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kskiska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 10:41 PM
Original message
WP: Political Split Is Pervasive
Clash of Cultures Is Driven by Targeted Appeals and Reinforced by Geography

Sunday, April 25, 2004; Page A01

First of three articles

The past decade has been one of the most eventful in American political history, from the Republican takeover of Congress to the presidential impeachment, the resignation of two speakers of the House, the deadlocked presidential election, the 2001 terrorist attacks, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more.

And yet, like a bathroom scale springing back to zero, the electorate keeps returning to near-parity. It's happening again: A little more than six months before Election Day, numerous polls find President Bush in a very tight race with Democratic challenger Sen. John F. Kerry among a sharply divided electorate. A large number of voters -- seven in 10, according to one Pew Research Center poll -- say they have already made up their minds and cannot be swayed.

What explains it? From Congress to the airwaves to the bestseller lists, American politics appears to be hardening into uncompromising camps, increasingly identified with the two parties. According to a growing consensus of political scientists, demographers and strategists, the near-stalemate of 2000 -- which produced a virtual tie for the White House, a 50-50 Senate and a narrow Republican edge in the House of Representatives -- was no accident.

This split is nurtured by the marketing efforts of the major parties, which increasingly aim pinpoint messages to certain demographic groups, rather than seeking broadly appealing new themes. It is reinforced by technology, geography and strategy. And now it is driving the presidential campaign, and explains why many experts anticipate a particularly bitter and divisive election.

more
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A39044-20...
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rockymountaindem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 10:48 PM
Response to Original message
1. very scary
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robbedvoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 10:53 PM
Response to Original message
2. Diebold set-up. Another lie - it's close so don't be surprised.
Don't buy it. But others will. Even here.

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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 10:54 PM
Response to Original message
3. the 2-party system is inherently divisive
2-party systems seek out a dividing line, and each side lays claim to the midline and everything to their side.

these days are more divisive than usual, but close elections are the norm, not the exception, with only 2 parties.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 11:01 PM
Response to Original message
4. Bullshit.
The national party hacks work hard to keep it stalemated.
What about the 60% that don't vote? Who speaks for them?
Why is nobody interested in getting them into the political process?
Why is there no anti-war candidate for anti-war voters to vote for?
Why is there not anti-corporation candidate for populist voters to
vote for? How many political positions are there that have nobody
to represent their views? The game is rigged, that's why.
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jpgray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 11:13 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Better turn your bullshit detector on yourself
Edited on Sat Apr-24-04 11:17 PM by jpgray
For the primary, we had Dean, Sharpton and Clark for antiwar, and we still have Kucinich who also fits anti-corporation. For the GE we will have Nader for all these things. Yet that group of people that doesn't vote seems to not be interested in ANY OF THESE CANDIDATES.

The system is rigged, but if that group of non-voters really wanted the things everyone seems to claim they do, they have had the opportunity to back several candidates that espouse those things. They have not done so. In either case the non-voters are too lazy or uninformed to get involved, and there is no evidence that some populist miracle will suddenly cause the entire country to vote for him/her. We've had the whole spectrum from left to center-right in our primary, and I sure as hell didn't see whole groups of new people coming out to vote.

Ralph Nader says this is the group Kerry needs to target, and that he can 'landlside' Bush if he adopts some of Nader's views. Well, Nader himself can barely make 3%, so his platform certainly doesn't attract those non-voters.

People talk a lot about this demographic, because it's an easy thing to bludgeon status quo pols with. But the fact is, NO ONE has successfully brought these people in. Some of the excitement of the Dean camp might have drawn a few, but not in enough numbers to beat Kerry, the "boring candidate extraordinaire."

The system does have a bias on explaining the reality of our country's situation to the public, and THAT I think is the problem that needs to be fixed before you can get these people to vote. You can trot out the finest candidate in the world with all the right positions on every issue, and to the media and thus society at large that person would be dubbed a kook and no one would vote for him/her.

