Sunday, 6 May 2012

Politics: A Dialogue

"There's no point in voting. All the parties are the same."
"Hang on. Are you saying the Communists are the same as the conservatives? And that they're both the same as the Nazis?"
"Well, I meant all the main parties are the same."
"OK. But what's a main party?"
"A party that gets most of the votes, of course."
"Right. So by saying the main parties are the same, you're saying that most people broadly agree about politics."
"Erm... yes, but when you put it that way it seems much less fun. Anyway, I for one reject the discredited status quo and support..."
"...the Nazis."
"No! How dare you call me a Nazi?"
"You effectively are behaving as one. You're not voting against them. Which has the effect of helping them."
"That's ridiculous. I like Schindler's List as much as the next guy. I hate Nazis!"
"Just not enough to do the one thing they don't want, to vote against them."
"Erm... look, don't blame me. Blame mainstream politicians. They're the ones who've made people disillusioned. They're out of touch, and don't understand everyday people like me."
"They understand you well enough to convince you to vote for them, or at least not against them. Well enough to make you believe that they'll always be in power, that they are the natural leaders. I think they understand you all too well."
"That's not what I mean. I want people like me to be in power."
"Well, run for office then."
"Ha! I'd lose."
"Why?"
"Because..."
"Because people like you, wouldn't vote for you."
"That's crazy. Of course I'd vote for me."
"Would you? Someone like you was probably on the ballot, as an Independent or a minor party candidate, but I bet you didn't check. You just decided there was no point, because he would never win."
"And I was right!"
"Don't you see the problem? You're only right, because people like you think you're always going to be right. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy that you'll lose. That's the problem with your party!"
"My party? I'm not in a party!"
"You are, you just don't know it. A party is a group sharing common interests and beliefs. There are lots of people like you. Everyone is in a party; some of the parties are just badly organized, and don't get any votes or representatives."
"Because we don't want power!...wait...or do we?"

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Slaying strawmen is the lowest form of wit. You should be better than this.

Neuroskeptic said...

Blue is not a strawman. He is me a few years ago. Red is me now. I'm trying to help blue progress.

omg said...

You mean corrupt blue. . corrupt yourself.. touch yourself. You sure you're not talking about a disco party? Replace politics with "chics".

Gustavo said...

-"I hate Nazis!"
-"Just not enough to do the one thing they don't want, to vote against them."
I think many more people would vote if there was an option to simultaneously and effectively vote against [some party], too. Add open lists and you got a deal.

J. F. Aldridge said...

Then there's the concern that voting will create a sunk cost bias around anything politics touches. Politics degrades reason so rapidly. That's what I'm concerned with.

petrossa said...

Voting is so 1995. Nowadays politics are decided on a global level. It's not that the parties are the same, just that they are bound by the same geopolitical dynamics.

Having signed away nations sovereignty in the EU craze made national elections akin to electing a major.

Fun but useless.

Anonymous said...

The biggest delusion is that you can accomplish something by voting. It doesn't matter whether all parties are the same or not, what matters is that democracy is not democracy, because people don't have the power to influence political decisions. People have the power to put politicians into office once ever four years but afterwards they have no influence over what politicians decide. If politicians run on one platform and end up failing to fulfil their campaign promises, are they held accountable? Of course not. People can do nothing. If you want the power to influence political decisions, you need money i.e. a powerful lobby. Your vote = not enought influence.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #2:
Depending on where you live, not true. Registered voters have the ability to form a recall petition. After enough signatures are received, the speaker of the house must announce a recall and a new election will take place.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recall_election

Thus, if the people really wished to remove an elected official for failing to meet promises or doing the opposite of what was promised, they could very well do so (and have), all they need to do is create a petition and devote two minutes to signing it. The problem lies in the lack of motivation voters show after having elected. Voters view it as a chore, and as a result after voting show very little interest in enforcing the promises of their electorate.

We influence politicians by showing our willingness to kick them out of office; if society shows the politicians that they're not willing to put in that effort, then society has failed themselves.

neuroauto said...

The problem with this line of reasoning is that no one argues that voting is pointless because all the parties are the same. People argue that voting is pointless because votes don't determine what politicians do.

