Monday, October 23, 2006

Party ID is a funny little thing.

By funny I mean interesting and by little I mean the very opposite. Our texts and journals will tell us again and again that it is the biggest factor in how people vote. That seems obvious enough, but the formation of party identification is not such an obvious thing in my biased eyes.

I have this friend. She is a 19 year old from Brookfield with internalized homophobia who doesn’t know how to do her own laundry or make jello. She asked me once last year what liberal and conservative meant and what she was. Now, it just seems silly to ask someone that very important question about your place on the spectrum, because for me you’re place on the political spectrum is a bigger determinant not just of how you vote, but how you live your life. What I mean by that is there is more to be said about someone’s political views than if they are black or white, rich or poor (but as we all know those are some key factors into where you are on the spectrum.

At any rate, I was given the distinct opportunity to be part of this young woman’s political awakening, or so I thought. I was trying to be concise in my explanation of the sides while highlighting things I thought would be important to her like gay marriage and other social issues. Looking back, I realize my attempt to con a political moron into being empathetic to liberal causes was doomed from the start when I found out her parents listen to Fox News while doing her laundry and packing her lunch. A few weeks later, the omnipresent Facebook alerted me her conservative political views.

Whether my friend asked her parents the same question she asked me or if she placed Brookfield on a map of Wisconsin and was dazzled by the beautiful shades of red, I don’t know. How did she come to the conclusion she was conservative, and what could change that, if anything? Is party id too sticky to touch?

ABC is attempting to sex up party identification and the idea of family inheritances with the new show Brothers and Sisters. I have to agree that party identification is kind of sexy, but I digress.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Good Blog Action

I've been active in the blog scene and deserve an A. This has been a very intersting and, in many ways, exciting part of class for me. I really try to write about sexy political issues that make anyone (left, right, up, or down) think. I'm thankful that it's election year and the class is on parties because you can pretty much relate all political issues to parties in this country.

I want to work on not isolating people by the political things I say. This is for me generally in life because I have the worst problem of calling out certain demographics (white males from Milwaukee suburbs) in bars, and my friends get mad at me. Blogging is a great place to practice my diplomatic approach to issues I feel strongly about.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Evidence of how America's two parties are both wide-ranging and all about getting votes comes in many forms. One example that the Time article we read shows very clearly is the "don't ask don't tell" philosophy Republicans have about their gay members and office holders.

despite the fact there are probably countless gay Republicans, Cheney's daughter came out of the closet, and the whole Foley thing- there are repeated attacks, legislation, and gay marriage issues on ballots. Why? Well, mobilizing strong partisan voters on the right means going for the religious.

This trend also speaks volumes about the importance of voter mobilization. It's about keeping that good taste in their mouths, or having it be so bitter toward the other side.

Don't worry about pages, or concern yourself with gay members. The article brings up a great example about how the Democratic party tried to have southern segregationists and northern civil rights activists at the same time.

"There has been no institutional rule, means, norm or tradition that cannot be set aside to advance a partisan political goal," How awesome is the motivation of winning elections? -political scientist Thomas Mann

Thursday, October 05, 2006

What would a mandatory turnout mean for parties?

In an article by Wattenberg, Where have all the Voters Gone? (article), he discusses reasons for the United States' low turnout. One simple suggestion to this problem is to require people to participate. They do it in Austraila and achieve up to 93% voting rates.

There are many issues that would have to be addressed before it would be a reality in the US, one of them being if it would hold up in the Supreme Court with charges against the First Amendment, but I am wondering what this would do effect political parties.

I would think that a focus would be more on education rather than mobilization of the electorate. To the politically illiterate in this country, there would be the problem of, what they call down under a "donkey vote." This is just hap-hazardly voting for anyone because of lack of knowledge or lack of concern. This would indefinately be an issue for the United States given our ballots are harder than some standardized tests.

It seems to me that a mandatory vote would help out the Democratic party. In theory only, I guess. Reasoning only being that the educated and wealthy are already casting their votes at a much higher level and tend to be more conservative. If 93% of the nation would vote, where would the extra 40% of the votes go?

I think this is would be a good thing for turnout. It would be a total shift in the political culture as a whole. Campaigns, parties, and policy would be forced to changed as people would be forced to vote.