Dependable Erection

Monday, November 10, 2008

Please explain

From the comments:
Straight party voting is the worse thing ever.

Most of the democracies in the world are based on political parties. There are very few democracies where one could make this claim and expect to be taken seriously. I have a hard time getting my head around how straight party voting is worse than, say, slavery, or the war in Iraq, to name two top of the head examples.

But assuming that the commenter was merely indulging in some hyperbole and that he believes straight party voting is merely as bad as athlete's foot fungus, or MLB blackout areas, i still don't get it. Please explain the horror of determining which party's platform best expresses your desires for our society, and voting for all of the candidates of that party who are standing for election.

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17 Comments:

  • I think Pastor Ray was hyperbolizing, but I won't presume to speak for him.

    I guess I view straight-party voting as symptomatic of, rather than a contributing factor to, the institutionalization of the two major parties in our system of government(s), which is pretty fundamentally un-democratic. The Democratic and Republican parties are, in effect, branches of the government. Just ask anyone who has tried to get on the ballot as a Green, Libertarian, or independent.

    "Most of the democracies in the world are based on political parties."

    True, but in many (if not most) of these cases, we're talking about a parliamentary system where you really do vote for a party. I do think that kind of system has its perks (esp. the ability to call elections and votes of no confidence), but it isn't the system that we have. Moreover, since political parties aren't even mentioned in our Constitution, I think it is a bit of a stretch to say that our system is "based on" them.

    "Please explain the horror of determining which party's platform best expresses your desires for our society, and voting for all of the candidates of that party who are standing for election."

    Nothing wrong with that at all. What's wrong with asking voters to express that choice in each race individually?

    By Blogger Brian, at 1:11 PM  

  • Didn't mean to imply any constitutional underpinnings for the two (or more) party system here in the States. Just saying that, functionally, political parties are the mechanism of setting policy and governing in most democracies.

    If i read you correctly, you're saying that straight party voting is not necessarily wrong, merely inferior to voting in each race individually. No problem with that reasoning on my part. As i wrote below, i didn't vote straight party ticket in this election myself.

    I just don't see it as evil in the way some commenters here have been portraying it.

    By Blogger Barry, at 1:41 PM  

  • Fair enough. You read me correctly.

    By Blogger Brian, at 1:43 PM  

  • what Brian said. You probably don't follow New Zealand politics (I do because I'd like to retire there), but in this weekend's elections the libertarian party was actually relevant! Their five seats were what it took to get rid of Helen Clark.

    I prefer multi-party parliamentary democracies such as Israel or New Zealand given the increase of presidential power over the past hundred years in the US, or no effective government at all (Hong Kong, Singapore, Liechtenstein). Straight ticket voting discourages this development, especially when ballot access is limited.

    As I've said at Kevin's site, straight ticket doesn't even make sense when you have paper ballots as in Durham. Most voters pick the lesser of two evils, and if your party isn't running a candidate it will be harder to notice this unless "straight ticket" on a voting machine pulls the lever for you, thus making it obvious which choices are left unmarked.

    By Blogger KeepDurhamDifferent!, at 2:15 PM  

  • I would think that straight party ticket voting, especially in a parliamentary system where there is not "executive office" race at the top of the ticket, would be more helpful to the smaller parties gaining power at the margins, where their ability to create a majority in Parliament gives leverage, than in a system where both executive and legislative races are on the ballot.

    don't most parliamentary systems provide at least some seats for parties reaching a certain threshold of the vote, even if none of their individual candidates manages a majority in a constituency? Wouldn't that serve smaller parties better than the current system?

    By Blogger Barry, at 2:27 PM  

  • Yes, they do, and yes it does.

    I think proportional representation is a fine idea, but to implement it here would almost certainly require a Constitutional amendment. (I realize the link you posted said that isn't true, but I'm not sure I'd take that for granted.)

    Of course, even Ron Paul has pointed out that "changing the Constitution is constitutional".

    By Blogger Brian, at 2:39 PM  

  • I am a die hard Democrat, but I don't like straight ticket voting because it encourages people NOT to educate themselves on the down ballot candidates and, as history has shown us, there are, unfortunately, more than a few corrupt Democrats in North Carolina with some of them even ore conservative than their Republican counterparts.

    I especially don't like straight ticket voting in a 1-party town like Durham, where local PAC's can ram some truly odious people down your throats under the banner of the Democratic Party: Nifong, Peterson and Bowser come to mind. Not to mention the occasional Dem scumbags who don't have he nerve to run themselves but put other people up instead: they use the system and I don't feel like letting them get away with it.

    Beyond that, sometimes you have a Republican incumbent who has done a good job in some minor office and they get swept out because of straight ticket voting and I don't feel that's fair -- check out the Charlotte Observer political menu for a look at what happened to their Register of Deeds under those circumstances this past election. The woman had, by all accounts, been a great register of deeds with her affiliation irrelevant to the job, but staight ticket voting by people who had no idea who she was and what kind of job she'd done, sent her packing. I don't like that.

    I think voting is a responsibility was well as a right. I think voters should educate themselves and people should be judged on who they really all. Many a Democrat has absolutely NOT supported the Dem platform and, quite frankly, I find that worse than being a Republican.

