Who really controls our politics?

Who is really running America? The Koch Brothers? George Soros? The Illuminati? The Lizard People?

Researchers studying the question have found the answer – American politics is dominated by “the 1%.” Trouble is, this is not the 1% you are expecting.

The National Journal wrote up the polling they conducted with Allstate and the results are pretty stark. A very tiny minority of people with too much time on their hands compose the overwhelming bulk of political initiative in the US.

Forty-one percent of Americans do not participate very often in any of 10 bedrock activities of American civic and political life, according to the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor survey.

At the other end of the spectrum, just 1 percent of Americans engage very often in eight or more of the activities—from attending town hall meetings to volunteering in the community to giving money to a cause or political candidate.

The decline of our social capital institutions has radically weakened the complex network of relationships and organizations that used to filter much of the crazy out of our politics. Now a narrow, odd, and consistently unrepresentative sample of Americans has a radically disproportionate influence on politics. You may have heard this before:

Time, especially the time of capable individuals has become the most valuable commodity in our economy and some are blessed with more of it than others.  We recognize the growing influence of money because it is easy to understand how money affects politics.  We have attempted to construct an entire legal and political infrastructure to document the political activities of the wealthy and keep them in check.  We are ignoring the influence of the other elite – those who have precious time to spare and the will to pour it into grassroots politics.

We remain defenseless against the surging power of the other one percent.


Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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181 comments on “Who really controls our politics?
  1. […] grassroots organizations with a presence in your local community. Research indicates that about 1% of American voters consistently do this. Few people do it because it has become the most costly thing in the world to do. In an economic […]

  2. geoff1968 says:

    Definitely the Sleestak God.

    Pure All-American processed cheese like substance.

    The serpents are in-con-trol!

  3. Intrigued says:

    I have to credit the “conservatives” on this blog for always assuring me they stand for nothing good. Even when I believed they may have had good intentions, they were diligent in proving otherwise. If it were not for the “conservatives” I would never know that science and research; personal responsibility and individual empowerment; tax incentives and self sufficient Governement, to name a few, were all “leftist liberal” trademarks. If it were not for the conservatives I would never know I am a “liberal leftist”,

    I’m sure the democrats are happy to know there are so many “conservatives” dedicating their free time and hard working paid time to recruiting “liberal leftists”.

    • way2gosassy says:


    • Tuttabella says:

      The only thing LEFT is to wish the moms here a Happy Mother”s Day!

      You are much more than a political label . . . 🙂

      • CaptSternn says:

        I hope all had as good or better mother’s day as we did.

      • objv says:

        Tutt: You are RIGHT – as usual.

        Happy Mother’s Day to all.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Thanks, OV. You’re usually the only one who picks up on my puns, or the only one who cares to respond.

    • DanMan says:

      Contempt. It is the defining principal of liberals within the dem party. Liberal democrats show no regard for order. We are quite used to liberals such as yourself lying to us as a method to try to make a point. Watching you lie to yourselves shows mental instability though.

      Science and research? Your side declares the science is settled on your global warming, change disruption whatever. Trying to provoke fear by using science as your façade for advancing agendas that are nothing more than taxing schemes, labor control and one world governance is all democrat

      Personal responsibility? OMG, your party wants to control so much of the population’s personal iives it is apparent the desire is boundless. And every two weeks there comes another attempt by our humble host to posit basic incomes and the rucas posse jumps on board in unison singing its virtues.

      Individual empowerment? You tittie babies want Uncle Sugar to make your miserable lives as wonderful as you perceive the wealthy have it. At their expense! Its envy by definition and you call it fairness.

      Tax incentives? Tell us what you mean? Friday we had 76 dems in the house vote with repubs to re-install the write downs for research and development. Your precedent has already threatened to veto it. I doubt Harry Reid will even bring it to the floor of the senate. Their stated reason? it will cost the government $150 billion over ten years. The only tax incentive I have seen come from dems is the tried and true efforts to tax the snot out of production to buy votes with the revenue.

      And last but by no means least self sufficient government. That you would mention this as a concept the dem party of today can embrace shows how absurd your take is. $8 trillion in new debt in 5 years with nothing to show for it is self sufficiency in dem speak but nowhere else.

      You’re an impassioned advocate of the leader of the party that peddles the lies being told to push its agenda. People that lie have contempt for those they are lying to. If you like your plan by all means keep on showing us you intend to keep your plan. You’re not Intrigued, you’re gullible. Like every member of the rucas posse.

      • Intrigued says:

        “Science and research? Your side declares the science is settled on your global warming”

        My side? I stand with the majority of reasonsable people who admit to not knowing much about things like global warming. My side of reasonable people believe it is a developing science that should continue to be researched. Unreasonable people, like yourself, try to halt research and development and scream OMG they are trying to make us change again. As for how scientists think of people like you, refer to Fly’s link below.

        “Personal responsibility? OMG, your party wants to control so much of the population’s personal iives it is apparent the desire is boundless.”

        I can’t speak for my “party” but I believe in advocating real personal responsibility in terms of planning for the future and being prepared for the unexpected instead of spreading lies that our Government has the means to save us, if only those pesky illegals would stop stealing our money. Real personal responsibility requires empowering individuals with equal opportunity and adequate resources to provide for themselves. People like you advocate oppression.

        For the last two topics: tax incentives and self suffient Government. A couple of weeks ago I posted my suggestions of how to address the huge disparity in wealth distribution. I was fully aware that my suggestions may be unappealing to some democrats but I did not expect the “conservatives” to bash self sufficient Government and tax incentives for employee stock options. You dan even used the democrat talking points to argue against the suggestions. Again working diligently to prove “conservatives” stand for nothing but the word no.

        “Conservatives” are useless victims that advocate doing nothing, aside from regression. It’s sad really because I would think real conservatives would advocate for businesses to solve their own problems opposed to creating an environment that opens the doors for unions and Government to solve their problems. I would think real conservatives would want people to make enough money that they did not have to live off the Government.

        I hope all the wonderful mothers out there, regardless of their political label (credit Tutt) 🙂 have a fabulous day!

      • DanMan says:

        You mentioning self sufficient government doesn’t make it happen. Show me where I supported dem policy regarding such a notion. Neither exists.

        Your whole response is a gas soaked burning strawman of crap you made up and assigned to me. And why do you put quotes around the word conservative? When you talk do you do the air quote deal too?

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Captain, the echo chamber can, conservatives can’t. It’s one of those equal but not equal type liberal rules.

      • Intrigued says:

        Dan, are you really that stupid? My initial comment referred to the dumbass labels you idiots assign to everyone. Believe me I have my own labels for you and your gang but I’ll keep those to myself.

      • DanMan says:

        from one your previous posts

        “The fundamental difference between the “conservative” commentors and everyone else is the belief that the uninsured should be left to die.”

        Pretty easy to assume you are in the class of everyone else. I will gladly accept being labeled a conservative since I’ve declared it many times. As a conservative, I have one party that has a minority of its representation in that fold. Certainly there are none in the leadership of the party.

        You have defended Obamacare on many occasions as revealed by such bon mots as this,

        “When you HAVE a choice to purchase insurance or pay an annual tax, that means you DO have a choice. Get it Kabuz?”

        Your comments reveal your affiliation. That you can’t accept that is just another lie you tell yourself.

      • Intrigued says:

        Yeah Dan and Kabuzz has admitted he is a non-partisan independent and Stern jumps in between Conservative and Libertarian. You on the other hand Dan stand for nothing. You are nothing more than a obnoxiously annoying sidekick.

