Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Our Journey for Voting Power and Accomplishments So Far



We have a new Website and Blog!
A place to meet, work and share how to get more power to our votes.
As described on the powertomyvotes.com HOME page, I just had to do something positive politically. I got a sense of direction from Dr. Eitan Hersh’s book:
Politics Is For Power: How to Move Beyond Political Hobbyism, Take Action, and Make Real Change.
Is this even possible? How can a voter do such a thing?
Well, voting has been around for thousands of years. And clever people have learned to get more voting power by:
  1. Knowing that voting decides who gets good stuff instead of bad stuff.
  2. Being sociable and discussing with others why to vote for what.
  3. Knowing the decision makers (politicians) and voting in all elections—local, state, national.
This is common sense. But in America only about 50% of voters vote in federal elections. And in state and local elections voting turnout is far, far less. 
Furthermore, only a very small percent of voters have real and personally important issues that specifically cause their Republican or Democratic vote. 
Instead, they vote from a “menu” of issues their political party created to have the best chance of winning the election. So, instead of voting for issues, most voters loyally vote for their Republican or Democratic Party. The research statistics show this to be the case.
On my journey so far, I’m repeatedly amazed at how we American citizens have lost our voting power by our dislike of politics, by not learning about issues important for OUR work and welfare, and by not devoting enough time to learn what our elected officials are doing—not just in public, but also behind the scenes hiding it from the voters. The politicians are putting way too much effort into their own welfare instead of ours.  
We shouldn't blame this ALL on politicians; we share the blame due to our lack of active participation.
I was learning the new software for producing an up-to-date website and blog. Vastly upgrading my knowledge of politics and how government is supposed to operate. Reading blogs of various types. Reading top rated liberal and conservative political blogs.
Examining the standard meanings and workings of key political entities and terms:
  • What issues does the Republican Party push in their platform?
  • What issues does the Democratic Party push in their platform?
  • What do the political words liberal and conservative actually mean?
  • How are "tribal" and "identity" political messages sent out to the voters.
I subscribed to a standard set of news sources—conservative and liberal. My statements and conclusions are based on multiple, credible sources of data source, in combination with political contexts.
After I learned the importance of pictures for blogs, I upgraded my iPhone and began taking shots of anything related to politics and government. Then I had to learn how to resize and reformat pictures for compatibility on the web with cell phones, tablets and desktops. Manipulating photos' properties for correct placement in a blog section was a difficult learning curve!
I bought and studied collected blogs of the liberal blogger Paul Krugman and the conservative blogger Charles Krauthammer. Those book titles are Arguing With Zombies and Things That Matter. Both are exceptional, award winning writers. Their blogs are usually two or three pages long and a fun way to get familiar with politics.
I learned that in general, online blogs are all about pictures, or all about humor, food, or family, and many diverse topics. 
I learned most blogs are chatty and that sharing one’s personality is a good thing.
I experimented writing blogs and deleting many versions of what I wanted my blog to be.
I finally settled on a blog style appropriate for my goals of educating and inspiring voters. As I write about the serious business of politics, I try to use the simplest words; I know I sacrifice entertainment in my attempt to teach vital concepts. The concepts must be understood, thought about, and used strategically. The proper mood is business-like. In grasping this principle, I was helped by Dr. Hersh's book, Politics Is For Power.
Writing blogs! 
I’m finding it’s hard work assembling data from sources, attempting to be nonpartisan but reporting events fairly, and making politics interesting and valuable to read. 
I’m really enjoying the books I’m reading. Politics is a big deal and I’m glad I’ve embarked on our Journey of getting power to our votes.
        For references, see the relevant page on the powertomyvotes.com website.
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Saturday, April 2, 2022

How Politicians & Citizens Do Government (Part 2)


Part 3: Understanding the "Republican and Democratic Parties"

The Democratic and Republican Parties are each an organized group of people who present the voting public with their candidate(s) for an election.
In America, we almost always have only two major political parties. This is because America has three branches of government (executive, congressional, judicial) rather than just two (congressional and judicial) as in the more common parliamentary governments like Great Britain. Parliamentary governments usually have several main parties and after the election the parties negotiate to “form a government” and select a person to head up that government. 
Why have Parties? Anytime a group of organized people get together to do something, they want their group to work well. And then, some other, nearby group thinks they can do better, and/or they are afraid of the other group’s intentions. To make a long story short, competition naturally arises between groups. Political groups stake out so called “positions,” which could be very general (for example, “In Government Smaller Is Better”). Or a political group’s position might be a specific issue (for example, “No More War”).

Any big and modern society cannot be understood as one whole group of people. Instead it is broken down into useful categories, also called subgroups, based on criteria. Social and economic criteria include such factors as:  
  • General level of health or disability
  • Years of education
  • Married or single
  • Urban or rural
Economic criteria
  • Working or unemployed
  • Income level

In both political science and politics the most frequent and useful subgroups are: lower class, middle class, and upper class. Most American adults know what these terms mean. These subgroups are also called the lower socioeconomic class, middle socioeconomic class, and upper socioeconomic classes. These terms are more descriptive and remind us that a subgroup is defined by meaningful criteria.
So, why are the socioeconomic classes important? It’s because…
Politics is all about deciding who gets the most good stuff from the government
Does everybody get the same percentage of an income tax cut? Should rich citizens pay more for Obama Care to off-set what the indigent don’t pay? At one time in America many workers were protected by labor unions, and unions had power to strike as a means of getting higher hourly pay; but no more, because the government no longer protects some of the labor union’s bargaining methods. Citizens elect politicians to get stuff from the government. The citizens vote for those politicians who will do battle for them in government.
The needs, wants, and problems of the lower and upper social-economic classes are substantially different
So, guess what! The Republican and Democratic Parties each have their own, different policies, beliefs, and recommendations for solving social and economic problems. And this is a good thing. It has worked successfully for a long time.
The two Parties fight it out politically for control to do government their own way. Both Parties are very competitive, send out political messages in slogans, and use vague and confusing words like: conservative, left, right, center, liberal, radical, Tea Party, bleeding heart liberal, on and on. 
Both Parties have put tremendous effort into (1) selecting candidates who might win, govern well and (2), they try to fulfill the standard values and policies of their Party.

