My Voting Strategy: Rocky Anderson for President

Why do we need a voting strategy?  What does it mean to have a voting strategy?  Doesn’t a voting strategy imply that we are trying to protect ourselves against something?  Is that the right attitude that a citizen should have towards her elected officials?  I’ll get back to this question in a minute.

The other day, Governor Christie announced mandatory gas rationing.  Brooke asked me what did that mean and how did it work as we were driving to Philadelphia.  I explained how the license plate scheme worked and told her about the time in the early 70′s when I was younger than she is now when we did gas rationing on a national basis.  I couldn’t remember why we had to do it.  Was it a Saudi oil embargo?  That was the year Detroit invented locking gas caps to prevent your neighbor from siphoning gas from your tank in the middle of the night.  It was the year that we had extended daylight savings time well into the winter and we trudged to school in the dark and watched the sun come up during second period.

Back then, the so-called experts and scientists told us that there would only be enough oil to maintain our modern lifestyle for another 50 years or so.  We had about 200 years of coal in the ground but it was dirty fuel.  There was a real sense of urgency for a few years to make cars smaller, and resentment from the driving public about having to give up the big American highway boats for tiny Japanese death traps.

Then Ronald Reagan chased the malaise away and suddenly there was an oil glut in the 80s and people forgot.  And the CAFE standards got stuck and the cars got big again until the 2000′s when you could write your Hummer off your taxes as a business expense and fuel efficiency was measured in gallons per mile.

But some things make an impression on young minds and gas rationing made an impression on mine, as did Watergate and the end of the Vietnam War.  I never trusted Ronald Reagan or George Bush Sr.  How could a country forget so quickly?  Or maybe it was just one party.

But 2007-2008 dispelled the notion that the forgetfulness was confined to just one party.  By that time, I had taken my passion for politics to the next level, writing for DailyKos about various and sundry things, including the differences between American and European infrastructure.  I was making trips to Europe on a more frequent basis and noticing how much easier it was to get around without a car.  The trains were fast and plentiful, the urban transit systems state of the art, especially in France.  And even though I resolved to take public transit in any American city I visited, I found it hard.  Americans do not know how hard we have made our own lives.

In Chicago 2007, I got to ask Hillary Clinton a question at her break out session at YearlyKos and my number one question was about public transit and infrastructure.  And she had an answer with multiple paragraphs and sub-headings and funding mechanisms.  And her emphasis was going to be on better broadband.  Last week, I tried to imagine what life would have been like post Sandy if we had had better broadband and how we tend to see our internet connection as a commodity instead of a public utility and a part of our infrastructure.

I’ve tried to reason my way through my voting strategy in the past couple of days and I think I am just burned out from playing this game of strategy.  The last week has shown me how badly this country has suffered under the people who we trust with our safety, infrastructure and future.  While Europe and other developed countries like South Korea learned from the oil embargo of the 70s to reconfigure the way they lived in such a way as to be less dependent on foreign oil, we ignored all that and trapped ourselves in a mid 20th century infrastructure.  It’s no longer modern.  It’s decaying- rapidly.  We may still see the USA in our Chevrolet but the landscape is starting to look like the rural south in 1965 with broken powerlines, poor telecommunication, bad roads and a clear separation between the rich and the poor.  And there doesn’t seem to be a reasonable strategy behind our public utilities investments of the past several years.  In 2009, PSEG spent millions and millions of dollars affixing solar panels to the overhead power line poles.  How much chaos and disruption last week might have been avoided if the power companies had used that money to bury the power lines and concentrate the solar panels on unused public land, like the acres of unused property in my own township that used to be an old Army depot?  Where was the thought and strategy behind the design?

