Why All Your Chads Should Hang to the Same Side

Remember the election of 2000, with Florida’s famous “hanging chads”?  I know a guy at work named Chad who’s had the nickname “Hanging Chad” ever since.  When someone calls him that, he sheepishly grins…but subconsciously swaggers like John Wayne.

Of course, the context of “hanging chad” in the fall of 2000 was the embattled ballot results in Florida — razor-thin (0.009%) in favor of George W. Bush over Al Gore.  The dispute came down to an intense court battle over, among other things, whether to count a vote on a punch card ballot whose “chad” did not fully detach.

Federal legislation in 2002 set new voting equipment standards and funded states to discontinue punch card machines.  (Sorry Chad, but your reputation has withered.)

Figuratively speaking, when you vote, do all your chads hang to the same side?  In other words, do you vote a straight Party ticket, or do you mix your votes ignoring the candidates’ Party affiliations?

In this article, I’d like to discuss some factors that may affect your thinking on this.

Establish your political anchor point…

There are many issues voters feel strongly about.  We expect candidates to disclose their position on each major issue.  Examples abound, including gun control, abortion, tax policy, military strength, foreign policy, worker unionization, energy policy, budget discipline, education, gay rights, environmental protection…these are only the tip of the iceberg of major issues that energize voters.

If you’re here reading this, you likely have an opinion on most major issues — some soft, some emphatic.  If not, I dare say you need to get off the fence, research them and take a position.  Also learn where the candidates on your ballot stand.  Same with the major political Parties – where do they formally stand on the issues?

…and then determine how you’ll vote

The pragmatic next step is to figure out which candidates and which Party align best with your beliefs.

You would be a very rare voter if your positions align 100% perfectly with one candidate or one of the major political Parties.  So you’re certainly going to be faced with making tradeoffs based on your priorities.

But watch out!  Politicians aren’t individuals…they’re kinda like the Verizon Network.  Here’s why.

Keep some high school Civics Class basics in mind

There are some quirky details about how the government gears turn that you should bear in mind to get the most benefit from your vote.

Executive branch: U.S. Presidents and state Governors carry out their ideological agendas via their

  • cabinet member nominations;
  • agency staff appointments;
  • budget policies;
  • judicial nominations;
  • foreign or regional policies;
  • signed or vetoed legislation; and
  • influence of voters’ opinions through public persuasion.

Legislative branch: U.S. and state Senators and Representatives carry out their ideological agendas through their

  • confirmation of judges, cabinet members, and agency heads;
  • committee and subcommittee legislation development;
  • treaty votes;
  • committee votes to promote legislation out of committee; and
  • final up or down votes on bills in the general assembly.

It’s critical for you to understand that these Executive and Legislative politicians aren’t solo performers.  They are very likely to act in close harmony with their Party’s vision and positions on particular issues.  Arms are twisted.  They won’t think twice about breaking campaign promises once in office if those promises weren’t in concert with their Party’s platform.

In addition, there is a VERY important fact about the Legislative branch that many voters don’t realize.  It affects virtually every aspect of American politics in some way:

Will your political goals be “sunflowers” or “mushrooms”?

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have rules about leadership and how daily business is handled.  The majority Party controls what will be debated and voted upon, and how lengthy and fair the debate is.  The majority Party elects someone to be the leader of that chamber — the Senate Majority Leader, and the Speaker of the House.  That person wields the gavel, setting the agenda for what legislation comes to the floor for action.  I can’t emphasize enough that this is a huge enabler for the majority Party.  It assures their agenda is at center stage during the two-year session, and their views are not squelched.

The same rule also applies to chairpersons of committees and subcommittees – they are also exclusively members of the majority Party.  All legislation that comes before the full Senate or House must first be introduced, debated, and voted on in committee.  The Senate and House each have 21 committees. Examples of the more important committees are:  Armed Services, Appropriations, Finance, Judiciary, Banking, Budget, Energy/Commerce, and Foreign Affairs.  Committee chairmanships are powerful and highly coveted positions with tremendous influence.

Can you see it’s vitally important for your Party to gain and hold the majority?  There is no more important single factor to care about than Party Majority.

When your Party is in majority, your goals will see plenty of sunlight.  When it’s in minority, your goals will be kept in the dark under the political poop pile.  Please see my article A Sports Fan’s Take on American Politics for additional perspective.

Bottom line

Like it or not, your vote carries side effects, due to the Party strings attached to the candidates you vote for.  Doesn’t matter if you and I wish politicians would act independently for us when in office.  Look, I wish I were taller and had a great outside jump shot and crossover dribble.  SO WHAT.

You choose:  Stand firmly on your personal principles and vote for individual candidates that mirror your image (ignoring their Party affiliation), but quite probably get less of what you want from government in the long run.  Or study the political chessboard, see the patterns and pragmatics that influence how the intricate game is played, and

Pick Your Party, Not Your Politician.

.

(photo credit)  (photo credit)

Acknowledgement to “Ken” in seat 35D on a flight from Orlando to Denver, who proofread this article for me.

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About Necessary and Proper

Jeff believes in the Individual's ability to excel when liberty and freedom of choice are protected. Also believes in the Community's ability to take care of the vast majority of its own issues and needs when the federal government leaves the Community's resources and sphere of control alone. State and local choice produce better results than centralized federal control. https://necessaryandpropergovt.wordpress.com/
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6 Responses to Why All Your Chads Should Hang to the Same Side

  1. BradsDrift says:

    This is what I see is wrong with our system. I’m forced to vote for an incompetent individual because the party is what I have historically chosen. It may be foolhardy from a worldly perspective but I refuse to vote for an individual that does not represent my ideals just because they happen to be from a certain party. If they are incompetent to perform their position – why would I think they are competent to choose the people that support them. All the more reason to vote for the best individual not the best party.

