I was going to do an election post, but like everyone else, I’m pretty sick of the election. I just can’t finish it. Instead, I’ll post a conversation with a friend that discusses a lot of the topics I wanted to cover anyways.

Laïka: supposing a two-party system, voting blocks will ultimately/inevitably split up almost evenly
Laïka: ie, that it’s really no coincidence that our elections always seem almost even
Laïka: the basic justification i could come up with was that with a two party system, both parties are incentivized to set their platforms to target specific groups to form majority coalitions
Laïka: and that most of the concurrence on issues outside what’s important to those groups stems from sociological effects of party identification
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: well, i think the conditions for winning are pretty important
Laïka: that’s a good point
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: you need that 50.1%, and when you’re in a two-party system, which our voting method guarantees
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: the only contender to the 50.1% is the 49.9%
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: so you could have a relatively homogenous voting population to start with
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: but over time the two parties will seek every possible way to create a compelling dichotomy between the two
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: that said, i do think there’s grains of truth to stereotypes about liberals and conservatives and there does seem to be some reflection of basic value systems
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: so i wouldn’t say it’s entirely arbitrary, systemic, or sociological
Laïka: woah new google results page
Laïka: anyway
Laïka: mostly i read something earlier that stated, basically, pundits pick candidates based on their stance on abortion and then write entire columns making “the case” for them
Laïka: and i wondered which, if any, of my supposedly deeply held political convictions were actually ancillary to some specific cause
Laïka: that caused me to identify with a party/set of values/belief system
Laïka: and that if people are actually single-issue voters than it’d be trivial for parties to build, uh
Laïka: alliances or whatever, the common word escapes me
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: growing up i remember talking to my dad about abortion specifically as it relates to politics, and his stance was exactly what you might imagine
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: he knew people in the church that “justified” their votes toward democratic candidates by pointing out that more social support leads to fewer abortions overall
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: but he felt that he could only be morally genuine by voting based on principle
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: if approaching any kind of conversation like that weren’t such a shitshow i’d love to return to it having the absurd quantity of statistics i know now about how abortion rates don’t even go down when it’s illegal
Laïka: i wonder if your dad (just as an example) thinks that romney would be better for the economy
Laïka: my guess is that he does, even if he can’t articulate why
Laïka: especially* if he can’t
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: he’s against Obamacare too
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: basically every typical conservative position, which i’m sure has a lot to do with my parents’ continued consumption of Fox News
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: which i think brings up the other part of the two-party dynamic, that being the role of narrative
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: if nothing else, Fox News does a really good job of driving the conservative narrative in America
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: Nate sent me an article after the Biden debate, about the Hack Gap, which maybe you’ve heard of
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: the thesis basically being that liberals don’t have people that are willing to just push the party line even when things are not quite what they want them to be
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: as evidenced by the freak-out after the first debate, even though Obama really didn’t do that badly
Laïka: interesting
Laïka: i wonder if that’s a reflection of the underlying belief system
Laïka: yielding to evidence rather than promoting prior judgment
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: i think that’s one aspect where the stereotypes are more right than wrong, in that liberals by definition are more anti-authoritarian
Laïka: it’s like the whole nate silver demonization
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: which is one feature of the narrative that Fox has tried to co-opt in the Obama years, painting Obama as Orwellian, the conspiracy theories about FEMA camps, the sudden interest in civil liberties despite the fact that it was Bush that started the worst of it
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: like, i see this a lot in my facebook feeds, my conservative friends and friends-of-friends dropping quips about how Obama is establishing a police state
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: so i think although there’s certainly voters that so long as a candidate is anti-abortion, they’ll still vote for him, the larger strategy seems to be to craft a narrative that connects all of those things together simultaneously
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: which is how being “un-American” became the worst thing anyone could call you
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: it’s the whole narrative summed up in one word
Laïka: the whole false equivalence of social and economic policy is really strange to me
Laïka: it affects liberals as much as conservatives, too
Laïka: like, obama has some really stupid positions on economic issues (lol manufacturing jobs)
Laïka: which is certainly pandering to a specific subgroup, yet even some smart liberals act like it’s a critical policy goal
Laïka: i wonder what the actual reason why i’m voting for obama is
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: well, hasn’t it been shown that what candidates say in regards to economic policy – particularly during elections – has little to no reflection of actual policy?
Laïka: probably
Laïka: my hope is that if romney wins (he won’t) that he actually turns out to be a closet keysian and runs up the deficit
Laïka: keynesian rather
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: http://gawker.com/5957733/romney-supporters-in-ohio-explain-why-their-candidate-deserves-to-win
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: but yeah, obama isn’t perfect, and i’m sure after all this is over it’s gonna be back to groaning at stuff
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: but all in all i’m pretty happy
Laïka: so i like to have laughs at republicans for being anti-intellectual and rejecting scientific inquiry, eg polling data, if it doesn’t support their world view
Laïka: but i wonder what the equivalent of that is on the other side
