Election

SCOTUS Agrees to Hear McCutcheon v. FEC: Free Speech Update

James Earle Fraser's statue The Authority of Law, which sits on the west side of the United States Supreme Court building, on the south side of the main entrance stairs.

Our friends at Outside the Beltway clipped a Washington Post story that sets up a new look at decades-old campaign finance law by the nation’s high court, just three years after their landmark decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Washington’s paper of record reports:

The Supreme Court reentered the controversial field of campaign finance Tuesday, agreeing to consider a Republican challenge to decades-old limits on the total amount a person can contribute to candidates, political parties and political action committees.

It is the court’s first major campaign finance case since its 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allowed unlimited corporate and union spending in elections. By extension, the decision led to the creation of super PACs, whose multimillion-dollar donations transformed funding of the 2012 presidential contest.

Americans Say They Don’t Trust Their Government

A long time ago, I asked people “Why Do You Trust Your Government?” It appears I now have an answer: they don’t.

As Barack Obama begins his second term in office, trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high. And for the first time, a majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.

1-31-13 #1The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 9-13 among 1,502 adults, finds that 53% think that the federal government threatens their own personal rights and freedoms while 43% disagree.

In March 2010, opinions were divided over whether the government represented a threat to personal freedom; 47% said it did while 50% disagreed. In surveys between 1995 and 2003, majorities rejected the idea that the government threatened people’s rights and freedoms.

The growing view that the federal government threatens personal rights and freedoms has been led by conservative Republicans. Currently 76% of conservative Republicans say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms and 54% describe the government as a “major” threat. Three years ago, 62% of conservative Republicans said the government was a threat to their freedom; 47% said it was a major threat.

Libertarianism in 2012: Monster Gains at the Ballot Box

//creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps one of the biggest news stories in the world of libertarianism this year was former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson’s Libertarian Party record-breaking general election raw vote total of approximately 1.2 million popular votes. This figure wasn’t enough to clear a one percent threshold according to Reason’s Garrett Quinn, but the state by state gains over the Barr/Root ticket of 2008 were astounding. Libertarianism was and continues to be a thick strand in the sinews of the Tea Party movement, and it’s no surprise that a Libertarian Party candidate like Johnson, running against a progressive Democrat and an establishment Republican, garnered record-breaking numbers. Quinn, who followed Johnson on the trail for Reason during the last cycle, has an excellent piece on the future of the Libertarian Party in the December 2012 dead tree edition of the magazine. Here’s an excerpt:

Reflections on the 2012 Cycle

Excerpted from “How I Voted — 2012 Edition” at The Dangerous Servant.

vote

Obama won a large Electoral College victory, but he did not receive a mandate for his agenda

People more eloquent than I am (who probably had more coffee today than I did) have already made this point. I thought this tweet from left-of-center blogger Cory Doctorow summed things up pretty nicely:

When it’s a struggle for your most vocal supporters to root for you, that’s not a good sign about how effective you’ve been as a leader. To read more on how exactly Chicago pulled off this election, see thisTIME piece. That kind of attention to detail made the Obama reelection effort more nimble and better prepared to adapt to changing conditions on the ground, and it’s really no surprise (from an operative’s perspective) that they won.

Prime Time for Liberty Movement

Liberty Bell

How many of these post-mortem soundbites have you heard?

  • Where was the Tea Party this time?
  • All that campaigning from AFP and FreedomWorks wasn’t very effective.
  • Romney lost because people want free stuff.
  • Romney lost because people are uneducated.
  • Romney lost because of voter fraud.

I don’t know why Romney lost. I will leave that to smarter people than me to figure out. I will say, though, that there’s some truth in a couple of those sound bites and none in others.

The analyst in me says those things only matter to the extent we use that knowledge to win hearts and minds (and elections) in the next four years.

We have a golden opportunity right now in the conservative and libertarian movements. Don’t get me wrong, I am afraid for my financial future and the future of civil liberties (1st, 2nd, 4th Amendments for starters) after last night. But it’s the perfect time to regroup and define what I’m going to term the Liberty movement.

Liberty is a winning philosophy. It’s what America is built on. The current GOP loses because they’ve embraced judgmental social policies and haven’t differentiated themselves enough from the Dems on financial and big government-principles. A younger generation, the Paul Ryan generation of conservatives, holds a much more Liberty minded philosophy. It’s time for them to take over leadership positions on the right and start a massive education and outreach movement aimed at the 15 to 45-year-old demographic (and start a preschool and elementary school program too).

Election Eve Meditation

Cross-posted from The Dangerous Servant.

RomneyObamaCaricatures

I don’t like to make political endorsements and, on principle, I certainly don’t discuss my vote before an election (the protection a secret ballot offers me from harassment and intimidation only works if I keep my preference a secret). I was stunned to read in an email yesterday, “I had no idea high-information, intelligent undecided voters even existed!” You know, as if the choice between an underwhelming incumbent president, an underwhelming challenger, a list of names with no mathematical chance to win, and not voting at all is an easy one to make. If your only goal is to beat the incumbent, then your decision is easier than mine. I, however, don’t only want to beat the incumbent; I want to elect a president worthy of the exercise of one of my most sacred rights, the right to vote.

