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A strategy for reinvigorating our democracy

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On 12/5/2018 at 2:15 PM, bludog said:

~  Reduce campaign duration to six weeks.


The problem I see with this is that there will be an "official" campaign start time, but the unofficial one will be exactly what it is now. Candidates will do everything they do now, unofficially, and "No, there's no particular reason I'm kissing this baby, while eating that bagel and slice of pizza."


I'd like to make every primary occur on the same day, with uniform rules nationwide. Same with all voting: uniform rules.

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On 12/6/2018 at 9:01 AM, Renegade said:




I said I would comment after digesting this data ^^^^

And this... (see below)

On 12/7/2018 at 8:11 AM, Renegade said:





Here's another chart from the same source that shows Congress becoming more conservative as whole while Democrats become more liberal and Republicans become more conservative.




Here's another.  This one is from a poll of voters, not politicians.  It shows how even our values are drifting apart. Pew Research







So, while saying 'there are no moderates left' is a slight exaggeration, we continue to head in that direction and we're almost there.


After reading the above research, it only confirms my belief that the US is experiencing deepening political division.

This division is particularly evident when viewed through the lens of organized political organizations like Republican / Democrat, or Conservative / Liberal identity. The trajectory is also very clear., and we are not the only country experiencing this upheaval.


Is this Good, or  Bad?

It's probably Bad, because it's the stuff civil wars are made of. However,  it raises the stakes for hard decisions to be made on issues where there is no 'middle path', or where compromise produces mediocrity.


So it is no exaggeration that there are very few moderates voters left. There are very many reasons for this.

Moderation is both a cure, and a disease. Extremism is both a cure, and a disease.

Regardless, deep political division is the reality of the situation. One side must capitulate to make progress on any issue.


Historically, this is not the first time the country has experienced these deep, widening divisions.

It usually coincides with ideological 'peaks', such as the peak of pro business conservatism from 1920-1928, that resulted in economic depression.

The early 1920's were very analogous to what we are seeing today, with deep economic, and political divisions.


Twelve years later, the direction the country should be taking became painfully clear. The FDR won a landslide victory, and ushered in a long period of popular progressive policies that practically eliminated divisions.



1932 Election results:  FDR - Blue, Hoover - Red


On 12/7/2018 at 1:17 PM, bludog said:


I am hyper-partisan and for good reason.  The Republican party is on the wrong side of every issue.


~   Forced birth.  Afterwards, remove all support for single mothers and their children. Claim to support family values.

~   Fighting to end Social Security and Medicare.  Against single payer.  Pro health insurance industry.

~   Oppose entitlements and/or bailouts except for corporations and the banking industry.

~   Anti labor union.  Anti-worker.  Labor issues always decided in favor of management.

~   In favor of heavy sentences for small offenses.  Support the largest prison system in the world.

~   Against equal rights and civil liberties.

~   Promote merging of Christian church and state. 

~   Support the NRA and limitless proliferation of guns.

~   Against Campaign Finance Reform.  Favor heavy campaign spending and ever longer duration of campaigns.

~   Oppose lobby reform.

~   Consistently favor shifting the tax burden from the very rich to everyone/anyone else.

~   Support big industry freedom to pollute our land, water and air.

~   Against renewable energy and for the continued use of fossil fuels.  Against even fossil fuel efficiency standards.

~   Deny Climate Change and support all forms of unlimited carbon and methane emissions.

~   Support an unnecessarily bloated military and endless war to increase the income of a small number of war profiteers.

~   Anti-Democratic.  Voter suppression.

~   Cheat in elections.

~   Put barriers in the way of good education for all those willing and able.

~   Anti-science.

~   Support mergers and monopolies.

~   Trade in lies to the public while harboring a single main goal.

~   Champion Plutocracy.


Unanimous  Republican support of ALL the above policies make the Republican Party possibly the most dangerous organization on Earth. 


At least the Democratic Party offers hope.  Many elected democratic officials support policies on the above list.  But, unlike the GOP, not ALL democrats support ALL the above policies.  So it is not unreasonable to think the Democratic Party can reform itself.  Whereas the Republican Party seems Hell-bent on abuse and destruction.

