Report from a battleground state

We live in Virginia, which has been named a battleground state, a crucial source of lots of electoral votes that could go either way.  So we denizens of that state–sorry, Commonwealth–are being subject to lots of campaigning.

Every time we turn on the television, say, to watch a ballgame, virtually every commercial break includes an ad for Barack Obama.  These are just hammering Mitt Romney and are effectively made.  To be sure, some of them are ludicrous, repeating long-refuted charges that even liberal fact-checkers have debunked, such as Mitt Romney being responsible for businesses outsourcing jobs to China.  One Obama commercial is all about how Romney will raise your taxes!  Not on the basis of anything Romney has proposed but simply because Democrats are saying that “he would have to” raise middle class taxes to pay for his economic plan.  Obama attacking Romney for raising taxes!  But we don’t see any Romney commercials answering those charges or refuting those claims or taking the Democrats to task for their bogus ads.  There are actually relatively few Romney ads at all, and they are mostly bland and unmemorable.  The one that sticks out the most is a super-Pac spot that consists mainly of elderly small business owners carping about President Obama in a crotchety but not particularly inspirational way.

What the Romney campaign is doing in Virginia is robo-calls.  Last weekend, I got four in one hour.  Recorded calls featuring Mike Huckabee or someone else exhorting me to vote for Romney.  I hate robo-calls.  Even when they are on behalf of someone I might support.  They are an intrusion, an interruption of whatever I am doing, an annoyance.  Let me ask you:  Do you or anyone you know appreciate getting robo-calls?  Do any of you bother to so much as listen to them completely?  Don’t you hang-up as soon as you realize the call is a recording?  Do they make you more likely to vote for the candidate who is subjecting you to these things?  I have the sense that every time the robo-calls for Romney go out, thousands and thousands of Virginia voters are turning against him.   Which triggers more and more robo-calls for Romney.

An Obama volunteer knocked on our door.  He was an elderly gentleman, actually, but quite enthusiastic.  He said that he had a grandson who was going to college and that President Obama was making it possible.  He said that Obama started the Pell grants.  Uh, no, my wife explained.  Pell grants started in 1965.  We, nearly as old as he was, got Pell grants.  But that didn’t phase him.  He said Romney would ruin America, and we’ve really got to re-elect Obama.

No Romney volunteer has knocked on our door.  Does he even have volunteers?  Or just paid workers and party loyalists?  I haven’t come across any.

I live in a battleground state, but it seems like only one side is battling.

Look who’s waging the culture war

Christian conservatives and Republicans in general have been criticized for waging the so-called “culture wars,” making political issues out of  abortion, gay marriage, and other divisive moral issues.  But now it’s the Democrats who are raising those divisive issues.

At the Republican National Convention, hardly anything was said about abortion or gay marriage.  But at the Democratic National Convention, speakers wouldn’t shut up about the goodness of abortion and gay marriage.

It sounds like both sides believe being pro-life and pro-traditional marriage are losing propositions.  The Democrats apparently think they can win voters by emphasizing the Republicans’ official stance on these issues.

Are they right? Have conservatives lost the “culture wars”?  Or are Democrats over-reaching?  Should Republicans be more assertive about their usual pro-life, pro-traditional-family stand?  Or would that doom their chances and put the Democrats in power?

Romney’s big night

The Republican convention–after a bunch of testimonials from Olympic athletes, businesses saved by Bain Capital, and others about what a good person Mitt Romney is–wrapped up with rambling musings by Clint Eastwood, an impressive speech by Marco Rubio, and then the presidential candidate’s acceptance speech.

What are your thoughts on the last night of the convention and especially Romney’s speech?  Do you think the convention succeeded in its stated goal of introducing Mitt Romney to the American people?  And of humanizing him?  Will the convention prove to be a successful infomercial for the Republican party?

Next week, starting Tuesday, will be the Democrats’ turn.  I hear it will be a veritable abortion-fest.  Expect to hear from a college student at a Catholic colleges whining for her right to free birth control, from teacher union leaders praising our public schools, from in-your-face gay activists, from Obamacare fans, and from would-be comedians mocking conservatives, moderates, creationists, gun-owners, and the general public in general.  Democrats, especially when they play to their base, sometimes over-reach.  They think they are populist, but they are not, and they may come across in ways they do not intend, putting off more voters than they attract.  But we’ll see.