So the question isn't "how do we get these people to vote?" because we CAN'T right now, the way the system is. How do we change the system? We need more sympathetic people in government. That means we need to elect somebody as progressive as possible in every instance we can.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 11:33 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. You seek to put the blame on the voters.
Edited on Sat Apr-24-04 11:34 PM by bemildred
A position that is not without merit. Certainly the
issue would be moot if they were to take matters in hand
themselves. I was pointing out that a good deal of
effort is expended to keep them disaffected. Mr. Dean was
deconstructed mercilessly, the purpose of the primary process
is precisely to weed out such outsiders and such grass roots
activism.

Also, I was pointing out that the national party
candidates studiously avoid appealing to those voters,
as with Mr. Kerry now refusing to appeal to the anti-war
crowd even though that could easily put him over the top.
It is not like there is a large ravening constituency for
more death and bankruptcy in Iraq, the media spin
notwithstanding. One must conclude that he wants to win
only if he can do so by agreeing with Mr. Bush. I would
remind you of Mr. Gore's selection of Lieberman for VP and
"distancing" from Clinton in 2000, another act of willful
self-destruction.
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jpgray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:01 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. Blame voters? No, you have misread my post entirely
Edited on Sun Apr-25-04 12:02 AM by jpgray
Non-voters are either lazy or uninformed, and I think they are uninformed. I lay the blame at the media, and part of that is determined by the government, since the media are heavily influenced by the state at this time. So how do you fix the media? By not liking them? No, you have to get sympathetic people into positions of power, and the only way to do that is by voting for candidates who are as progressive as possible yet still have a chance to win. If there is no one with a chance to win who is more progressive than the alternative, then probably a third party vote would be justified, but not voting makes zero sense to me.

National candidates avoid appealing to people who don't win elections. People who do not vote will not win you an election--witness Ralph Nader, who claims to speak for these people. Apparently, they have done what would be nominally expected--they don't vote for him. Politicians want to win, and traditionally the antiwar crowd is a huge loser when it comes time to pick who to pander to. Even after the Kent State shootings, a Gallup poll showed only 11% sided with the students, whereas something like 58% sided with the guardsmen. And, of course, McGovern got his ass handed to him, though as in all elections, other factors played into this, such as Eagleton, etc. With a history like this, the antiwar crowd is not a crowd that seems worth appealing to.

This is of course looking entirely objectively at it. Would I like Kerry to start speaking full-steam on Iraq? You bet. Is it strategically wise? I'm not sure, but it hasn't worked so well in the past, and public opinion is against the "antiwar crowd" as defined by the media.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:19 AM
Response to Reply #8
11. The "voters" does not have to be only those who vote.
It can mean those legally allowed to vote, the enfranchised,
as in my post.

Non-voters are disaffected. I agree that not voting is stupid,
it is your one chance to state your opinion, but it is also
stupid not to try to get them to vote by taking stands on things
they care about. If you have to take a stand for pork rinds to
get elected, to get power, what is the problem? Take a stand for
pork rinds. Do you think Bush would hesitate?

There are those who claim that Nadar lost the election for Gore,
so how does he not count? There are those who are anxious about
him now. How does he not count? Gore refused to adopt any of
Nadar's issues. Why not? The issue is that there are only two
major parties, and it's been that way for 140 years or so now,
and there is NOTHING in the Constitution that indicates that that is
mandatory or even desirable, it is an artifact constructed by the
two parties in collusion with each other.

The media are controlled by the ruling oligarchy, it is not a
separate problem. That's like saying you deal with Stalin by
reforming Pravda.

McGovern was a party hack, he lost because he wanted to lose.

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jpgray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:29 AM
Response to Reply #11
13. Wuh? Nothing wrong with Nader running, IMO
I don't believe he cost Gore the election, either. He hurt Gore, but that doesn't mean he is the single reason for the loss. It was Gore's responsibility to deal with Nader--Nader was just another part of the election that Gore had to plan for, and apparently he didn't plan well enough for it. Ralph has every right to run, even though he is a shameless hypcorite.