In the last couple of days, I have read the consternation of the left as they see the evangelicals and other right wing followers get behind their Mormon.  It’s as if the left has forgotten all of the studies by Bob Altemeyer and lessons learned from John Dean about the nature of the authoritarian follower.  But it’s even weirder than that because although the right has made it a badge of honor to decouple cause from effect, ignore evidence and discourage reasoned thinking in its followers so that the world looks to them like a violent, chaotic place, I never thought I would see the same sort of behavior rising in the left.  The left indulges in its own form of wishful thinking.  It started five years ago.  It suspended its disbelief and trusted its most dearly held beliefs to the candidate who stubbornly refused to materialize for it until after the election.  They refused to understand his nature even as he ignored them.  They don’t seem to get that he is the agent of the people they blame for the destruction of the past four years.  They have decoupled evidence from reality.  Somehow, it’s all going to work out even when all of the signs say that it will not.  They ignore the pleadings from their natural allies to wake up and fight back.  How are they different from the people in Kansas they are always holding up as examples of voting against their own best interests?

There’s a peculiar strand of selfishness embedded in American culture.  It’s not enough to succeed.  The success must come at the expense of other people.  We love the rascals who exploit us.  And religion is of a harsh Calvinist variety. The work ethic is praised above all else to the point where we don’t feel worthy of decent wages and dignity even if we work until we drop or snap.

The other day, JerseyJeffersonian said something that caught my attention in the comment section of my rant on the gouging of the telecomms in the Sandy impacted area.  I had called ourselves consumers and said how unfair it was that consumers were always being exploited, as if we were crops whose disposable income must be harvested instead of human beings.  (S)He said:

Ah, you said the magic word…”consumer”. I, for one, knew that the Republic was in dire straits when Our Exalted Leaders found the term, “consumer”, to be an adequate substitute for “citizen”. This was a tell, as they say at the poker table. When in the past you were referred to as a “citizen”, you were somebody who had reason to expect that your interests might be respected and addressed by THEM in their capacity as our representatives. But when they began preferentially to denominate us as “consumers”? Well, we had been identified as mere clients of their true masters.

In its own right, this should be seen as indicative that Our Exalted Leaders have decided that civil society is a archaism – “quaint” They might call it – and that servicing the needs of the Free Market is now the imperative for them. In that light, our appeals to our representatives for help and redress have become the moral equivalent of praying to a saint for intercession with the Almighty. Hmm.

This Weltanschauung is quite appropriate in a world where government, far from answering to the “citizenry”, is there to deliver us all up to the tender mercies of the Corporatocracy through the craven assistance of a captured government. Elected officials, legislative or executive, financed in their electoral campaigns by the rich and powerful; civil servants in regulatory agencies cowed or corrupted through the power of the so-called regulated to call the shots with the active connivance of their agencies’ politically-appointed leaders; judges selected by legislators and executives who are made men of the Corporatocracy, and therefore pre-disposed to pick Federalist Society hacks for positions on the bench to avoid the inconvenience of having their cabal brought up short by people who take their oath to defend the Constitution seriously.

I’ve never liked the term corporatacracy because I think it ignores the proper role of the corporation and how it can benefit stakeholders as well as shareholders but otherwise, JerseyJeffersonian’s point is very good.  Americans have been “delivered up” to the forces who exploit.  Those forces do it without any strategy of their own and without much thought to the industries or segments of society that they are destroying. They do it because they can. Inevitably, they are sowing the seeds of their own destruction because amassing great fortunes does not equal innovation or creativity.  It merely impoverishes the very people who need to buy their stuff and makes it harder for people with life saving technology and good ideas to be funded and their work respected.

But it’s worse than that.  I missed the visual impact of the news last week, mostly because I was living part of it, but what I heard on the radio disturbed me greatly.  I heard Mike Bloomberg give a couple of “everything is under control” press conferences and then leave the people of Lower Manhattan to their own devices as he planned a marathon and fretted over how to get the bankers back to Wall Street.  There was something of a Scrooge-esque “they had better die and decrease the surplus population” attitude about his ability to tolerate so much misery in much of his city.  If Jonathan Swift were alive today, he’d feel right at home.

Wasn’t it Mike Bloomberg who sicced the police on Occupy Wall Street?  Wasn’t it Bloomberg who rolled his eyes at those protestors and tolerated them as if they were minor irritants?  And didn’t he and Barack Obama brutally suppress them?

Is the whole of Manhattan one big private space now?  And if that’s true, doesn’t that reduce the “citizen” to a “vassal” who has no rights on private property?  Who owns the city now?  Does ownership give the wealthy and well connected the right to do what they like to suit themselves and the privilege to ignore the plight of other people?