Laïka: if it’s really just as simple as lampooning any idea that’s not self-evident
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: well, that’s the tough part
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: because a lot of people will see “obama is a communist” and “romney is a corporate sellout” as being equivalent statements
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: that being, equally ridiculous/partisan/whatever
Laïka: i guess i’m not really comfortable judging it as purely enlightened vs ignorant
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: and i don’t think anyone should
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: but ultimately you kind of have to make a choice about what you think is correct and incorrect
Laïka: that’s the thing, like
Laïka: i can make a relatively broad generalization that supports most of my political views, based on science and social progress
Laïka: i want to feel like there’s a respectable opposing force that is equally intellectually grounded
Laïka: which morality-by-fiat and rejection of science simply isn’t
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: well, that’s the other thing that bothers me about public perception of politics
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: barack obama probably manages to represent me on 55-60% of the issues i care about
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: maybe even as low as 40%, since i’m already pulling numbers out of my ass
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: but romney’s down there at 10%, maybe less
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: i’m sure a third party candidate exists that i could write in that would get me up to 90% and beyond, but they’re not going to win, ever
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: and i’m not going all-or-nothing
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: politics, both for voters and for politicians, is the art of compromise
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: doing it as efficiently as possible to generate the greatest utility
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: i guess, for me, the utility part is what keeps me confident in my beliefs
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: people don’t have to like any of the policies that i support, because i know that if i’m right, eventually they’ll shut the fuck up and accept that it’s better
Laïka: i also tend to see at least a majority of my positions as being inevitable
Laïka: i wonder if that’s universal
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: i think that’s a trait of consciousness
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: like, go read something you wrote 6 months or a year ago
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: most of the time you find things you don’t quite agree with, decisions you’d make differently now
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: with the really bad stuff it’s hard to read because you wonder how you were so stupid, but those aren’t things you’d have been able to conclude at the time
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: point being, i think it’s inevitable for a given moment in time
Laïka: is that at conflict with the sentiment that “the country is going down the drain”? do the same people hold both views?
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: i think that’s just a reflection of how much of our perspective is self-generated/projected
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: like, what you have there is pessimism + a narrative that says obama is ruining the country
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: as much as i don’t like romney, if pressed i don’t think he would be the sole undoing of america
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: two terms might be pretty bad, in the same way that bush was bad
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: it’s a step further in a negative direction, but unlikely to be something that couldn’t be undone
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: but humans are so fucking bad at prediction
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: what does going down the drain even mean
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: this isn’t the roman empire
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: there are no huns at our doorstep
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: (however much we might like to draw that metaphor)
Laïka: virtually every time i hear that phrase used it’s from a christian value voter
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: i remember when i used to watch fox, i think this was back in 2003 when the iraq war started, they were interviewing people at an iraq war protest
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: and some middle-aged woman was crowing about how bush was worse than saddam hussein or stalin
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: and while i find that statement slightly less ridiculous than whatever youtube gold we get from this election
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: it’s not all that much better
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: certainly not in touch with reality
Laïka: i’m looking at this pew poll internals for religion and the only 3 categories are “protestant,” “catholic” and “unaffiliated”
Laïka: i expect that the us will have a plurality of atheists by the time i die, and i wonder what the two party compositions will look like then
Laïka: without such an easy crutch for parties to go after
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: who the fuck knows, given the upcoming hispanic majority
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: demographics are going to change so much, and i’m hesitant to say that religion will be politically irrelevant even by the time we die
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: given that catholicism still carries some weight in hispanic communities
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: which is thankfully not nearly as toxic as neoevangelical politics today
Laïka: i think as the overwhelming majority starts to shrink, it becomes much less of an opportunity to draw distinction
Laïka: so even if it’s still not irrelevant, it seems like it would become a less important factor in party affiliation
Laïka: i’m sure that’s an optimistic view though
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: well, that’s also the double-edged sword of a multi-party system
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: i remember a few years back, my friend in the netherlands talking about how the neo-nazi party had just acquired seats in parliament
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: which is something that wouldn’t happen in a 2-party system
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: and it might just be a few seats, but it’s far from irrelevant once they’re in the building
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: hm, you mind if i post this on the blog?
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: i was going to write an election post
Laïka: go ahead
ALL NATURAL TOMFOOLERY: but this is way easier