      • DanMan says:

        That’s a pretty good compliment coming from the likes of you. Got caught again being the hypocrite you are. Did I say hypocrite? I meant liar.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Yale Professor’s Surprising Discovery: Tea Party Supporters More Scientifically Literate


      • DanMan says:

        Scientists, he said, have a built in comfort with uncertainty because “there’s uncertainty in every result.”

        what a quaint article fly. I would posit another group that holds disdain for the GOP (ahem, I am currently in this class btw). Legacy media.

      • DanMan says:

        Nice link Sternn. Aligns well with my observations. That guy will likely be removed from his chair soon.

      • flypusher says:

        Yet Sternn, the people who actually DO science and understand it the best are not. Only 6% of them are GOP (TP or otherwise). You and Buzzy are prime examples of people who are scientifically illiterate.

      • flypusher says:

        Also, what’s more honest, to present a link from someone talking about Kahan’s study, or a link with words straight from Kahan’s himself?


        Basically you just did what he predicted you would do – misinterpret the result to favor your political bias.


      • flypusher says:

        Chris, need a little moderator help here.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Too bad Sternn is too lazy an oaf to check original sources, though it explains a lot of his slack-jawed asininity.


        “Again, the relationship [between Tea Party membership and scientific thinking] is trivially small, and can’t possibly be contributing in any way to the ferocious conflicts over decision-relevant science that we are experiencing.”

        It’s pretty clear earlier on, too: “In my paper, ‘Ideology, Motivated Reasoning, and Cognitive Reflection’, I found that the Cogntive Reflection Test did not meaningfully correlate with left-right political outlooks.”

        But apparently the Tea Party is desperate for reassurance. Poor saps.

      • CaptSternn says:

        None of the links from Fly or Owl do anything at all to promote the idea that conservatives reject science or that tea party folks reject it even harder. I think the author of the study was trying to point that out to you and everybody else, people in the tea party do understand and comprehend and accept science, but we tend to rejecty this “everything s settled so shut up already” position from tghose on the left/ and the AGW advocates when the sceince just isn’t there.

        Fly, why are you calling for help from Lifer? I could probably guess the reason, I probably already know the answer, but I will avoid making assumptions and ask you to explain why you need the help of a moderator here in a discussion about a study that shows conservatives don;t reject science and tea party folks tend to have a higher understanding and acceptance of science.

      • objv says:

        fly and owl: The great thing about studies is that there are so many of them. Although this study is about religion and science – and not specifically about the tea party – it will be of interest since it was done at Rice. Here’s an excerpt:

        “The study also found that 18 percent of scientists attended weekly religious services, compared with 20 percent of the general U.S. population; 15 percent consider themselves very religious (versus 19 percent of the general U.S. population); 13.5 percent read religious texts weekly (compared with 17 percent of the U.S. population); and 19 percent pray several times a day (versus 26 percent of the U.S. population).

        “This is a hopeful message for science policymakers and educators, because the two groups don’t have to approach religion with an attitude of combat,” Ecklund said. “Rather, they should approach it with collaboration in mind.”

        Ecklund said that the way the science-religion relationship is portrayed in the news media influences the misperception.

        “Most of what you see in the news are stories about these two groups at odds over the controversial issues, like teaching creationism in the schools. And the pundits and news panelists are likely the most strident representatives for each group,” she said. “It might not be as riveting for television, but consider how often you see a news story about these groups doing things for their common good. There is enormous stereotyping about this issue and not very good information.”


      • DanMan says:

        I think he’s asking Chris to move my posts again or something.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Dan, as an after thought I think Fly was asking to have the comment with two links approved. Seems some on here can have comments with more than one link go through automatically, but most of us can’t.

      • CaptSternn says:

        That being said, Lifer seems to be really dedicated to his blog, to keep it running. That is a big job, one I haven’t even attempted to undertake. Well, not since the late 1990s when I started one then figured such a thing would never catch on. Derp!

        Thaks to Lifer for giving us a voice. I notice several blogs on the Chron are only updated once every few weeks, or even months, and then the author leaves and never comes back to approve comments and keep the discussion going.

      • flypusher says:

        “None of the links from Fly or Owl do anything at all to promote the idea that conservatives reject science or that tea party folks reject it even harder.”

        My original post was about scientists rejecting the GOP. That’s something you should ponder. And why should Owl or I post links when you keep proving our points?

        “I think the author of the study was trying to point that out to you and everybody else, people in the tea party do understand and comprehend and accept science, but we tend to rejecty this “everything s settled so shut up already” position from tghose on the left/ and the AGW advocates when the sceince just isn’t there.”

        Your memory is amazingly short. This topic has been kicked about numerous times on the blog and the people worried about human activity have said again and again and again that Gore and his ilk are off the deep end, and that the research isn’t finished yet. But you just can’t resist kicking at the Strawman rather than deal with the less simplistic stances that people here are actually writing. You give an even worse representation of the Tea Party when you insist on constantly repeating outright lies like governments in the Free World are dictating to national science academies exactly what they will conclude. Why should I or any other scientist want to join the Tea Party when we heard garbage like that?

        And yes, I asked for Chris’ assistance because the post with 2 links didn’t go up right away.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Yes, Cap, I think Fly’s cry for “Lifer” Support was about the link limit.

      • flypusher says:

        Objv, I absolutely agree that science and religion can coexist. That happens when each understands its place and its purpose in human affairs. You get the conflict when one tries encroaching on the other’s turf, with people who insist on teaching creationism in biology class being a common example.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        fly – My cousin is a doctor (a pediatric scientist?), and he’s pro-life. Is that an anamoly?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Sorry. ANOMALY.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Fly, so basically you are saying that the idea of human activity controls the global climate isn’t founded on actual science, there is no consensus. You don;t buy into such garbage. Good for you. You can question and doubt such claims.

        You can even admit that the study shows the tea party folks have a better understang and comprehension of science than the average. That we do not reject science.

        But this seems to cause a real brain malfunction for you. The fact that we are intelligent and knowlegable causes you to have fits. To experience apoplexy.

        We actually have the ability to question, to research, to study, to investigate, to question. Oh, the horror. I guess that is a nightmare for those on the left, those that want totsl and complete compliance, the sheeple.

      • CaptSternn says:

        By the way, wouldn’t a person that understands things like science have already learned that we can’t post more than one link per comment? I mean that is simple observation and learning. What kind of “scientist” person doesn’t learn from experience? Maybe the kind of person that accepts the idea of AGW? The kind of person that believes that human beings control weather and the global climate, that it is all a “consensus”? How did Einstein define insanity?

      • flypusher says:

        “Fly, so basically you are saying that the idea of human activity controls the global climate isn’t founded on actual science, there is no consensus. You don;t buy into such garbage. Good for you. You can question and doubt such claims.”

        Wrong again. You have the most horrible and dishonest habit of twisting /ignoring what people are actually saying. My take has always been that warming is happening, there are both natural forces AND human activity causing it, and the job of climate science is to figure out the amount of the contributions of each. That should have been crystal clear to anyone who bothers to read carefully and honestly.

        “But this seems to cause a real brain malfunction for you. The fact that we are intelligent and knowlegable causes you to have fits. To experience apoplexy.”