Anyway, I’m rambling.  At the present time, the “very serious people” seem to be bogarting the microphone about denying us the benefits we pre-paid.  There may be a crisis on the horizon regarding Medicare but it’s solvable, just like other countries have solved their health care problems.  The answer is to force cost cutting measures on the providers.  But the providers belong to the class who believe there are no limits to what they should be able to harvest from their consumers and government has abandoned any efforts to see that citizens are protected from injustice and exploitation.

But the government is not some abstract entity.  It’s not the faceless bureaucratic borg that tells us “resistance is useless”.  The government is *us*, or it should be.  It’s trite to go on about the founders and the constitution and all that patriotic crap and I’m not going to indulge in it now.  But at the core of that exercise in self-government is the idea of self-government.  If you’re going to do it, you have to put away the notions of strategy and protecting yourself from your elected officials’ bad ideas and kowtowing to the rich and well connected.

If you want to govern yourself, you need to stop accepting bad government.  It really is that simple.  You need to say, “enough”.  Enough of the excuses and the pandering and the enormous amounts of money wasted in elections.  You need to say, “I believe in certain unalienable rights” and that those rights belong to all citizens.  You need to say that it doesn’t benefit any of us for one group of people to be above the law and unaccountable to the rest of us.  You need to say that it is unjust to throw people into prison without trial indefinitely and to use that threat to suppress political speech.  You need to say that you are not afraid to defy the party structures.  You need to be able to take their power away when they refuse to work for you and the common good.  You need to say that the abandonment of any citizen to their fate after a catastrophic natural disaster is unacceptable.  You need to say that an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.  We can not permit unaccountability.

Well, at least I can’t.

I don’t have a strategy this year.  All I have is a vote.  And I refuse to give my vote to either party candidate, especially the one that masqueraded as a Democrat four years but who now has been unmasqued as the hand of the 1%.  I am not afraid of what will happen if he loses.  Indeed, we have more to fear for what might happen if he wins.  But I have to put fear aside and vote for my values, not strategy.  So, this year, I am voting for Rocky Anderson.  In less than a year, the Justice party has formed out of the void.  I want justice for all citizens and that is what I am going to work for from now on.  I’ll vote for the people who I think can advance that goal. This year, that means down ticket Democrats. But as new emergent parties start fielding downticket candidates in the future, the Democrats won’t be able to count on my vote.

I’m through with chiding the people who got us into this mess of 8 years of bad government on top of the 8 preceding years.  I’m not really interested in hearing their condescending lectures on climate change in the wake of Sandy even if I agree with them.  It’s a bit like blaming the victims and not terribly helpful when their houses are a wreck and it’s freezing outside. And based on my limited term in public politics I am less likely to pay attention to people who sermonize than those who recognize the problem and have a list of practical, visionary and possible solutions.  Besides, it sounds like Democratic operatives are trying to tap into the zeitgeist of a younger generation who is keenly aware of climate change, using the misery of Hurricane Sandy to nudge them to the polls to vote for Obama.  It’s political opportunism by exploiting the devastating visual imagery and it’s sick.  They offer us no solutions. We knew 40 years ago that this day would come and we failed to prepare.  The time for playing Stratego is over.

One more thing: The Democratic party loyalists who are getting on Matt Stoller’s case because he refuses to compromise his values for the party that betrayed him should be ashamed of themselves.  They’re sacrificing their principles to a party that can’t or won’t deliver and they’re cowards.  There are many areas where Matt and I disagree but I’m glad that we’re finally working for the same goals.  I don’t know what the heck the rest of you are working for.

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55 Responses

  1. In Klackamus County, OR, the people who used the “none of the above” strategy and chose to not cast a vote for Pres found themselves voting for Romney as an election ballot handler took all those ballots that came through her hands without casting a vote as her opportunity to stuff the ballot box for her candidate of choice. No charges have been filed.

    • In New Jersey, Rocky Anderson has a ballot position, as does Jill Stein and the socialists and other third parties. In this state, there is no reason why you can’t vote for your values and I’ll be watching to see if my township records my vote on the electronic voting machines.

