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Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)


Simon
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The only way you can influence some of these lawmakers is to hit them in the wallet.  "I think we'll find another city for our $100M in tourism event."

 

And the cries of "cancel culture" sound like "pot, meet kettle."  BOTH sides do it;  that's one of the major problems.

 

 

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14 hours ago, Cygnia said:

 

The guy's an entitled frat boy. Don't let him upset you more than he's worth. Console yourself with the knowledge that his behavior is catching up with him. He's too dumb to keep avoiding consequences.

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14 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

The guy's an entitled frat boy. Don't let him upset you more than he's worth. Console yourself with the knowledge that his behavior is catching up with him. He's too dumb to keep avoiding consequences.

 

...until someone nominates him to the Supreme Court.

 

Sorry. I'll be on my way now.

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When it comes to evil people with power, that's endemic to the whole world. I would say America is much less susceptible to that than the majority of countries. The system is a good one, but it's been subverted by many of those tasked with preserving it who just want to exploit it for their own benefit, and a public which hasn't been assiduous enough in holding those people to account.

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5 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

When it comes to evil people with power, that's endemic to the whole world. I would say America is much less susceptible to that than the majority of countries. The system is a good one, but it's been subverted by many of those tasked with preserving it who just want to exploit it for their own benefit, and a public which hasn't been assiduous enough in holding those people to account.

 

That's because the "public" has no actual power in America. Money rules America and thanks to our enormous income disparity...that power is in the hands of very few. The public's only real power is active demonstration, but look how quickly that gets demonized and stamped down. Accountability is pointless in a society where the wealthy and powerful make all the laws. Such laws are generally meaningless to such people. We see it time and time again.

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Right now we're seeing Republican administrations in states across America trying to suppress access to voting, because votes mean victory, and they're terrified that without cheating they won't win. We're also seeing broad-based corporate pushback against that legislation, which they're framing as a matter of principle; but there's no reason to expect corporate America as a whole suddenly developed a conscience. They know these laws are unpopular with the majority of Americans, and if they don't get onside condemning them their sales will suffer. So now the bought politicians have to answer to their corporate owners.

 

The American public does have power, even over those with money, because that's ultimately where their money comes from. The public just has to be smart enough and committed enough to exercise it.

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I’ve always felt that there is a way to eliminate the whole “money can buy you a government seat” thing. That is to limit election campaign contributions to $500 per individual contributor, per representative; and NOTHING from corporations, lobbies, etc. They are not constituents. They are just organizations made up of those constituents.

 

All we need is for our representatives in Congress to pass this into law. Which will happen never; because these contributions are the only way they get elected.

 

G** d***, our system is f***ed up right now.

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The Supreme Court would overturn that in a heartbeat.  And I don't mean just *this* Court;  it'd never fly, it's far, far too restrictive.

 

Also a LARGE percentage of the money spent in politics isn't given to a campaign;  it's given to PACs who can choose to spend it however they want.  For example, PAC money was, I think, a big factor in Yvette Herrell's election.  Torres-Small was *constantly* painted as anti-energy, anti-mining, and that's huge down here.  Some of that was from Herrell's campaign, but a lot of it was the broader Congressional Republican PAC.  

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I totally get all of that, hence the last sentence in my last post. $$$ is still the problem. And as long as one group/person or another can throw around much more than others, it will always be a problem. Only when the represented constituents are limited to contributing the same amount, will things move closer to equal representation. IMO.

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So how much should the cap be?  You suggested $500, but a lot of people would struggle to budget for $500 a year.  Do the candidates themselves have to stop spending on their own campaign?  Can they take a "50 states in 100 days" family vacation during the campaign, and as long as they're IN the state, funded by their personal vacation money, make a campaign speech at each stop?

 

Should we move to a non-partisan managed fund where every candidate for a specific office receives the same cash to fund their campaign, paid from taxpayer dollars?  That would give every candidate equal funding, whether democrat, republican, KKK or communist.  Not that the two-party House and Senate would ever legislate equal access for other candidates!

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2 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

Should we move to a non-partisan managed fund where every candidate for a specific office receives the same cash to fund their campaign, paid from taxpayer dollars?  That would give every candidate equal funding, whether democrat, republican, KKK or communist.  Not that the two-party House and Senate would ever legislate equal access for other candidates!

 

What about a total spending limit on political ads for a campaign and restrictions on when they can be shown?  The style of laws that I seem to recall existed once upon a time.