Why the new CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac polls are meaningless

I am not a poll truther, indeed when Romney was trailing in the polls and the trendline for him was bad in September, I warned conservatives to take those polls seriously and stop trying to claim that every poll was part of some secret plot to undermine Romney. That having been said, someone needs to explain to me how — according to the new NYT/CBS/Quinnipiac poll — Romney leads among independents in Virginia by 21 points but is somehow losing the state to Obama by 1 point. Is there a single sober person who has a turnout model for Virginia that would allow Obama to overcome a 21-point deficit among independents? I don’t think so. If Romney wins indies by 21 points on election night, he carries VA by 5 points.

In 2008, independents made up 27% of the Virginia electorate and Obama won them by 1 point en route to a 6 point win. NYT/CBS/Quinnipiac says Romney leads by 21 points among independents in Virginia today. Yet, somehow their poll shows Obama actually ahead in Virginia by 1 point. For the sake of argument, lets just pretend 2008 turnout turnout model, a model most analysts believe overstates Obama’s numbers, is the turnout model for Virginia in 2012. Even by the 2008 turnout model Obama simply can not lose independents by 21 points and win the state.

Its not just Virginia, in Ohio the Quinnipiac poll shows Romney ahead among indies by 6 but losing the state by 5 points. Again, if you assume the 2008 turnout model - the most advantageous to Obama as humanly possible - this simply defies logic. Obama won independents in Ohio in 2008 by 8 points, independents made up 30% of the Ohio electorate in 2008. If Romney leads independents in Ohio by 6 points, and even assuming the 2008 Obama super turnout model, how in God’s name is Romney losing by 5 points? Simply put, it is not possible.

Another Benefit from Citizens United: Political Letters from Companies to Employees


FEC logo

Last Friday, former FEC commissioner and chairman of the Alexandria, Virginia-based Center for Competitive Politics Brad Smith published an editorial in the Wall Street Journal on Koch Industries*** sending its employees letters about the upcoming presidential and congressional elections, and left-wing hysteria over those letters. Smith does a great job demonstrating why these types of corporate communications are good for employees:

A report released this week by the Business Industry Political Action Committee (Bipac) found that employees ranked their employer’s website as the most credible source of political information on the Internet, more than media sites or parties and candidates. Over 75% of the more than 500 respondents from a variety of industries indicated that employer-provided information was useful in deciding how to vote, and over a quarter said it made them more likely to vote.

This comes on top of past Bipac research showing that 47% of employees said that employer-provided information had “somewhat” or “strongly” increased their awareness of how various policy proposals affected their employers.

It should come as no surprise that employees want to know how government policies will affect their employers, and by extension their jobs. One might even argue that business leaders have an obligation to share with employees credible, accurate information on how public policies might affect the company.

CA Prop 30 - Using Students as Bait

Liberals are masters at messaging and manipulating the legislative process - and a great example of this is the campaign for Prop 30 in California - a “temporary” 1/4 cent increase in the state sales tax and 1% increase in personal income tax for those earning over $250,000/yr - those who can “most afford it,” a direct quote from the proposition.

First, we have the title: “The Schools and Local Public Safety Act of 2012.”  Instead of “Personal and Sales Tax Increase Act of 2012.”

Then the graphics and ads:

yes on prop 30

The hokey music, the wholesome looking school teachers, the all-American apple graphic - it’s all so feel-good! How can you possibly want to DENY these children the teachers that have been laid off over the past few years, the arts and music education?  If you do, you must be a vile human being.

What they’re not telling you:

Legislators have had ample opportunity to cut true wasteful spending, yet they cut things that would gain attention and empathy from the voters: schools and public safety. That way when they come, hat in hand, to ask for a sales tax increase, the understanding electorate will say, “But of course!”

Guess what? It’s still NEW funding.  Adding to what is there before.  If they cut Assembly member benefits or office staff or stopped spending so much on welfare or attempting to build bullet trains, no one would care. But they purposely axed teachers so they would have this excuse to prey on the emotions of low information voters and get what they really want - more money to fund their progressive agenda.

There Is No Libertarian Case For Mitt Romney

Romney

Stephen Green, PJMedia’s Vodkapundit, came out this morning with a post putting forward a libertarian case for Mitt Romney. I’ve seen several other people try to attempt to make this argument in the last several weeks, but they’ve all been conservatives trying to convince libertarians why they absolutely must vote for Mitt Romney rather than Gary Johnson on November 6th. Inevitably, those arguments, whether in the form of a blog post or a conversation on Twitter or Facebook end up devolving into the same ridicule and condescension one typically hears from conservatives directed at libertarians. A vote for Gary Johnson, they say, is a vote for Barack Obama, for example. Another common theme is to point out that the Libertarian Party doesn’t exactly have a record of electoral success, a fact which I concede but which I find completely irrelevant to the question of who I should consider voting for and why. They call you a Paulbot too, even though I was an enthusiastic backer of Governor Johnson’s bid for the Republican nomination and had pretty much had my fill of the Ron Paul movement way back in 2007. On the whole, the conservative argument to libertarians regarding the 2012 election has been dismissive, insulting, and based more on the false assumption that we want to be loyal Republicans. I’ve really grown quick sick of it, to be honest.

 


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