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Debates Forum

  1. 03 Oct '12 21:29
    "Why Vote? When Your Vote Counts for Nothing" by Kevin Baker
    (Harper's. October 2012, pp. 31-37)

    "The heroic narrative of modern society has always been that democracy would
    prevail in the end....But we can no longer count on democracy as some sort of
    natural force or secret weapon, for today it has been turned against us, its very
    institutions now reinforcing the triumph of money and fueling the growth of
    nihilistic and antidemocratic movements.

    To understand why this is happening, it is necessary to remember that democracy,
    very much like capitalism, is, at its heart, an exchange. For it to be of any
    consequence to people, it must respond to them. Citizens must have some
    assurance that they will get at least something of what they vote for--that the
    entire process is not just a notional spectacle."
    --Kevin Baker (p. 31)

    "Just as Western capitalism deindustrializes--offshoring industry, cutting wages
    and benefits, eliminating worker' rights and protections--so Western democracy
    depoliticizes, its major parties expelling or silencing entire constituencies, scorning
    the participation of groups that once sustained them.
    ...
    To vote for a Mitt Romney--to vote for the modern right anywhere in the West--
    is an act of national suicide. The right is hollow to its core; it has no dreams,
    no vision, no plans to deal with any of the problems that confront us, only
    infantile fantasies of violence and consumption. But it is, at the moment,
    well funded, well organized, and feeling especially threatened. It is capable
    of anything.
    ...
    We will have to insist that we have interests, too, that our future well-being
    cannot simply be steamrollered by the claims of a few greedy people posing
    as the guardians of some amorphous society of the future. We will have to say,
    in terms that any ward heeler of the old political machine would understand,
    that if this democracy is to work, we must get what we were promised."
    --Kevin Baker (p. 37)

    Any comments?
  2. 03 Oct '12 21:52
    I don't understand what he means by "get what we were promised." What exactly were we promised? The founders promised an opportunity, nothing more. We have expanded that to include minorities and women, but it hasn't been easy and is still in progress. This guy is a political hatchet man and he reveals himself as such by writing that the republican party is empty to it's core. The truth is, both parties are empty. They represent their own interests of controlling the levers of power so they can line their pockets.
  3. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    03 Oct '12 23:25
    I have a book on my shelves with the title "If Voting Changed Anything It Would Not Be Allowed." I see the point but I disagree.

    In any election it matters who wins. Even with a lousy choice, citizens have a duty to express a preference.

    If people systematically fail to vote, then any politician appealing to their interests is not going to get far. To be credible a politican must win elections and that means they must be shown an active, voting constituency.

    If the right to vote is not valued, then political agencies can get away with tactics to deprive significant groups of their vote and this is happening on a big scale in the US. It always has done of course.

    But it is not voting that changes anything. Democracy only works as designed if it is supported by politically active, and politically informed voters, and that in turn calls for an infrastructure of resources that will not emerge from thin air or the philanthropy of the very rich. Movements that did shift things in the Sixtes were trades unions, feminists, civil rights activists, anti war campaigners, and they were visible in the huge numbers required to secure concessions from their elected governments, always reluctantly, partially, equivocally, minimally.

    The Right has responded forcefully by investing in its own counter movement. The churches, the media, the Tea Party, the flag waving mob roused with demagoguery and directed towards carefully selected hate targets. They have managed to move back the gains of the progressive era with well managed propoganda - and slogans such a "political correctness" to mock the achievements and the passion of the progressives.

    If you want to see progressive politics, I am afraid it will be confronted by powerful forces seeking its destruction and it is going to call for a lot more than the wishful hope for a more honest politician. Remember, Stalin was greatly loved in his day and is still remembered fondly. The East German Communist Party was always diligent in receiving and responding to the concerns of their people and only fell when it lost that support. The desire for benevolent political leaders is a childish wish for a fairy godmother and politicians are well practised in playing to that delusion. Keep playing that game and you will never get to grips with the problem.
  4. 03 Oct '12 23:41
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    "Why Vote? When Your Vote Counts for Nothing" by Kevin Baker
    (Harper's. October 2012, pp. 31-37)

    "The heroic narrative of modern society has always been that democracy would
    prevail in the end....But we can no longer count on democracy as some sort of
    natural force or secret weapon, for today it has been turned against us, its very
    institutions now ...[text shortened]... is to work, we must get what we were promised."
    --Kevin Baker (p. 37)

    Any comments?
    I disagree with the premise: "if this democracy is to work, we must get what we were promised."