      • The top of the Socialist Party USA does not have a ballot line–at least, not on my ballot in Glo Co. I had to write in Stewart Alexander.

        • Ahhh, I see what you mean. The third party candidates are “by petition” but I saw quite a few names with a position on the ballot. I found it just as easy to find Anderson’s name as Menendez. Maybe the socialists couldn’t get a petition position. That’s a shame. By write-in is better than no write in, which is what they have in Ohio.

          • I’m a little put out that the Socialists couldn’t get up 800 signers on a petition: that’s what it takes to get a name on the ballot. Now, a party ballot line is another matter altogether. Just getting a recognized party is a considerable deal. You need an organized party structure, the details are spelled out quite explicitly in state law. The duopoly is very entrenched and they’re masterful at the appearance of democratic inclusion.

            BTW, North Dakota doesn’t have voter registration. Not that I’d jump up there on that account, but it is intriguing.

          • Not that many years ago the SC ruled that because write-in voting is not mentioned in the Constitution, write-in votes don’t have to be counted. I gather some NJ counties don’t have write-in space.

  2. Me, I’m voting for the woman candidate since the RBC stole that opportunity from me in 2008. If you are worried about a Romney White House then every reader here living in Red States should consider voting Third Party as a message to the Dem elites that they are no longer our party.

  3. THANK YOU for the part on Bloomberg. Right before I lost power I had to fend Bloomberg worship. As for the dreaded “consumers” – I noticed that when Obama was talking about his bailout to insurers. Con Edison was talking about us in those terms too. On Facebook, peter Daou was asking people to vote – if they chose – for Obama for their policies not for how he handled Sandy (aparently the propaganda machine sez he saved us). I posted a few choice words about how that handling felt in NYC, and right after my comment someone swooned about “the handling”. I posted back: “apparently feed back from people who lived through it is not necessary. The media said it was great, it was great!”

    • Um, it was not great. I was a little surprised to see there was no contingency plan for the damaged mass transit system, the gas shortages or getting water and food to people stuck in their buildings. It’s like they had never imagined a disaster on this scale. Granted, the cherry pickers from out of state were already arriving before the storm but the other stuff just seemed to catch everyone off guard and the communication system was beyond inexcusable. None of us should have had to tolerate that just because the telecomms think they shouldn’t be regulated. If you haven’t got access to communication, you’re screwed.
      And I have heard precious little about rebuilding the infrastructure to modernize it. We’re just going to stick bandaids on everything until the next catastrophe because it is apparently intrusive to ask the public utilities and telecomms to use some of their obscene profits to bring the states into the 21st century.
      I like Peter Daou and I know he means well but I agree with him that we shouldn’t add the response to Sandy to Obama’s win column. Nor should it. On the other hand, I refuse to accept the poor performance of the Obama administration on policy and I don’t think he should be asking us to accept it.

  4. My cousin lives in Summit, not too far from you. He’s had no power for nearly a week. Fortunately, he was able to get out with his family and he’s staying with his parents in Connecticut until power is restored.

    I agree with your last paragraph. Matt Stoller’s article is creating much consternation among Obama supporters. I think what he writes is fairly uncontroversial. By any metric that is important, Obama’s first term has been a failure. Instead of recognizing it and demanding better performance, the party infrastructure has doubled down on another Obama term, this despite the President’s clear signal that he intends to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in a deal with the new COngress.

    The lesser of evils dynamic benefits only the oligarchy. No one should have to settle for it, ever.

  5. I am an FDR and Hillary democrat and I’m voting for Jill Stein/Green Party
    I truly believe in the urgent need to protect our ecosystem from the practices and lifestyles of our contemporary societies.
    The knowledge and technology to make it happen it’s been available for a long time. But to change the status quo is proven to be the hardest thing to do, until a catastrophe strikes.

    In Germany the Green Party grew over 70% after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. It lead to nuclear power plants ban, close and phase down,

    Germany is still the strongest economy in the European Union; not without its problems but definitely making adjustments for a better and healthier future.
    What would it take for our America to face realities and accept true changes?
    I’m voting my conscience; and also voting for a woman for a change.