        Actually contempt would be a better description. Contempt for willful ignorance and intellectual dishonesty. You speak complete garbage about things I know from personal experience. I have no delusions about getting through your thick skull. But as others have said, bullshit must be called out as bullshit whenever someone tries to spread it. Rest assured I will call out every lie I see you tell about science and how it is done. We scientists have ignored the forces of ignorance for too long.

        ” I guess that is a nightmare for those on the left, those that want totsl and complete compliance, the sheeple.”

        You really have no clue, do you? And you still duck the hard question- why do an overwhelming majority of scientists shun the GOP and the TP these days? Do you have the guts to do any honest examination of that fact?

        “By the way, wouldn’t a person that understands things like science have already learned that we can’t post more than one link per comment?”

        Considering that was the first time ever that one of my posts got stuck that way, and I’m pretty sure I have posted multiple links before, no.

      • flypusher says:

        “fly – My cousin is a doctor (a pediatric scientist?), and he’s pro-life. Is that an anamoly?”

        No. The is no unanimity of opinion on that issue in science or medicine.

      • DanMan says:

        but your article that quotes one person at the University of Utah giving your take does. Got it.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Quite the rant, Fly. Now refer back to the comment by Intrigued and you own link that spawned this part of the conversation.

  4. objv says:

    It’s time to end this shameful discrimination against men.

    More women vote than men. http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/25/politics/btn-women-voters/

    This, using Democrat logic, proves that voter suppression of men exists.

    Owl’s devious aunt’s suggestion that voting sites be located in shopping malls and grocery stores would only lead to more male disenfranchisement since women frequent those establishments in larger proportions than men. (Sneakiness must run in Owl’s family.)

    Discount tire would be an ideal voting location. While getting my tires rotated yesterday, I noted all the employees were men and 75% of the clients were men as well. All these men had nothing to do besides wait – they might as well have been voting. 🙂

    Wake up men! Despite the liberal narrative, your votes are being suppressed.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Birds of a feather!

    • CaptSternn says:

      I feel so oppressed now. My civil rights are being violated,

      Off topic, but the art car parade was today. Tutt and I don’t care much for that, but we thin Owl ‘o Bellaire just might. We passed a car today that was coming from the Bellaire area and, well, see for yourselves …


      • tuttabellamia says:

        I find it ironic that we can be so rude here, yet we’re courteous enough to announce when we’re about to go off topic.

      • kabuzz61 says:


      • objv says:

        Tutta and Cap: Although my post was nonsensical, I felt it makes about as much sense as the liberal spin that certain groups’ votes are suppressed because they don’t vote in the same numbers as older white voters.

        Tuttabella, I think you hit the nail on the head when you postulated that the biggest problem is voter apathy. Women, in general, seem to be more inclined to vote than men. Older whites are more inclined to vote than younger minority (and white) citizens.

        Having lived in a Latin American country, I know that people in those countries have more obstacles to vote than in the US but still manage to participate in elections. In Venezuela, every person over the age of nine had to carry a cedulla (national ID) at all times and be fingerprinted before casting a vote in elections. Democrats pretend that Hispanic citizens rights are violated by having to produce an ID – while having a national ID is the norm in Latin American countries.

      • objv says:

        Cap: The Owl car is cute. I have a lifelike, plastic owl guarding my vegetable garden. Unfortunately, it usually spends much time on its face since my dogs are constantly knocking it over. 😦

      • objv says:

        Cap and Tutt, I have to confess, sometimes I involuntarily smile when I see the knocked over plastic owl. Does that make me a bad person?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Well, OV, I will never again look at owls the same since making the acquaintance of our resident Rara Avis, whether it’s owl-shaped vases at Wal-Mart or collectible owl figurines at the antiques shops.

  5. DanMan says:

    from 75

    “Time is a luxery of the rich and the upper middle class.”

    Time is the fundamental commodity everyone has. How it is spent reveals its value.

  6. Bobo Amerigo says:

    This is an interesting proposal:

    Make political donations secret to everybody, including the candidates, and give each American a token amount for political donations.

    So, yeah, billionaires could SAY they donated to a specific campaign but there would be no way to know for sure.

    Would that lessen their influence?


    • tuttabellamia says:

      Noble concept, but the vouchers sound too much like Mommy and Daddy giving us money to go buy them a present.

  7. Owl of Bellaire says:

    Sternn, what distinction do you make between a state and the people of that state?

    • CaptSternn says:

      There are 50 separate and soveriegn states with citizens of those states. Each state has its own constitution and set of laws. The citizens of each state have a say in how that state is run. They should not have a say in how other states are run.

      The proper role of the federal government is to regulate commerce among the several states, a united currency and to make sure state and local governments do not infringe on the rights of the individuals and to unite the 50 separate and soveriegn states in mutual defense.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        But you still haven’t answered: what distinction do you make between a state and the people of that state?

        I mean, you claim that the Senate exists to represent the states. Well, why doesn’t it represent the states by being elected by the citizens of those various states?

        What’s the difference? How does a state exist independently of its people?

      • CaptSternn says:

        Elected state government.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        So the elected state government *is* the state, apart from the people? That sounds odd.

        But don’t the people elect *that* government? So, really, what’s the big difference if they elect their senators directly?

        You might try for a little more coherence, here.

      • CaptSternn says:

        It’s over your head, fowl.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        No, you’re just vacuous and lost.

      • DanMan says:

        she’s limited by her bird brain, it’s not her fault

      • objv says:

        Dan, don’t make fun of Owl. Owl must be limited by a disability in using a dictionary. If he could only look up the word state, he would find it has more than one meaning. His mind is obviously not set up to detect subtleties in language.

      • DanMan says:

        so the Scowl of Bellaire really is a he? Why did he say he was a she? I say hey babe, take a walk on the mild side…
        and the colored girls go dee du dee du dee dut dut dee dut dee du dee

  8. Anse says:

    This comes at a handy time. The number of Americans who hold this cynical notion of who can affect change in this country is troubling. I’m not sure just showing up to vote is enough. Politicians do, in fact, pay attention to letter-writers and people who attend meetings, etc. They may not do what those letter-writers want them to do, but they generally don’t ignore people who go to the trouble of attempting to communicate with them. That said, it is hard to exaggerate the distorted influence of money on the process. I know that members of Congress tend to spend several hours a day talking to donors; an average citizen has a nearly insurmountable set of obstacles to score a face-to-face meeting with his or her representative. It’s logical when one considers the number of constituents a Congressman has, and yet the result is that he who gives the money naturally gets the time. We can only hope that the variety of lobbyists who contact politicians will represent the full cross-section of America. I think it’s pretty obvious that doesn’t happen.

    I looked at the argument below about repealing the 17th Amendment. Trying to restructure the elections process is only going to have a limited impact on what happens in Washington, and my god, why would we give the state governments more control over the federal government? The states are controlled by terrible people. I’ve said it a million times. The reason federalism is dying as a concept is because the states are run by horrible, terrible, radical nutjobs. I’m trying to imagine a future in which the Texas Legislature gets to elect senators. Not that it would matter that much in our case, I guess.

    Rightwingers have this thing against democracy. They’re afraid of it. Positively terrified of it. Their political philosophy depends on limiting the franchise to as few citizens as possible. The crazy thing is that these working-joe-sixpack Tea Partiers assume they’d be among the lucky few who get to vote in this antidemocratic future America. Maybe they’d be willing to give up their right to vote in favor of being ruled by their betters. Should we just practice kissing the feet of the upper crust now? We’ll trade our voter ID cards for kneepads and be done with it.

