Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hey, Independents, Take Your Place At The Table

This is the beginning of a discussion intended to discuss and persuade. This post will stay up and the comments section is the arena. As it moves down the list, I will simply re-date to move it back up. All this prelude is to an issue I believe is of tremendous importance to the success of our type of elections. I'm going to poke at you and you should feel free to poke back, but I am not going to insult you and I'd rather you didn't either. You're out in the open, here, so remember that, but also, if you don't want to register with Blogspot, then sign with name, initials, pseudonym, whatever so we can address each other. You know my name (maybe mud after this).

I firmly believe that the two greatest threats to success in the political arena are the Independent (Not Affiliated) Voter and the non-Voter. This is no place to address the non-voter, they aren't there. Independents can take credit for the 11/7/06 election change, you came out and voted Democratic by a wide enough margin to shape quite a few results. I'd thank you for it, but I really don't know what I'd be thanking you for. I'm pretty sure in a lot of elections you were firing the Republicans and slapping GWB, that would make Democrats the default winners. Default is not a good way to run a country or develop policies. A good way to do that is with information and persuasion. There's the problem.

There is no Independent Party with candidates, spokesmen, delegates, or the other appurtenances of a Party. You're a cipher, there are polls and some interviews and some Indie Bloggers, but you're unpredictable because you're unrepresented. You don't help shape Party politics, you stand aside. Please understand that I'm referring to both Parties unless I specify differently. The result is that the Parties try to not offend a theoretical middle/Indie group and still keep their base. That base is those who are active, in the Democratic Party it's not easily defined on particulars but it is left (ok, another "meaningless" classification). What "left" or "right" means to Indies isn't very clear, we might look at voting patterns and guess, but a general revulsion for GWB & the current Republican Party isn't defining. The arguments are still going on and wildly variable in their conclusions. Result - you're a second thought, not up front.

Many people think the General Election is the big one, I don't think so. I believe the Primaries are the ones that shape politics, that is where competing ideas get sorted out, within the narrower frame work of Party. With the low level of participation in Primaries the frequent result for Indies is that they get to vote for the least offensive candidate - that's no way to run a show. Or maybe the only candidate is picked by some outside "big wig," because there is no powerful push for a candidate of a certain outlook, again - lack of numbers.

The complaint is made that Parties are both the same. An inclination to try not to offend an undefined Indie group sure pushes that inclination, but they're not the same. Look at the heat surrounding the labels "D" & "R." On the other hand, there is the argument that the Parties are too (fill in blank). The Parties will reflect the people interested enough to make input and do the ground work for candidates, that number is a small portion of the general electorate. That small number makes the hijacking of a Party possible. If you're "here" you probably find the religious right's influence on Republican politics offensive, well there just aren't that many of them, but they are real active - hijackers. What the Republican Party used to mean and what it means now are two different things and I would place the blame on the people of the old Party bent for not participating. I've had my go-around with the Democrats on an issue with the same kind of hijacking going on and had success. I could have "thrown up my hands" and put an "I" after my name, I preferred to have an impact and a Party for people of my point of view. And it's working.

I do understand the inclination to be proud of the label "I ain't one of them" but what else is it that you're not a part of? I don't think that separation is working to your benefit and it sure isn't working to the Parties' benefit. I'd like to see a strong reasonable Republican Party in opposition to the Democratic Party, but the defection of the moderate right, economic/government conservatives to the ranks of Indies is killing that Party and making for some real messy politics. I'm not a willing recruiter for that Party, but some of you need to be there making some changes. My Party needs you as well. I'm pretty far left in a lot of respects, a reasoning counter-balance to my influence is important and backing for some of my ideas that completely miss some of my lefty compatriots is real valuable. We don't get to have everything we think reflected in an organization, it would be The Party Of Chuckism, and have few members and no influence, but there are general trends of thinking that draw people to one or the other, that general philosophy of governance that defines "D" or "R."

Understand, I'm not talking about this affiliation issue to recruit Democrats (I'd like it, but), I'm talking about the good of the people and the good of the Parties. Having that "D" or "R" after your name isn't going to win an election for a Party by guaranteeing a vote, you would hopefully vote for a candidate not an initial, but activity in the "D" or "R" would have an effect on who runs and what they run on. It's not easy to be represented, you're reading the cheapest printing press available, ie: freedom of the press, media is expensive and corporate in nature, they're not your voice and Blogs have to be read and there are a lot of them (free). Face to face with your fellows makes the biggest impact, all the cues that are missing in this sort of communication are there. Arguments stay coherent with immediacy of response.