    This democracy always works, and it WILL work -- for somebody.

    Millions of people need to decide what they want to get, and vote for it, because if they won't, some other mob will.
  5. 03 Oct '12 23:55
    Originally posted by finnegan
    I have a book on my shelves with the title "If Voting Changed Anything It Would Not Be Allowed." I see the point but I disagree.

    In any election it matters who wins. Even with a lousy choice, citizens have a duty to express a preference.

    If people systematically fail to vote, then any politician appealing to their interests is not going to get far. ...[text shortened]... g to that delusion. Keep playing that game and you will never get to grips with the problem.
    Kevin Baker (an editor at Harper's) wrote an article that's seven pages long.
    I could not summarize it completely; all I did was to summarize its beginning
    and its conclusion.

    I don't think that Kevin Baker was discouraging people from voting at all,
    though it's evident that he was discouraging them from voting for right-wing
    Western politicians. I think that Kevin Baker was attempting to explain why so
    many voters feel that their votes don't really count in Western democracies.
  6. 04 Oct '12 00:13
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    Kevin Baker (an editor at Harper's) wrote an article that's seven pages long.
    I could not summarize it completely; all I did was to summarize its beginning
    and its conclusion.

    I don't think that Kevin Baker was discouraging people from voting at all,
    though it's evident that he was discouraging them from voting for right-wing
    Western politicians. I ...[text shortened]... xplain why so
    many voters feel that their votes don't really count in Western democracies.
    Clearly, the electorate is pretty evenly split between the major parties in the USA. A majority of 10% is considered a "landslide".

    That leaves 40% who think their vote was wasted, by the reasoning of Mr. Baker. If Romney should win an electoral majority, but lose the popular vote, there could be mor3 than half who think their vote didn't "count".

    I will vote to fire a failed President. If I'm in the minority, I will try again next time. Everyone can't get their wishes just by voting.
  7. 04 Oct '12 00:17
    Originally posted by JS357
    I disagree with the premise: "if this democracy is to work, we must get what we were promised."

    This democracy always works, and it WILL work -- for somebody.

    Millions of people need to decide what they want to get, and vote for it, because if they won't, some other mob will.
    "This democracy always works, and it WILL work--for somebody."
    --JS357

    But every form of government (except perhaps anarchy, which is not really a
    form of government) 'works'--serves the perceived interests--of somebody.
  8. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    04 Oct '12 20:23
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    Kevin Baker (an editor at Harper's) wrote an article that's seven pages long.
    I could not summarize it completely; all I did was to summarize its beginning
    and its conclusion.

    I don't think that Kevin Baker was discouraging people from voting at all,
    though it's evident that he was discouraging them from voting for right-wing
    Western politicians. I ...[text shortened]... xplain why so
    many voters feel that their votes don't really count in Western democracies.
    And I disagreed with the closing point made in your post:
    if this democracy is to work, we must get what we were promised
    Politics in a democracy is not sufficiently grounded while it rests on a passive and misinformed electorate. Looking for a charismatic leader is a mark of fascism. It establishes a parent / child relationship between the electorate and its politicians.
  9. 04 Oct '12 20:31
    Why vote? For the same reason you ought to pay your taxes: you surely don't get anything back for it (directly), and your tax contribution is negligible. But if no one pays taxes, then society collapses. Likewise, if no one votes, democracy is undermined and cannot function. You should vote because it is the morally right thing to do (though with this responsibility also comes a responsibility to be informed).
  10. 04 Oct '12 20:50 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by finnegan
    And I disagreed with the closing point made in your post:
    if this democracy is to work, we must get what we were promised
    Politics in a democracy is not sufficiently grounded while it rests on a passive and misinformed electorate. Looking for a charismatic leader is a mark of fascism. It establishes a parent / child relationship between the electorate and its politicians.
    "Politics in a democracy is not sufficiently grounded while it rests on a passive
    and misinformed electorate."--Finnegan

