Deep Stupid

by

Hey, 2 in one week!

Today’s winner is Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC).

As you probably heard, the GOP had a bit of a problem in this week’s special election for the congressional seat from New York’s 23rd District.  The local GOP chose Dena Scozzofava as their candidate.  Meanwhile, a member of the Conservative Party — i.e., not the GOP — also decided to enter the race.

Things got weird when a lot of high-profile, movement-conservative GOP politicians trashed the GOP candidate, and backed the Conservative Party candidate.  These were people like Dick Armey, Sarah Palin, and, you guessed it, Jim DeMint.

As a result, the GOP lost the NY-23 seat . . . for the first time since before the Civil War.  And they didn’t lose it to the Conservative guy.  They lost it to the Democrat.

So now Sen. John Cornyn, who’s in charge of trying to win senate races for the GOP, is backing the less right-wing Republican in a California senate primary.  Jim DeMint, et al., have once again started trashing that candidate and backing the most right-wing candidate.

Asked to comment on this situation, Sen. DeMint said:

He [Cornyn] is trying to find candidates who can win. I’m trying to find people who can help me change the Senate.

I’m no insider to the senate’s labyrinthine ways, so can somebody explain to me how these people will help DeMint change the Senate if they can’t win election to the senate?

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32 Responses to “Deep Stupid”

  1. alsturgeon Says:

    Maybe helping him rearrange the furniture?

  2. urbino Says:

    Good point. That must be it.

  3. jazzbumpa Says:

    Hehehe –

    I did a DEEP STUPID on Michelle Malkin this week, based on the very same topic. There was even enough stupic left over to do a follow-up post.

    It would by more or less funny, kinda, sorta – but these idiots are dangerous.

    Cheers! (more or less)
    JzB the idiot ridiculing trombonist

  4. mrspeacock Says:

    Hmm… I take it from the comments that you do not vote for who you think would do the best job, but rather who you like the best out of the obvious contenders. I don’t necessarily subscribe to that philosophy. Perhaps that makes me deeply stupid, but I prefer to vote for someone I truly think will do a good job, not just the lesser of two evils.

    Of course, I realize that the best candidate may very well be a front runner. And if you’re a party line voter, then anything that takes away from your party’s candidate would be the opposite of what you want. But I’ve never been a party voter; I’m a person and policy voter.

  5. urbino Says:

    I’m not sure which “you” you’re addressing, Mrs.P, but I’ll see if I can respond.

    First, Jim DeMint is a U.S. Senator and very much a member of the Republican Party.

    Second, when you or I or anyone here votes, we’re voting on our own senator or representative (or what have you), not on somebody else’s.

    Given those two facts — the first one, especially — I don’t see how what one of us does in the voting booth and what Jim DeMint is doing in NY and CA are in any way comparable.

  6. mrspeacock Says:

    It’s comparable in that we’re both backing candidates that we believe in, not just the obvious front runner in our party.

    After McCain won the Republican nomination (and lost the election), all of these politicians came out of the woodwork saying how they should have backed Huckabee all along. He stood for what they stood for, but everyone kept telling them he didn’t have a chance, so they all backed McCain. And regretted it. Maybe some of that is at work here in reverse.

  7. michaellasley Says:

    Voting because of your conscience seems a good thing, sure, but DeMint says he’s trying to change the Senate while at the very same time he’s actively doing something that will prevent it from changing. Even if one is generous and thinks that’s what DeMint is actually doing (conscience-voting) — rather than, say, trying to make some bigger political statement and appeal to crazies and etc. — it makes absolutely no strategic sense. It’s the political equivalent of smoking in order to lose weight because you want to be healthier.

    There’s voting for who you believe in and then there’s wasting your vote. Kind of like people voting for Ross Perot. It’s a complete waste and other than trying to make a point, there is no defensible reason for doing it. But then there’s actively undercutting your party (which as a leader of the party, it’d seem you think is correct in its political platform, and even if you have problems with a particular candidate, in the middle of the election isn’t the time to air that laundry because then the other major party is going to make your beliefs a moot point). That’s what DeMint is doing.