You are important to the functioning of our democracy, take your place at the table, please.

I'll try to answer comments coherently and keep this discussion as current as possible. Any Blog that thinks this is an important discussion is asked to link it and by all means, talk to each other.


verasoie said...

Hi Chuck,

You may be surprised to learn that I'm an Independent. I'm definitely left-leaning, but I haven't registered as a Democrat because I'm probably closer to being a Green, but unless Oregon gets Instant Run-off Voting, it's highly unlikely I'll ever contribute to/volunteer for them. In part it also stems from my living in Europe for many years in my early twenties (up until 2000) and I would have been closest to a Socialist if that party existed here (though I've become more mainstream American since then). Also, there hasn't been a competitive Democratic primary where I live (Portland), though I did consider registering as a Republican last time because they had one, but I found that too repugnant because I associate them with an American form of fascism and could not stand to wear that label even briefly. However, if I lived east of the Cascades, I would have registered to vote for you (aside from being an active campaigner). I consider myself by far the most politically aware and involved person I know who isn't employed in politics, but have resisted the Democratic label because of the corporate control of the Democratic party, though perhaps that will change with Dean at the helm, and also I like to consider myself "above the fray" and able to hear all sides, though at times I do feel like that is an excuse for not wanting to commit to a side, which is perhaps why I am so active so as not to appear without firm principles.

Anyway, I just wanted to give some perspective.

Chuck Butcher said...

I put this up for perspectives and persuasion. Yes, there is money in Party politics, that's inevitible with campaign costs on large scale, the idea is to have the kind of impact on the process that mutes the effect of that money. Putting a "D" after my name and participating in Party politics doesn't apply blinkers to my eyes, I can see both Parties and even farther than that, but with the Indies out of reach I can't and the Party can't gauge them accurately.

There are plenty of people on the W-side and in P-land that see the way you do and many are "D." The blog Blue Steel is run by one, Zak. Like I said in another comment, they just need cultivating and a place to go, and I say Dem. The Dem Party consists of several different organizations, DPO is part of DNC which is Dean, then there are the Congressional arms - professional politians, they only sort of see us, but we're becoming more visible as something more than the grunt workers.

Hopefully this will get interesting.

Ed Bickford said...

The thread title could be misconstrued as advocating 'putting' Indies in their place rather than inviting them to the table, which is unfortunate. Most indies to whom I've talked are sensitive about that difference.

Kevin said...

Here's one of the places that you're losing me, Chuck. Given the party membership statistics it's clear that a large majority of party members don't engage in the kind of face-to-face interaction you value. Indeed a casual perusal of voter turnout in primary elections indicates that many party members don't even participate.

I on the other hand participate to the extent that I'm able to. The only reason that I'm unable to participate in primary elections is because the Democratic party doesn't want me to. Ditto for the Republican party. Both parties can, and have in years past, allow Independents to participate in their primary elections. They no longer do so for fairly obvious reasons.

We saw a backlash against Indies during the 2000 GOP primary race between Bush and McCain. The Republican party aparatcheks didn't appreciate us Indies interfering in their coronation of Bush.

We saw a not entirely dissimilar backlash here after the 2004 Oregon general election where both Republicans and Democrats in the legislature got together to make it harder for non-Dems/GOPers to get on any future ballot, as Westlund can attest. All stemming from conservatives meddling in the 2004 Green party's nomination process. The Dems were extremely keen on Greens have nobody but Kerry to choose from. For their part the GOPers already knew that the Constitution party posed a threat, as Mary Starret's distant third place showing demonstrated.

Both parties are and have, to varying degrees, engaged in a grand divide and conquer game. It reminds me of the Arabian saying that goes something like: Me against my brother. Me and my brother against our Uncle. But, me, my brother and our Uncle against the outsider. For all of the two Big Box parties squabbles and fights with each other, neither brooks competition from any quarter. Most especially not from a quarter that has a similar ideological raison d'etre, as the Greens/Dems and Constitution/GOP have.

Ed Bickford said...

See what I mean?

Kevin said...

Not to worry, Ed. Chuck and I have been discussing all of this over at Preemptive Karma over the last several days. I took no offense at his title.

Ed Bickford said...

Ah, but you must admit your timing was perfect!

Chuck Butcher said...

Kevin and I are actually continuing a discussion, so the title isn't the problem but I think you're right, I should fix it.

Kevin, I know exactly what you're saying and I have to address it in a couple ways.