I’ve been on a journey to clear up my confusion about such political language. And here’s what I’ve come up with. 
A government for 330 million Americans (which by the way, includes 1.8 million federal government workers) is so complex that political talk has had to evolve. It’s slogan oriented because no one has time for anything more. It uses abstract words like “conservative” and other generalizations to pack a lot of information into a few vague words. I’ve read many definitions and the are ones I’ve settled on as most useful and given below:
From what I have learned, the standard public statements of each of the two Parties are summarized below:
Democratic general statements:
Tending to LIBERAL. The use of government resources and money to cure health and welfare problems to insure all citizens have at least a minimal but acceptable living situation. Examples would be unemployment benefits, food and shelter, and healthcare.
Tending to LEFT-WING. Supporting social equality among people instead of upper versus lower class status. More person-oriented. From what I have seen and studied about the Democratic Party, there’s little that seems racist.

Republican general statements:
Tending to CONSERVATIVE. Using a Wikipedia search phrase of “American political conservatism.” Wikipedia says, “Conservatism in the United States is a political and social philosophy which characteristically prioritizes American traditions, republicanism, and limited federal governmental power in relation to the states, referred to more simply as limited government and states' rights."
Tending to RIGHT-WING. Supporting free market, free enterprise, private ownership, traditional or conventional values. More business oriented than person oriented. From what I’ve seen and read about the Republican Party, racist themes and tainted legislation are common—particularly since 2016.
Both Parties, rightly so, care most about getting their candidate elected. A winning candidate makes everything the Party stands for much easier to implement in the future. But there’s no law saying the winning party must fulfill promises made during the election. Such a law doesn't even sound workable.
Here are some examples of campaign promises fulfilled, unfulfilled, along with some nasty surprises.
  1. Trump campaigned against NATO, against environmental protection, and against politically correct speech.
  2. Once elected he eliminated close to 200 regulations for reducing global warming and pollution. Republican politicians are general climate change deniers and are out of step with the rest of the world.
  3. He frequently spoke out against our involvement with NATO and acted like he wanted to be personal friends with dictators in China, Russia, and North Korea. He implied we were too friendly and too supportive of South Korea (one of our long term allies).
  4. He mismanaged the COIVD-19 response and undermined Dr. Fauci and other medical professionals. He used his presidential authority to recommend sham, not medically recommended, treatments. He gushed misinformation. Eventually, statisticians will calculate the estimated deaths from COVID-19 he likely contributed to. From the onset of COVID-19 he minimized its danger and contradicted and personally attacked nationally respected scientists and medical professionals.
  5. Obama (2009 - 2017) saw the country through the an extremely serious financial crisis. His signature accomplishment was the passing of what’s commonly known as Obama Care, which made many fundamental health industry changes resulting in lowering of costs, coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, and dramatically improving the lives of millions (Krugman, 2021). When fully in effect by 2014, it was still under attack by the Republicans. But Obama Care has survived those attacks and it would now be unthinkable to end it.
  6. George W. Bush (2001 – 2009) in his two campaigns and eight years as president made many, many promises. Some of those promises seemed to lack common-sense. He said it was necessary to “strengthen Social Security” by letting workers contribute their social security taxes to private investments. There was massive resistance to Bush’s plan -- even from his own Republican Party. Bush marketed the idea of significant changes to Social Security as “strengthening,” but what he intended to do was known to have worked poorly in Great Britain and other countries when tried. The Republican Party was weakened during his two terms of office. Bush’s presidency has been given the lowest ratings of any president in recent years. 
  7. Bill Clinton (1993 – 2001) I have presented examples of his significant accomplishments in a previous blog and detailed the intensity of work by both Parties that turned Clinton’s proposals into law.
Part 4: On Money And Corruption in American Politics, There’s Good News
In the last election 14 billion was spent campaigning – that’s a record!
When I googled “corruption in American politics” and other similar phrases, I found nothing. What I did find were freedom from corruption ratings of modern democracies. American comes out in the top 20 corruption free governments.
Part 5: About Our Citizen Voters 
A lot of information is available about the actual casting of votes in America. Voter turnout as a percentage of eligible voters has ranged from 52% to 62% over the past ten years. As many as 10% to 15% of age-eligible voters cannot vote due to such reasons as being non-citizens or felons (which depends on particular state laws).
Rates of voting are higher among wealthier and those with more education.

A concern I have for American citizens is that years of data published in many political science books reveal that:
  • A high percentage of voters have little or no knowledge of the policy positions of those they voted for.
  • Yearly, there are many scientifically performed surveys of what voters know or don’t know about what’s going on in government. The average voter has very little knowledge and often wrong knowledge.
  • The closeness in the popular vote of many presidential elections suggests to me that citizens are casting votes on the basis of global knowledge, vague impressions, and incidental information—not on specific issues.

The political scientist Dr. Eitan Hersh’s book suggests most American citizens know the importance of voting and politics and wish they were doing more. It’s been over six months since I read Dr. Eitan’s book and not a week goes by that I don’t think about his research and valuable recommendations for American citizens on how to give power to their votes.
         WORKS CITED
        For references, see the relevant page on the powertomyvotes.com website.
        - END - 

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