Friday, June 23, 2006

Voting in this country

I try to keep political commentary to a minimum on this blog, because there are plenty of blogs out there dedicated to that kind of discourse. I do have one observation to make, though. When considering modern politics in the US, what does it say about a political party that an apparently legitimate (that is, recognized, orchestrated, and encouraged at the national level by party leaders) part of their strategy is to suppress voter turnout? It's one thing to try to pander to -- err, energize your base to make sure that they come to the polls in droves. It's quite different to deliberately try to keep people that you think might be voting for the other side away from the polls. You know, by tactics like phone bank jamming sanctioned by the White House, blanket scrubbing of voter rolls in ways virtually guaranteed to bar legitimate voters, shredding voter registration cards of people from one party, challenging the legitimacy of every ballot cast in certain precincts to deliberately slow down the vote in areas dominated by the other party, etc.

5 comments:

MattO said...

I agree with your policy of keeping political commentary to a minimum.

Doug Natelson said...

Hey matto -
I thought that might get a response from you :) My last words on the subject, and then I'll shut up: the thing that really annoys me is that this stunt with the VRA renewal is just that - a stunt, purely designed to energize their base down here in the old South. It's a bit tough for me to be entirely sanguine about this, since I was gerrymandered into permanent irrelevance for congressional elections (my new district is 40 years old and has never elected a democrat), and the TX GOP platform for this state implies that I'm not really an American because "America is a Christian Nation" (page 21, around the middle).

Bernard HP Gilroy said...

I am of two minds about keeping politics out of this (or any other) blog. It's true that politics should not be everything. But I also think the political process in this country has suffered greatly in the past two decades as we've carved more and more places out as "inappropriate" for political discussion (linked to the pernicious idea that politics is for specialists, which runs contrary to the bedrock of this Republic).

Or to put it another way: If they'd stop mixing their politics into everything -- like funding reviews, drug approval, safety regulations -- then maybe I would be more sanguine about not mixing politics into everything.

But it isn't fair for one side to see everything through a lens of politics and then cry No Fair! when the nominal opposition does the same...

MattO said...

Hey Doug and BG,

I think that thoughtful and open-minded political discussion is appropriate fodder for any blog, just as it would be for any cocktail party. Ideally. But politics in the country, since about the time of Newt versus Bill, has become religion rather than debate.

Too often polical "debate" is a process of spewing idealogy at each other until one calls the other "a Hitler." (see Godwin's law.)

I've read and seen enough misleading reporting in the- watch, I sneer when I say this... in the Main Stream Media that I literally do not believe _anything_ that's printed (or said) if it has an anti-Bush, anti-war, anti-US, anti-GOP,(basically, everything except Sports)...slant. Too often these stories turn out to be untrue or, at best, half truths.

I'm not trying to start a 'my media' vs 'your media' flame war, just to point out that intelligent people can disagree. And that as scientists we are supposed to think logically and make decisions based on reliable data, but too often we let emotions guide our decisions when it comes to politics.

Doug Natelson said...

Hey Matto-

Well said. Also, you get a prize for being the first person to Godwin my blog (in the sense of mentioning Hitler, not in the sense of seriously comparing someone to Hitler in a degenerating argument)!

-- D