this discussion is really the key.
if we want to break the duopoly in congress and those parties’ hold on the presidency, the change needs to be at the grassroots level.
i’m imagining a wildfire on a prairie. there is a wind. the fire starts in one spot. the wind takes an ember and it starts in another. as the fire burns and spreads both where it is burning and to new spots from where it burns, our existing ‘leaders’ will call in what they see as the appropriate institution to control it.
it is at this point, the fire is at real risk. it needs to heighten its burn intensity. it needs to find new sources of fuel. if it can do this, it can push back the fire fighters, it can continue to spread to new areas.
and what happens after a fire? new life blossoms.
americans elect shooting for the presidency is shooting themselves in the foot. grassroots is where it starts. community is where committment is shown, where trust is built, where character is shown
People don’t independently make up their minds on who to vote for. When we decide who we are voting for, we look to who people around us are voting for. Who do we respect? Who do we generally agree with? Who is that person supporting? We all do this. We might listen to another politician, a newspaper editorial board, a non-profit, a pastor, a family member, a union leader, a coworker, a friend, some guy on the internet whose opinions are reasonable, or some combination of these.
The idea that individual voters will change their minds on who to vote for because some candidate checks the right boxes on some survey of “the issues” fundamentally fails to understand how people make important decisions. This is why Americans Elect failed so thoroughly.
This is okay. The idea that every single American sits down and makes a totally independent decision bases on their views of the candidates positions and qualifications is quaint, but both unrealistic and undesireable. First, the amount of time it would take to do properly is staggering. Second, most of us would be bad at it. We can barely handle algebra—let alone macroeconomic policy. Getting advice from somebody we trust is good policy.
Elections are won by attracting enough blocks of voters of various sizes. If you can attract enough and large enough blocks of voters, you can win an election. This is also why political ads have diminishing returns after a point. The people who are most influential in elections are unlikely to be influenced by them.
“The issues” are just another variety of identity politics. Our stances on wedge issues are as much markers of identity as anything else. “I want guns in National Parks” is really just a way of emphasizing, “I’m on team NRA.” The result is things like this Chick-fil-A debacle where decisions on which fast food sandwich to eat become a major marker of political alignment.
There is always room for realignment—and nobody is wholly wedded to one group or another. But I think shifts in political affiliation have a lot more to do with shifts in whose authority we take more seriously than they do with our changing assessment of various political party’s platforms.
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