    • I’m not anti-nuclear so this argument doesn’t work for me. But if it works for you, vote for Stein.

      • I’ll be voting for Stein tomorrow, but if Anderson had a chance to win and Stein didn’t, I’d vote for Anderson.

        • The best reason to vote for Anderson other than the man himself is that his party grows in legitimacy and that makes it easier for the Justice party to get on the ballots of all fifty states in 2014 and 2016. Regardless of how many states Stein is on, I don’t see the Green party ever achieving the broad national appeal they need to become a breakout party. Time will tell whether the Justice party does but my feeling is that the Justice party will be a more comfortable fit for most Americans. Anderson ounces more like a traditional Democrat than the actual Democrats. Something to think about.
          But whatever you decide, just go vote and make sure the parties know you’re here.

        • I’ll be voting Anderson in major part because the NaderBush RepubliGreen conspiracy against Gore is still too fresh in my memory to get over it. Also the McGaw RepubliGreen conspiracy against Wellstone in Minnesota.

        • It’s just as well that I planned to vote for Stein, because Anderson wasn’t on the ballot here in the Arkanshire.

    • Those parts of America which are ready to upgrade themselves should figure out how to do that on their own, and let those parts which wish to decay themselves or degrade themselves do so, separately and alone. Upgraders in high population cities/towns/etc. and their associated bio-support hinterlands should figure out how to restore and upgrade their regions with interstate compacts and interstate compact politics, interstate and regional taxing authorities, etc. That would mean figuring out how to conquer the political and government systems of their regions and make those systems serve the upgraders.

  6. This isn’t 2000, Rocky Anderson ain’t Ralph Nader, and the Democrats don’t need you or your flaky followers.

    • You know, you should have thought about that in 2008 when you became infatuated with a guy who was the epitome of the corporate class you claim to despise.
      Rocky Anderson is not Nader and I’m not encouraging anyone to do anything that would violate their consciences. But it is time we stopped copping to fear, cowering under our beds and started to stand up for ourselves.
      I’m looking forward to the future instead of clinging to this dysfunctional system. This is not a protest vote. This is a vote of affirmation.

      BTW, it is the responsibility of the politician to appeal to me for my vote, not to take it for granted and treat me like dirt. I don’t owe anyone my vote. And from now on, I will give it to the politician who has a comprehensive worldview that is forward looking and respects the rights and dignity of all citizens. Why you would expect me to give it to someone who doesn’t treat me with respect tells me everything I need to know about you and the party you represent.

    • This election may be an interesting test of that proposition. If the Obamacrats repel enough Democratic voters to other lines so as to produce a default-defeat for Obama, then the Obamacrats will discover that they actually did lose by expelling the Democrats. Time will tell.

    • Oh, but they do!

  7. Look, as much as I think your old mate Darragh is a vicious little weasel, she is at least being honest in openly rooting for a Romney win so she can scream “I told you so!” from the rooftops. Same as you, come on, admit it. What other practical outcome is there? Same as “John Smart”, who is hosting Kevin Dujan on his “radio” show. Wow, a Puma Screamqueen twofer.

    • And if your man loses tomorrow, it’ll be his own damn fault for NOT being the “socialist”–in other words, a new New Dealer–who the wingnuts deludedly think he is.

    • Where have you been for the past four years?? We evolved away from PUMA after the 2008 elections. You can go back and read for yourself. You also haven’t been reading all of the posts where I say, “don’t vote for Republicans” or the ones where I said “party operatives and their memes are not welcome here”.
      If Obama wanted to win tomorrow, he would have made an appeal to his own base instead of constantly throwing them under the bus. If Romney wins tomorrow, it won’t be due to anything we’ve done. It will be due to what Obama hasn’t done.
      But ok, call us r@cyst, Republican, birther, uneducated idiots if it will make you feel better. These terms of endearment, as gentle and tender as you intend them to be will not induce me to change my mind about voting for Rocky Anderson. I just happen to like the guy and his party’s platform.
      I don’t know what you hope to accomplish by being so angry at *us*. We’ve got standards and Obama didn’t meet them. Not my problem anymore. The Democrsts had a chance to change their lineup but they thought we’d all just fall into line and accept the stupid excuses and prolonged unemployment and grand bargain talk and you know what? That might have been a bad bet. We’ll see tomorrow. In any case, you’re wasting your time spitting bitter invectives at us. Go chastise your party leadership apparatus.