The non-active members of any Party don't do more than clutter the data base, sometimes you can boost them into voting. Indies are a special case, they aren't typically the non-voters or the uninterested, it is in fact their interest and willingness to think that makes them attractive as members. If they can be persuaded, they are likely to be involved, at some level. That's the point. A hugely valuable resource for good decision making lies outside, and Parties fail to bring good candidates and platforms forward due to that lack.

I don't know about divide and conquer, the Green's take no prisoners attitude makes them difficult to enfold and if they are running against you, you have to run against them. I'm not talking dirty tricks, they become an opponent. Yes, Parties try to peel votes off the other Party, it is a natural consequence of the narrow interests that hijack.

For instance, the Dems lost a lot of natural allies with gun control and alienated the heck out of ones that stayed. Gun Control was never a large segment of the Party, but it was noisy and active and boy did it cost. How many R's have run from the whackjob religion agenda? Becky comes to mind. She's inherently a "C" conservative, but what's she to do?

I stayed in and wrestled with the GC issue, and it wasn't just a matter of suggest it and it was done. It was a matter of blending principle and politics and being politic (polite) about it. There were losers in the debate, but it wasn't done in a manner that destroyed amity. I traded compliments with an opponent on LO. The point is that a very public policy change happened and it was a principled change. The Party became better, it might have happened eventually without me, but that's just speculation, it did happen. You're not excluded from that process if you choose not to be.

Why were the Indies excluded from Dem Primary when they weren't previously? Sabotague voting was one consideration and the main one was that Indies don't care enough about "D" politics to put that initial on. It was the R's own fault that Westlund took an "I" and he'd have been a much better candidate to run against TK, their hidebound loss. If you were to decide to run for "partisan" office how could I fold the Dem apparatus around you with the "I"? You might be the best of the bunch, but you're deliberately outside - same for voting. We spend time and money on the Party and take it seriously, sometimes we get contributions from non-activists, but not much and we run a low dollar operation. DPO's HQ shows it.

We don't "make" candidates do anything, I can't speak for the Rs but not here, we have limitted leverage, but it exists. It would grow with more active membership, particularly of a broader POV.

There are basic philosophies that form the Parties (well Democratic Party anyhow) and those philosophies are the key to who members are. Dems are not the party of small government, they believe that government can take actions to promote economic and social justice that the open market won't. If that's where you're at, then helping set that agenda happens inside the Party and that Party does that job better with more input, more effort, and more money. (yes, money)

It's late so I'll let this go, I saw a notice re: Ed/Kevin. Thanks

Chuck Butcher said...

The more people that participate the better the discussion will be.

Kevin said...

If you were to decide to run for "partisan" office how could I fold the Dem apparatus around you with the "I"?

Why should you feel the need to wrap any apparatus around me? My policy positions should rise or fall on their own merits.

I submit that placing the interests of the party apparatus ahead of the interests of the people is at the very core of what's wrong with America today. Ya know... like how Congressional GOPers routinely restricted seats at House/Senate legislative conferences to Republican Party members over the last several years. Not surprisingly that practice brought America some of the most corrupt, pork-laden legislation we've seen in a generation or more.

You might be the best of the bunch, but you're deliberately outside - same for voting.

Then that would be Oregon's and/or America's loss. If D's are willing to place party interests ahead of the common good then I submit that D's are part of the problem.

Chuck Butcher said...

If you were to run as an Inpendent against R & D opponents th problem would arise, for the simple reason that the Party apparatus is paid for by Democrats who would rightfully assume it would be used for Democrats. The folding of the apparatus around a candidate is a big deal in a contested election, there is a known volunteer base - their participation would depend on approval of the candidate - it's not a given, there is a money source and source for contributor data, there is to an extent, a publicity machine, there is simply the mechanism for campaigning. Carol Voisin's campaign demonstrates how difficult it is to get your message to the voters.

My point is that Party interest attempts to match public interest, but there are constraints. A Party might not support its own candidate due to differences or perceived value for dollars spent there vs somewhere else, but for a Party to support someone outside the Party would invite destruction, and would at the least be seen as misappropriation of funds.

The DPO maintains neutrality in a contested Primary, members are free to do whatever, but the Party apparatus stays out or contributes equally to candidates.

I cannot, and wouldn't anyhow, defend the practices of the RNC or the RPO. They exemplify the ills you are bemoaning, and frankly that is what I'm talking about needing change. The Democratic Party learned a few things from being out for so long and at least one was to not get hijacked and also to treat the public as partners, rather than objects.

Anonymous said...

As a newly (self-) annointed Indie, I have struggled and continue to struggle with this very debate: Would it be more productive to work to reform one of the parties from inside the party, rather than stepping outside of both and seeking reform as a "non-committed"?