    I voted for Mike Munger last week because Bev Perdue is nothing more than a good ole boy in a skirt and i then refused to vote for a few local candidates because they are unethical liars. Straight ticket voting would not allow me to register my dislike of those candidates and well, that's about the only chance I'm going to get to do that.

    By Blogger Parsnips, at 4:52 PM  

  • I especially don't like straight ticket voting in a 1-party town like Durham, where local PAC's can ram some truly odious people down your throats under the banner of the Democratic Party

    AFAICT, there's only one PAC in Durham that can even come close to "ramming" any candidates "down your throats" and that's the Durham Committee. And my main problem iwth the Committee is that even though its chair sits on the county and state executive committees of the Democratic Party, they are often willing to ignore highly qualified Democratic candidates in favor of marginally qualified Republicans, and to make common cause with some truly odious Republican front groups when it suits their needs. Straight ticket voting can help mitigate the effects of that.

    sometimes you have a Republican incumbent who has done a good job in some minor office and they get swept out because of straight ticket voting and I don't feel that's fair

    Well, Republcians have been doing that to Democrats in places like Kansas, Texas, and, yes, North Carolina for lo these many years. Fair? Who cares? This is about power, not about fairness. Look at the bullshit textbooks that the Texas school board is able to foist upon public schools around the nation by virtue of their size, and their ideology. They've understood how power works, and how to use it to achieve their ends. I think their ends (in this case, deliberately constricting the science education of our young people in order to advance their pseudo-religious agenda) are worth fighting against, but they damn sure understand how to use the means at their disposal to achieve them. Whining about fairness gets us an entire generation of young people being taught that creationism is science, and that ain't acceptable to me.

    By Blogger Barry, at 6:11 PM  

  • I don't see the great advantage of SPV over having to (OMG) actually fill in more bubbles.

    It does seem to codify that idea that the party is whose deciding what's going on, as opposed to candidates who are running -- this is not in fact the case.

    By Blogger hexapod, at 6:20 PM  

  • @hexapod: SPV saves time for harried voters and diehard loyalists. Like you said, not a great advantage but still an advantage.

    I wasn't one of those suckers who stood in line for early voting only to see no lines on election day, but if I HAD waited an hour to vote I would have been mighty PO'ed to have to fill in 30 bubbles instead of 2 (or 3 including referenda, or 10 including nonpartisan races).

    @brian: proportional representation is just gerrymandering by another name. I can see where it makes sense when used to protect the rights of ethnic or religous minorities, but thankfully most liberal democracies have a reasonable separation of church and state, and less racial conflict.

    Barry's 6:11 litany of abuses seems like an argument for reducing the power of both parties, or for government in general for that matter.

    Interesting that there was far less "dropoff" in the judicial seats and referendum vote this time. I heard 11,000 bandied about, which would be 5% I think? If so that's astoundingly low.

    By Blogger KeepDurhamDifferent!, at 7:35 PM  

  • Barry's 6:11 litany of abuses seems like an argument for reducing the power of both parties, or for government in general for that matter.


    i would not necessarily draw that conclusion.

    By Blogger Barry, at 8:37 PM  

  • "Straight party voting is the worse thing ever."

    is what losers say.

    Just sayin'!

    -T

    PS: Lovin' the Pity Party.


    PPS: Just from casual observation, it seems that "Libertarians" are Republicans who want the pot laws repealed? The less tax you pay, the more bread you have for your weed. Instead of "Country First" the Libertarian Party should perhaps adopt "Me First."

    By Blogger Tony, at 9:42 PM  

  • "It does seem to codify that idea that the party is whose deciding what's going on, as opposed to candidates who are running -- this is not in fact the case."


    I should note that even though I find the primary system as it stands flawed, saying that "the party" does the deciding sort of ignores how those benefiting from straight party voting got on the ballot. Most of them did win a contested primary with actual voters, you know.

    And further, while for some of the executive branch positions the person may be more important than the party, for legislative races, given the committee structure and the way in which legislation gets passed, the party affiliation is pretty freakin' important.

    By Blogger Grace, at 1:10 AM  

  • Ahem. "Grace" was me not realizing her google account was the active one at the moment.

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 1:11 AM  

  • oy, this is the bane of my existence (or to continue the overwrought metaphors, the worst thing ever).

    I married a redistributionist Jew whose Mac is tantalizingly close when I'm feeding the baby at 5am. Sure I'd rather read the WSJ, but with one hand I can't get past the first page.

    It's a Catch-22. Do I sign in as KeepDurhamDiferent! and bear the slings and arrows of her sending email fron my Google account, or do I face the wrath of her mother-in-law the shviger who will inevitably notice something less than flattering that her daughter seems to have said about Obama?

    As a software guy you'd think I could figure this out. Too bad Firefox & Safari use the same cookies; maybe Opera will be different.

    dcr

    By Blogger Allison Kort, at 8:13 AM  

  • As a datapoint, IIRC in 1968 the NC Dems took the Presidential race off the straight line ticket because they were afraid that NC Dems wouldn't vote for George McGovern.

    By Blogger NCReader, at 9:00 AM  

  • WRT straight ticket voting and NC, I really do think that the Democratic Party has historically gotten more than it's given up in NC.

    By Blogger Joseph H., at 2:36 PM  

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