 

Edit:  Of course, the system would fight like hell to prevent that, but they also fought like hell to have Trump be the primary candidate... and we all are still paying because of that outcome.

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3 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

So how much should the cap be?  You suggested $500, but a lot of people would struggle to budget for $500 a year.  Do the candidates themselves have to stop spending on their own campaign?  Can they take a "50 states in 100 days" family vacation during the campaign, and as long as they're IN the state, funded by their personal vacation money, make a campaign speech at each stop?

 

Should we move to a non-partisan managed fund where every candidate for a specific office receives the same cash to fund their campaign, paid from taxpayer dollars?  That would give every candidate equal funding, whether democrat, republican, KKK or communist.  Not that the two-party House and Senate would ever legislate equal access for other candidates!

 

I think public funding of campaigns is the direction to go rather than donation caps. Caps are always going to advantage a candidate who is famous so that he doesn't need to spend anything to get name recognition (this includes incumbents) and to candidates who are independently wealthy so they can spend their own money in some shape, form, or fashion which just happens to assist their own campaign.

 

I think I've here ranted about my plan in the past but in short...

 

Require that every cent of spending and in-kind assistance be reported (venue space, supplies, etc.).

 

For the next election, every party who got at least 10% of the vote for that office is given 75% of whatever the top-spending candidate spent in the previous election for its candidate to spend in the up-coming general election.

 

Donations are still accepted to every candidate.

 

Parties, PAC's, and individuals are required to donate to specific candidates rather than go out and spend their money independently.

 

Any donations to a candidate are re-directed to the government until the government funding of the candidate is repaid. Any excess above that is retained for the candidate to spend on his own campaign in this election. Any donation money which isn't spent during this election is given to the government, no carryover to the next election cycle: use it or lose it.

 

The guaranteed 75% floor makes sure that each major candidate has enough money to get on the radio, travel, and do other campaign activity. Most of the problem with our current system is that the non-favored candidate often has so little money that people aren't even aware he's running. The guaranteed floor fixes that.

 

Parties are disincentivized from recruiting rich candidates who can fund their own campaigns because spending a lot this election will just put their party further behind next election.

 

People are disincentivized to give large wads of money to campaigns because a lot of the money is given to the government rather than the campaign and any excess above that just guarantees the opposing parties are better funding in the following election. But people can still donate, if that's their thing. 

 

The 10% threshold before a party gets public funding keeps fringy parties from getting money unless they genuinely have widespread support in that race. And I say that as someone who thinks it would benefit the country to have the Greens and the Libertarians to have a genuine voice in their strongholds. Libertarians in their strong places click in at 4%. Not sure about Greens. The Reform party, when that was a thing, had a few counties across the country where 18% of the voters were registered as Reform so I don't think 10% is too much to ask.

 

With everyone disincentivized from giving money, I think spending will gently go down in most races over future election cycles. And parties will once again see the need to ask people to donate their time and effort, do thing like put up yard signs and wear buttons: get back to a more old-fashioned, and healthy, form of political support.

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Refine "spending limits on political ads for a campaign."  Does it apply to PACs?  Does it apply to PAC ads run for individual candidates?  I don't think we've seen that many...but what about political ads run against multiple candidates?  Does this mean that the combined spending between a candidate and PACs is limited?

 

Point is:  nailing down what is, or is not, allowed, is much messier.  A secondary thought:  how do you address fake news, which can become attack ads under the guise of news reporting?

 

archer:  the 10% threshold may also completely freeze out ANY third party.  I'd also expect your plan would strongly favor incumbents.  Also, the current system would still be massively preferable to rules set and administered by the government.  That just begs for manipulation by whoever's in power.  Can you imagine what Trump and McConnell would've tried to pull off, had this been the case a year ago?

 

The core problem:  any attempt at limiting political ads immediately butts up against the First Amendment, so what is *possible* is limited.

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Then what would you suggest? That we do nothing and hope the rich people in charge of everything suddenly develop empathy and a conscience? That has not seen much success so far and it's not likely to in the future. At some point, we have to admit the system isn't working and isn't going to work in its current incarnation.

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26 minutes ago, unclevlad said:

Refine "spending limits on political ads for a campaign."  Does it apply to PACs?  Does it apply to PAC ads run for individual candidates?  I don't think we've seen that many...but what about political ads run against multiple candidates?  Does this mean that the combined spending between a candidate and PACs is limited?

 

 

The combined spending limit, yes.  but my memory may be fuzzy on that.

 

27 minutes ago, unclevlad said:

A secondary thought:  how do you address fake news, which can become attack ads under the guise of news reporting?

