2004 Election Issues (Voter Party Choice)

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After a review last night of about 40 liberal and conservative editorials published on the web last week, it occurred to me that a tremendous amount of bandwidth is being spent discussing everything but the real issues facing voters in 2004. American Democracy and culture are in the throes of change and demanding direction by the people. Unless the voters focus on the core issues and vote their conscience on those issues, we face losing the cohesiveness that binds us together as Americans.

The 1960's saw a similar upheaval and rip in the fabric of society brought on by a war we could not afford, a huge surge in educated youth and middle class wealth, and a rise in activism to address horrible disparities between a predominantly white middle class and the poorer ethnic groups in the south and west. A social revolution ensued that brought rioting to our streets and neighborhoods, brought guns into the California legislature, and brought the U.S. Military to fire upon and kill unarmed demonstrators exercising their 1st Amendment rights.

We face similar rips in domestic tranquility if we, the eligible voters, do not focus on the real issues facing us. The Issues:

  • Voter party identification
  • Political fund raising
  • Public vs. Private education
  • Schools: Local Standards vs. National Standards
  • Public Debt
  • War Powers: congressional vs. executive
  • Government: open or secret
  • One party or multiple party government
  • Economic Mix
  • Lobbyist Power
  • National Security: Offensive vs. Defensive
  • Wealth Distribution
  • Media Responsibility and Ownership
  • Public Resources: To privatize or not
  • Globalization: Diplomatic Leadership vs. Force
  • Environment: Proactive vs. Reactive policy

    Obviously, it would take far more than this article to discuss these issues. Each issue requires justification of its importance, the options available to the voters, and the foreseeable consequences of each option. Finally it is important to define, when possible, the parties and candidates stand on each issue. The breadth of this discussion exceeds the limits of space and reader attention in one article. Therefore, I will discuss each issue in turn beginning with Voter Party Identification below. In two or three articles each week, I will proceed through the list above. Your comments and feedback are welcome and will be treated with respect.

    Voter Party Identification The Democratic Party is no longer the party of the blue collar working class. The Republican Party is no longer the party of the highly educated wealthy. Both parties in their transition have left millions of Americans in search of a new party affiliation which gave rise to a number of third parties (36 of them endorsing candidates) in the last presidential election cycle.

    Humans love groups. There is safety and security in groups. There is power in groups. One only need to camp out overnight in the Rocky Mountains alone amidst the cougar, hike a glacier in Alaska alone among the polar bears, or walk through a South Los Angeles main street at night alone, to recognize the value of belonging to a group. Only about half of the eligible voters belong to one or the other of the major political parties. Let us look at the heart of the changes in the two major parties first, which will help explain the rise of the third parties.

    Among white voters a transition was seen that had wealthy Americans moving toward the Democrat Party and the blue collar workers, especially in the south, moving to the Republican Party. According to a Washington Post article:

    In 2000, the voters in 17 out of 25 of the nation's most affluent counties -- all with high percentages of people with advanced degrees -- cast majorities for Al Gore, sometimes by more than 70 percent.
    In nine out of the 10 poorest counties in Kentucky, for example, places where the Democratic Party of Harry S. Truman ran roughshod over Republican adversaries, George W. Bush won, frequently by margins, [that mirror] Gore's in the nation's richest and best educated counties.

    This trend explains the Democrat's increase in large donations by wealthy Americans. But as the article points out, these donations by wealthy Democrats does not reflect their voting their pocket books as the Republican Party's oft referred to Adam Smith would indicate. Rather, the article states these wealthy Americans are voting their conscience. Note the following from the article:

    The transformation of voting patterns over the past three decades has weakened the long-standing link between income and voting among whites. Racial issues such as busing and affirmative action have pushed blue-collar voters into the GOP, at the same time that cultural issues, especially abortion rights, have built Democratic allegiance among white professionals.

    "In the white electorate now," said Gary Jacobson, a political scientist at the University of California in San Diego, "the conflict is: Do you vote your pocketbook or your moral conscience?"

    If trends have predictive value, conscience is winning.

    An excellent short review of the factions making up each of the major parties can be found at Poltics1. It is these factions of the major parties that should be of concern to American voters. The reason is that the two major parties DO NOT even represent the views of their respective membership at large, let along a majority of eligible voters. While there is security in belonging to a group, there is danger in belonging to a group that controls the future of its members when that group does not represent the goals and agenda of many of its members.

    The fiscal conservatives of the Republican Party are beginning to question President Bush and Congress' bloating of the deficit and spiraling national debt. Chairman Jim Nussle of the House Budget Committee recently stated,

    Since 1995, government spending has increased by nearly 41%. Looking at individual budget categories: education spending has grown 82%; veterans' mandatory spending has grown 49.3%; Medicare mandatory spending...55.9%; and Medicaid mandatory spending 77.6%. So make no mistake - these deficits came from excess spending. Second, deficits do matter - and the current deficit is too big. I can guarantee you won't hear me arguing with you about that.

    Since the Republicans control the purse strings, those in the Republican Party who believe in fiscal responsibility should be asking if the Republican Party should be their political party, or group, to belong to.

    Similarly, The Democrats in Congress voted to grant President Bush the power to wage war wherever, whenever, and upon whomever the President deemed a threat to our national security. The Progressive Caucus stated:

    Progressives believe that a war with Iraq is unjustified and the U.S. should halt the war preparations. Instead, the U.S. should strongly support the UN inspectors in Iraq.

    Democrats who support the Progressive Caucus headed by Dennis Kucinich and Barbara Lee should be asking if they belong to the Democrat Party.

    It is obvious that the two major parties no longer exist as groups representing a majority, or even a large minority, of American voters' full set of ideals and beliefs. They do exist as power groups held together by nothing more than the competitive advantage against each other and core differences on wealth distribution and economic regulation. The goals, at least in rhetoric, of both major parties are the same. It is the means by which prosperity, security, and peace are to be attained which separate the two major parties.

    Yet, within each party, there are a myriad of differences among the members as to how the party's goals are to be achieved, resulting in no fewer than three major factions within each major party, the left, the centrist and the right. As a result, both parties have experienced defections with each election cycle. The issue of Party identification cannot be overstated. Millions of Americans, who voted Green or Libertarian or Reform Party in the 2000 elections, recognized that the major parties no longer reflected their views and ideals. It takes courage to leave a group. Remember what a group provides. To leave a group or political party is to stand on one's own. The price of freedom is responsibility. The reward of freedom is without measure. For to be free is to have overcome all the forces working against freedom.

    The failure of the American voter to correctly align their party affiliation will result in greater and greater distrust of government, politicians, and the very systems and policies implemented. Such cynicism leads to voter apathy and the demise of democracy as a form of government by the people and for the people.

    The first responsibility of every American voter in 2004 is to get informed about their political party. Spend an hour and read the party's platform found on the party's web site. Then read the platform of the opposing party. Watch the debates. Read the editorials in the major media. Once the voter has an appreciation of how the party intends to proceed to wield its power in government, the voter must ask if that intent reflects their own views of what needs to be done. If it doesn't, the voter has an obligation to at least declare themselves an independent voter. And if appropriate, the voter may join another party which more closely reflects their view of how peace, security and prosperity should be brought about.

    In November of 2004, the cost of freedom is spending the time to become informed. The reward for that work will be the immense sense of pride that always follows the experience of freedom.

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on July 17, 2003 1:32 PM.

    The President's Albatross was the previous entry in this blog.

    Reminds me of 'I AM NOT A CROOK' is the next entry in this blog.

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