Tag Archives: Voting

America…where have I been you ask?

ShrugEmoticon-1024x682This summer, updates to The MidWest Wing have been sporadic at best and I apologize for that. You might be asking – where has he been, is this place dying? The answer to the latter part is an emphatic NO. Answering the former will take a little longer though. In simple terms, I have been busy writing elsewhere for places that generate income. But there is more to it than just that. I have been struggling with what I want this place to be, to become? Where do I want to go? Do I want this to just be a place where I post news and come to vent or do I want to get back to my original goal?

When I started this blog a couple of years back I had reasoning. It has gone through a couple different names and a few different websites but the idea and motivation remain the same – to change America. I thought maybe I could be a news site, aggregating some overlooked stories and putting my spin on them. That is what my weekly columns all started out as. But then, frankly, they became bland and boring. They weren’t ME and it reflected in my writing. I was struggling each week to find something worthwhile and just picking stories that fit into a large bubble of being slightly topical to the assigned topic/state at hand on any given day. People should come here not to see the same stuff they can get anywhere else, The MidWest Wing should be a place where unique ideas are discussed, where interesting concepts are flushed out…NOT where the same political junk is rehashed and recycled or a place you read about something that might just as well appear on your local news. Continue reading

Hoosier Tuesday: Tully – Congressional hearings on Congress

Dirksen226It has been awhile since I sat down to write a Hoosier Tuesday column. Partly this is because politics in Indiana haven’t been all that newsworthy. There aren’t any competitive races, nothing with a national impact or appeal. But Matthew Tully’s column ends that dry-spell for us.

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Voter ID..ea

 

 

I Voted Today (But in Fitzwalkerstan It's Lost...

I Voted Today (Photo credit: Madison Guy)

 

With our latest election now in the rear-view mirror I thought it was an apt time to discuss the “voter ID..ea” (see what I did there).  Many liberals were up in arms in late October and early November in states that had so-called “strict” voter id laws (such as showing a driver’s license in order to vote) by saying this discriminated against the poor.  Conservatives on the other hand, were trumpeting the evolution of such laws as ways to cut down on voter fraud.  As if often the case, both sides have valid points.

 

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The GOP and the Debt Ceiling

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I found a recent column by Nate Silver at Five Thirty Eight very interesting and called it a “must read”.  In short summary it says that if “Republicans in the House insist upon zero tax increases, there is a larger ideological gap between House Republicans and Republican votersthan there is between Republican voters and Democratic ones.”  Initially, I found this quote upsetting – my party in Congress was being hi-jacked by the extreme.

…Then I realized something…

Yes, the average GOP voter feels that 26% of the funding shortfall should come from “tax increases” and the House GOP is saying that 0% can come from “tax increases”.  There are problems with this though – both in language and reality.

First off, of course the House GOP is going to say no to any sort of tax increases.  If they hold the hard-line on that then the Democrats (and President) need to come closer to them.  By holding the hardline, they are trying to guarantee that the needed spending cuts really do happen, rather than produce some sort of watered down version that doesn’t do anyone any good in the end.

There is also the question of exactly what “tax increases” means.  In a polling scenario, without further explanation, that term can mean many things to many people.  It can mean across the board increases.  It can mean targeted increases at certain sectors of the economy.  It can also just mean increased revenues through the closing of loopholes.  Heck, “tax increases” could actually even be actual tax rate reductions that increase the taxes of some who have been skirting the intent of the original tax laws.

So, while I greatly appreciate the work Nate Silver put into the article and find the number fascinating, his analysis could be off-target as he doesn’t explore the backstory – he just examines the polling data on its face.  That all being said, I think the House GOP conference needs to put a bit more of their faith in Rep. John Boehner, the Speaker of the House.  He is a seasoned leader and knows when the GOP should come off that hard-line of 100% spending cuts and 0% tax increases (whatever tax increases are).

QP: What if we chose NOT to “Get Out The Vote”?

I saw an article yesterday that sparked a thought – what if both parties just didn’t Get Out The Vote (GOTV)?  Each cycle both the Democratic and Republican Parties spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours on their GOTV efforts.  While these efforts can be multi-year endeavors they really focus on the last few days before an election (be it Primary or General).  They also include huge pushes for voter registration and absentee voting.  I understand what compels each side to do this – they want to win.  Republicans are not calling up people who profile as Democrats or Liberals to vote – they are calling Conservatoires and the opposite is true of the Democratic Party – they are calling their base to encourage them to show up on Election day.  I even take part in these activities, calling from my local party HQ to encourage others to register and vote – whether in person or via absentee ballot.  I sometimes wonder why though.  Why do we (we being political parties) spend millions on people we have to down right BEG to vote?  What would happen if we just let those who were naturally motivated to vote go ahead and exercise that right then let the rest of society deal with the repercussions?