    Not that I care either way. Just my take on conscience-voting.

  8. mrspeacock Says:

    Hmm… I don’t think voting your conscience is “wasting your vote,” regardless of how unlikely that candidate or policy is to prevail. Sometimes making a point is a worthy thing.

    As far as DeMint is concerned, I’d never heard of the guy before this discussion. I’m just commenting from my perspective.

    I hate politics. It’s so seldom that I find a candidate I truly believe in, I don’t want to “waste my vote” on anyone else. But perhaps I’m an idealist. Or, as mentioned before, deeply stupid.

  9. urbino Says:

    Hey, now, play fair. Nobody said you were deeply stupid.

    And I agree with you about what you choose to do with your vote. But this is a dissimilar case. This is why I said what you or I do in the voting booth is not comparable to what Sen. DeMint is doing.

    As Mikey was saying, Sen. DeMint isn’t just another voter. He’s a senator and has been one of the most prominent members of the GOP over the past year or so.

    He holds his senate seat because the GOP identified him as somebody who could win in South Carolina, then publicly backed him, directly gave him campaign money, and plugged him into their donor list so he could raise more. (He’s not unique in this. It applies to pretty much any elected official you care to name.)

    In short, the only reason Jim DeMint can go to CA or NY and have any influence at all is the senate seat he couldn’t have won without the Republican Party. And the only reason he has any committee memberships in the senate is because the senate GOP gave them to him.

    Parties tend to expect a certain degree of loyalty and boosterism for that.

    So when he intervenes in a senate race (that wasn’t even in South Carolina) to bash the candidate the Republican Party had decided to back — just like it had decided to back him — and promote not a different Republican, but a candidate from a whole other party, he’s pretty out of line.

    And when his favorite candidate from another party forces the Republican candidate out of the race, then goes on to lose a seat to the Democrats that the GOP had held for 120 years, and the Democrats hadn’t held since the Jackson administration, he really should go sit in a corner and be quiet.

    When he doesn’t do that, but instead goes to another race and again tries to defeat the candidate his party believes has the best chance to defeat the Democratic incumbent, that strikes me as stupid.

    When he says his justification for that is: I’m trying to change the senate by backing candidates unlikely to win, and opposing the candidate my own party thinks has the best chance to win . . . yes, that strikes me as deeply stupid.

    (BTW, I don’t think this has anything to do with Sen. DeMint’s conscience. He has presidential ambitions. I think this is about scoring points with the national party base for that presidential run.)

    • michaellasley Says:

      Any idea if this is the longest streak? The 120 years? Just curious. I’ven’t a clue where one would go to find out such information. When I’m unsure about where to go for information, it probably goes without saying, I turn to you.

    • urbino Says:

      God help you, then, ’cause I make a lot of this stuff up.

      I’m not sure if it’s the longest or not. I think I heard somebody say on election night that it wasn’t.

      Looking at the Wikipedia page, the picture actually isn’t nearly as clear as news reports have been saying, due to redistricting. Parts of what’s currently NY-23 have been represented by Democrats many times in the last 150 yrs., including the entire 1980s.

      The majority of it (62%), however, has that whole 150 years thing going on.

    • michaellasley Says:

      Wow….NY-23’s gotta be the absolute coldest non-Alaskan district in the Union. The Thousand Island area is beautiful the 2 weeks a year it isn’t covered in ice.

  10. mrspeacock Says:

    Ha, yes, I said I might be deeply stupid. Didn’t mean to accuse either of you fine fellas of putting me down. 🙂

    Like I said, I didn’t know anything about DeMint before this post, so that explanation of events definitely makes sense. And does sound none too bright.

  11. michaellasley Says:

    I was grumpy when I commented. Apologies.

  12. michaellasley Says:

    And but also: I do think there is such a thing as wasting a vote. (And I’m likely alone in this view, I realize. And I realize this is off-topic.) I think it’s downright silly to vote for Ralph Nader or Ross Perot or, bless his heart, Ron Paul. Now….it’s not a waste if a person gets involved in the campaign and works hard to get Paul’s message out there and can convince others that his platform is the best. But just going to the poll on election day and voting for Nader because (I can’t think of a good reason here off the top of my head…so I’ll leave it to readers to fill in the blank)….well, that’s a waste. It accomplishes nothing. No one is going to get whatever message is being sent with that vote. Which is our right to do, I understand. It’s still silly.