    • I am new to this blog so if dbb has a history here, I know nothing of it.
      But I begin to wonder whether dbb is a reverse-psychology vote-recruiter for Romney.

  8. I don’t see a whole lot of space between a Romney presidency and an Obama second term. Maybe a Romney administration would be more reactionary on social issues. Maybe the odds of a war with Iran would escalate in a Romney administration. Maybe. It’s not entirely clear. Romney has no real core except wanting power, and both candidates are serial liars, so it’s hard to know exactly how things would play out. A Romney win would likely galvanize the left against cutting social insurance programs, and constrain some GOP abuses, something the left will probably acquiesce to in an Obama second term.

    What does this say about liberals in the Democratic Party? They have no principles to fall back on. Social insurance is only hands-off to the Republicans. If the Democrats do it, it’s okay. The only argument the Dem establishment has is FEAR OF OTHER, and that is not a good reason to support anyone.

  9. Great post

    We may still see the USA in our Chevrolet but the landscape is starting to look like the rural south in 1965 with broken powerlines, poor telecommunication, bad roads and a clear separation between the rich and the poor

    yup , as natural disasters like Sandy happen, they push us farther down the broken power line road even faster than the passage of time is taking us . Because the policy of no capital investment in the infrastructure is still adhered to of course regardless.

    Another area to watch is the public housing in lower Manhattan. imo, Bloomsburg will take a 9th Ward approach in order to steal those properties for “development “. As ever, Katrina is the template

  10. Gas rationing= Arab Oil Embargo (with fleets of tankers idling off NJ), 68 degrees, 55 mph, Carter in a sweater; GOP calling for revolution & murder, Carter being right about most everything and then getting pilloried by his own party for daring to be from Georgia.

  11. You’ve convinced me. Well, I was halfway there anyway. I’ll write Rocky in.

  12. One article had a chart on wealth inequality in the U.S. Under Obama we have declined to the standards of a banana republic Literally.The most similar scores were posted by the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Gambia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Peru.

    And yet, Obama was busy pushing measures that will make us more unequal (Green card, anyone?) I saw a link to an article on Real Clear Politics that claimed that Obama was better than Herbert Hoover. That is supposed to make me want to vote for him? Excuse me. I want an FDR or a Lincoln, not another Hoover or Reagan or Buchanan or Obama or Romney or W or Cleveland.

    I’d gladly settle for Teddy Roosevelt or LBJ. Or Kennedy or Nixon or Clinton or Carter or Jefferson but not these two clowns.

  13. Totally off topic, but I just finished sewing a pair of lounging-around-the house slacks … my first sewing project since 1974! It’s amazing how the steps came back to me as I went along.

    And now I have something comfortable to wear around the house :)

    • Pictures!

      • hmm. Comfortable doesn’t exactly mean photogenic. I’ll think about it though.

        Here’s a link to the pattern page. I choice really cool fabric though. Doesn’t look like this.

        • Something about that pattern reminds me of the shalwar kameez outfits that Pakistani and Indian women wear. That is the combination of a long tunic with split sides over trousers. I have never seen a shalwar kameez I didn’t like and they are very flattering on women of all ages.
          Some years ago, I went to see the fireworks at Liberty State Park and it was full of ladies in beautiful pastel colored shalwar kameezes. They were anything but matronly or frumpy. Every wearer looked stunning.

  14. Has anyone seen the video of Larry King w/ the Third Party Candidates Debate?

  15. I wrote in Anderson but I left my US representative blank. The Dems ran a guy with only one idea and no campaign. He didn’t respond to my e-mail asking about his positions on other issues. He doesn’t get my vote just because he’s a Democrat.

    • That’s too bad. Katiebird was in the same boat only worse. In her district, the Republican ran unopposed.

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