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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, September 07, 2012

Curio City Endorses...

The conventions are over and, even though the debates are still ahead of us, I've seen enough to step out of my usual rut and venture a political post. Short of a dramatic development like the outbreak of war with Iran, nothing's going to change the stark choice ahead of us. 

State-based voter registration makes it harder than you’d think to find out how many US citizens are registered to vote. 150 million is a good guess. About 60% of them typically vote in a presidential election year, for 90 million likely voters. Pundits say that 5% of likely voters, or 4.5 million, are still undecided. Ten swing states, more or less, will decide the election, so let’s say that 20% of those undecideds actually count; 900,000 people out of a population of 315 million will choose the president.

This post is for them.

Let’s get two things straight: First, it’s not the economy, stupid. Historically, it takes six to eight years for the economy to de-leverage and restructure after a financial collapse. Prosperity will gradually return between 2014 and 2016 regardless of who’s in the White House, and neither party’s economic plans will affect that very much.

Second, neither party can reduce the budget deficit, although both of them claim that they will. It’s simply not possible to cut spending or raise taxes in any major way without sinking the fragile recovery, and both parties know that.

I’ll approach my endorsements with a simple version followed by a really simple version at the end. Skip down to the tl;dr (that’s “too long; didn’t read”) version if you aren’t interested in political pontificating.

The simple version 

As already explained, the economy and the federal budget are sideshows to deflect attention from two momentous struggles that are taking place: The class war and the culture war. These conflicts have been intensifying for decades and the middle class is losing. The presidential contest is about class warfare while control over Congress determines the culture war. 

If you live in a swing state, your own social class defines your best choice for president. If you are already in the top 5% or you’re trying to get there, or if you believe that prosperity trickles down from the top and that what’s good for the rich is good for America, then Mitt Romney is clearly your man. He was born into money and has devoted his life to increasing it, and his deluge of billionaire campaign money shows that he is the candidate of the oligarchs. If you’re a five percenter or a wannabe, go ahead: Vote for Romney and unleash the billionaires! In an every-man-for-himself society, you’ll do just fine.

Obama is rich, too, and as beholden to campaign money as Romney. But Obama wasn’t born with a silver spoon and he knows that most of us struggle to get by. He works to restrain the worst gluttony of the ruling class and steer some scraps to the rest of us. If you’re among the 95% who will never be wealthy and you aren’t driven by money, or if you believe that America’s strength comes from a strong middle class, or if you simply believe that government should not belong to the highest bidder, then Barack Obama is your man.

If you do NOT live in a swing state (CO, FL, IA, NH, NV, OH, VA, WI), then you have no reason to back a major-party tool of the ruling class. You have the luxury of voting your conscience. If you genuinely like either Obama or Romney, that’s cool…go ahead and support them. But if you’re planning to vote for the lesser of two evils, vote for a none-of-the-above alternative instead and be heard. A third-party vote tells the plutocrats that you’re on to them. As somebody said, when you vote for the lesser evil you're still voting for more evil.

For President, Curio City endorses Jill Stein of the Green/Rainbow Party in the expectation that she will end the current Gilded Age with a new Progressive era. Stein is the choice for liberals who feel that Obama is a weak, centrist sell-out. For disaffected conservatives, the Libertarian Party will work for the anarchic social Darwinism that you admire. Whether you’re on the left or on the right, don’t throw your vote away on a corporate candidate as you’re expected to do. Neither Jill Stein nor Gary Johnson are indebted to huge donors, as both Romney and Obama are.

The presidential contest gets most of the attention, but the makeup of Congress matters more in the culture war. We don’t have the luxury of voting third party in congressional races because there are no swing states and safe states; every seat matters. 

If you’re a social Darwinist who thinks that science is a liberal conspiracy and the government is your enemy, or if you believe any of that Muslim/socialist tinfoil hat claptrap that the birthers and tea partiers like to repeat, then the Republicans are clearly for you. 

If you’re not crazy, you can still vote Republican if you’re fortunate enough to have a congressional candidate would resist that party’s platform and lean toward the center (like Scott Brown in Massachusetts). There’s a good tactical argument for supporting moderates who might keep the extremists in check and for making sure that your state has a voice in each party.

Choose a Democrat if the Republican in your district is a tea party-backed knuckle-dragging mouth breather, or if the prospect of a Republican-controlled Senate keeps you awake at night. Yes, the Democrats have moved steadily to the right and there are very few real liberals left, but they’re still usually better than the alternative.

For Congress in Massachusetts, Curio City endorses Elizabeth Warren as a bare-knuckled culture warrior who deserves to reclaim Ted Kennedy’s seat for the liberals. Sorry, Scott Brown. I understand the value in having a voice in the “enemy party” and yours is one of the more reasonable. Ultimately, though, your rhetoric is more independent than your voting record and preventing Republican control of the Senate is more important than resisting the right-wing takeover of your party. Even though you’re one of the “good” Republicans, your party’s platform is too radical to risk. 

Finally, if all of this makes your head hurt, please don’t vote at all. Leave it to those who are paying attention.

The tl;dr version

For president: Obama homebrews beer in the White House. Romney doesn’t drink. The choice is clearly Obama if you live in one of the few contested states where your vote matters. The rest of us should vote third party to reject the status quo. Vote for Jill Stein if you’ve had enough of the failed oligarchy behind both major parties, or vote for Gary Johnson if you want to dismantle government so that only the strong survive.

For Congress: Republicans are evil and Democrats are incompetent. Did you really need me to remind you? Since the Republicans already control the House and have a real shot at taking both the Senate and the White House, we need Democrats as a counterweight. There is no good reason to vote third party in congressional races because every state is a potential swing state.

And if you think this is all too complicated or you don't really care, don't vote.


  1. Anonymous1:30 PM

    An awesome and insightful analysis, Mr. Mayor. I disagree about the 95th percentile being a sensible breakpoint to start voting Republican out of economic self interest, though. This is currently about $167k/year, and these are not the people that Republican policies actually favor. Perhaps the top 1% (about $350k/year) should vote Republican, but it is only the top .01% (about $5.5M/year) that are big winners. A lot of people hope to become a 1%'er and support policies that favor them, but they are mostly voting against their own self-interest, as class mobility has been progressively decreasing as the oligarchs ever more efficiently remove all the money from circulation.

  2. I changed 1% to 5% at the last minute, without researching the actual dollar amount, because I think that "the 1%," being the Occupy slogan, makes a lot of people automatically tune out. Plus I speak as somebody whose personal income barely makes it into the teens and whose household income hasn't approached six figures since the Clinton administration...so my scale is unusually low.

    I agree that the Republican Party's success in frightening voters into opposing their own best interests is a mark of genius that I will never understand. Nobody who earns less than $250k should even entertain the thought of voting for Romney, and yet much of his party's base is poor and uneducated.

    BTW, I voted for Jill Stein over Mitt Romney for governor of MA in 2002, and I look forward to supporting her against him again 10 years later.


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