The individuals who are up for election are not selected based upon whether or not they get votes. They are selected based upon whether or not they get funding, sound or look pretty (physically pretty, having a pretty career, speaking in a pretty way, whatever kind of pretty) and/or have the support of other politicians. And once they are up for election, the things a politician offers to do for constituents are not determined by votes, they are determined by what that politician believes will convince people to vote for him (a notable distinction). Finally, once elected, even after the above filters, the policies that a politician supports are not determined by votes either: they are determined by political expediency. So long as politicians can argue that "it's not politically feasible to do anything that I got elected for, because I was basically just telling you what would get me elected, just like all the other politicians"--because literally, it isn't possible for them to do what they promised--voting will remain the least important action that an individual can take in a democracy.

What we need are politicians who are not chosen based upon their surface characteristics, but upon how good they are at legislating. We need constituents who call out politicians on promises which they obviously can't keep. And we need to fill our legislatures with politicians who actually do work with their time, rather than participating in the circus of modern poltics. Where do I vote for any of these things? Sign me up.

Anonymous said...

A fiction book appropriate to this blog and this post:

The Spartacus File

http://www.watt-evans.com/thespartacusfile.html

deevybee said...

Like you, I get very irritated by people who don't vote "because they're all the same". Of course they aren't. Even a cursory read of the election leaflets in the local elections indicates that.
I wonder if it is just a psychological problem - nobody wants to vote 'for' a candidate they despise, and many people despise most politicians and don't want to act in a way that suggests they approve of them.
Might work better if we reframed it as "here is your opportunity to rank order the people who are standing for election".

omg said...

Voting is for law-abiding citizens to keep them thinking they have a say on where their taxes are spent. The reality is it's set. If the results are ridiculous than grassroots advocacy - protests etc. is the key to a better future.

My suggestion to NS is to don a Che cap, a torn Marxist shirt, join underground political networks and fly all the way to WSF meetings, Occupy, Bilderberg protests etc. THAT'S how you get your say. Fake democracy has a price tag, true democracy is violent.

Anonymous said...

There has never been a more stark contrast between political parties than now. With respect to the economy the USA is in the following economic mess: An economy in recession with interest rates effectively set at zero and with the Paradox of Thrift in effect. There is nothing within the conservative orthodoxy that can fix a recession of this type. Nothing. And a continuation of the policies that got us in that mess is what conservatives are advocating for our future in the USA.

R. Jones said...

I agree that you should look for ways to maximize the marginal effect of your vote, i.e. vote for a third party to send a signal.


"There is nothing within the conservative orthodoxy that can fix a recession of this type. Nothing. And a continuation of the policies that got us in that mess is what conservatives are advocating for our future in the USA."

There's nothing that republicans will do to turn the recession around. Massively deregulating everything (except the financial sector) and simplifying tax codes would allow a lot more businesses to open up, but no politician will even touch something so radical. But liberals are even worse in this area. You couldn't show me any instance of the type of fiscal spending that liberals advocate working in the past. WWII, for example, was a time of severe austerity (think victory gardens, along with the wartime urgency that brought the country together.

People who do not actually have to deal with the myriad of anti-competitive regulations on a daily basis seriously underestimate the way they constrict growth.

What would actually jumpstart the economy:
"http://www.thebigquestions.com/2011/12/20/launching-the-innovation-renaissance/"

Ivana Fulli MD said...

deevybee said... 7 May 2012 12:34

///Like you, I get very irritated by people who don't vote "because they're all the same". Of course they aren't. Even a cursory read of the election leaflets in the local elections indicates that.(...)///

The trouble with your line of reasonning is that -as difficult as it might be for some to understand- printed material is neither truth nor science and politicians can be dishonest both in their leaflets and behavior before the election.

Take for example the French Republic president-elect, François Hollande:

Présidential hopeful Hollande told us repeatedly that he will be a "normal guy president" and that he will lead an exemplary Républic revolution of sort after all the hubris of sarkosy spending for himself and family and friend on the tax payer money.


He traveled all over France in ordinary trains to give the message during his successful campaign.

But the very day François Hollande was elected instead of casting his vote in his constituency (center of France) and then go back to his campain headquarters in Paris like Jacques Chirac did in 2002 by train or car as a candidate, he waited to be elected in Tulle city and then went to Paris in a private Jet.



See my point or do I need to elaborate?

And -believe it or not- the same wisdom applies to printed material like the DSMs...Not even the DSM5 criteria in autism will become proven medical science. let alone the DSM5 proposals...