    • CaptSternn says:

      Well, you started out good, but then devolved into complete insanity. Even the fouding fathers of this nation were against democracy.

      • Anse says:

        The Founding Fathers were against a lot of things. Your problem is you have this wildly distorted understanding of what the world was like in 1790. You need to join the 21st century, Stern. The Founders were profoundly intelligent people, but assuming everything would be better if we scaled back 200 years of progress is positively stupid. Sorry if that’s insulting, but comrade, you would not want to live in such a country. I’m quite positive of that.

        It’s this thing that people do when they think about the past. They think everything was better. “We could leave our doors unlocked.” “Everybody worked hard.” Etc. The truth is life was terribly difficult and downright sucked for a vast majority of Americans for the first several generations of this country. For crying out loud, the nation our Founders created couldn’t even hold itself together for more than about half a century before we started killing each other. What in the heck makes you think going back in time would not end in the same result?

      • CaptSternn says:

        Who said anything about going back? It’s like you are arguing against the 21st amedment or something.

      • Anse says:


        The Founders created a country that was deeply agrarian, economically-speaking. Such an economy depends on fairly rigid social norms. You need the genders to stick to their respective roles; somebody has to tend to the house and the children while the crops are being harvested, after all.

        Industrialization has changed everything. It’s the thing that upended human relations more than anything else. People moving off the farm and into the cities placed us in an interwoven economic web of mutual dependence. If the farmer had a bad crop, it meant the year was going to be tough, but the amount of work required to simply put food on the table meant that life was tough anyway, and as long as he had land, he could support himself. A few pigs or a couple of cows could keep a family alive. Once you go to work at the factory, you move into the tenement housing, and you no longer have the cows or the pigs or the kitchen garden to fall back on. When the economy tanks, you’re out of luck. The capitalist doesn’t need your labor anymore. You are turned out, and you have no land to work to keep your stomach full. Now the wife has to go find whatever extra work she can find, doing laundry or babysitting or what have you, to help pay the bills; there lies the beginnings of female independence. No longer is it possible for the woman to remain firmly in the home. She’s got to pitch in, too. And even if the husband gets another job, the pay is so low, and opportunities to advance so rare, that the wife ends up looking for that extra work anyway, especially as the kids grow up and become more independent themselves.

        Karl Marx noted it, and it has come to pass: industrialization would transform the social order. Thomas Jefferson hated it, observed it’s birth in Europe and blamed it for what he perceived to be the moral degradation of the common people. Almost every social ill conservatives complain about today can be traced back to the profoundly transformative influence of capitalist industrialization.

        I’m not lamenting this. I’m just pointing out that we aren’t Noble Pioneers Striking Out on the Prairie anymore. We aren’t homesteaders. We’re utterly dependent on one another and on the corporate elite to operate in such a way as to have some level of hope for economic vitality. The only reason we have a middle class is because the government and corporate leaders of the Progressive Era recognized that the working man would eventually demand some measure of opportunity that he could not get with an unregulated economy.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I take it you really don’t like the idea of states having actual representation in the federal government?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Federalism is asinine. We are a country of people, not of states nor of corporations.

      • flypusher says:

        “I take it you really don’t like the idea of states having actual representation in the federal government?”

        That’s what the Legislative branch is for. Even with citizens voting directly for Senators, they are still there to represent their states.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Fly, due to being elected by the public, too many senators have sold out to special interests and do not represent states or state governments as they were inteded to do.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, what distinction do you perceive between a state and the people of that state?

      • flypusher says:

        Having them selected by state legislatures would only change the mode of “selling out”, if selling out is what they are inclined to do. So voters have less power and any corruption takes an alternate route- I’m not seeing any improvement here. Seems to me that making politics less dependent on obscene amounts of $ would be a better way to deal with sellouts.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “Seems to me that making politics less dependent on obscene amounts of $ would be a better way to deal with sellouts.”

        That really wouldn;t work. It is like the Citizens United case, it could be said that making politics less dependent on obscene amounts of political speech, which is what some in congress were looking to do back in 2004, even targeting blogs and people posting political comments, would be a better way to elect our public servants.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Anse, it is obvious that you have no regard for the constitution. That is the backbone of our country. It has nothing to do about societies, industrialization, etc. The Constitution is the governments power over the people, the first ten amendments are the power of the people over the government. One of which is free speech however it comes. Like burning the flag, not a word is said but it the act says a lot.

        Federalism not only is the best, it is what has held us together all these years.

        Anse, wear your tin foil hat and watch out for the black helicopters.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Money is not speech. I can’t “give” my speech to other people. And speech cannot then be used by the recipient to purchase anything from a universe of goods and services, or stored away to do so later (perhaps earning “speech interest” all the while).

        *Speech* is speech, whether delivered in person, in print, or online. *Action* is “speech” in the extended sense of “expression”, whether that be burning a flag (my own, not someone else’s, which would be vandalism) or wearing a t-shirt or carrying a sign.

        But to equate money to speech is to invite and accept corruption. And even the Tea Party shouldn’t be THAT stupid.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Money buys a bigger bullhorn so the speech is louder. It is Lifer creating a blog and getting his opinions out. It is the Houston Chronicle endorsing people. So yes, it can be given and then used by candidates or people supporting or opposing politicians, parties, policies or legislation. The people against it are those that want to control others, those that oppose individual liberty and rights.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Even if you buy a bigger bullhorn, you’re still the one using it with your own voice. Chris may have a blog, but he’s still the one writing it. The *Chronicle* endorses people, but it doesn’t then pay them; the endorsement is their speech and ONLY their speech.

        So you’re proving my point with your own examples. Thank you.

        As for “those that want to control others, those that oppose individual liberty and rights”? Nope; I don’t have enough time or interest to control others, and I’m a firm believer in individual liberty and rights. So stop being a self-deluded fuckwit.

      • CaptSternn says:

        So, Owl, you oppose Obamacare and especially oppose a “single payer system”. Good for you. And you support the Citizens United ruling. Even better. Guess I simply misunderstood your positions in the past.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Ah, I see you couldn’t handle the argument and had to start raving instead. I accept your surrender.

        As to the components of your smokescreen, I support Obamacare because it supports liberty; Chris has ably explained this from the conservative viewpoint, but I understand you’re too much of a calcified ignoramus to understand it. Any single-payer system I would support would also include the capacity to purchase supplemental private insurance and seek additional care through private purveyors, because I believe in liberty and rights, and not in some moon-eyed child’s fantasy about cowboys on the range.

        I *oppose* the Citizens United ruling, because it takes away the liberty and rights of citizens to have their elected representatives represent the population as a whole rather than the monied interests who fund their election campaigns. You, on the other hand, are a happy and satisfied Koch-sucker.

      • CaptSternn says:

        So what it comes down to is slavery is freedom, censorship is free speech. No suprise there.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        You poor thing. I already played the *1984* card on you and kabuzz a few blog entries ago. Now, from you, it just sounds like defeated whining.

        Which is exactly what it is.

    • flypusher says:

      “That said, it is hard to exaggerate the distorted influence of money on the process. ”

      Citizens United is definitely one if the worst SCOTUS rulings ever.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Protecting free speech is a bad thing? You realize it even protects Lifer and his blog and our posting comments, right?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        You “realize” a lot of things that are just pure fantasy, Sternn.

        It comes with hooking your brain directly to the sewer that is right-wing media.