On the one hand, I agree that the broad, amorphous, non-ideological nature of Indies makes it difficult for us to organize, focus, fundraise, and thus drive change.

On the other hand, James Surowiecki's 2004 book, The Wisdom of Crowds, suggests that our defining characteristics, the same characteristics that make our focus/organization so problematic -- i.e., our diversity, independence, and decentralization -- are also the characteristics that make us such a powerful force for change, for defining smart solutions to this nation's shared challenges.

And it is that belief, in the three pre-requisites to smart crowds, that force me to embrace Indie status, partly out of my fear that "party apparatus" is ultimately a construct for the madness of crowds, i.e., mob mentality -- wherein the voices of dissenters are systematically marginalized, so the party "mob" can maintain its grip on power, at virtually any cost.

As I write these words, they sound more harsh than they are intended. In fact, I have great respect for many people who choose a "D" or an "R" label. But in the end, that respect is for those individuals as individuals, not as partisans.

Thank you, Chuck, for kicking off this discussion and inviting our participation. It is a worthwhile engagement, and I promise to both (a) check back regularly to see where it goes, and (b) link to it from my blog at http://centralsanity.blogspot.com.

Chuck Butcher said...

Thanks Pete,

Your point is valid in the construct where Parties are hijacked, creating that "mob" mentality you present. My point is to avoid that mentality by creating that wisdom of crowd in the Parties.

A Party is an organization, which means that there are rules for how input is made, Robert's Rules of Order, Committees, processes for instituting changes, etc. These can be abused or useful, this is dependent on the membership. That is exactly what I'm trying to address.

One of the most accurate descriptions I've heard of organizing Democrats is that, "it's like herding cats." The reason it's like that is the Party doesn't by nature stifle discussion. The R's used to be that way, now...

Let's keep this rolling, making me work for it makes me better at what I do in DPO and hopefully a better more informed citizen.

Anonymous said...

You've hit on something; namely, the D camp (in its current iteration) is more likely to listen to and incorporate the wisdom of crowds than the R camp (although the latter may obviously be re-thinking its approach).

That said, I wonder how much even the D camp is willing to truly embrace the crowd's opinions on subjects that challenge core, aged planks in the D platform. Here's a test: From "Straws in the Kansas Wind," an article in the Aug. 19 edition of The Economist ....

"... only a minority of Americans are resolutely opposed to teaching creationism in public schools. According to a 2005 Pew Forum survey, almost two-thirds of Americans support teaching creationism along-side evolution. The idea enjoys majority support even among the secular-minded and those who believe creationism is wrong."

Is the D apparatus flexible enough to accept that input from the crowd? I don't know, but I doubt it. And that's why I'm an Indie.

Kevin said...

Following on Pete's question re: creationism...

There is a huge difference between teaching that creationism is fact and teaching about creationism.

Clearly a portion of those who support teaching creationism in schools would like to see it taught about, probably as a vehicle for teaching critical thinking skills. Which of course the small minority are rigidly opposed to.

Personally, I would not oppose the introduction of creationism as a means of teaching critical thinking skills.

Kevin said...

Just so I'm clear here... I mean to say that I would not oppose the introduction of Intelligent Design alongside Evolutionary Theory in science classrooms.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comments, Kevin. And I remain interested in Chuck's thoughts on whether or not the big-tent platform of the Democractic Party is big and flexible enough to incorporate this and similarly nuanced perspectives.

Chuck Butcher said...

I don't think you'd have a problem with Democrats (since that's who we're talking about now)with ID in comparative religion classes. Science classes teach scientific method which ID fails miserably, it's religion wearing a different coat. Calling something a theory vs Theory is just a semantic game. This is a red-herring, we're now talking about the "mob" section and the R's already have them. A religious decision that something must be fact because they have FAITH doesn't make it factual, it just means they believe. That's fine, so what, there are lots of Christians in the Dems, they have faith.

Let's look at something that reflects actual policy, like gun-control or abortion or you pick, that aren't simply a matter of semantic games. (religious scruples remain in with these vs science which is supposed to be damn rigorous)

Chuck Butcher said...

I'm not sure I was clear above, science isn't politics, it's science and "majority rules" has nothing to do with it. I'm not saying science doesn't enter into politics, I'm saying politics doesn't determine what is science. A theocracy makes religion into politics and from there politics becomes the replacement for science.