    It also seems interesting that this is the arguement coming from a very individualistic point of view. Ignore the individual even though weak and vote for the communal view because that is stronger.

    Individual vs communal importance and value is a very interesting thing…

    Thanks for the post!

    Like

    • Nice to hear from you, Brad.

      Yes, I believe in individualism regarding liberty, rights, and freedom for citizens…and I don’t agree with people who would make those unalienable rights subservient to collectivist goals. But you’ve merely found a coincidental inverse similarity between the words I use to describe my general philosophies on how people should be allowed to live, and my observations about how to get the most benefit for your vote given the way the gears of government turn under their current protocols and procedures for leadership. It is not a contradiction because it’s two different topics. One pertains to individual liberty in a free society, the other pertains to a pragmatic strategy applied to the government’s operational framework that’s run per a certain rulebook that neither you nor I can possibly change.

      You said “…I refuse to vote for an individual that does not represent my ideals just because they happen to be from a certain party.”

      Again, I assert that you may WISH that politicians that you vote for individually would then behave individually once they’re in office. Actually, I wish that too…really I do. But they simply don’t. Go ahead and pick the person, but you can’t deny that you get their Party too. And the Party and its platform/vision carry a lot more aggregate weight in the legislative and executive processes than the individual politician’s view.

      I could apply your same logic in a different way: “I refuse to vote against the Party that best represents my ideals just because a certain individual happens to hold some views contrary to my Party on a couple issues that I happen to agree with.”

      By the way, if your candidate and you agree on a LARGE number of issues that are contrary to your historically-chosen Party’s view, then that’s probably an indicator that you’re affiliated with the wrong Party.

      I’m’ curious about something…you’ve chosen the word “incompetent” as your theme rather than ideology that you agree or disagree with. To me, competence has to do with a proven track record of accomplishing one’s promised goals, or at least addressing those goals with a strategy that has a decent chance of working. Do you agree with that definition?

      – Jeff

      Like

  2. BradsDrift says:

    Hi Jeff!

    First, sorry for the misspellings in my first comment – I was waiting for an appointment and had to use my Blackberry!

    I understand what you are saying regarding individual vs collective – I just found the discussion ironic… “Come on folks, stand up for independence and join the collective!”. Just hit me funny.

    Yep – you’re right. I wish that the individuals I vote for would be able to stand for their ideals and not have to adopt a “Party Line”. We see the ineffectiveness of Congress when “important” or “controversial” bills are voted on – along party lines. So, as I said, that is what I see is wrong with our system. That may be too broad… I’m not sure – maybe multiple parties would change the dynamics… I just see that with two parties, it reinforces the fact that the Party is really the focus and not the candidate.

    I’ve been one that has decided to vote for a party because I agree substantially with the ideals of the party and have voted for candidates I didn’t like (whether it is incompetence, misaligned ideals, or whatever) or don’t know – even worse. I see the logic and validity in that. However, right now I feel that THE issue is not the economy, environment, energy, etc. I feel THE issue is leadership – in a sense of standing for the ideals even in the face of being ostracized. I also know that this may not be effective. I feel right now, most people strongly believe that the economy is THE issue. The focus on it with the intensity of the focus has abhorred me. In that vain, I’m going to vote for a candidate that represents my ideals and displays great leadership in the way I defined above – regardless of party and regardless of whether or not they are officially on the ballot.

    I know that to some, this act may seem foolish and much akin to trying to fill the ocean with a grain of sand, but there is no other way I know of to affect the radical thought changes needed to direct what I hope is the future of our nation.

    I said incompetence and for some candidates I believe that this is true (using the definition you used above). I probably meant something much larger and encompassing.

    Thanks for providing a space to think and be challenged!

    Like

  3. Good post! I don’t have a problem voting with all ‘chads’ pointing the same way. I understand the benefits of a party system (the Australian version at least) and although its frustrating, it is efficient – most of the time. What I don’t understand is why people vote for the same party year after year. People’s priorities, interests and opinions change frequently, yet they vote the same way they always have. If we really want to be ‘pragmatic’ in politics people need to look at the pros and cons of each party fairly at each election.

    Like

    • Luke, in the U.S., political parties themselves change very slowly, like over periods of 40-50 years. So, once an active political-oriented guy like me pegs exactly where his ideology stands relative to the two parties, it’s not hard to keep voting for the same party over the long haul. (Do party platforms change more quickly in Australia?)

      However, I do know some older folks who have voted Democrat all their lives, starting up to 50 years ago when even the Democrats were fiscally conservative. Nowadays, it defies logic why they still vote for Democrats, but these people who are very conservative financially in their personal life will vote for Democrats who eagerly borrow more and more money from our grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s future, to selfishly spend now.

      Your last sentence is very true (“If we really want to be ‘pragmatic’ in politics people need to look at the pros and cons of each party fairly at each election”), but that word “fairly” is tough for the average voter who apparently doesn’t know where to get unbiased information. They just believe the left-biased media, and vote superficially.

      Nice to hear from you. I hope you’ll stay in touch.

      – Jeff

      Like

      • It’s not that I think political parties change over time (they change just as slow in Australia as they do in America I imagine), but individuals and their needs change. For instance, someone born into a low socio-economic who relies on government education and funding would traditionally vote for progressive government (our equivalent of the Democrats is the Labor Party). If that same person were to go on to become a fairly affluent business owner, their interests and needs have changed and a more conservative government would perhaps better benefit them individually. Who we vote for depends on circumstance and circumstances change.

        And I definitely will! It’s good hearing about American politics from someone who lives there for a change.

        Like

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