Saturday, February 26, 2011

State Voter Power

In the Great Depression era, my folks voted for Democrat candidates.  They believed the FDR liberalism myth about fixing our economy, and during WWII, they knew in their hearts FDR would defend America. The fact that the Roosevelt family was rich, FDR was an elitist (as shown with his long cigarette holder). Elected Democrats officials were progressive, but were never disconnected to the Depression era voters. People voted for then as they do now based on information released through various news agencies and federal monies flowing into their district.

Voter power or voter impact becomes one key issue in the debate for Repealing the Seventeenth Amendment. Those who oppose repealing the Seventeenth argue it takes away the direct vote of “The People.”

Because all politics is local, the exact opposite becomes the reality.  When U.S. Senators represent their individual state’s best interest, then every state voter’s ballot magnifies their personal choice. Every senatorial election brings their senator into their cross-hairs, making that senator dependent on voter’s expectations.

A most recent poster child to use as an example is Arlen Specter, of PA. This man has changed his position more often than a porn star in an XXX movie.  Specter initially campaigned for U.S. Senator of Pennsylvania as a moderate.  After a term, he became a progressive voting for liberal legislation.  Later, he switched from a Republican U.S. Senator to a Democrat U.S. Senator, without any vote by “The People” of PA.  Finally, in 2010, he was voted out of office in the state primary race.

If “The People” of Pennsylvania owned their initial direct vote, then upset citizens and voters could have marched on their state capitol.  These disenchanted state voters could have petitioned and demanded their states legislatures call for Specter’s recall.  Then, those local legislatures would have acted as the Massachusetts state legislatures responded by appointing their new Senator, U.S. Senator Scott Brown.

A much stronger case resides with the voters casting their ballots for their U.S. Senator, who must listen to their needs. That Senator’s coat tail would be cut short there by limiting bribes, kick-back or undue influence from special interest groups. By beholding to local voters would open a real dialog into their Senator’s ear.

In his book, Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About The American Voter by Rick Shenkman (2008, Basic books, NY, NY), discusses voter perceptions. Most of his research focuses on national elections and polls. His writing was completed BEFORE the present Obama Administration.

On page 38, Shenkman notes...” that voters are rational” for two basic reason: ability to distinguish between problems; recognize celebrity status (leadership). On page 41 he notes that, “Voters are also known to engage in what is called “strategic voting”, and he cites examples.  Voter faults are cited on page 4 in which is summed up by this sentence, “Again and again what the polls show is that Americans cannot make up for their lack of basic knowledge even if they shrewdly employ shortcuts.”

One final notation reinforces the power and force coming from local elections, on page 64 the author notes,
“Let’s be frank. The People is a largely meaningless term as Americans use it. It does not fit any particular demographic profile. The People are poor, the middle class, and the young and the old.  That is, they are everybody and therefore nobody in particular.  Thus things stand today, and thus things have stood since the founding. James Madison conceded in private that there is no such thing as The People.  America is a mass, no single group can claim to be representatives, and majorities shift constantly.”

Texas Bank Robber

A hooded robber burst into a Texas bank and forced the tellers to load a sack full of cash.
On his way out the door a brave Texas customer grabbed the hood and pulled it off, revealing the robber's face. The robber shot the customer without a moment's hesitation. He then looked around the bank and noticed one of the tellers looking straight at him. The robber instantly shot him also.

Everyone else, by now very scared, looked intently down at the floor in silence.  The robber yelled, "Well, did anyone else see my face?"

There were a few moments of utter silence in which everyone was plainly afraid to speak. Then one old man tentatively raised his hand and said, ...." My wife got a pretty good look at you , and she thinks she knows you."

1 comment:

danq said...

Funny you bring up Arlen Specter. The current PA Senator who took his place, the Ron-Paul-allied Pat Toomey, lost to Specter in the primaries, mostly due to endorsement by fellow big-spending pro-war/torture neocon President Bush. (And Specter is pro-choice!)

In that election, I voted for the Constitution Party (paleoconservative third party, now basically banned from PA) candidate who ran against Specter. He got 3%, as did the Libertarian candidate. Specter won anyway! It's the only time I ever voted third-party, and I fully stood and stand by it.

Note that Specter failed at switching to Democrat and lost to a real conservative Republican, Pat Toomey.