    I’m not saying these candidates shouldn’t run, but I am saying that voters need to understand that these candidates are really just making some point — a very important point, sometimes. I’m glad they run and air their views. The campaign is their platform to get across a message they are passionate about, and, it is often a message we need to hear. But sometimes it can actually hurt a particular cause (like the environment) if voters try to send a message about that cause by voting for Nader. Because they take votes away from someone who cares about that cause — if slightly less religiously — which is more or less a direct vote for the candidate who doesn’t care at all about that cause. If that makes sense.

    I guess I’m still grumpy. I didn’t even realize.

  13. urbino Says:

    No, I think that’s a really good distinction. Hadn’t ever thought if it quite that way.

    If you want to send a message, help your candidate actually get out that message. If you can build enough momentum and popular support for it that actually winning looks possible, then vote for him/her.

    I like it.

    And like you said, voting for that candidate when they have no shot can actually set back what you care about.

    I go back to NY-23. There was a huuuuuge vote on health care reform coming up in the House. It’s an issue conservatives are huuuuugely exercised about. If NY-23 had elected another Republican — any Republican — they would have been a lead-pipe lock to vote against the House bill.

    Instead of supporting the more electable, conservative GOP candidate, a bunch of them threw their support to a third-party, ultra-conservative candidate. Result? Conservatives lost that seat, altogether, and the Democrats picked it up.

    That’s an instantaneous two-vote swing against conservatives on the health care bill, and the Democrats ended up squeaking by and passing the bill.

    All those conservatives who deeply opposed health care reform and voted for the ultra-conservative candidate instead of the just plain conservative candidate wasted their votes. They cut off their noses to spite their faces.

    I’m wordy as h-e-double-hockey-sticks.

  14. michaellasley Says:

    You are wordy, and apparently, I have some issues with voting that I need to work out.

  15. michaellasley Says:

    I’ll continue. Your points about DeMint — you’ve been arguing for a year now that the Dems need to better disciplinarians on wayward souls. Will the Reps do what you’ve been arguing — punish DeMint in some way?

    This is a good case study in the turmoil the Republican party is in right now. Should they go further Right and gamble that they can mobilize that relatively small percentage of the population? Or should they play things a little safer and risk losing that very same relatively small, yet important for their causes, percentage?

    If I were an aspiring politician, I’d love to be a Republican right now. No kidding. There’s opportunity galore to shape the way a party thinks.

  16. urbino Says:

    The GOP congressional caucuses have rules that make discipline much easier, but I’m not sure they can afford to discipline DeMint in this case. Reason being the very turmoil you’re talking about.

    DeMint is a darling of all of the contemporary GOP’s core groups: the South, ultra-conservatives, Evangelicals, white men, business conservatives. Right now, without those groups, there basically is no GOP. I don’t think the leadership can risk pissing them off. (In fact, they’re all competing to be the most beloved among those groups, so I don’t they’re even inclined to try.)

    Which is why I disagree with your point about opportunities to shape the GOP right now. I don’t think the GOP is shapeable by any politician right now. The conservative media figures and the grassroots have taken the bit between their teeth.

    All the politicians can do is hang on for dear life and try to mollify them. Which is exactly what they’re all doing. (Or running along behind, trying to keep up.)

    Which is why they can’t discipline DeMint.

    Which is what you asked.

    Which is why I’m typing.

  17. mrspeacock Says:

    I do get what you’re saying, Mikey. And I don’t entirely disagree.

    Perhaps my issue is with predetermining who’s going to win. In other words, I hate polls. Despise them. Think they shouldn’t be allowed or, at the very least, not so heavily reported. I believe they are the #1 swayer of public opinion. Okay, so “swayer” might not be a word, but you get what I mean. People don’t take the time to investigate the underdog who might be brilliant because they’ve already been told he has no chance.

