Friday, December 15, 2006

Blog Evaluation:

Overall a good experience. Here are some ups and downs of the blog system:
1) It needed to happen. As a young political person, it was about time I figured out what many others have already tapped into.
2) It provided a space to vent or reflect on things you didn't necessarily have the time to do in class.
3) Was more interactive than term papers.
4) I soaked up much more information about the election and really enjoyed the activity leading up to Nov. 7th.

Some downs:
1) Hard to blog about the first two text books and some dry articles.
2) I often wanted to spend all my time making a confusing point into a coherent arguement that made other coursework suffer... sometimes that was true.

So overall a good experience and a recommend doing it again.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

For some time now, I've been meaning to put together a coherent rant-type blog in response to Fiorina focusing on all the shades of purple. If most of American's are centrist moderates who are not that involved in politics, I think it is very important to know exactly what the middle means, how it's defined, and can be interpreted differently in terms of impact and where the future of most American's voting behavior lies.

There are he notion that the "center" is really conservative and on the right instead of truly in the middle. I think we touched on this idea in class the other day with charts and bells leaning to the right side more and more. Maybe it is only about definations (i.e. liberal being a dirty word), or maybe it is that liberal policy positions have regressed since the 60's instead of progressed. Probably a splash of both. I think this is an important topic to consider, especially if most of Americans are in the middle (but really more conservative that liberal).

It was very interesting to note that there is more on the political table in terms of issue breadth. Not just economics, but moral issues have become more prevelant. Also, personal issues are on the table more than even in politics.

The book, Talking Right (with a great subtitle) discusses the notion of the language of partisanship in the country and how conservatives have control over some key terms we use all the time in politics. That will be good pundit-type Christmas reading for the entire family.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

People should be asking why.

We all know that the last 2 presidential elections have been very close. More people voted for Gore than Bush in 2000, but Bush won more states. Don't you think there has been a lot of people who voted for Gore or Kerry wondering why on earth they didn't win? Especially since the states that went red, should be blue if they were voting with their pocketbooks instead of their bibles? It sure is easy to feel that way. The election results have been kind of nuts and I think this book is, in part, a reaction to the frustration that many on the left have over the closeness of the elections given the circumstances.

Yes, Bartel gives valid empirical data that does weaken Frank's argument. But the fact that the income voting gap has increased and not decreased doesn't mean that much to me. The income gap should be an abyss. The fact that there has been a decline at all in lower incomer's identification with the Democratic Party is absurd.
(To regress) Or is it? How much more is the Democratic Party going to help the bottom third income-wise? I would definately argue more than the Republican Party, but I still don't see leaps and bounds here. Especially with Clinton's more moderate and globalized approach to economics.

So there is a search for answers.

Maybe it is because of disallusionment. Maybe it is because people are consumed with the idea that the Republican Party is saving America's Christian soul. Maybe it has everything to do with what state border you happen to fall under. Maybe it is a race thing. Maybe people really just dislike politicians who speak with proper english as opposed to what Bush says. Maybe economics are important but complicated to many average-types. Maybe there is peer pressure and people would rather not get into a culture war at the local bar. At least the search is interesting.


Hmm. One of the main critiques is that he is not scientific enough in his writings. Bartels therefore counters Frank's "vauge history" with closer definitions and more numbers. Basically this scares me and makes me want to become a sociologist as opposed to a political scientist.

That's neither here nor there I suppose.

Income voting gap increased, but the gap between incomes has also increased. (Insert perfect statistics here). Bartels is basically saying you can't isolate a couple of stats, but in the sense that fewer low incomers are identifying with the Democratic Party- there derserves to be isolation. There has been less identification with the Democratic Party overall, I get it, but it still doesn't make sense for lower incomers to do so.