Midieval Christianity in Theocracy stated that the world was flat, that was the rule, despite the Greeks having determined pretty closely the diameter of the Earth in BC. It was worked out with mathematics applied to verifiable and repeatable observation and missed by a small percentage, the limit of their measuring tools over distance. Law (through theocracy) made flat earth "fact" and Columbus ignored previous "art" and missed by a huge factor - faith again.

Secularism in government is a generally misunderstood practice, it seems to mean hostility to religion, it is actually about religion not being law. When a Christian wins an election the Christianity doesn't go away, it informs their philosophical base but that doesn't mean a law they pass is a Christian law. Frankly, I don't see rich people standing still for being pushed through the eye of a needle to see if they can qualify for heaven.

Chuck Butcher said...

Direct answer? No, Dems won't do theocracy, there's a Party for that, though they're stupid to do it. If neither Party did theocracy those people would have to form a 3rd Party and most I's would run away, fast. They won't form that 3rd Party because they'd be crushed every outing, they have to piggy-back their stuff.

Kevin said...

I'm not sure I was clear above, science isn't politics, it's science and "majority rules" has nothing to do with it.

I submit that majority rules has a great deal to do with how science is both practiced and taught. It shouldn't, but it is. And that's why I support teaching critical thinking skills inside the science classroom.

How many leading tenets of then-current scientific assumptions have been taught essentially as incontrovertable fact, inside the classroom, only to be replaced by a new theory later on? The history of just the last 50 years is literally littered with examples.

Here's one: Did Barnard & Mellish really see craters on mars?

Full disclosure: Mellish was my greatgrandfather.

Anonymous said...

Chuck -- We actually agree (strongly) on a couple of the key points you raise:

(1) NO ONE should push religious views on public school students. We have separation of church and state for a reason. (In fact, I dropped my "R" label in favor of the "I" label partly because I don't like the idea of the R's becoming a theocratic party any more than Kevin Phillips or you do.)

(2) Creationism canNOT stand up to the same scientific-process validation that evolution can; no question about it, and thus creationism should NOT be taught as a science, because it's NOT a science; it can't be proven through scientific means.

But back to the larger point that Kevin raised earlier -- teaching critical thinking skills, with creationism/intelligent design as one "case" among many others -- I don't see the harm, but I do see many benefits.

Surely, our public school teachers are sophisticated enough to acknowledge that many people in the world -- from many different backgrounds/religions/cultures -- believe in some form of intelligent design, withOUT pushing those views, collectively or individually, on students.

Surely, those teachers could use intelligent design as an example of a popular sentiment, and walk students through the process of critical analysis of said sentiment, teaching them something valuable in the process.

Yes, I'll concede that intelligent design may not belong in science class, again because it's not science. Does that mean it shouldn't be referenced anywhere -- not even in history, sociology, or social studies classes?

Are you suggesting, chuck, that intelligent deisgn can't even be acknowledged/mentioned in public shools, because the mere act of uttering the words "intelligent design" might somehow endorse one religion over another, or endorse generic religion over secularism or atheism?

If that is what you're suggesting, it seems little different than the extremist R's suggesting that sex-ed classes encourage promiscuity by acknowledging that sex happens.

Net: I fear this dialogue proves my original concern. The core members of the D and R camps are equally incapable of incorporating the wisdom of crowds.

Among other things, the wisdom of crowds would suggest that it's ok to discuss intelligent design in public schools, as long was we find a way to do so in a non-advocacy, non-preferential manner. And I could go on down the line-up of subjects ... from abortion to embyronic stem cells to homosexuality to gun control, to you name it ... and prove the same point over and over and over again: that the core members of the major parties are staking out drastic, extremist visions of the world, to fuel their parties, their centers of power, with neither willing to fully embrace what the great seething mass of this democracy actually believes.

And that's why I'm an Indie.

PS #1 -- I believe some D's and R's want to see the parties behave differently, in more centrist fashion. And the D's, in particular, went a long way in that centrist direction in last week's mid-terms. My fear is that the center of neither party can hold strong for long against the incessant right- and left-tugging of the poles.

PS #2 -- Great link, Kevin, to the Barnard & Mellish examples.

Chuck Butcher said...

There's going to be a problem with ID in science and logic courses, it's going to get torn to pieces. It belongs somewhere else.

Yes observational errors and measurement errors can be significant, the Greeks missed by about 7%, a problem for some of us who need a place to stand, but that doesn't make this place flat and it doesn't put people on Mars. I have no idea what they saw, there are no plates to look at.

ID starts out with an unprovable unobservable thesis, GOD. Where do you go from there? Not science class. The assumption is that order must flow from a "being," ok, that's an assumption and it has serious problems outside of faith. You cannot work it backward and get there, you have to start at the point of God and a predetermined set of criteria.