      • flypusher says:

        Right, because if the few people who already have far more access (because of wealth) to elected reps than rest of us aren’t allowed to have even MORE access, we all lose our freedom.

      • CaptSternn says:

        People can gain access and influence by forming groups. Many tea party groups have been formed and people are allowed to donate, and those groups have power. Just the movement itself has changed the landscape for the better, that includes the vast majority of us that do not join or donate to specific groups.

  9. kabuzz61 says:

    I agree with Tutt somewhat. Our political system has gotten worse over the years and the incivility and divisiveness growing. Contrary to that, both parties are at fault equally and both party’s want us divided so while we’re distracted with ‘fighting to win’ they go about their business of the status quo.

    I do find it hard to find a candidate I am excited to vote for. That is very sad.

    And I am a firm believer in Harry Truman’s quote: A person shouldn’t get rich of public service.

    Well, that ship sailed.

    • rightonrush says:

      OMG, hell just froze over!! I agree with Buzz!

    • johnofgaunt75 says:

      Agree with the Truman quote although if you look at past history in the US, a lot of political leaders got rich in public service. Even some of the near God-like founders.

      I think part of the problem with the current parties is that they are too ideological. In the past, both parties were a big tent. They both included liberal, moderates and conservatives. This allowed people in different parties to work across the aisle and form broad bi-partisan consensus. Most of the division was regional.

      Really what has happened is that American political parties have become much more “European” in that ideology, rather than tradition and region now determines affiliation. That works fine in a Parlimentary system where you can have many parties and they are forced to build coalitions to govern (thus trading concessions and ministerial spots). But in the US, with a first-part-the-post system, this is much more of a problem.

      • Crogged says:

        H. L. Mencken fits this Friday

        “Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.”

        I’m guilty and out.

    • Crogged says:

      I think it’s much too easy to put blinders on and pretend things are ‘worse’ now than when we had House Un-American committees, put Japanese Americans in concentration camps or had our largest cities run for decades by political machines. Is there disagreement? Always. Has partisanship gotten worse–in some sense I can agree because Tip O Neil and Ronald Reagan used to have drinks every Friday. Did that make them ‘friends’? I doubt it.

      Sometimes our modern technologies make old issues worse. People tend to only look for proof of their own conclusions. One day a friend predicted how much better it would be when computers controlled even more of our cars, until another guy piped up, “But guys would be looking for porn while they drive!”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Crog-GED, good point about technology. I think access to so much information and having forums for political discussion are great, but aside from the dangers of information overload and the ability to find proof for your own conclusions no matter how outlandish is the very simple danger of being so distracted and engrossed by the web that you forget to vote, or you spend so much time online that you don’t have time to participate in the political process.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        There was a very real cold war espionage attack on our country. (and ours on theirs) When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and ships spotted off the coast of California, FDR over reacted but I see the concern.

        Now I think the common enemy of the political system is us. We are in the way of both parties.

    • Crogged says:

      Walt Kelly, via Pogo, said it, “We have met the enemy and he is us”
      We don’t have enemies, we only disagree………

    • Anse says:

      I don’t think it’s any worse than it’s been at various points in the past. The difference is the 24-hour-news cycle keeps us amped up. We’re perpetually outraged. The campaign never ends.

      • DanMan says:

        you’re close, libs are perpetually outraged

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I get my kicks from being outraged over everyone else’s perpetual outrage. I guess that’s a kinder way of saying I’m judgmental.

    • CaptSternn says:

      The U.S. has never been a democracy. It was set up as a constitutional republic in 1789. The vast majority of our problems today really got started in the 1930s when the federal government started to move away from the constitution.

    • GG says:

      Yes, I know we were a Republic but I’ve long thought we were an oligarchy.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      From the article, this kills me, but it’s been true for years:

      “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

  10. rightonrush says:

    I can count on one hand the times I have not voted. We did early voting this week in the Woodlands to replace Tommy Williams in the Tx Senate. It really pisses me off when I have to run the gauntlet of eager beaver folks supporting this one or the other candidate. When I open my vehicle door I KNOW who I’m voting for. Do not run up to me trying to influence my vote because it ain’t gonna happen. In the primary I had a TP lady try to stick a list of her preferred candidates in my hand. Back off people, by the time we get to the polls, we already have our minds made up…or at least 99.9% of us do.

    • DanMan says:

      see what I mean? this one’s mad because somebody wants to talk to him about their candidate. And It makes him so darn mad.

  11. tuttabellamia says:

    I think there’s a big difference between people interested in politics to advance a cause and mere political junkies, for whom politics is little more than a bloodsport, obsessing over every little thing printed or spoken, bickering just to bicker.

  12. johnofgaunt75 says:

    I think it is also pretty clear that the wealthy in this country have a disproportionate influence on the shape of politics in this country. Money buys influence and, even if it isn’t one-for-one bribery per se, it is damn close.

    Both parties are guilty of this. Look at the banking regulations. Look at the awful protections workers have in this country. Look how riders to bills are slipped in at the last minute to benefit well connected individuals or well connected companies (both who donate massive amounts of money).

    Volunteering and spending time going to school board meetings matters in the local sense. But the real power in this country and this state is based on influence bought by money. The story of Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim literally handing out $10K checks to Texas State Senators on the Senate floor after they voted the way he wanted them to vote will show you that. The pathetic thing? All this was perfectly legal.

    • CaptSternn says:

      Good reason to repeal the 17th amendment.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…I’d happily let you walk us through the thought process that gets you to that conclusion.

        Really, I promise no snark, I’ve never understood the TP’s issue with this nor how they think it would cause less corruption.

        It is cool if you don’t have time, but I’ve just never understood the TP’s issue here.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        I second the call, Sternn. Please provide a logical argument, moving clearly from step to step, explaining why the election of federal senators by state legislatures would not invite MORE corruption rather than less. (That was, after all, the primary reason for the 17th Amendment’s reform!)

      • CaptSternn says:

        HT, it is simple, the lobbyists would be restricted to the house and the senate would go back to representing the states. As it is now, we really just have two houses and no real senate.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, we said “a logical argument”, not a lot of hand-waving to try to disguise the stench that comes from you being full of shit.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        It would be fairer and more logical (in other words, light-years from Sternn’s usual habitat) to say that we have two Senates and no House.

        Under the extra-Constitutional House membership cap of 435 which has existed since an act of the 70th Congress in 1929 (2 U.S.C. Sec. 2, Election of Senators and Representatives) based it on the Census of 1910, the House has become ever less the People’s chamber.

        The population of the United States has increased threefold while the membership of the House has remained fixed. Moreover, the demand to shoehorn all states into such a stricture, even though some states have grown in leaps and bounds in population while others remain sparsely rural, produces distortions of representation. After the 1990 Census Wyoming, with 563,626 inhabitants, had one House representative. Montana, with 799,065 residents, 76% larger, also had only one representative. Why should Montanans have only half (57%) the representation in Congress than Wyomingites do? Similarly, California in the 2010 Census had a population of 37,253,956, approximately 66.1 times than of Wyoming; yet, because of the cap on House membership, California has 53 representatives to Wyoming’s one. Why should Californians have only 80% of the representation that Wyomingites do?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        You are much more the constitutional scholar than me. I’m not sarcastic about that at all. You know more about it than do it. I think your conclusions with that knowledge are horrible and wrong for the country, but you certainly do know more than me.

