Thursday, August 14, 2014

A prescription for elections

The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work - and then they get elected and prove it.  (P. J. O'Rourke)

In the face of abysmally low approval ratings for Congress and the Senate, it's discouraging to read how many incumbents are winning primary races and standing for re-election.  Gerrymandering of their electoral districts means that most of them have little difficulty returning to office next  year.  Add to this the fact that they don't listen to us:  it was reported earlier this week that "corporate interests and mega wealthy individuals control U.S. policy to such a degree that 'the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy'."

That being the case, let me repeat what I've said several times before about elections.

  • In the (likely) event that your present Congressional representative has been in office for three terms or more, or your Senator has held office for two terms or more, vote for their opponent - irrespective of party, policy or anything else.  That's the only way to stop the creeping crud of what Reed Galen called "Incumbent Entitlement Syndrome" - stop incumbents from getting too comfortable, to the point where they begin to take their electorate for granted.  At least that'll make them actually work for re-election!
  • Don't think that the political party to which a candidate belongs is all that important.  I trust neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party to put the interests and needs of the nation ahead of their own partisan desires.  (See P. J. O'Rourke's quote at the head of this article.)  What matters is the candidate as an individual.  Is he/she trustworthy, competent and morally sound?  That combination's unlikely in a politician - as the great H. L. Mencken put it, "A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar" - so if all your candidates are of questionable value, vote for the least objectionable among them.
  • Don't trust a politician's promises.  H. L. Mencken again:  "If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner."  That's about the size of it.  Don't focus on what they say - focus on what they've done in the past.  A solid, honest track record - preferably in a field or fields other than politics - is a far better indicator of a politician's worth than any number of promises.  The fact that so few politicians have such track records is our great misfortune . . .

I'm hoping against hope that we might get some worthwhile fresh blood in Congress and the Senate this time round . . . but after so many disappointments in the past, I daresay I'll be let down yet again.



Count Repugsive said...

Excellent advice on voting!

Billll said...

Regarding item 2: When a pol is running for office, he's everybody's friend and will certainly promise a missionary in every pot. Once he gets elected, party advancement is everything and if one of the grand poo-bah's pronounces that missionaries are fattening, then the earlier promise goes out the window.

A dummy bill will be put forward with the understanding that it will fail, and the pols will be allowed to vote on it in such a way as to make it look like they were trying to advance the cause of missionary soup so they can get reelected, but that's as far as it will go.

Windy Wilson said...

Unfortunately "End Incumbent Entitlement Syndrome" is pretty long for a bumper sticker.

"Vote Democrat, be smarter, taller, and more popular with girls" is even longer, however.

Anonymous said...

I mistrust both parties, in terms of intention and competence. Gridlock is our only hope, and I vote for that, irrespective of however many terms a candidate has racked up.

And it generally means voting for the GOP, though the are hardly objects of my admiration. Rather, it is vital to make sure that the dominant socialist agenda of the Dems and the mainstream press is stymied. The GOP manages to do that sometimes, and if the GOP ever gets in power, they often manage to stymie themselves without any opposition.

Rolf said...

How about this: All voters who do not vote will automatically have their ballot cast against the incumbent. Don't like any of them? Just stay home. If a bunch of people stay home, the incumbent has to pull in a truly huge majority to win.

Peter said...

Rolf, that's sheer genius! I love it! However, since it would automatically result in the dismissal of most incumbents at every election, it'll undoubtedly never be adopted - more's the pity . . .


Will said...

I'd like to see one simple change to ALL ballots: a "none of the above" line.

For instance, locally it is common to find judges, and such, up for re-election with no opposition.

We need a way to vote: "no confidence/throw the bum out"