I do not consider myself hyper-partisan. I used to be partisan Dem, but over the years they have drifted away from the party of the people.

It's just a political organization, progress on the issues are far more important to me than party conscription, especially economic, and environmental issues.

Hyper- political would better describe my activism.



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10 hours ago, Renegade said:

t's been a while since I went to a dance, but I'm reasonably sure some things haven't changed.  For example, I doubt you get many dance partners when you call her a racist, plutocratic, worker-hating, climate-destroying, science-denying ignoramus...even before you've said "hello". 


Interesting that you didn't or couldn't find an a  realistic  way to describe the Right Wing Noise Machine without being pejorative.  


I never pre-judge anyone.  I have to see for myself first.   And I certainly don't call people names, without provocation, as you're trying to imply.   But I  wouldn't want to dance with someone who has given me reason to think she's any one of those things you mention.   My first preference would be a Liberal woman.  After that, chemistry will take its course, one way or the other.   Only a Liberal masochist, would be attracted to  a racist, plutocratic, worker-hating, climate-destroying, science denying ignoramus.  I don't like interacting with such people. 


And from what you've said about your reaction to NHB, it sounds like you don't like to interact with them either, despite the claims. 


10 hours ago, Renegade said:

If you can't see that each side mischaracterizes the the other, then you are a true partisan. 


What I see is that the lion's share of the mischaracterization goes from right to left;  Something like 90/10 or 80/20.


10 hours ago, Renegade said:

Having been a conservative, I guess it's easier for me to see how the liberal message (full of ridicule, self-righteousness, and disdain) is received.  It's completely ineffective.  No...scratch that.  The current liberal message is actually counter-productive in the way it's received by conservatives.  I want very much for the liberals to do a better job of engaging with conservatives, because that's what helped me.


When I first joined NHB, under a different screen name many years ago, I was a conservative.  There were a few (certainly not all) liberals around back then who were willing to treat me as a real person and engage me in long and painful debates on various issues with a minimum of name-calling.  We, with reasonable respect, exchanged ideas, quoted facts, and made logical arguments.  Over time, I realized that in some cases (SS, climate change), I was just wrong.  In other cases, I discovered another point of view I'd never considered that needed to be weighed and respected.  And, I don't believe it was all one-sided, either.  I believe they learned as much as I did.  In still other cases, I realized I really wasn't conservative in the first place.  I had been influenced by the 'halo effect' (assuming that because the party was right on some issues some of the time, they must be right on all issues all the time).  That's when I deserted the conservative 'team' and became a renegade, refusing to claim any ideology or let any group speak for me. 


Thanks for the history.   Judging by what you say, you are a rare exception to the rule.  There are ZERO Conservatives like that today on NHB. 


10 hours ago, Renegade said:

Where does the intellectually curious person go today to discuss their ideas?  The internet seems to be a great big cesspool of hate.  In real life, people avoid talking politics as much as possible.  Just the thought of asking a neighbor what they really think makes people anxious.  Have we lost the ability to exchange ideas?   In science, no idea is sacred.  If you have evidence, facts, a hypothesis...your argument will be considered.  In politics...no.  Whether we're D or R, our first question is "What's the source of this information?"  If it comes from 'the other side', we immediately discard it (propaganda!  lies!) without even considering its merits. 


I give up...nothing left to say right now.  My style of political engagement is an anachronism.  I'm going back to my escapist entertainment for a couple days.  After a while, I start to get overly passionate and need a break. 


Maybe a few years from now, when there's still been no effective government action on any of the major problems facing the nation, voters will wake up and realize they need to stop attacking each other and work out real solutions.  Or maybe not.  Maybe one side or the other will work itself into enough of a fanatic frenzy to REALLY take control of the government, in which case we could end up like Venezuela (leftist) or Turkey (right-wing).


