Sunday, November 4, 2012

Elsewhere: My Endorsement; Contesting Elections

Over at Salon this weekend, I wrote my version of an endorsement column. Ah, but all of you regulars could have seen this one coming, no?

And at PP, I went through some scenarios for what the norms should be on contesting presidential elections. It's consistent with my basic feeling about the 2000 election, which is that Bush stole it fair and square (I think SCOTUS was embarrassingly hackish and, on the merits, wrong -- but not in a way that really undermined democracy).


  1. Something finally occurred to me tonight, something that has relevance to the Salon article: I was remembering our discussions around the Buffett Rule, and the accompanying sturm und drang around forcing rich people out of the protection of the dividend/long-term capital gain rate of 15%, up to a floor of 30%. What would probably feel like blood-sucking to a non-aligned rich guy was worth, to the polity, about $5 B per year in additional revenue.

    My party's nominee is proposing an opaque tax cut that can best be summarized as "$500 B of nominal tax reduction, offset by elimination of deductions/incentives". Consider the paragraph above. Does anyone think the last $495 B of revenue-gap-closing is going to come from jacking rich people (way) beyond the Buffett Rule?

    Which leads to a paradox: either Romney doesn't really mean it when he says his tax plan won't hurt the middle class, or he doesn't mean to have a tax plan altogether. Either outcome is a bit troubling, no?

    Not to get all Conor Frierersdorf here, but doesn't your Salon argument assume that I am not flying blind in a rainstorm? If I'm choosing Romney based on his tax plan, how could I honestly describe my vote otherwise?

    1. @CSH -- your point isn't a counterexample -- it shows davka why you do have to think in terms of parties. You and I have no reason to believe this person or that person EXCEPT their affiliation with particular institutions. Like remember when a few liberals were freaking out during Justice Kagan's confirmation hearings, like ZOMG BLACK BOX UNPREDICTABLE TERRIFYING and even MAYBE BELIEVES IN UNITARY EXECUTIVE and other people were like what are you talking about she is not a black box she is a team player on Team Dem. Who was right there? Hint: not the people I've "shorter"ed in all caps. -- Parties, as well as some other kinds of public commitments and group associations, are the institutions that permit us to trust total unknowns being vouched for by total strangers. It's like a doctor putting up her MD diploma and her AMA membership card (?) on the wall.

    2. That said I was a little surprised to hear JB treat all the races on the ballot -- federal state local, legislative executive judicial/law enforcement whatever else -- as equivalently partisan.

    3. Me too; maybe JB can elaborate a little. Like JB, I vote in Texas, but in Dallas, not SA, so maybe there's a difference since the Dems are stronger there than here (though, for non-Dallasites, I should note that Dallas County is pretty solidly Dem these days, in contrast to the fairly recent past). Obviously, for legislative races, I was happy to vote Dem, even if I didn't know much about the candidates. But I was still a little worried that in some of the other races the Dem might well be a crackpot who ran unopposed in the primary because the Repubs were sure to win. I usually went with the Dem anyway, but sometimes picked the Green or Libertarian, just to shake things up.

      Which ultimately may be what JB is saying - unless you have good reasons to believe that a particular Repub (or Dem, depending on your state and political preferences) will represent your interests better than your party's candidate, you might as well vote for your party. If the seat really is a Repub lock, then your vote won't elect a crackpot, but maybe if the crackpot gets enough votes it will encourage a solid candidate to run the next time.

      (Even so, I hate, hate, hate partisan judicial elections, but that's a different issue.)


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