    But I suppose that’s off-topic.

  18. michaellasley Says:

    Well….I’d agree with you on the polls. But I’d also add that….well, I don’t know. I’m not saying not to go for the underdog or that if the media says McCain, for instance, is going to lose, that Reps everywhere should just stay home. That’s not what I’m saying. There’ve been big cases where the underdog has won — McCain rising from the dead in the last primary-season being a good example. Truman defeating Dewey. Etc. But that’s not really the same as voting for Nader or Paul or any fringe candidate. And those are fringe candidates. And the candidate DeMint was going for was a fringe candidate. Nothing against what they stand for, but there’s no way they’re going to win. They can make noise — like Paul did last election (and it was interesting noise). But no one who voted for him actually thought he had a chance to win. Surely. I mean, if they did then….well, I sincerely don’t know how to finish that sentence. I’ll just leave it at surely no one thought he was going to actually win. Now….voting for McCain, that was justifiable. Even though the polls said he was going to lose (and badly), I’m not saying Reps shoulda just rolled over and quit.

    I’ve now officially confused myself.

  19. michaellasley Says:

    No. I won’t shut up. You can’t make me.

    If this comment has a thesis statement, it is this: our voting for something is not nearly as important as our being involved in something.

    This “voting for people who’ll obviously lose” issue bothers me so much because it seems that the people who vote for Nader and the like are so self-interested that they don’t even realize that their vote for Nader is more or less a withdrawal from the democratic process. Yes. I just said that. It’s the same thing as a) not voting or b) voting for the very thing you don’t like. Moreover, they are saying, in essence, hey, this one issue / two issues / few issues that I’m waaaayyyy interested in are more important than the issues that everyone else in this democracy we live in thinks is important. And so I’m going to ignore those other issues completely. They want so much to prove a point that they make a decision that is, I’d argue if I’m being generous: silly, and when I’m grumpy (like today): selfish.

    Again: I’m not saying that these candidates shouldn’t campaign. I’m not saying we shouldn’t get involved in that campaign. But I truly can’t imagine voting for someone for whom I wasn’t willing to get involved in/with/for/whatever. And if I’m involved with their campaign on some level, then surely I know whether or not more than 10% of the population is going to even bother voting for this candidate.

    Again….I’ve confused myself. Apologies all round.

  20. urbino Says:

    I’m pretty sure Wolfman Jack used to say “swayers,” as in “all you swingers and swayers,” and if Wolfman Jack said it, it’s a word.

    I hear ya about the polls. Unfortunately, I kinda think things would actually be worse without them. It would just give more behind-the-scenes power back to the political parties.

    My fundamental beef with the DeMint thing and all of this is that political parties have way too much power in our politics. The fact that that power is further concentrated in just two parties makes it even worse.

  21. mrspeacock Says:

    Our voting for something is not nearly as important as our being involved in something.
    Well, yeah. Completely agreed.

    It seems that the people who vote for Nader and the like are so self-interested that they don’t even realize that their vote for Nader is more or less a withdrawal from the democratic process.
    Whaaat? Say that to all the gay right supporters who came out to vote “no” on TN’s gay marriage amendment. They knew there was no way in hell they were going to win that vote in TN. But it was certainly worth the fight for them. And I voted with them, knowing full well that my vote wasn’t going to mean squat. I still think it was worthwhile and sent the message that, hey, some people are with you on this. But I realize that you were talking about a no-chance candidate and not a no-chance policy.

    So back to the candidate who can’t win and the “self-interested” people who vote for him. There are a million issues at play in someone’s mind that you can’t see when they choose their vote. Take Nader, for example. He’s known as Mr. Environment. You care deeply about the environment. You know he has no chance of winning. The next best option environment-wise is Gore. However, you agree with him on virtually no other issue, some of which are just as important to you as the environment. So you decide to vote for Nadar b/c you know that will be seen as a vote for the environment instead of voting for Gore, which could be seen as a vote for dozens of issues that you vehemently disagree with. While there’s definitely some flawed logic going on there in terms of getting actual policy passed, I can’t tell that person they’re withdrawing from the democratic process.