What do the non-voters care about? Nobody knows. As I have pointed out, we have had the entire spectrum of political views in the primary, and we will have a decent spectrum (with a gap in center-left) in the GE. Apparently they don't care about any issue enough to vote for it, because almost every shade of every big issue was out there. So if they don't care about any issue enough to vote, how does one get them to vote? I have no clue. Persona? Charisma? I have a fear that most of those non-voters would turn out for someone like Schwarzenegger before they turned out for someone like Norman Thomas.

Again you seem to misread my post. Of course the media and government are tied together. We need to change the sympathies of the powerful in Washington to get the media to change. The only way to do that is elect the most sympathetic people we can, and therefore deny the right this oppressive influence that they currently enjoy.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:43 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. Who said it was wrong for Nadar to run? Not me.
I said Gore refused to appeal to Nadar voters.
The question was why not? You say Gore was dumb. I give
Gore more credit, he knew what he was about, he preferred to
lose rather then win with their votes. Again, why?

It's easy enough to find out what non-voters care about, do
some polls. People care about things that affect them, there
is no mystery. Taxes, schools, health care, municipal services,
jobs, it's a piece of cake. Again the question, so why is that
not done? Why can't we talk about that in the political arena?
Why cannot the people through their political system, for instance,
buy themselves health care like they buy roads and an army?

They don't vote because there are no issues represented that they
care about, not the other way around, and that is not an accident.
Their votes are not wanted, their votes will be ignored, if possible.

We don't need to change their sympathies, we need to throw the
bastards out, get someone more willing to do as they are told.
Who holds the power here?
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nolabels Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:11 AM
Response to Reply #5
9. Bullshit or Cowshit (equal opportunity debate)
We need a new system, the one we have is broken. When only 39% of the electorate voting between a two party system means approximately 20% and possibly even less have put these poor choices (that were mostly picked by a elusive elite)into office. The views they represent mostly have to do with money. So it should be no surprise that money has become more important than the so called democracy that supports it.

The thing we have now is so outdated that its like taking one of those horseless carriages out on our modern freeways. You could do if your real careful, but it's really not that safe or functional.




1908 Ford model S Roadster

http://www.ecollector.com /
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jpgray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:15 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Right, but HOW do you change the system?
That's what no one knows how to do. My own opinion is that we should elect as many people who are as sympathetic as possible to progressive views, but whether that works or not is anyone's guess. Just not liking the system isn't that hot of a plan either. :(
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:26 AM
Response to Reply #10
12. That's a good question.
I can tell you that Howard Dean scared the shit out of the
establishment, as we used to call it, and so did Eugene McCarthy
back in '68, and John Anderson, and Ross Perot, and some others
further back. I think the answer lies in that direction. Mr.
Dean's grass roots methods and use of the internet seem very
promising. There is much to be said, too, for getting involved
in politics in the party of your choice at the local level, the
more real people get involved the better, and it doesn't have to
take that much time.
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jpgray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:31 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. But none of these guys could win, none of these guys could beat the system
So that's still another dead end. Just throwing bodies against a brick wall isn't going to do much good. We have to undermine the sucker, and that, I'm afraid, means taking what we can get at first. I don't agree with Kerry on many of his positions, but I think electing him will move this country *very* slowly in a more sympathetic direction, whereas a Bush inauguration will move it in the worst possible direction.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:45 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. Freedom is not given, it is taken.
We need to change the system. If we wait for someone to
give us change, we will wait forever.
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nolabels Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 01:27 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. In ways we are changing the system here and now
As devastating as things are in the entirety of the political spectrum across as far as one can see in this day and age, there is this everlasting hope. One that knows we will all find our way though it collectively. We have nothing else, when you really stop to think about it. We all have to depend on each other, there really is no other way to make through our lives.

We will always wait till forever, what we do in between that time is called our free choice to change things. The world is full of paradox and a riddler will never get a fair shake, but often leads you to look for the truth
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 01:33 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. Nothing wrong with working on things.
My personal opinion is that things are not nearly fucked
up enough yet for real change to be possible, and that is
based on comparison with how things were during the VietNam
War, when change was in the wind, but the oligarchy managed
to deflect it somewhat. Too many hippies were too busy with
sex drugs and rock and roll to make themselves politically
savvy too.