Aside: Abortion is obviously a big topic of discussion with really all people. Most would say it is strictly an economic issue. It's one of the most gutty issues. Bartels refers to some data that this has not gone up in crazy amounts like Frank kind of suggests. Well, here is another reason it doesn't make sense for lower incomers to be pro-life; abortion becomes and economic issue when you have to raise a kid. "Pro-life? Look at the Fruits"
Disallusionment for real. Economic struggels are for real as well. One can defiantely be pro-life but find themselves in a position where they can't afford to support a baby. Does life begin at conception and end a birth for (certain types of) religious poor people?

Maybe it's not about income as much as education (note overlap!)
See this link about IQ and 2004 election link

Monday, November 27, 2006

When I jumped into this book, this song by Gretchen Wilson immediately came to mind:

Well I ain't never
Been the barbie doll type
No I can't swig that sweet champagne
I'd rather drink beer all night
In a tavern or in a honky tonk
Or on a 4 wheel drive tailgate
I've got posters on my wall of Skynard, Kid and Strait
Some people look down on me
But I don't give a rip
I'll stand barefooted in my own front yard with a baby on my hip

Cause I'm a redneck woman
And I ain't no high class broad
I'm just a product of my raisin'
And I say "hey y'all" and "Yee Haw"
And I keep my Christmas lights on, on my front porch all year long
And I know all the words to every Charlie Daniels song
So here's to all my sisters out there keepin' it country
Let me get a big "Hell Yeah" from the redneck girls like me
Hell Yeah
Hell Yeah

Victoria's Secret
Well their stuff's real nice
Oh but I can buy the same damn thing on a Wal*Mart shelf half price
And still look sexy
Just as sexy
As those models on TV
No I don't need no designer tag to make my man want me
You might think I'm trashy
A little too hard core
But get in my neck of the woods
I'm just the girl next door

Hey I'm redneck woman
And I ain't no high class broad
I'm just a product of my raisin'
And I say "hey y'all" and "Yee Haw"
And I keep my Christmas lights on, on my front porch all year long
And I know all the words to every Tanya Tucker song
So here's to all my sisters out there keeping it country
Let me get a big "Hell Yeah" from the redneck girls like me
Hell Yeah
Hell Yeah

I said Hell Yeah

This song just strikes me, as it does many other people, as it is one of the most requested songs of recent history. It's in your face trash, embracing coming from rags. Gretchen Wilson's story shows how she is no stranger to victimhood (just like in Frank's Book).

I struggle with this personally. I am from rural America and can relate, not rednecks, but "hicks" rather. I know all about the huntin, fishin, snowmobilin, counrty music beltin, beer drinkin, working class, gossipin, people who attend christian church every sunday and are racist, sexist, and homophobic, but more just ignorant because of lack of exposure. This all rings a familar bell. My instinct has been to leave- go to school, visit for the fair, and plan to move to a city of some sort, maybe even abroad.

Braindrain or human capital flight is mostly talked about referring to countries like India or the Phillipines, but it is happening all over rural America. These places without much wealth, but a lot of people willing to vote against their economic interests exist even in Wisconsin. Well it's hard as hell going back home to people who call you things as if they had been on a strict diet of Ann Colture. Why would people go back to face fatter and less educated Ann Colture's? (When you put it like that...)

My future does not necessarily involve moving back home, but I do find an incredible amount of honor in re-spreading populism in rural America one potluck and discussion over beers at a time.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Partisanship has decreased in America. Party politics are not what they once were. Political parties were much stronger before the mid-1960's, a critical point in the political timeline of the U.S. Sisnce then, there has been stable periods, with the 1990's showing signs of another critical period.

Where are we now, and what are the indicators of political stability in America in 2006?

I don't want to cop out of this answer, but I really think making this decision (if we are in a stable period or critical one) is something that can only really be done further on. I know the political composition of the nation does not FEEL stable. This may be a very Steven Colbert-type discription, but it seems accurate. Political parties don't feel weak right now, and our nation is and has been reeling for a number reasons that indicate the opposite of stablity. Maybe it was the heated elections, maybe it's sexy political issues like gay marriage that has been rattling my cage, or maybe it's just because I tend to be more sensitive to the political world than most, but the point is that I feel like the nation is not politically stable.