QP: What if we chose NOT to “Get Out The Vote”?

I saw an article yesterday that sparked a thought – what if both parties just didn’t Get Out The Vote (GOTV)?  Each cycle both the Democratic and Republican Parties spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours on their GOTV efforts.  While these efforts can be multi-year endeavors they really focus on the last few days before an election (be it Primary or General).  They also include huge pushes for voter registration and absentee voting.  I understand what compels each side to do this – they want to win.  Republicans are not calling up people who profile as Democrats or Liberals to vote – they are calling Conservatoires and the opposite is true of the Democratic Party – they are calling their base to encourage them to show up on Election day.  I even take part in these activities, calling from my local party HQ to encourage others to register and vote – whether in person or via absentee ballot.  I sometimes wonder why though.  Why do we (we being political parties) spend millions on people we have to down right BEG to vote?  What would happen if we just let those who were naturally motivated to vote go ahead and exercise that right then let the rest of society deal with the repercussions?

Where to Cut – Defund Primaries

Ed: Hoping to make this a series examining areas that can be cut from budgets (city, county, state, nation) in order to curb our debt(s)

Having just emerged from the municipal primaries in Indiana it reminded me of a thought I had awhile ago, public funding of primaries is something that should be on the chopping block when we are looking to cut our state/county/city budgets.  This is not to say that primaries are a bad thing, in fact, far from it.  I just think that tax payers should not be funding something that is essentially a partisan exercise.  Doing away with primaries (as we know them) will allow our governments to reallocate those resources towards other funding needs and allow the parties to discover new ways to engage their constituencies.

While eliminating the primaries from our government ledgers may not save us a lot of money, every bit helps.  We don’t have to pay overtime for workers, don’t have to rent voting machines or pay for space, and allow for all of the extras that go along with the validation of an election.  Why should taxpayers foot the bill for the Republican Party and Democratic Party selecting their nominees for various offices in November?  While primaries in Indiana are “open” (anyone can participate – you don’t need to be registered in a party) many states have it so that you must be a registered member of a political party in order to participate.  Which means that in those states, tax payers are funding exclusionary activities.  I do not feel that the overall public is served by the primaries as we currently know them, rather they are fabrications created by the advent of our two political party domination.  With the current fiscal crisis the United State is enduring, I think we can use this opportunity to reform what amounts to a broken part of our election process.

Many states will hold a statewide convention every four years.  In some the purpose of this is just to serve as a political rallying point where all of the candidates can come together after the primary, while in others they use this as an opportunity to select the nominees for certain offices within their respective political parties.  What I think works well is the caucus method that is used in several states (most famously in Iowa though).  It is important that we have each party hold its proceedings on the same day to eliminate any sort of political gamesmanship – either on the party or individual level, a voter would then choose to attend the Republican or Democratic event where the voting could take place.  How a vote is cast is up for consideration – public yay/nay style, secret ballot with majority rules, or rounds of voting until a candidate meets a pre-set threshold.  While this method is time-consuming, it ensures that the candidates who hold the party doctrines most dear, do the best job of securing committed volunteers, and impassion the voters will be the ones who are elected within each party (editorial note on how the GOP should be careful not to run too far to the right and the Ds should be careful of the mirror effect).

Alternatively, computer systems are advanced enough these days that we could simply continue on with the tradition method of voting by just using the party HQs as a polling place with party staffers as poll workers.  While that is a simple solution, I still advocate the system above as it enhances the engagement in the election process rather than just punching or card or touching a computer screen.  Party platforms and individual planks could be discussed and resolved at that time; county parties would also become stronger on both sides by giving a true reason for supporters to come together.  Regardless of the initial system of ballot casting, I fully support the convention style system for selecting a party’s nominee if a clear winner is not chosen in the initial voting (if the candidate is not seeking an office that requires votes from outside the county, the caucus style format would take care of that issue).

As someone who is concerned both about the debt and about civic participation I just think this time in our history presents a unique opportunity to both remove an unneeded expense from our ledgers and develop a nationwide system that more fully engages the public through community efforts.