But you can see trouble coming now if you are paying attention.
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0007 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 08:42 AM
Response to Reply #9
23. `Ya can't make a race horse out of a mule! Power = money
So everything isn't six two and even.

We do indeed need a new system.
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NEOBuckeye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:01 AM
Response to Original message
7. Two Solutions: The Liberal Equivalent of Fox News, and Multi-Party Govt.
A truly liberal "people-oriented" news network alone would make Murdoch's Fox News look like a joke, and probably cut the number of supposedly GOP supporters anywhere from one-quarter to one-half. We really need a serious, hard-hitting, liberal-leaning news network that cuts all the "infotainment fluff" that news is becoming (thanks again, to Murdoch) and gets straight to the stories that really affect the lives of everyday people. What about inadequate health care? What about skyrocketing tuition? What about this damned war in Iraq that is destroying millions of lives? I don't give a damn about what Paris Hilton did with who or where, or what some idiot in Texas thinks about Bill O'Reilly's new haircut. Keep the fanmail where it belongs -- off the air. And if I really want to know all about Paris Hilton's kinky sex life, I'll turn on one of the Hard Copy-esqe tabloid shows.

As for the party issue, I firmly believe that two of them simply aren't enough for this country. Too many people simply feel lost under the "big tents" of interests that the existing two parties represent. We should have at least four parties, and possibly as many as ten, so that the existing two parties could split up among their ideological bases to form interest-specific parties and broad coalitions to compete for a majority. How many more people would take up an interest in government and politics if they knew there was a viable party that would specifically represent their interests? Unfortunately, we won't know the answer to this question until we abolish the "winner-take-all" election system and replace it with runoff voting and representative reforms.
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AngryWhiteLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 01:39 AM
Response to Original message
19. Explained by normal intelligence curve. Repukes @ lower end. Dems @ upper
eom
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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 04:32 AM
Response to Original message
20. kick
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 05:45 AM
Response to Original message
21. There was NO presidential impeachment. Why can't they get it right?
There was an unsuccessful impeachment attempt that began with the House of Representatives and was stopped by the Senate. The fact that they still haven't got the wording right is proof that the media is controlled by the conservatives.
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ljm2002 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 10:45 AM
Response to Reply #21
24. "There was NO presidential impeachment" -- WRONG
The term "impeachment" refers to the process of bringing charges via the House against a President. It does not refer to the outcome. The rightwingers know this very well. In fact, I believe that is one reason why they insisted on pursuing the impeachment even though it was clear they would not have the votes in the Senate to remove Clinton: merely by bringing the charges in the House, they would forever after be able to say that Clinton was one of only two Presidents to ever be impeached. And in saying that, they are quite correct. They can use the word "impeach" and most people will think it implies conviction. It does not. It's like saying someone was indicted. Unfortunately, it's a much more loaded term.

The present occupant of the White House deserves impeachment many times over, and on issues of actual import to our nation. Too bad it's not in the cards, barring some bombshell revelation. But considering how many there have been to date, and how little fallout there has been, I'm not holding my breath!
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #24
25. Thank you for the correction.
I appreciate the information.
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G_j Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 08:34 AM
Response to Original message
22. but according to recent
reports some of those people still think Iraq was directly involved in 9-11 and that the world supports the war. Are there some people who would rethink their position if they understood Bush has created a level of hatred for America unprecedented in history thus ratcheting up the possibility of attacks on Americans everywhere? What would happen if they understood Bush puts every American in danger? Are there people who would change their minds if they were exposed to the truth? Bush continues to include Iraq and 9-11 together in his statements and refers to the occupation as the front line of the "war on terror". The media should be directly correcting him each and every time this happens. I think the rigid lines of division would change somewhat if the media would do their job.
It seems that the corporate media as a whole wants Bush re-elected.
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young_at_heart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 11:37 AM
Response to Reply #22
26. For Republicans, money is #1
The fact that hatred for Americans is at an all-time high isn't even on their radar. What a sad state of affairs!
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G_j Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 12:13 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. perhaps then
the additional billions needed for Iraq that they are trying to hide until after the election would stir them.
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