This discussion belongs in a Religion/Science thread. I have no possible way to take it anywhere re:politics except to state again, the R's do theocracy not the D's so no, if theocracy is your bag the D's aren't. They also aren't your bag if you think govt's job is to advance the rich over the low/middle income or if you are a small govt advocate or if you... that the R's do. Some sort of philosophy must inform a Party or it has no point in existing.

A person of faith is certainly not excluded from the Democrats, that's a different thing than theocracy. I would say that quite a bit of Christ's actual words are pretty well reflected by the D philosophy, and I note that he was pretty firmly in the seperation camp, "render unto Caesar..."

Anonymous said...

My apologies to Chuck: you did say you thought I.D. could be taught in comparative religion classes. So you do see a place for it in public schools. But back to the point in my last post, amended: Beyond comparative religion classes, could ID have a place in history/social studies?Net -- does the existence of religion have to be cordoned off, away from non-religious subject matter? Separated from science? Ok. Separated from everything else ... ?

Anonymous said...

It's funny how this thread has woven around and twisted on itself ... again, we find a lot of points on which to agree. You're "render unto Caesar" comment reminds me of this recent post on my blog: http://centralsanity.blogspot.com/2006/11/christian-politics.html.

Finally, your point that "some sort of philosophy must inform a Party or it has not point in existing." That's the problem. The Indies' philosophy is that we don't need a philosophy to unite us -- we are united by our co-existence, and productive co-existence is the only non-compromisable value.

In Collapse, Jared Diamond wrote: "It is painfully difficult to decide whether to abandon some of one’s core values when they seem to be becoming incompatible with survival. At what point do we as individuals prefer to die than to compromise and live?"

In my experience, major parties find it very difficult to compromise and live. Witness what happened to the Dems in 1994 and the R's this year. The cycle will repeat itself. It always does.

Chuck Butcher said...

We're posting across each other. I'm late, I was typing.

Look, ID belongs in the classroom course it defines itself as belonging in, it's religious history, it might get up to philosophy, it is a form of literature - religous, etc, etc. The people that built ID vs Bible rendition, want it in science class, the argument is moot, that's what'll satisfy them. It ain't science what're ya supposed to do?

Poking me about Gun Control proves my point, see DPO Resolution 08-05, http://www.dpo.org/inside/platform/ since I authored it and most would say it's the third rail of Democratic politics. There is now a Gun Owner's Caucus in DPO with a website Blue Steel. Agitation from within, by members, not I's.

The outside perception of a Party is frequently the definition offered by the other Party, it certainly is in the case of the Democratic Party. This is part of the "demonization" tactic of the R's. Where exactly do you get the idea that Democrats are baby killers, gun grabbers, fags, general loons & terrorists? The arguments about Democratic stands that you are bringing suggest that there is no discussion, debate, or nuances, that's outright libel and you know where you got it. The Republican Party is not now what it was, but what it was needn't have been dismissed as wingnuts.

Anonymous said...

I never suggested that Democrats were baby killers, gun grabbers, or any of the other pejorative terms that you list. I don't believe they are any of those things. Nor are my views of D's rooted in the perspective of the extremist R's -- NO MORE than my views of the R's are rooted in the perspective of the extremist D's. My point, again, as iterated in my last comment is simply and literally this: "In my experience, major parties find it very difficult to compromise and live." Individuals within those parties may compromise and live -- Bill Clinton's a great example, and probably one of the greatest Presidents of our time, as a result. You may very well be another example. But the parties themselves, as organizations, are too often (not always but often) driven and defined by extremist points of view, for which compromise is a four-letter word. I read Daily Kos and Townhall, both, on a regular basis. I believe they reflect the core D and R viewpoints, respectively. And they tend toward no-compromise extremism -- not always, but often. In contrast, Indies, by their lack of party and structure, seem to be the most reasonable of all, not always, but often.

In the end, if necessary, I hope we can agree to disagree without malice. There's certainly none on my part.

Kevin said...

There's going to be a problem with ID in science and logic courses, it's going to get torn to pieces.

Isn't that the point of critical thinking?

Yes observational errors and measurement errors can be significant

No, that's an entirely different issue. The presumptive dismissal of the very idea of planetary catastrophism was not based on observational or measurement errors. It was based on a dogmatic adherence to a heavily flawed notion which was widely taught as fact... inside science classrooms without a shred of evidence to back it up. That's the point, not whether there were craters on Mars or not.

