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Name: David Allen
Gender: Male
Hometown: Washington, DC
Home country: USA
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 60,881

Journal Archives

Political parties: They exist for a reason.

Imagine, if you will, a hypothetical country with 100 people, all of whom are eligible to vote. They decide that they're going to have a government made up of exactly one person, called "The Big Cheese," and they are going to select The Big Cheese with a popular vote.

Out of the 100 citizens, 10 of them think that they would like to be the next Big Cheese, and enter their names as candidates. They campaign, tell their fellow citizens why they should be elected, and eventually there is an election. Ballots are printed with 10 names, and each voter gets to select one person.

Everyone votes, and when the 100 votes are counted, the results look like this:

Doug: 24
Hannah: 23
Bob: 21
Bree: 10
Matthew: 7
Jessica: 6
Tom: 2
Marianne: 5
Lance: 1
Jenny: 1

Doug gets to be the Big Cheese, because he got the most votes. His term lasts for one year, and then there is another election. The same 10 candidates want to run for office again. Their platforms are basically the same ones they ran on one year previously. And most importantly the overall makeup of the electorate has not changed much, so everyone pretty much expects that Doug is going to win again with his paltry 24 votes.

But then Marianne has an idea. She realizes that she's probably not going to win. But she also realizes that Hannah's platform is basically identical to her own platform. Marianne realizes that even though she can't be The Big Cheese, she is able to make her platform the law of the land if she steps aside and asks her supporters to vote for Hannah. Her supporters immediately realize the genius of the idea and go for it. So now there's an election with only 9 candidates, and here are the results:

Hannah: 28
Doug: 24
Bob: 21
Bree: 10
Matthew: 7
Jessica: 6
Tom: 2
Lance: 1
Jenny: 1

Math, Baby! Hannah is the new Big Cheese! She serves her one-year term, and it's election time again. Doug is pissed that he got beat last time through a dirty trick, so he teams up with Bree, who has almost the same platform as Doug. But Bree won't play ball unless she gets to be the candidate, so Doug drops out. Guess who wins this time?

Bree: 34
Hannah: 28
Bob: 21
Matthew: 7
Jessica: 6
Tom: 2
Lance: 1
Jenny: 1

After three elections, almost everyone has figured out that if you want to have a chance to control the government, you have to team-up with like minded people in order to do it. Unfortunately, it gets more difficult as the coalitions become larger and the participants' platforms are less similar.

Bob agrees to drop out when Hannah promises to give everyone free health care. Lance drops out when Hannah agrees to support the metric system. Matthew and Jessica (who share a similar worldview) agree to join with Bree and Tom (who share a similar, but more extreme worldview), but only if Matthew is their candidate. Jenny throws her support behind Matthew, then changes her mind and supports Hannah. Now they have their fourth election:

Hannah: 51
Matthew: 49

This all seems so obvious, right? We have a winner-take-all system, and if you want to have a shot at governing you need to enter into a coalition with like-minded people.

Not everyone in the coalition is going to be your ideological soul-mate. The chosen candidate of the coalition is not going to be your ideological soul mate. If you want to get to 50%+1, you have to share a party with people you do not entirely agree with.

But sharing a party is ok. Because parties are not The Prize. They are merely a means-to-an-end. They are a tool to increase our chances of affecting change. Nothing more, nothing less.

The American Constitution does not mention political parties. But the American political system as it currently exists naturally gravitates toward a two-party system. Relatively large third parties can arise in the short-term, but it is almost inevitable that they will be absorbed into the two party system. Because people realize they have more to gain from joining a coalition of like-minded people.

This is why as long as the Democratic Party is the more liberal of the two parties, its favored candidates will always get my vote.

And this is why if my favored primary candidate does not win, you can count on my support in the general election if YOUR favored candidate becomes the nominee.

I'm not taking a loyalty oath. I'm not signing on some dotted line in blood. And I'm sure as hell not sacrificing my principles. It's just simple common sense: We are more likely to win the general election if we stick together.

Mitt Romney: "Without Romneycare, I don’t think we would have Obamacare"

Source: Vox

On Friday, Mitt Romney made a startling statement to the Boston Globe's Taryn Luna: He argued that without "Romneycare," the universal health care plan he signed into law as Massachusetts governor, Obamacare would never have become law.

Speaking after the death of his friend and political ally Tom Stemberg, the founder of Staples, Romney said that Stemberg encouraged him to pursue health care reform. That, Romney argued, led indirectly to Obamacare. Moreover, Romney argues that's a good thing: "So, without Tom a lot of people wouldn't have health insurance."

Read more: http://www.vox.com/2015/10/23/9604510/mitt-romney-obamacare-admission

Surprised that he's finally taking credit.

Whoever uses this as their official campaign song wins.

Love it.

First, decide who you think won Tuesday's debate. Done? OK, now vote in this poll:

Who do you think won Tuesday's debate?

My favorite moments from last night's debate (with video)...

Bernie Sanders: "The American People are sick of hearing about your damn emails"

Hillary Clinton: "No"

Hillary Clinton: "They don't mind having big government to interfere with a woman's right to choose"

Bernie Sanders: "Democratic Socialism" and "Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process?"

Martin O'Malley: "The National Rifle Association"

Martin O'Malley: "On this stage you didn't hear anyone denigrate women. You didn't hear anyone make racist comments about new American immigrants. You didn't hear anyone speak ill of another American because of their religious belief."

Biggest Fail:

Is there anything I missed? What were your favorite moments?

POLL: Who won the Democratic presidential primary debate?

Pretty exciting debate so far.

Love it.

A hands-off Democratic race: Clinton, Sanders won’t speak ill of each other

At least for now, we Dems are lucky to have such a civil primary race. We could learn something from our candidates. From the Washington Post...

Hillary Rodham Clinton hit on a variety of subjects at her sun-splashed campaign rally here this weekend, but not once in her 30 minutes of speaking did she utter these words: Bernie Sanders.

Campaigning 1,200 miles away in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Sanders was interrupted for applause 77 times — but not a single line in the senator’s nearly hour-long stump speech referred to Clinton or any other Democratic primary opponent.

The Republican presidential campaign is being dictated by how the 17 candidates, led by Donald Trump, attack each other — from policy disagreements to nasty personal barbs.

The Democratic race stands in stark contrast. Despite tightening polls, the two leading candidates refuse to draw sharp contrasts, let alone criticize each other, leaving voters to discern the differences in their agendas and priorities largely on their own.

Read more: http://wapo.st/1XxDsVb

Seems like a good day to re-post this image...

Ken Burns: Confederate flag isn't about heritage. It's about resistance to civil rights.

Interesting point about SC articles of secession.

Ken Burns, the documentarian behind PBS's acclaimed The Civil War series, blasted the myth that the Confederate flag isn't a symbol of racism and white supremacy during a Thursday appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

"I think what happens is that we build up over time the sense of an excuse about why it came," Burns said. "If you read … South Carolina's articles of secession in November — after Lincoln's election of 1860 — they don't mention states' rights, they don't mention nullification. They mention slavery over and over again."

He later added, "Those (Confederate) flags came in after Brown v. Board of Education. This is not about heritage. This is about resistance to civil rights."

More: http://www.vox.com/2015/6/25/8846879/ken-burns-civil-war

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