    I concur. I am not at all like Lady Mosley (nee Diana Freeman-Mitford)
    or Simone Clarke (aka 'the BNP ballerina'.
  11. 04 Oct '12 21:03
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Why vote? For the same reason you ought to pay your taxes: you surely don't get anything back for it (directly), and your tax contribution is negligible. But if no one pays taxes, then society collapses. Likewise, if no one votes, democracy is undermined and cannot function. You should vote because it is the morally right thing to do (though with this responsibility also comes a responsibility to be informed).
    You are applying Kant's moral question -- "What if everyone did it? -- which is reasonable enough, but I suggest the moral imperative is to for citizens to improve their historical perspective, judgement skills and knowledge of political issues, and only then should they vote. I say this because there are some basically clueless people who I don't think should be encouraged to vote. Of course I would not support any sort of "test" being required.
  12. Standard member finnegan
    GENS UNA SUMUS
    04 Oct '12 23:31
    Originally posted by JS357
    You are applying Kant's moral question -- "What if everyone did it? -- which is reasonable enough, but I suggest the moral imperative is to for citizens to improve their historical perspective, judgement skills and knowledge of political issues, and only then should they vote. I say this because there are some basically clueless people who I don't think should be encouraged to vote. Of course I would not support any sort of "test" being required.
    So maybe you would support the need for political education, which was kicked out of the English curriculum through the 1988 Education Reform Act (Tories don't like political education, social science teaching, or anything similar but they and New Labour are promoting religious education vigorously) and for the right to media with some modicum of commitment to informing the voter about issues and not distracting them with personalities?

    In Britain the reading age at which the popular, mass circulation daily papers are written is that of a nine year old (if the 9 year old was properly educated I imagine). That is an objective asessment from people who are required to assess the reading age of our children.

    Looking for a source I found this and thought someone might like to try applying it to our forums??? Has to be entertaining.
    If you have a recent version of Microsoft Word, try this. (This is for a PC--there's probably something similar for a Mac) Go to an online newspaper, highlight a few paragraphs of an article and right click to copy them. Then open a blank Word document and right click to paste them. Then run a reading level check.

    To set Word to run a reading level check go to Tools, then Options and select the Spelling and Grammar tab. Make sure that the box called "Show readability statistics" is checked. Then close out of there and go to back to Tools, then select Spelling and Grammar.

    A box will pop up and Word will tell you what the reading level of your document is is using the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scale.
  13. 05 Oct '12 00:17
    Whoever doesn't vote and complains about their government should be lined up in 3 and shot to save bullets.
  14. 05 Oct '12 02:24
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Why vote? For the same reason you ought to pay your taxes: you surely don't get anything back for it (directly), and your tax contribution is negligible. But if no one pays taxes, then society collapses. Likewise, if no one votes, democracy is undermined and cannot function. You should vote because it is the morally right thing to do (though with this responsibility also comes a responsibility to be informed).
    "You should vote because it is the morally right thing to do (though
    with this responsibility also comes a responsibility to be informed."
    --KazetNagorra

    You should vote if you think that you have been offered a meaningful choice
    and that your vote could, if joined by enough other votes, make a difference.
    If I had been a German in 1932, I would have voted for Paul von Hindenburg,
    an 84 year old conservative Prussian retired general (who was practically senile)
    simply because I would have been voting against Adolf Hitler.

    I would be disinclined to vote, however, simply to appear to participate in a
    banal ritual of notional political theatre. According to the Nazis, almost everyone
    who was eligible to vote in Germany and Austria voted to approve of the Anschluss.
    I don't believe that the act of voting must be endowed with virtue in itself.

    When an increasing number of potential voters believe that they are not being
    offered enough of a meaningful choice, why should they still be expected to vote?
    I am not attempting to discourage anyone from voting but to explain why many
    people seem uninterested in voting.
  15. 05 Oct '12 04:51
    Originally posted by Trev33
    Whoever doesn't vote and complains about their government should be lined up in 3 and shot to save bullets.
    Now, now, you are not getting with the spirit of this thread. The purpose of this thread is to stop those on the right from voting.

    Get with it man!!