        With that said, wasn’t the 17th put in at least in part because of corruption and a lack of focus on states’ issues? Wouldn’t national issues dominate state issues, causing state legislature election to hinge on national, rather than state issues? I mean, it is bad enough that we are asking candidates for railroad commission about sharia law, but it would seem to be expanded if we gave up direct elections for Senator.

        Heck, the Lincoln-Douglas debates were not for their elections, but for the state legislators who would elect them. Those state elections were wholly focused on slavery and dissolving the Union rather than say education or roads in Illinois.

        It would seem we would be having state elections based on which US Senate candidate they would vote for rather than on state issues. In the last elections, our state elections would focus on whether they would vote for a senator who would repeal Obamacare or raise the debt ceiling rather than whether they had any ideas on education in Texas.

        Isn’t it possible that the national issues (and all the lobbying and corruption associated with it) would dominate state election and those issues? I think that was the concern when folks put in the 17th.

      • Crogged says:

        Five hundred thousand people get two Senators, a couple of US reps and direct votes in the electoral college for the office of the President.

        Bellaire gets a…….. mayor? (don’t know, never lived there).

      • Crogged says:

        Bellaire is too small a city–but I think you get my drift.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Some states could not agree on a person to be appointed as a senator, so the senate was not being filled and those states were losing representation. It shouldn’t matter so much to the people what happens at the federal level since the federal government is not supposed to be governing the people. That is what state and local governments are for.

      • Crogged says:

        For a more visual representation of what a map of the states would look like if sized for numbers of citizens. I can’t vouch for the particular web site-but there are others.


      • Owl_of_Bellaire says:

        Crogged, it shouldn’t need to be said, but BESIDES our local mayor and city council, and a Harris County judge and district commissioner, Bellaire citizens ALSO get “two Senators… [one of Texas’ heavily-gerrymandered] US reps and direct votes in the electoral college for the office of the President.”

        So did you actually have a coherent point? It doesn’t look like it.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        The question was how to remove money from the system. The Captain gave a great example. At least for the 500 thousand to 1 million dollars a senator has to take his or her time to raise so they can run for the office. Seems logical and more easily controlled.

        By the way. Owly ignorantly stated the Captain is full of shit but then misquotes him. Perfect. Just perfect.

      • flypusher says:

        It really would be interesting to have everyone on this blog take a closed-book American history quiz; Who wants to take odds on who wool flunk?

        Why a 17th Amendment?


        If you’re into corrupting the proceeds to get your bought-and-paid-for person in that Senate seat, what’s cheaper and easier, A) bribing a critical mass of state legislators? or B) bribing a critical mass of voters?

      • Crogged says:

        Western, thinly populated states, are overrepresented in our national politics, just like thinly populated, rural areas are in Texas politics.

      • flypusher says:

        “would flunk…”

        Auto correct strikes again.

      • John Galt says:

        In today’s world, repeal of the direct election of senators would merely move the lobbying to a different level. Today, lobbyists give money to the reelection campaigns of the senators themselves. Repeal this and they would give money to PACs affiliated with senators that would then dole money out to the politically powerful in their home state to ensure their reappointment when it came up. Combine this with the undemocratic removal of direct voting, and you would get a worse system, not a better one. Of course, Ted Cruz never gets to the U.S. Senate through an appointment system, so maybe that’s a plus.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…you say, “it shouldn’t matter so much to the people what happens at the federal level since the federal government is not supposed to be governing the people. That is what state and local governments are for.”

        While that may work in Rand Paul’s world, here in the US, folks kinda do care about what happens at the federal level.

        It mattered to folks before the 17th amendment and it matters to them now.

        I’m just not seeing how the lobbying and corruption (as if states are less corrupt – but that is a different issue) doesn’t simply shift down to the state legislators who are making the decision.

        Getting elected to represent Bellaire in the Texas legislature would hinge on who you will vote for as Senator or how you feel about Obamacare?

        In more local and practical concerns, getting elected to represent Bellaire would be decided on whether that candidate supported Dewhurst or Cruz.

        That just seems like a recipe for letting national issues, national politics, and national parties dominate state elections.

        Maybe in the 1800s with no TV, national news, or internet, you could possibly focus only on local issues, but even then, the Lincoln-Douglas debates showed how a national issue dominated state elections.

        The original posting was about the very tiny portion of folks who are politically active. Dropping the 17th amendment would just seem to make a smaller group even more powerful.

        Obviously, this is never going to be repealed. You will be hard pressed to convince folks to vote for a less participative gov’t than they have now nor agree to give up their power to vote for a Senator.

        I’m just not seeing the TP issue here other than devolving to “states’ rights” trumping most anything else. I can’t find the steps that walk to this being less corrupt nor to it even ultimately benefiting states’ rights folks because the national issues and parties would dominate.

      • flypusher says:

        “Western, thinly populated states, are overrepresented in our national politics, just like thinly populated, rural areas are in Texas politics.”

        I believe Owl was the one who suggested that the House should be expanded, so that members from more densely populated regions would not have to serve so many more people than those from less populated states. It makes perfect sense, #s-wise, but I have really big trepidations about even more Congress-critters.

      • CaptSternn says:

        HT, it isn’t a tea party issue at all. That movement focuses on fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government.

        People would still care about what happensd at the federal level, as in whether or not we would be going to war, the impact on the individual states and other major issues, but not dealing with our daily lives.

        I don’t see the 17th being repealed, at least probably not in my life time, so I don’t make a big issue of it. But it does apply to the comment from 75.

      • Crogged says:

        The rural, urban divide is an ancient issue in American politics and won’t be going away anytime soon. With all the talk around the Tea Party, founding fathers and “liberty” and “freedom”, it is easy to forget that there was no huge consensus among the founders of the benefits of democracy and their definition of ‘everyone’ wasn’t nearly as expansive as our own.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        Hows you get from too money money and corruption in the political system to the repeal of the 17th Amendment is beyound me. The only way it makes any sense to me is that you somehow assume that there is less political corruption at the state level than the federal.

        Which is clearly false. The Bo Pilgrim story above and the fact that such actions are legal here in Texas is evidence of that. At least at the federal level, such blatent bribery is illegal and we have the FEC to investigate such corruption. Texas (and many other states like it), have basically nothing.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Misquoted how, kabuzz? Oh, that’s right: you always run away when asked for facts.

        You smell just like Sternn.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        “Western, thinly populated states, are overrepresented in our national politics, just like thinly populated, rural areas are in Texas politics.”

        In other words, we have come to live in a gerrymandered nation.

        Congress should repeal the prohibition on multi-member Congressional districts, and then require that any urban area with population larger than a single district be made just such a region. That would encourage cohesion among both citizens and their representatives, reduce the deliberate or accidental splitting of communities of interest, vastly simplify electoral maps by eliminating wiggly or convoluted urban districts, and end the odious Republican practice of diluting urban voters by cutting them into thin wedges smeared out among vast swathes of unrelated rural voters.

        It would take a Constitutional amendment, but it would be interesting to allow multi-state representatives to even out population ratios. I’ve heard it said that, were North and South Dakota to become one state, they’d rate three representatives rather than two. Why not allow them to share one?

      • flypusher says:

        “Congress should repeal the prohibition on multi-member Congressional districts, and then require that any urban area with population larger than a single district be made just such a region. ”

        I’ve all for that, but it won’t be easy. There are special interests on both sides that would fight tooth and nail against it. I can’t see the CBC liking it at all.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        By “CBC” you mean the Congressional Black Caucus?