Convention or conventional?

After my cataract surgery, I was told that reading might be hard, but that I should be able watch TV.  As if that was supposed to make me feel better!  So while convalescing I caught up on Netflix and then finally slipped back into my long-held tradition (or is it betrayal) of watching the political conventions.  (My custom, engrained into me from childhood, is that I should watch both of them.)  So last night I tuned into the GOP speeches.

Quick review, because I can’t see very well to type:  The speech by Ohio’s Rob Portman was not very good–he would have been a disaster as the vice presidential candidate, as he was widely expected to be.  Mike Huckabee did well.  Then Condoleeza Rice gave an outstanding seminar on our foreign policy woes.  Followed by New Mexico governor Susana Martinez, the Hispanic woman who acquitted herself well as a rising star in the Republican party.  Finally, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan gave an outstanding speech, showing strong promise as a campaigner, as well as an intellectual bright light.  (The vice presidential debate between him and Joe Biden should be especially fun.)

Are any of the rest of you watching the convention?  Or do you have to be laid up from an operation to do so?  What observations do you have?

Rudy Giuliani has said that Republicans have a better and deeper “bench” than the Democrats do.  Do you agree?  Who are the upcoming potential stars?   This will be a good thing to watch for in the Democratic convention also.  Who are the upcoming Democratic stars?  Are they centrists, leftists, or do they  have some new ideas?

Republicans postpone convention

Good thing we don’t believe in omens.  (Or do we?):  The Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, was supposed to start today.  It’s been postponed until Tuesday, for fear that Tropical Storm Isaac might turn into Hurricane Isaac, which may very well wreak havoc in the Sunshine state and with Republican convention plans.

Republican National Convention reworking schedule because of Tropical Storm Isaac – The Washington Post.

On voting for a third party candidate

In a comment on the “It’s Romney” post, which sparked a discussion on whether voting for a third party candidate is “throwing your vote away,” Todd made an interesting and rather compelling argument that I think deserves a post of its own:

I feel like the people who mock third-party candidates are akin to those who play chess by refusing to consider anything but the current move. That is to say, they rule out any long-term strategy by focusing solely on the short term. I.e. “What is the best move you can make now to improve things immediately after that move?” But, of course, that isn’t always the best strategy, either in politics or chess.

In the world of economics, we speak with our purchases. You can hate on McDonald’s all day long, mocking them to your friends and on Facebook, but if you still eat there, if you still pay them, McDonald’s doesn’t really care.

It’s the same with politics. To the degree that political parties and politicians hear anything from the average person, they hear our vote (I’m cynical enough to realize that what they really listen to is money, but that’s a different topic). So if you go on and on in blog comments about how Romney isn’t all that conservative, he wasn’t the best possible candidate, and so on … and then you still vote for Romney, here’s what the Republican Party will hear: you liked Romney.

Don’t be too surprised, then, if you get more candidates like Romney in the Republican Party. Because they know that, even though you claim to like fiscal (or whatever) conservatism, you’ll still vote for the Republican, regardless. There’s no market force, as it were, to push the party in the direction of actual fiscal conservatism — they’ll get what they want from you, either way.

Yes, denying them your vote and voting third-party might lead to a temporal gain for the other major party you really don’t like. But, if the third-party votes are significant enough — if the GOP sees that it can’t actually count on your vote no matter how lousy the candidate — then they might actually have to deal with that by straightening up their act.

Such a chastened party might then actually run a candidate you approve of. But you’d have to play the long game to find out.

And most voters refuse to play the long game.

First of all, do you agree, and, if not, how would you answer him?  Second, what ARE some third parties with candidates that might be worth voting for?  I know of the Libertarians, the Greens, and the Constitution Party.  Can anyone speak to their candidates, or have they been chosen yet?  I heard Roseanne Barr is running for the Green Party nomination.  When voting to make a point, do the candidates matter since you don’t have to worry about their actually getting elected?  And are there some better third parties than those?  (And by my count, there are more than three.)  Is there a Distributivist Party, a Monarchist Party, a Two Kingdoms Party?  I realize that if such parties exist, they aren’t likely to get on the state ballot.  There is that bi-partisan party whose candidates will be selected via the internet.   If any of you are sold on some other party, feel free to make your case.