Haeckle's fraudulent theory that ontology recapitulates phylogeny which was based upon forged evidence still finds its way into school science textbooks from time to time.

BTW, if you havent' figured it out by now... Myself and Becky over at Preemptive Karma, like Pete here, used to be R's and left.

Kevin said...

One more thing... ID does not rely upon the supernatural. To frame it as being religion is no more accurate than the right's framing of Darwinism as being anti-religious.

I used to be heavily involved in the online front of the Creation/Evolution debate, although it's been a number of years since I quit. And one of the things that I discoved in my readings was that the idea of intelligent being(s) meddling in earth's biology predates the popular ID theory by about a decade. It was first floated by a Japanese evolutionary biologist who was working on trying to explain the ultimate origins of life on earth. He suggested aliens beings rather than a god or gods. So no, ID is not automatically religion unless you consider ET or Star Wars to have been a religious movies.

Chuck Butcher said...

you mistook my perjoratives to be based on your comments, which I only take to be the reasonable side of the perjoratives handed out. I do not want the Parties (my particular conern is D's) to be the characterization of the demonizers. Gun control is only partially a gun grab issue, abortion has all kinds of stances involved, environmentalism does also and etc, within the Democratic Party, though possibly not as widely as the "middle." My object is the improvement of Party politics, not the getting of a vote for a particular position.

In recent history I can hold up the Republican Party as an example of what it is I'm trying to avoid. Or, if it pleases you, the Dems in late 80s/90s. I do not want to see the extremism or narrowness of POV rule. I have no idea to try to fold the entire middle into "D" it won't fit, but there are good fits out there, just as there should be good fits for the "R." I have no idea what it will take to wake the current "R" crop up, but it's a bad situation for the country to be in. The very thing that the "I" says is wrong is what I'm trying to address, the active participation of many of the I's to keep Parties aligned with America.

I personally am an odd mix, very left in many respects and decidedly not in others, see "I know we're the base, but..." for an example. I don't rule the Dems and don't want to. I want that broad base represented so that mutual discussions go on.

I got ridiculed in college for catastrophism as an archeological phenomenon, seems I was right. Sure there are politics in science, and it's stupid to do so. I only state that ID has no scientific basis, dress it as it may be, aliens as god or God as god makes no difference. The spaceship remains (or suitable evidence) would make a difference in that, but God's hand is real tough. As for ID getting torn to pieces in a class - that would be more evidence of "narrow agenda" behavior. It won't stand up to it, do in some class that functions without rigor.

Anonymous said...


No worries; I do appreciate the explanation; and yes, it helps me better understand where you're coming from -- i.e., you're seeking the "active participation of many of the I's to keep Parties aligned with America."

And if that's correct -- "active participation" rather than "direct membership" -- count me in. I'm always up for dialogue and collaborative efforts. Initially, I thought you were suggesting that the Indies could not be effective outside the framework of either major party and hence should formally join one or the other. That's what prompted my passionate though well-intentioned diatribe. Independent is independent, and I think there is a role, a productive role, for us in the larger socio-political scheme.

Net: I don't want to join a party - just left one "bad relationship" and not looking for another one right now; enjoying my political bachelor status. But I am more than willing to be an active participant, sounding board, volunteer, etc., with any party, initiative, or candidate that seeks it, AS LONG AS the party or initiative or candidate in question lines up with what I think is consistent with that one uncompromisable value suggested in Jared Diamond's work, namely: productive coexistence.

Hope that makes sense.

Chuck Butcher said...

Believe me, I understand a broken relationship, I was almost gone from the Dems at one point. I took another path, I got real active in the County Party, after awhile, even with my "Odd-ball" politics I wound up being one of the County Delegates to the State Party (DPO in our case), worked up R08-05 and passed it, and wound up a Chair's delegate to Platform and Resolutions COmmittee. If a person maintains a relationship with folks active in the Party, their thinking is at least heard by them, but the real access is within the structure.

There's a term, co-opt, meaning to move inside a group and move it to your view, methodologies vary. I burrowed my way in and showed them advantages, a principled position that was capable of generating votes. Getting across the principle wasn't easy or simple since it went counter to Party "Conventional Wisdom." I could not have had that impact from outside. I take a certain pride in that accomplishment, but mostly I'm happy to have the Party on a different path.

Through the Party structure I gained access to many people of varied views, backgrounds, and regions (this is a big state) and an ability to discuss from the common POV of Party affiliation. It cracked open doors for me.