As has been observed, many times, all civilizations have had a shelf-life and have eventually ended.  Except for those now extant, of course.  Sometimes a people, having gone far down the path of decay, are able to right themselves and make a comeback, for another defined period of time.  The US seems to be in a devolving cycle now.  Like Venezuela or Turkey, we are changing from to something different than we were.  In the US, Plutocracy is now in the ascendance.  But no one knows the future.




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6 hours ago, ExPDXer said:

I do not consider myself hyper-partisan. I used to be partisan Dem, but over the years they have drifted away from the party of the people.

It's just a political organization, progress on the issues are far more important to me than party conscription, especially economic, and environmental issues.

Hyper- political would better describe my activism.


The way I would describe my own politics:---    I am for social and economic equality, as much as possible.  I support the things that make life better for ordinary people, the 99%.   My political opponents are those who hold beliefs and support policies that are inspired by plutocratic loyalty to the detriment of everyone else.  I also oppose bigots.  I want to nullify their agenda, making  progressive policies  possible so the vast majority of the people can be  prosperous and secure again.  That's why I'm a Democratic Socialist.  


But if believing the Republican Party today, far more than Democrats, is the party of deceit and elitism, then I am hyper-partisan. 

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2 hours ago, laripu said:

The problem I see with this is that there will be an "official" campaign start time, but the unofficial one will be exactly what it is now. Candidates will do everything they do now, unofficially, and "No, there's no particular reason I'm kissing this baby, while eating that bagel and slice of pizza."


Yes there would inevitably be abuses.  But without large campaign donations, it will be hard to sustain campaigns for the duration times we see now.


2 hours ago, laripu said:

I'd like to make every primary occur on the same day, with uniform rules nationwide. Same with all voting: uniform rules.


I suggested the same.  I feel it would  curb the out-of-control spending and media circus that the long primary season is now.  Criticisms were that there would be little time for new candidates to gradually introduce themselves to the public and become known …  Like Bernie did.



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It is unrealistic to suggest that civil discourse on the Liberal, side would eventually discourage verbal abuse from the Conservative side.  Within the Right Wing Propaganda machine, Conservative talk radio is the medium which generates the most hate toward Liberals.  And radio is still a major influence on the public.


Source - Google.


Talk Radio by the Numbers. Broadcast radio may seem like the wave of the past, but radio remains a strong force in American media with over 90 percent of Americans ages 12 or older still tuning in each week. Yet a startling percentage of the political and talk radio broadcast each day is conservative—91 percent.


Every day, in nearly every area of the US, there is usually more than one Conservative radio host, spewing acid hate of Liberals, immigrants, and people of color.  And the hate has become more intense in the last few years.  The few (9%) non-partisan or Liberal outlets, may tend to spin, but rarely. if ever, do they advocate hate of "the other".


Living within this dynamic, Conservative listeners who buy this stuff,  and it's a considerable number, are freshly motivated, every day to treat Liberals with contempt.  Liberals will not escape this ire with rational talk or civil discourse.  The only way to reverse it is to gain Democratic super majorities, for a sustained period of time.

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I wouldn't say that there are no more Democratic Party Moderates. Actually, the body politic has shifted right over the years.

I would say the Democratic Party has a weak spine. Bringing up PayGO, or pay as you go rules as the first order of business like Pelosi want to do does nobody any good. Over the years the Republicans have introduced large tax cuts mostly for the rich. The tax cuts didn't create more jobs and wound up only raising the Debt. So when the Democrats introduce Pay Go rules right off the bat  - it's not like they are going to get any buy in from the Republicans, or a pat on the back. The Republicans only want a smaller government and tax cuts for the rich. So they'll operate the same way they have always done in the past.


Yes, fix SS, and do it immediately. It would be an easy feat finding a way to pay for it. But there are many other issues that need to be addressed that may cost a lot of money and also require raising the debt. Now would be a great time to create more debt due to the low interest rate. But big spending has be done carefully as an investment into the future with such things as building infrastructure, a new energy grid, and public transit. 


And diminish patents please. Pharmaceuticals cost far too much. Studies show that if you reduced patent rights you could cut costs something like 380 billion a year, or 2% of GDP.