        Easy. Require any multi-member district to use cumulative voting, or one of the other alternatives to simplistic “first-past-the-post” balloting which has been shown to give minorities (whether political or racial/ethnic) a better opportunity to elect their candidate of choice in a multi-member contest.

        First-past-the-post is most of the reason we have such ridiculously gerrymandered districts on the Left. Whether done for political or racial reasons, gerrymandering is odious. (And, yes, Sheila Jackson Lee is an idiot.)

      • DanMan says:

        and here’s another example of that liberal rage. Ms Owl can’t seem control her own extremities. Even her fingers cuss when she tries to make a point.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Saying “idiot” is cussing? Or are you just feeling sensitive about its personal applicability?

        If you dealt in more than idle snark, tautologies, and Hallmark-scale aphorisms, and instead actually presented thoughts and ideas, you might be worth some respect.

      • DanMan says:

        No. Only an idiot such as yourself would miss it like that.

  13. johnofgaunt75 says:

    People have busy lives. Most households are now two-earner families where both spouses work. People do this not to get ahead but simply to afford the mortgage and put food on the table.

    People also work longer and longer hours. Add to that many people are forced to live far out in the suburbs far away from their job because most public schools are garbage in the US. With most American cities having PATHETIC transportation infrastructure, people are forced to spend sometimes an hour (or more) each way in traffic. How in the world can someone make a 5:30 school board meeting or 6:30 city counsel meeting?

    Anyway, my point is that the reason that we have such a small percentage of people participating in political life in this country is because of time or lack there of. About the only people who have the free time to participate are the very young, the very old and te very rich (where both spouses don’t work).

    What little free time regular people have they would rather spend with their friends and family. And frankly, given the politics in this country can you blame them?

    • way2gosassy says:

      No I don’t blame them for wanting to spend more time with friends and family specially after a long day at work. Too many of us have gotten so complacent about our local politics that we can find the time to bitch about school administrators who don’t perform or pot holes that don’t get repaired but we won’t take the time to even make a call to City Hall to make our expectations known. When sane people with reasonable expectations fail to participate at any level in the process we end up with the inmates running the asylum.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        Complacent? Maybe. I think a lot of people are also stuck and feel trapped.

        Theoretically one could move closer to work and work to improve the schools there. But that’s a pipe dream and takes a generation, at least. Who is going to sacrifice your child’s education for that? Not many.

        Theoretically one could also look for a new job closer to their home. Given the current job market, again, good luck.

        I’m not making excuses for lazyness but just pointing out that there’s a reason we have a mental health crisis in this country and the number of people abusing drugs and alchohol is increasing. Life for the regular person in this country is not that great anymore.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        John, how did you make the leap to mental illness, drugs, and alcohol?

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        People have stressful, busy lives. Most people are living paycheck to paycheck in this country. They work longer and longer hours but they don’t feel like they are getting ahead or saving. The data shows this.

        When people are stressed, many turn to substance abuse.

      • way2gosassy says:

        I don’t disagree with anything you say but doing nothing is the best recipe I know for it to only get worse. How much time does it take to write a letter to a local politician? or make a phone call? We can pass a multimillion dollar school bond most of which is being spent to build state of the art football stadiums while closing poor performing schools in poor neighborhoods and laying off teachers. How the heck does a football stadium improve student academic performance overall if it only benefits those schools in wealthier areas?

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Just about everyone involved in the local party system are busy but TAKE the time. John, you are just making excuses.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        How many of them are poor or lower middle class, working two jobs just to make ends meet and pay the mortgage?

        Time is a luxery of the rich and the upper middle class.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        John, professionals such as doctors might also have trouble finding time to participate in the political process — although they can contribute money.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        Or their spouses can contribute their time and volunteer and participate because they have the luxery of not being forced to work just to make ends meet.

        Just saying that we need to consider the perspective and situation of a lot of people in this country that barely get by.

      • CaptSternn says:

        What is to say their spouse would have the same political leanings?

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        I’m not saying they would (although it is fairly common). But at least one family member in such a situation would be able to volunteer and participate. And the other spouse could of course contribute money (perhaps a lot of money).

        The poor and lower middle classes can do very little.

      • CaptSternn says:

        The poor and middle class can do quite a lot by voting and serving on juries. The poor and middle class could even run blogs to get out the message.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        John, you have a much more negative, demeaning attitude towards the poor and lower middle class. In my involvements over the years with church or election judging staffing, they were very much represented and were great givers of their time and money.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        John, and who’s to say that the spouse is not also a fellow professional too busy at work to be active in the political process?

        I understand your point but I tend to agree with Cap that we should never underestimate the role of the populace. Public outcries and letter-writing campaigns are powerful tools, along with voting and serving on juries. I think the greatest thing we have to fear is not lack of time or money but APATHY.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        So why don’t we make Election Day a national holiday? Or at least move it to a Saturday rather than a Tuesday?

        That is, if we’re really interested in taking the common pulse, rather than setting up obstacles so that only the “right” people vote.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Owl, if Election Day were declared a national holiday or took place on Saturday, I think fewer people would vote. They would just take the day off and go on vacation. If Tuesday Election Day were declared a national holiday, people would take Monday off and turn it into a long weekend. Or I could see Election Day being changed to Monday, along with other bank holidays.

        Taking this approach would turn Election Day into another bank holiday devoid of meaning, a day for barbecuing and going to the beach.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        What a sad and distempered outlook.

        You actually think voter turnout would go *down*?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Yes, I do, I’m sorry to say.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Well, Tutt, I just did some interesting research.

        Puerto Rico makes Election Day a holiday, and has far better turnout than the rest of the United States. That said, they also have a huge amount of institutionalized election-day political activity designed to mobilize voters, which clouds the picture of what a holiday by itself would do. (That said, I’d love it if such efforts were also national.)

        Click to access 181farber.pdf

        A fellow at Princeton looked at voting turnout for state employees in U.S. states which make Election Day a *government* holiday versus those which did not, and found no significant difference.


        Researchers found, in French elections at least, a strong negative effect of holidays on voting turnout, though in many cases the “holidays” seem to be the multi-week “summer vacation for adults” which the French favor rather than an abrupt single-day break in the middle of a normal work schedule. Interestingly, their literature review includes a paper which discovered *increases* in turnout for elections held on a Sunday.

        Click to access political-participation-and-the-accessibility-of-the-ballot-box-gimpel-and-schucktnecht.pdf

        And there’s a paper on voting turn-out with the following local tidbit:

        “While few have examined the question of accessibility directly, Stein and Garcia- Monet (1997) found that placing early voting sites in non-traditional locations stimulated participation in Texas. As non-traditional sites, the authors coded supermarkets, convenience stores, shopping malls and mobile units. For every ten non-traditional early voting sites the authors found a 0.15% increase in the proportion of votes cast early (Stein & Garcia-Monet, 1997, 665; Stein, 1998). One might also hypothesize that burdening the participation of certain populations by placing polling locations in out-of-the-way places is one means unscrupulous, but strategic, authorities use to depress turnout.”

        And a great quote relevant to the obvious problems in the 2012 election and the sort of oligarchy of the interested that Sternn seems to gloat over:

        “… How much interest should a voter have to qualify him for voting? Enough to stand in line all day? For half a day? For two days? We cannot say, but those who think voting should be limited to the ‘interested’ ought to be prepared to do so.” (Kelley, Ayres & Bowen, 1967, 375)

        So I wish to officially declare a move from utter certainty about the virtues of an Election Day holiday to a fair degree of agnosticism.