I've learned a great deal, particularly how to work with people, who aren't on my page, to gain an end. I've gained access to the ears and thinking of state legislators I'd never have been near (really big state), I've gained the respect and ear of the Chief of Staff of a US Senator, if I have something on my mind, the Gov and a couple US Reps are familiar with me. That's quite a bit of access for a small time nail beater from NE OR.

I didn't get that access because I'm a big contributor, a few $50 shots are painful for me. I got it because I've demonstrated in a concrete way that I give a rat's patoot about the good of the country and by extension, the Party. I've demonstrated that my contrariness is worth listening to and thinking about. I submit that I would have none of those outside the Party.

Sure, I'm recruiting for the Democrats, but also the Repubs, I'm disgusted with what's happened to that Party. Yes, the Democrats most nearly fit my thinking, but they've also demonstrated a willingness to listen and learn.

Chuck Butcher said...

I listen and I think and I learn from others and I am willing to carry messages I don't even agree with and explain the logic. I obviously care what I's are thinking, 32 comments... I post on this blog to put out my say and see what others are thinking because dialogue is hugely important in politics and policy.

Zak J. said...

The high level of incumbant return is because of 2 things (1) seats for the House of Representatives are almost all safe (most of the time, last Tuesday was unusual) and (2) it's seen as disloyal to challenge an incumbant of your own party. So you have a case where a district always goes D or R and only retirement can threaten an incumbant.

I'd like to see A LOT more challenges within each party. Yeah, it drains money from the real fight in the general election, but the worst you can say about it is that a primary challenge can make an incumbant explain and defend thier position every two years, especially when the result for the general election is largely a forgone conclusion.

Chuck Butcher said...

I've said repeatedly that I think the Primary is the most important election in terms of philosphy, the General in terms of political power.

edison said...

What an entertaining discourse. Thank you. I remain an "I", however, not just for some of the reasons mentioned already. And, Chuck, I honor your perspective of effecting change from within the party structure. This discussion underscores the rising power and influence of the "I" on both parties. I believe 2006 may be noted as the year our (traditional two-party) political system changed forever; a year when, perhaps, the attractiveness of the "I" voter caused both parties to rethink their positions on a variety of issues. Not at all an unappealing prospect. In the meanwhile, I, like many others who now choose an "I" as their political label, will continue to stay engaged, to stay informed, and when appropriate, to join the discussion. Thanks, again!

nicrivera said...

You're a cipher, there are polls and some interviews and some Indie Bloggers, but you're unpredictable because you're unrepresented. You don't help shape Party politics, you stand aside.

With all due respect, Chuck, you couldn't be more wrong in my particular case.

For one thing, I'm not unpredictable. I might vote for a different party from time to time, but my political views have remained rather consisten and thus are quite predictable. Moreover, as someone with libertarian leanings, I would go so far as to argue that my political views are far more internally consistent than either the platforms currently advocated by either the Democrats or the Republicans. Unlike the Democrats and Republicans, I don't pick and choose which of the Bill of Rights I want to support. Unlike the Democrats and Republicans, I don't condemn one party for abusing our civil liberties and then sit idly by as the other party does the same thing.

Another thing--you accuse us Independents of not shaping Party politics. It's rather convenient for you as a Democrat to lecture us Independents about not having the clout that you do given that your party and the Republicans have done just about everything possible to discourage the rise of third parties and thereby ensuring two-party rule. If there were a viable third party, it would definitely shape the politics of the two major parties (just as third parties have in the past, i.e. ending slavery, giving women the right to vote).

Given the horrible mismanagement of out government by the Democrats and the Republicans, the moment is ripe for third party candidates. Unfortunately, your party and the Republicans have enacted Ballot Access laws in all fifty states making it difficult for third party and Independent candidates to get on the ballot. Also, the Commission on Presidential Debates, formed in 1988, is made up exclusively of Democrats and Republicans, so it's no wonder why third party and Independent candidates are never invited to the Presidential Debates (with the exception of Perot in 1992).

It's a pretty convenient system for the Democrats and Republicans. No matter how horrible your parties govern, you're always assured no worse than second place.

Chuck Butcher said...

Well Nic, you're pretty rough on me about civil liberties, I guess you've missed most of this Blog as well as the Profile. So, you're wrong on that one.

A third party, ok, like who? There are the Greens, Libertarians, Constitutionalists already, that's three. You want a new one, take a survey of the Indies and tell me what kind of platform you'll put together that'll attract enough to make any kind of difference. What you for sure have in common is that you don't like the Two, after that definitions fall apart.

I take Independents very seriously, I ran a campaign that needed them badly; oh well.

I don't know if you noticed that this post was from Nov 06?