 

A separate issue that definitely can be mitigated by the right kind of lawsuits.  But that's another animal entirely.

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I don't think anything can be done right now.  Nothing *can* be done until real dialogue can be re-started.  First things first:  fix the sick culture.  "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."  "Second place is first loser."  Compromise means you lost.  Related aspects include lack of trust in institutions...not just government, but business.  Enron.  Duke Energy in California.  The Texas energy fiasco not so long ago.  Athletics...baseball's doping.  The Pats have had several.  Right-wing talking heads have the longstanding practice of demonizing anything and anyone liberal, which only increases lack of trust.  And in recent years, we've got fake news, which too often IMO is outright, cynical lying.  The damage it's done to crush trust has been immense.

 

This creates, IMO, a vicious cycle.  Erode trust in the broad institutions --> increase the "I can only rely on myself and maybe a very few friends" where that latter clearly has a connection to "people who think like I do" --> the tighter and tighter polarization --> "I can only trust those who think like I do" --> less trust in the institutions.

 

So I think the problem with political advertising is derivative from the deeper problems.  Just go back to Trump's attempts to overturn the elections.  It never had any legal traction, but it had great social traction.  Don't get me wrong;  I'd love to see political advertising cleaned up, but it's a consequence of the problems that led to Trump's efforts having the credence they had.

 

And, yes, it's fair to say I'm a social pessimist, but no, I don't think things will improve;  I think they'll get worse.  Any momentum to restore the ReTrumplican Party to the Republican Party seems to be gone.  Instead, there's a greater push to hold onto power, which very clearly erodes trust and increases polarization.  The liberal side has its 2 issues that are being inflamed:  racism especially in policing, and gun control.  If I counted right:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mass_shootings_in_the_United_States_in_2021

in March alone there were 46 incidents, with 70 people killed and another 188 injured.  And of course there's the incidents none of us need to be reminded of.  But nothing gets done.

 

If we can't address gun violence, is there reason to think we can address anything substantive?

 

(It also doesn't help that I think we've passed the point of averting MAJOR climate problems;  our only hope now is mitigating how bad it will be.  And the problems, like the Texas energy fiasco, will just contribute to the social disintegration.  IF we had time, maybe we could fix the communications issues;  I don't think we have long enough.)

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3 hours ago, unclevlad said:

 

 

archer:  the 10% threshold may also completely freeze out ANY third party.

 

The 10% threshold is up for debate. 7%? 4%? 5%? I think I used 5% the first time I tossed out the idea before the Reform party, even with a bad candidate in the 2000 presidential election, was racking up well above that in registration in many counties across the nation.

 

It needs to be high enough to separate out kook candidates or the KKK from real political parties.

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6 hours ago, unclevlad said:

If we can't address gun violence, is there reason to think we can address anything substantive?

 

We can. But neither side is willing to take effective measures. It's not like we don't know what needs to be done, either. It's that both parties want to divert from the real root causes to make it about a political tent pole issue.

 

There are already very accurate profiles of mass shooters available. For most of what we think of as "mass shootings," meaning public places like schools, stores, or workplaces (and people have been "going postal" since I was a kid), etc., the shooters fall into several profiles, and also show common characteristics. With modern surveillance and analytics, many of these can be discovered early, and intervention can take place. In many shootings, the first part happened, but the government agencies involved failed to act or to act effectively to prevent the violence. So, spend the money wasted on political rhetoric and start with building a predictive analysis program, and empower authorities to intercede if necessary (while respecting due process).

 

The other big category is criminal on criminal, mostly gang, violence. Again, we have proven models that work for reducing gang on gang violence, but programs need funding, and need follow through. Root causes of racial imbalances also need to be addressed.

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9 hours ago, archer said:

<snip>

Parties, PAC's, and individuals are required to donate to specific candidates rather than go out and spend their money independently.

 

Any donations to a candidate are re-directed to the government until the government funding of the candidate is repaid. Any excess above that is retained for the candidate to spend on his own campaign in this election. Any donation money which isn't spent during this election is given to the government, no carryover to the next election cycle: use it or lose it.

<snip>

 

Any law that seeks to seriously limit how people. PACs, individual or corporations choose to use their money for political speech is going to run afoul will Citizen United v FEC and be dead on arrival as soon as it is challenged in court.

 

Also, your idea of re-directing campaign contributions to the government will almost certainly be challenged as an illegal taking of property not covered in the government's normal taxation powers.

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