Saturday, November 15, 2014

Huh!? How's That?

There is a phrase I keep hearing in the media and reading in the news and for the life of me, I cannot parse what they are saying. The words alone are pretty clear but the meaning of the phrase is completely beyond me. The phrase I keep hearing is “Throw the bums out.”

All through the run-up and throughout the aftermath of the election the pundits have been telling us how “…mad the electorate is at the gridlock in congress…” and how this election is delivering (or has delivered) a “throw the bums out” message to Washington. I have no idea what this phrase means in this context.

I know that colloquially, the phrase “throw the bums out” means to oust the actual (or perceived) unproductive group. Usually, this phrase applies to a group as a whole – but has some usage for individual members of the group.

So why is it that pretty much every election for the past decade-or-so has been labeled as a “Throw The Bums Out” election when the successful defense of incumbent seats runs somewhere between 80% and 95% during that same period!?

On what planet does the media reside!? Where can a few senators and a hand-full of congressmen losing their jobs constitute “throwing the bums out?” Interestingly, one report that I heard this morning came CLOSE to the truth but just missed the mark! (Or, as Maxwell Smart would have put it: “…missed it by just THAT much!”)

On NPR this morning one pundit talked about the dissonance of the electorate sending Republican senators and representatives to Washing while also support Minimum Wage initiatives; something that the Republicans have provided long, strong, and vocal opposition to. This pundit chalked-it-up to people being dissatisfied with the ability to progress in the jobs they have – or change to the jobs they want. But even that explanation rings hollow and runs contrary to Ockham’s Razor. It is unnecessary to guess at what mechanism might be causing a counterintuitive result to the elections.

There is a very simple and obvious explanation that does not require any guessing at the motivations of the electorate. It requires only the view of two variables. The first is the Gerrymandering of the map into unassailably safe seats. The second is that the obscene amount of money spent getting people elected has all but killed the small remaining democratic process that remained.

You doubt me? Look at the case of Michael Grimm. Do you remember when even the whiff of scandal all but invalidated a candidate? Michael Grimm is under a 20-count Federal Indictment and yet – he still got himself re-elected to his seat in congress.

The races in the so-called “battleground states” were awash in half-truths and outright misinformation on all sides of the races – why? Well, because of the Supreme Court’s “One Dollar Equals One Vote” (also known as ‘Citizens United v the Federal Elections Commission’) ruling.

The belief that these things are not in play here is pure fantasy. Our democracy has been sold out from under us. Why? That is the topic for another day.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you are having a day well grounded in reality.

Don Bergquist – November 15, 2014 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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