I would like to take the political slant out of governing so that actual topic experts could attach problems with facts first and foremost and then present these facts in public hearings - show the hearings during prime time television viewing hours. Then, have experts monitor the outcomes and present the outcomes in non-political hearings so that the same mistakes are not repeated again and again. 


Definitely make it so all folks can vote. A voting holiday, so that all people vote as well as mandatory civics being taught in high school and in college. 






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I think most people ARE moderate, overwhelmingly so, and if you lay the issues out on the table in front of them and they go through them, even where they disagree on the issue you'll find it's just a question of degree, and most reasonable people would be willing to find a compromise.  I think the extremism and the partisanship are driven by the way our politicians are funded and then married into the lobby system, too.  They are forced to spend a lot of time and energy playing money games, securing the donations they need to keep their jobs.  I think the fact is our elected representatives do not represent us, increasingly so, and that is what is reflected in the graph showing the nearly total partisanship.  The donors' interests are represented, and not in any sort of nuanced, meaningful, Liberal way, but in a "Give us what we want or you're out," kind of way.  


I think there is something to the idea of a lack of competition in the political marketplace, for sure, and that monopoly/cartel influence is behind our most pressing and pervasive problems.  I believe the impulse behind the free market fundies is correct, even if they have been led totally astray on the topic.  The purpose of the market is competition.  That is what drives innovation.  Competition can fix a lot of our problems.  Competition fosters creativity and risk taking.  When a narrow subset of people control the direction of development we are all going to be limited by their vision and risk aversion.  Ultimately all we'll get is developments that make them richer and more powerful, whether or not they really solve our problems efficiently or elegantly.  This is true in the economy and also, therefore, in politics.


Every impediment we have towards cleaning up our tax code, our anti-trust regulation, our healthcare system, even civil rights and voting problems, everything...we cannot solve any of those problems until we remove the logjam created by big money politics.  I think our best recourse is to move towards electing as many people as possible-- very nearly as single-issue voters --who have a demonstrable aversion to that big money and the identity politics that the big money finds so profitable.  If you're taking money from Goldman Sachs-- lots of it --then you're never going to look at Goldman Sachs and say, "You control markets in which gold and silver are traded, where speculators live, and you own the mines, the shipping companies, the warehousing, of a huge segment of that entire industry.  You have rigged the game and this is not competition.  AND you are so big and powerful economically that if you fail you would quite possibly cripple our entire economy for a decade or more."


If you take money from the insurance industry you're not going to push all that hard for real healthcare reform, which must necessarily at the very least throw those insurance companies into competition with one another again somehow.


And amid all of that, the duopoly within politics itself, the identity politics that keeps us locked out of meaningful moderate Liberal debate and real problem-solving, even issues that may not directly benefit the Koch Brothers or Goldman Sachs...if you want money for your Republican candidacy, you will act to block abortion and vocally bring it up on a regular basis, because that keeps the tribes locked down, us or them, only two choices, and that is so much easier to manipulate.  Individual candidates cannot differentiate themselves in the political marketplace by being more reasonable, or smarter, or better informed and championing genuinely good policies.  Can a Republican run with a full slate of Republican ideals...but oh, by the way, I think abortion should be legal???  Think about it.  That's not even possible.  You're literally not allowed to say that if you're a Republican.  


Now you KNOW for sure that plenty of Republicans feel that abortion is at least a necessary evil, and that some of them even agree that it is a woman's right to choose to terminate her pregnancy within some limits.  But they never, ever deviate from the party line on that issue.  


On an issue like that, which is intractable for a lot of people, if you want to get along with your friends or your spouse, you start by not bringing that sh!t up.  In politics, where they have to build relationships to solve problems just like you do at work or at home, they are literally compelled to bring it up constantly, to relentlessly make it the focal point of every discussion, to seek out points of the most disagreeable contention and harp on them.


Who does that serve?


Big Money is the problem.  We have to stop electing Big Money, so that Small Money can get the playing field level again.  If we will not elect Small Money, then Big Money will keep winning.  And Big Money LOVES identity politics, and loves driving us all into one of two corners, where we are so much easier to steer.

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