    Meh. I’ve voted for a no-chancer maybe once. I make it sound like this is my normal method of choosing a candidate. Who’s going to lose? I’ll vote for that guy!

  22. alsturgeon Says:

    I haven’t been in Cali so long I don’t remember “swayer” is a good Southern word. It’s used when something amazing happens.

    “Wull, I’ll swayer.”

  23. urbino Says:

    I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but: a gay marriage rights vote isn’t comparable to the situation Mikey discussed.

    Not because it’s an issue rather than a candidate, but because it’s a stark yes/no vote. There was no 3rd option that would get gays and lesbians most of what they wanted, and also had a good chance of passing.

    Nobody threw their vote away, because there was nowhere to throw it.

    The situation Mikey’s talking about is when there IS another choice available on the ballot that will get you most of what you want — or at the very least, won’t push things even further away from what you want — and that choice has a good chance of winning.

    As for the situation you describe with Nader & Gore, it seems to me one can’t say a Nader vote “would be” seen “as a vote for the environment.” I mean, we don’t have to hypothesize about this one. People actually did vote for Nader instead of Gore, and that’s not, in fact, how their votes are seen. If that was the message they were trying to send, they failed.

    If we do look at Nader/Gore as just an example of a more generalized idea — which is probably how you meant it, anyway — it’s still not at all clear to me that such a vote would be seen as a vote for whatever your candidate’s cause was.

    Hundreds of thousands of people cast votes like that, every single election year. Their votes aren’t seen as votes for their cause, because their votes aren’t seen at all. You never hear about them on election night, or any time thereafter. They’re all just “Other.”

    Nobody takes any notice of them, except maybe a late-night talk show host who makes fun of them, but even that is darn rare.

    What did their votes accomplish? Make them feel good? Maintain the purity of their conscience?

  24. michaellasley Says:

    Hmmm….I really haven’t thought this through too much, to be honest. This lack of thought probably shows in my rambling statements. Maybe “withdrawing from the democratic process” was too harsh, but for now, I’m sticking to it because as JU points out, their votes simply are not seen or heard. No one gets the point if the only thing this citizen is doing is voting. If anything, their votes actively hurt whatever cause they claim to care about. They are silencing their very own selves. That’s what my whole point about being involved with something being more important than voting. If someone is way into the environment, their voice can be heard pretty clearly by being involved in Nader’s campaign. They can do that every election cycle until he becomes a viable candidate. Until then, as soon as they cast a vote for Nader, they are actually voting for a candidate that will do the opposite of help the environment.

    (This is precisely what DeMint did….to pull it back together here. And also: DeMint gave the finger not just to the Republican Party but to the very people who voted him into office. They voted him into office to oppose the very thing he is now less able to oppose. And he did this in order to look good with the super-Conservatives and the people on Fox News. It was selfish of him. He didn’t do it for the good of his fellow Americans. )

    It does become trickier when you consider many different issues, but I guess that’s sort of the problem with Nader and other fringe candidates in general is that they usually don’t have much in the way of an overall political philosophy with which to approach the multitude of problems they’d face as the leader of the US. They have an issue they care about not a comprehensive approach to governing.

  25. michaellasley Says:

    And JU’s last paragraph is why I think Nader-voters are self-centered. That vote is all about the voter, not about what’s the overall best thing for our country.

    Obviously all of that is: IMHO.

  26. mrspeacock Says:

    I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but: a gay marriage rights vote isn’t comparable to the situation Mikey discussed.
    Yes, I knew you would say that. 🙂 And I realize there’s a huge difference. But there are certainly a number of gay right activists who wouldn’t accept a civil union as an easier, more passable alternative to gay marriage. But, again, I realize there’s still a huge difference.

    If we do look at Nader/Gore as just an example of a more generalized idea — which is probably how you meant it, anyway…”
    Yes, that is how I meant it.

    See, this is why I stick to music and movies.

  27. urbino Says:

    Yeah, but look at all this fun discussion!

  28. alsturgeon Says:

    Wull, I’ll swayer.

  29. urbino Says:

    Heh. Keep pluggin’ away, Al.

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