Sunday, March 01, 2015

Are We There Yet?

There are these "go along to get along" types. They are mostly incumbents who've make their peace with the status quo. Then there are the so-called "reformers". These typically are the candidates running for office and the newly elected wannabe powerbrokers. They're the ones who'll gently rock the boat while dutifully paddling on until they are given a position--a committee for instance---of note. Pretty soon, they rowing in unison with everyone else. Each election cycle might find them harping about all the good they've done and how much "change" they made, and of course, just how much more "change" could be made if they could just be given a little more time. Always a little more time. Of course, most of the time they've made no serious change. They may have slightly tweaked the system here or there but there's been no reform; certainly not on the level we need it. The average citizen has given up on lasting positive results from government. They simply hopes that no one screws it up worse. It's a sad commentary that most Americans actually hope for political deadlock because they know that with deadlock they're usually safe, albeit briefly, from tax increases and incompetence. Is it any wonder that the majority in each House are usually of opposite parties or at least opposite from the president?

Too often the true would be "reformer" finds their energies siphoned off through endless committee assignments, assigned to them by one of the powerful committee chairmen and running the gauntlet of the bureaucratic maze. No one, not even the bravest of these "reformers" would dare challenge one of the fiefdom chiefs. While the individual may or may be not be consulted about their assignments, the committee assignment is part of the dues paying process the power brokers as a way of flexing their muscle and letting everyone know that "reform" is just fine for sound bites, but not in practice. In the end, they're often too tired or too frustrated to focus on any the projects they originally had in mind. Politics as it's played today is a game of give and take like two vultures bargaining over a dying antelope. Who is your enemy this morning may be your accomplice in the afternoon. In addition, don't forget that real power; real authority has often been removed from the hands of politicians to avoid the taint of responsibility, and assigned to a bureaucratic functionary; an apparatchik; some unmemorable agency to carry out much of the unpleasant or mundane tasks of governing. There, as President Ronald Reagan once quipped, is the closest thing Man will come to immortality.

If Congress or the State legislature or even local government really could make a difference by now, don't you think they would? Instead, we have name calling. One party is out to destroy the poor and middle class while the other party is supposedly guilty of destroying the moral fiber of this country or its small businesses. Yeah, right. Let's get this straight. This is about money and power which translates quiet simply to control. It's not about making life better or improving this or that. And it sure as hell isn't about the Constitution of the United States. If something of benefit actually occurs, then you can bet it's because of one of two things. First, it was just pure happenstance. Someone somewhere simply got lucky. I would recommend they go but a lottery ticket before their luck changes. The other possibility (and the more likely), someone is financially benefiting and a way to split the spoils has been figured out, and in this void between what each get some group has temporarily benefitted. Politics is about accommodation; of getting some of what you wanted. "Mr. Smith" isn't in Washington anymore. He was railroaded out.

It's often said that people vote with their feet by leaving. Voters make their opinions known through ballots, though these days, with gerrymandering and corporate control of our two party dictatorship, apparently citizens are doing both---voting with their ballot and with their feet, or registration to be more accurate. More to the point, according to the most recent Gallup Poll report (February 8-11-2015), 25% of registered voters are Republicans while 29% are Democrats. As for everybody else, well 43% are Independent. Yelp, the majority of Americans did some walking and left both political party---a duopoly or two-party dictatorship as they're often called. But of course, it hasn't always been this way. As recent as January 2009, it was pretty much as three way tie with Republicans last, making up 30%, Indies second with 33%, and Democrats were on top with 36% of the registered voters.

Another issue of concern is the largest voting bloc next to whites, Hispanics. A record 25.2 million Latinos are eligible to vote now, making up 11% of all voters; an increase of 3.9 million voters from 2010 according to a 2014 Pew Report. 2/3 of these voters are located in just a few States, but what States they are in terms electoral voters---California, Texas, Florida, New York, Arizona, and Illinois. Among political parties, support for the GOP is up slightly, 28% in 2014 compared to 22% in 2010. That still means that as of October 2014, Democrats had a 57% share of Hispanic voters.

A Pew Poll indicated that 58% of Hispanic voters were registered Democrat while 13% were Independent and 26% were signed on as Republicans. As for Asians, the fourth largest minority (expected to tied for third with black in approximately 20 years), 66% are Democrat, 24% are Republican, and 9% are Independent. The really interesting part is that according to this poll, only 50% of all eligible Hispanics are registered voters with about 60% of all Asians registered. By comparison, around 80% of white and black voters are registered, with the majority of black registered as Democrats by the way.

Who are these radical independents that make up the majority of voters--43%--anyway and how dare they think for themselves!?
They need to belly-up and pick either the red or blue Kool-Aid and take a big ole gulp of "Weownya"! Well, simply put, the independents are largely former moderate Democrats and Republicans who've been run out of their respective parties by the growing extremism. To the GOP, these were the Rockefeller/Eisenhower Republicans (known in some circles as RINOs--Republican In Name Only). For the Democrats, these were the Kennedy and even some Bill Clinton Democrats (known as DINOs--Democrat In Name Only). They're sometimes referred to as "third way" or Centrists. Some are "Second Wave" Babyboomers, but most are younger; the Millennials or under 35 crowd who are now replacing the "First Wave" Babyboomers. They are considered to be very liberal when compared to other groups. Most are keenly non-partisan issue oriented individuals who are strongly interested in humanitarian and environmential issues while exhibiting a libertarian streak; a tendency towards working in ad hoc groups to problem solve; and a preference for democratic socialist idealism. They tend to be quite liberal on social issues. If forced with their arm tied behind them to pick a party, most would pick Democrat because of its more open minded social positions. As a group, they are incredibly racially diverse; very well educated with big academic debt to match; technologically comfortable; and really active on social media. They are also extremely distrustful of the corporate media and usually look for alternative media sources. They've had it up here with income inequality and corporate power (and control over government).

So what does this tells us? It tells us that the people have had it with all the BS from Washington regardless of which of the
two-party dictatorships allegedly started it. The tighter the circle that both the GOP and Democrats make, the more voters and potential voters they lose. Over time, many of the traditional party boys will retire or die off as they slowly watch power slip from their grasp as these groups find ways to work around "grease-my-palm" politics and look to resolve problems not political turf wars. Former House Speaker Tip O'Neil once said "all politics is local", but I think most politicians have forgotten that all politics is ultimately about people. Not imagined influence. Not money. Not power. Just ordinary people.

2015 Gallup Poll: Party Affiliation

2014 Pew Research Center: Latino Voters and the 2014 Midterm Elections

2014 Pew Research Center: Latino Support for Democrats Fall

2013 Gallup Poll: In US Voter Registration Lags Among Hispanic and Asian Voters

Truth to Power/McClatchy DC: As independent numbers rise, GOP hurt most

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