But does a very debateable "culture war" mean political parties or their institutional form are less stable? I don't know if it does.

What is really going on with the political makeup of the nation right now? Why is it so easy to talk about red and blue, the "East Coast liberal elite" or "Southern conservatives?" What was the electorate's motivation in 2004 and 2006, and how do parties make a difference?

To me, Aldrich defined the critical period of the 1960's as being a time when partisanship and the institutions of parties itself were changing - not that regions realigned themselves with parties and voted, but how groups of people where defining their own partisanship and the nature of parties. So parties are stable now; stable in their instablity. There is no Reform party taking 20% of the national vote and no major demographics shooting up.

Despite the spark the Democrats have right now, I tend to think the national tide will not result in a critical period in American politics (as far as Aldrich will be concerned looking back at the data in years to come). We are in a stable period as far as partisanship definations go even thought the congress has switched.

Different groups do have the potential to realize they are leaning the wrong way, which I find very intersting. Like religious groups getting into the debate about the environment or the 10% of the nation that is gay realizing they want to have health benefits or sportsmen who have less public land to hunt on. Even more likely, christian conservatives banning together led by a handful of ministers, that realize they have the power to break away from the Republican economic agenda. That would be something. I don't see it happening, but if any group were to mobilize it would be the christian conservatives pulling from situations hurting them economically.

2006: not critical but only stable in the consistent instability.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Exit Polls

Just getting back from Florida, I decided to take a look at some races and their makeup in the sunshine state...

In Florida's districts 16 and 22, there was a switch from a Republican incumbent to a Democrat.

In the Senate, Democrat incumbent Nelson easily remained in office with 60% of the vote. Here is the link to exit polls from
Areas that the Republican candidate Harris did well in was with the Cuban population, folks making over $200,000 a year, and people who approve of the job President Bush is doing. Generally, the relation to approval of the President's job was very strong with voting Republican and conversely so with disapproval and voting Democratic. These numbers stuck out to me on many exit polls. And it seems to be true that with Florida, the farther south you get, the less like the south the political makeup is.

The race for Florida's governor was a tight one, but Republican Crist was able to hold on to it. Some points of interest from the exit polls ( There was no gender gap between the two candidates amongst the women, but the republican candidate have a 14 pt. difference amongst men. There was no democrat advantage amongst the Latino population. There was a difference when you looked at Hispanic dissent with Cubans favoring republicans. Only 20% of the state's electorate say their ideology is liberal while 34% say they are conservative and 46% say they are moderate. Here, the regional differences didn't pan out as well for the democrats, only getting a majority in the Miami area and no where else.

Other notes of interest: our team went to a lecture with Supreme Court Justice John G. Roberts and shook his hand, got a picture, and listened to him skirt around any topic of interest to me. My next post may be on how justices are supposed to be nonpartisan but are obviously not in some of their policies and opinions.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


The activity in class made me realize a lot of things about myself. I have a hard time biting my tongue, and that's exactly what you have to do at opportune times when creating a party, or even campaigning with or for one. This system of government and parties in America is set up for the middle, tongue-biters if you will. Although Hollywood and extremes in the media are able to express this and that about George So and So, the failing war in wherever, or gay people (who are really just straight people choosing to be discriminated against), the system encourages middle-of-the-road behavior.

It's the two party system that will get you everytime. When we sat down to talk about a party, we had to primarily talk about appeal, about winning, about vote getting, and only pissing less than half off. This was very hard. I felt the desire to talk about what kinds of things should be in platform or ideals I have for politics. I felt like I slowed down the process because of personal inhibitions. In party formation, it's interesting that many issues can only be sprinkles on the top of a cake that is made up of vote-getting appeal.

Kudos, Professor Tofias, because I appreciate the two respective parties more now than I did before. I don't like them more by any means, but understand what they are trying to do within the system they are given. I guess that is what any individual has to do in this country; understand the system in which they are placed and screw with the system before it screws with you.

If I ever ran for office, I would have to bite my tongue more and articulate inhibitions less. But until then, I will have other more binding systems to not be screwed by.