6 thoughts on “electune”

  1. “the absurd quantity of statistics i know now about how abortion rates don’t even go down when it’s illegal”

    Talk about pulling numbers out of your backside, or just being gullible. Please.

    At the time of Roe v. Wade ca. 1973, when abortion on demand was illegal in fifty states, the pro-abortion claim was tens of thousands of illegal abortions per year, with the implication that this was a big number. That number has been shown to have been also pulled out of someone’s backside and to be high, but the real point is that if the actual number were higher the pro-abortion proponents would not have used the lower number of 10k. Post Roe v. Wade the abortion rate has been has high as four thousand per *day* i.e. a million and a half per year (something like fifty or sixty million since 1973), over two orders of magnitude greater than when it was illegal.

    68.9 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot, and your sources are apparently no different.

  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/world/12abortion.html?_r=0

    “‘We now have a global picture of induced abortion in the world, covering both countries where it is legal and countries where laws are very restrictive,’ Dr. Paul Van Look, director of the W.H.O. Department of Reproductive Health and Research, said in a telephone interview. ‘What we see is that the law does not influence a woman’s decision to have an abortion. If there’s an unplanned pregnancy, it does not matter if the law is restrictive or liberal.’

    In Uganda, where abortion is illegal and sex education programs focus only on abstinence, the estimated abortion rate was 54 per 1,000 women in 2003, more than twice the rate in the United States, 21 per 1,000 in that year. The lowest rate, 12 per 1,000, was in Western Europe, with legal abortion and widely available contraception.”

  3. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html

    “Since 2003, the number of abortions fell by 600,000 in the developed world but increased by 2.8 million in the developing world. In 2008, six million abortions were performed in developed countries and 38 million in developing countries, a disparity that largely reflects population distribution.

    A woman’s likelihood of having an abortion is slightly elevated if she lives in a developing region. In 2008, there were 29 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years in developing countries, compared with 24 in the developed world.

    The overall abortion rate in Africa, where the vast majority of abortions are illegal and unsafe, showed no decline between 2003 and 2008, holding at 29 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age.”

  4. comparing the “rate per 1,000 women of childbearing age” between countries, without quoting the relative pregnancy rate, says nothing. lies, damn lies, and statistics (pulled from the backside).

    and don’t expect anyone to believe what guttmacher says. they are more biased than Faux News.

  5. Guttmacher’s studies undergo blinded peer-review. Don’t know what more you can ask for. If you can’t indicate significant flaws in their methodology or clear biases in their analysis of data, you’re just operating from your own presuppositions.

    Yes, I agree that a more comprehensive demonstration of the relationship between abortion legality and abortion rates would require a lot more data – but this post isn’t about abortion and I don’t have an interest in getting into a lengthy dialogue about abortion right now. You accused me of being gullible and making numbers up, so I provided two separate, reliable sources to back my position up because I want you and my other readers to know that I don’t just make things up. I take pride in using rigorously collected, accurate data to support my positions.

    One of these days I’ll do a more comprehensive post on abortion. For now, I’d ask that you extend me the semblance of respect that you might towards someone you’ve known for 14 years. You accuse me of intellectual fraud and assume that I have nothing but bias and presupposition behind my perspective. It’s clear that my position offends you, so I don’t blame you for getting a bit touchy – but you can’t just label every number that doesn’t match your worldview as a lie. That’s not intellectually honest, it’s not constructive debate, and it’s not the way friends engage one another.

  6. Fair enough. I apologize.

    The connection between those statistics and your point is still dodgy. But it’s a sideshow and I should not have gone down that path.

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