Ivana Fulli MD said...

Neuroskeptic,

I know you like your friends well enough.

But, I was not making up my political example:

http://www.huffingtonpost.fr/2012/05/07/avion-de-franois-hollande_n_1495798.html?ref=france

And I was on the topic of your post!

omg said...

Ivana, politicians all lie. It isn't called "lying", it's called responsibility. The masses can't handle the truth. Truth being underneath the veneer we're a violent, chaotic society.

If you've travelled with figureheads you'll understand the logistical nightmare of closing down streets, traffic etc. so they can get their 40+ motorcade to pass through.

Figureheads have body doubles so they can avert public attention. He may've snuck off in a train home while his double jetted off. These figureheads are not just mere celebs but national security properties.

I was at this meeting with half a dozen figureheads and one of the presidents craved a burger or something. Now to get a burger is a nightmare because it has to be cleared right. So the safest, fastest option ? After the motorcades went off, a couple figureheads snuck out the back with their wives literally giggling and headed to the nearest burger joint, then caught a cab to their hotels.

Callum J Hackett said...

I think the optimism here is quite naive.

I live in the UK with a first-past-the-post system, and my vote is worthless. It's skewed to mean absolutely nothing compared to the votes of people in other constituencies, and I think you underestimate the endemic problem of tribalist voting. An independent candidate may be partly successful, may even get a parliamentary seat, but no minor party has the funding to convince enough of the population to vote for them so they get a majority, and no handful of independent MPs is ever going to be able to do much in parliament.

People are also right to point out that party promises and the votes we give them do not reliably map onto the policies that they then enact. It doesn't matter who I choose, they're going to screw up, they just might screw up in different ways. By voting or standing for election, I only help perpetuate the broken system. What it needs is radical, fundamental reform from the ground up, and no politician is going to consider it until they're seriously shaken up.

Ivana Fulli MD said...

omg,

What you wrote is the reason why -until pdt Hollande- every elected French president went back to Paris as a candidate after casting their vote in their constituency.

Plus I saw a documentary about politicians in Norway taking care of the taxpayers money when they travel.

Anyway I could have given another example on the same front: Saturday night a week ago Mr Valls, Moscovici, le Guen socialist MPs very close to pdt Hollande were having fun at another MP luxourious birthday party in a former sex shop with DSk as a guest star-when candidate Hollande said he doesn't like rich people and defined being rich at 4000 Eur and above as a monthly earnings -
http://www.english.rfi.fr/france/20120430-socialists-gaffe-over-dsk-birthday-party-invite-shak
zes-hollande-campaign

And Manuel Valls, a candidate to the interior minister said it was his private life which means that he doesn't know that sexually assaulting women is improper behavior. And Mr Hollande promised us an exemplary Republic with an examplary police force....


Anyway my point was to tell a lady that she cannot trust leaflets and politician promises.

See the pdt Obama Cairo discourse on democracy (fair election not being enough to ensure democracy but you need elected persons to be law abiding with some kind of control about their conduct.)

Anonymous said...

R Jones wrote:

"Massively deregulating everything (except the financial sector) and simplifying tax codes would allow a lot more businesses to open up, ..."

Deregulate what? Environmental protection? What?

Tax code simplification as stimulus? LOL!

You also wrote:

"But liberals are even worse in this area. You couldn't show me any instance of the type of fiscal spending that liberals advocate working in the past. WWII, for example, was a time of severe austerity (think victory gardens, along with the wartime urgency that brought the country together."

Did you miss the Great Dperession lectures in school? Lots of stimulus spending there. In fact WWII was a period of austerity but in fact a period of extreme government spending! War is stimulus! The most ugly and vulgar kind of stimulus. Conservatives don't oppose government stimulus that puts people to work. They are quite willing to by pay people to dig holes just to fill them again ... just as long as those holes are filled with bodies.

We need government spending and there are better things to spend on than killing.

Anonymous said...

Correction to last post:

was a period of austerity -> was NOT a period of austerity

petrossa said...

@anony
Culling is a perfectly natural way of limiting the population size. As strange as it may sound just because we assume we're not like all other mammals that means we aren't just like all other mammals. So we cull our group as any other mammal does. Pity we are less well adapted then rats which just reabsorb the feti in the womb in case of population pressure