad policy directions occur.
I’ve no argument against the fact that we need pushy social movements. I’m against them being inefficient, and tactically and strategically clueless.
Although I can’t speak for him, I’d be shocked if Bueno de Mesquita didn’t appreciate the value of pushy social movements. However, I can easily infer that his mind would boggle if anybody claimed that the eligible voters constituting the social movements’ membership should not use their votes strategically, including punitively.
I’d also be shocked if he would dispute the need to educate the public about the need to abandon lesser-evilism voting methodology.
> Voting is especially irrelevant in presidential races in the US because we have the electoral college — a candidate gets all the votes in a state if s/he wins the state. We already know where about 40 states votes will go. When it gets to voting day, only 2-3 states matter anymore.
Yeah, I’m with you on presidential races, in the sense of running reform candidates. Also, lesser evilism can become a rational voting strategy when the difference can literally mean life and death, because either the D or R was willing to risk nuclear war with Russia. That was, in fact, my analysis of the 2012 election. Afterwards, we saw Obama withdrew his bombing threat of Syria. John McCain, however, foolishly blabbered on about Russia and China not “having the balls” to interfere with our agenda. A President Mitt Romney struck me as similarly inclined towards confrontation and hubris with nuclear-power Russia.
> And, sadly, even at the congressional level, voting districts are drawn up by computers so they are pretty easy to predict. Each party gets its share and 20 o 40 seats are up for grabs depending on the year. It keeps the two party fraud going.
I’m well acquainted with the problem of gerrymandering. However, this shifts the rational calculus towards working within the D or R party – even if only as an electoral saboteur. I.e., as I have repeatedly argued elsewhere, if you live in a red district where a Republican representative is all but assured, you should be intervening as a registered Republican, even if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool lefty. (I am simplyfing things, of course. )
Furthermore, the math remains, showing that, numerically speaking, creating radical disruption within primaries is quite easy.
I can understand why both Democratic and Republican politicos don’t educate the public about their main vulnerability. What I find harder to stomach are putative reform groups who manifest obvious strategic incompetence.
> Everything flows from the movement. Build the movement. That is the task.
Generally speaking, failure to “walk and chew gum, at the same time” paves the way to dis-empowerment and failure. Especially when your adversaries (I mean the plutocrats) are quite willing to fight you on every level. They are walking and chewing gum, at the same time, and a whole lot more. Being myopic is no more in your interest than picking a fight in multiple venues in which you cannot muster a credible effect.
Will it be easier to build a movement, when that movement demonstrates the ability to fire Congress critters; or else set themselves up for being ignored by those same Congress critters? You are not doing the math; you are also not doing any sort of cost-benefit analysis (even informally; I haven’t done any formal cost-benefit analysis, myself).
TPP is a clear and present danger, and fast track is on the agenda, right now. If fast track passes by a single vote, will you be content about the public making no serious effort to twist their Congress critters’ arms, and putting exclusive faith in a multi-year process to build a movement?
Will building a movement be easier, or harder, with TPP already getting passed, this year?
In fact, I also think that it’d be MUCH easier to build a movement that, as part of it’s agenda, targets bad Congress critters with punitive votes. Why? Because when the movement recruits citizens (hopefully, with ubiquitous, face-to-face outreach), it can ask citizens if they’re willing to take 4 hours out of their lives, every 2 years, to FIRE any Congress critter who is willing to facilitate exporting THEIR jobs, and making serfs out of them? Are they willing to do to their Congress critter what he/she is effectively doing to them – i.e., DEPRIVING THEM OF EMPLOYEMENT?
We saw in Wisconsin that pushing the meme of jealously towards well-paid, unionized government jobs, into the minds of non-unionized citizens, helped erode support of the unions. In the case of Wisconsin unionized workers, whatever harm – real or imagined – that non-unionized Wisconsinites feared, it pales in comparison what Congress may soon do to all American workers, unions and non-unionized, alike.