        (My aunt, a Democratic activist in Buda, has occasionally commented that one can make access to voting really easy… but if you need to make it that simple for people, do you really want those people voting on issues that affect the rest of us?)

      • CaptSternn says:

        As Tutt pointed out quite a while back, early voting in 2012 was not a problem at all. We did go to one place where the line was probably an hour or more long in an affluent area of Harris County. But she had done her homework and we found another polling place in a less affluent area, a “minority” neighborhood and went straight to the booth.

        So it seems to benefit informed voters. The less informed will simply be like Owl.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        I’m glad you have Tutt to take care of you, Sternn, given that your skull is the intellectual equivalent of a bedpan.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Owl, I do my best to be civil here and avoid insults and name-calling, which means I generally ignore you. Even when I attempt to engage you in discussion, this is what you come up with. From now on I will view you as a person that has a skull bashed in with a bed pan. Have a good evening.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, you vented, “Owl, I do my best to be civil here and avoid insults and name-calling,” after ending your latest bit of rhetorical vomit with “The less informed will simply be like Owl.”

        You wouldn’t have gotten that bedpan repartee from me without your own hypocritical sign-off. So it looks like you’re just a sore loser AND a moron.

      • Tuttabella says:

        Owl, I’m flattered that you took my opinion about an Election Day holiday seriously enough to research it. I am all for increasing voter turnout, no matter how people choose to vote. It gives me a feeling of satisfaction to know that a greater percentage of the population is being represented.

        I think early voting is the most efficient way to make voting more accessible. It spreads out the opportunity to vote, time-wise, instead of restricting your chance to vote to just one day, and you have several polling places from which to choose, instead of restricting you to the one polling place for your precinct. That way, if you show up at one place and the line is ridiculously long, you can return the following day, or go elsewhere, which is what Cap and I did in the example he mentioned. We’d first gone to the Multi-Service Center on the edge of River Oaks, and the line was out the door, so we went to Holy Name Catholic Church in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. There were rows of empty booths, and we were able to vote immediately. Just one personal example, I know, but I am not convinced that minorities, or anyone else, face enormous obstacles to voting.

        I think the number one factor keeping people from voting is simple apathy. I doubt it has to do with lack of access to the voting process, so I don’t think your aunt need worry that providing easy, open access to voting will result in a bunch of not so smart people deciding for the rest of us. She should pay more attention to the possibility of people becoming passionate enough about an issue that they will go out in droves to vote. In any case, even the voice of the not-so-smart people should be heard; otherwise, we will be guilty of what Chris bemoans in this very entry — that political power is concentrated in the hands of a few elite members.

        And no, Cap is not a Gomer Pyle or Jethro Bodine type as you seem to think.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        So, the key is not early voting per se, or designating a national holiday, a day free from the obligation of work so people can vote, but an extended voting period, like an Election WEEK, and being allowed to vote in any part of town, not just a specific precinct. I don’t think it’s necessary to get grocery stores and shopping malls involved.

  14. kabuzz61 says:

    I have said this before Chris. People who involved themselves in local politics for either party run as precinct chair. The precinct chair controls the first convention for party platform. Then they go to regional to the platform committee and fight for their resolutions. From their they go to State and continue to fight for all or some of the resolutions before they go to national.

    I have been a part of that process and it does take time and effort. That is why I do not fault either side for putting in the time. It is so easy to sit back and put down TEA Party people who put in the time and effort.

    There is time for all of us to do this, but you have to want to and most don’t.

    • Tuttabella says:

      To be that involved in the process, you have to be a people person, which I am not, and I also don’t feel comfortable pushing beliefs on others.

      Voting is painless, but I’ve become so cynical about the political process that I’m less inclined to vote now. You guys fight amongst yourselves, and whoever wins, I will find my own personal way to deal with it.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      I don’t put down Tea Party people for putting in the time and effort.

      I put them down for being seething, conspiratorial, reality-denying loons.

  15. CaptSternn says:

    A small percentage of voters participate in the primaries, but that is by choice. Not all registered voters vote in general elections, but that is by choice. I don’t have a problem with it because it makes my vote more powerful. Hey, I am part of the 1%. Cool.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Well, I have you to thank for teaching me to question government and authority. I used to believe that if something came from above, it had to be good, or at least accepted without question. All out civil disobedience is not my style, as I don’t like to draw attention to myself, and I find I have more freedom by staying under the radar. It’s not that I’ve developed a complete distrust of government like some people, overall I believe that government is “good,” but I’ve become more skeptical. I’m more likely to ask now, Do I HAVE to do this?

      The ironic thing is that now I’m so sick of the political bickering — on blogs, and the media circus — that I’m less likely to vote.

      • way2gosassy says:

        Tutt, You said, “The ironic thing is that now I’m so sick of the political bickering — on blogs, and the media circus — that I’m less likely to vote.”

        In my opinion blogs and the media are the two worst places to form a political opinion. Your vote is your only voice in the process. I don’t care how you vote but vote for or against those people or issues that best reflect your beliefs. I look at the candidates or the issues by doing some basic research on my own and have never been a straight ticket voter. While there may not be a candidate with whom I completely agree I am also not a single issue voter. If the person is reasonably sane and honest in their endeavors both public and private they are likely to get my vote regardless of party affiliation. Don’t let the BS on this blog silence your voice.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Straight-ticket voting should not be an available option. Period.

        If you’re taking the time to vote, you should be taking the time to deal with each race individually. You want to reflexively punch the same party’s candidate for each one? Fine. But do it for each one.

      • flypusher says:

        Owl, I still savor the irony of the TX-22 congressional election back in ’06, when people voting straight ticket GOP helped put a Dem into the seat.

        Never voted straight ticket, never will.

      • fiftyohm says:

        As Owl said, straight ticket voting is an abomination. The problems are: it’s a state issue, but more importantly, it’s a concept ingrained and embedded in machine party politics.

        I’d lay pretty good odds were to Texas to abolish it, we’d be hearing about all the ‘disenfranchised voters’ – who can’t read. (Through no fault of their own, of course.)

      • flypusher says:

        “I’d lay pretty good odds were to Texas to abolish it, we’d be hearing about all the ‘disenfranchised voters’ – who can’t read. (Through no fault of their own, of course.)”

        Won’t anyone think of the touch-screen impaired!!???!?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        I believe voters are allowed to have a clerk assist them at the booth, for just such eventualities.

        Though I appreciate the humor. 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Beware those clerks, though. My mom didn’t vote for the first time until age 65, when she became a naturalized citizen, and she didn’t understand English very well, and even found the Spanish instructions overwhelming, so I would usually assist her when she voted, going line by line, through every candidate and every proposition with her. I never told her how to vote, and she never voted straight ticket.

        Well, on one occasion a clerk insisted on helping her, and my mom came out of the booth almost immediately, because she had voted straight Democratic ticket. I think she was bamboozled by the “helpful” clerk.

      • flypusher says:

        “I think she was bamboozled by the “helpful” clerk.”

        That was totally sleazy.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fly, I agree. We could also argue that my mom should have known better or had no business voting, but she did have firm views, and in this particular election she was already in her mid ’70s, easily flustered, intimated by the computerized system, so her deficiency in English was not the main problem. Heck, those propositions, with how they’re worded, are hard to understand in any language.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        That clerk should have been reported and prosecuted.

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