RCV Fall Out, UN Uyghur Report & David Brooks fantasizing about a "centrist" president
A few nuggets as we head into Labor Day weekend
A couple of quick items to round out the week:
Alaska Special Election Reaction
As predicted, ranked choice voting is getting a bad review from many Republicans after it resulted in a GOP election loss in the Alaska special election. Sen. Tom Cotton called RCV “a scam to rig elections" and tweeted that “"60% of Alaska voters voted for a Republican, but thanks to a convoluted process and ballot exhaustion — which disenfranchises voters — a Democrat 'won.'"
Defeated candidate Sarah Palin complained that RCV was a "new crazy, convoluted, confusing" system. It may be Palin who was confused. As I reported earlier, Palin encouraged her voters to vote only for her as a first choice, a strategy that would almost certainly have advantaged Democrat Mary Pelota over the other Republican on the ballot Nick Begich. Palin claimed that RCV had “disenfranchised” the 60% of voters who cast their first choice for a Republican, but she did nothing in her own campaign to make sure that Republican Begich would win if she didn’t. Palin’s call for bullet voting probably bled over to 11,000 Begich voters who left their second choice entry blank rather than voting for Palin.
In Nevada, Dems Don’t Like RCV Either
Republicans might see RCV as a “scam” or a “plot” to help Democrats, but in Nevada, where a Final Five system & RCV will be considered on the November ballot via a constitutional amendment, it is Democrats who are opposed to RCV. The entire Nevada Democratic establishment is lined up against the initiative and is funding lawsuits against it. Democrats claim that RCV will make it take longer to vote, “lead to increased errors that cause eligible votes to be thrown out, and disproportionately impact communities of color.”
But I expect that the real reason for their opposition is that Nevada seems to have a tradition of Libertarian candidates running for office as well as other far right, or at least right-leaning third party candidates. Under RCV, these voters could cast their second-choice votes for a mainstream Republican, which might make the difference in Nevada’s very close general elections.
Let’s take a look at the Nevada gubernatorial election in 2018.
Democrat Steve Sisolak’s margin of victory was 40,000 votes, but there were over 50,000 votes for third-party candidates, the top three of which were conservative. If those voters had cast second-choice votes, a large majority would probably have gone to the Republican, making a comfortable 4% Democratic party victory into a squeaker. Perhaps this is the true source of Democrats’ opposition to RCV in Nevada.
UN Uyghur Report
I have read the entirety of the report of the UN High Commission for Human Rights on China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic people in Xinjiang province. The report is a conservative, workman like effort that documents all of the abuses that I outlined in my post on this issue last month. There is now no doubt in my mind that China has categorized every manifestation of Islam – practice, custom, mosque attendance, possession of holy books, and even wearing a beard – as “terrorism” and “extremism.” China makes these “offenses” punishable by detention for years in “reeducation camps” or a lengthy criminal sentence. The report makes unmistakably clear that “the extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups…may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.” It is now up to the UN and the international community to hold China accountable for these crimes and ensure that all the practices cease immediately.
Third-Party Do-Gooder For President?
In today’s New York Times, David Brooks writes favorably about a quiet effort by the NGO No Labels to create an electoral infrastructure and raise money for an independent presidential candidate if it is determined that the two major parties do not produce a candidate that is “acceptable to the center of the electorate.” The details of how this self-appointed, non-democratically selected group would determine whether a Democrat or Republican candidate were “unacceptable” still remains to be worked out. Brooks dreams for the day when his ideal candidate — Admiral William McRaven (who has never run for political office of any kind his entire distinguished career) — will be anointed by the No Labels cabal to run and somehow capture a plurality of centrist votes in a sufficient number of states to gain an electoral college victory and move into the White House.
What a bunch of fluff.
In today’s American politics, the cleavage is between those who are committed to a democratic future and those who are not. Any financial or organizational efforts made to do anything else but ensure that candidates who support democracy are elected to office and those who do not are defeated is a major distraction. Hopefully, the day will come when the anti-democratic elements of our society are marginalized, and maybe then we can have the luxury to thinking about the party alignments that will best reflect the will of the American people. Seems to me that No Labels is totally misdiagnosing the perilous times we are in.
Biden’s Democracy Speech
I am all for the speech President Biden delivered in Philadelphia last night on the threats to American democracy. But my view is that for a speech that was very political, it was wrong to have two Marines standing guard over Constitutional Hall in the background:
Many rightly called out General Milley when he accompanied Trump to a political photo op outside the White House during a Black Lives Matter protest. And I think that for the most part, the military did an excellent job for four years resisting Trump’s efforts to politicize it and refusing to support Trump’s authoritarian tendencies. The flags and Constitutional Hall should have been enough for Biden’s backdrop … leave the military out of it.
Enjoy the holiday all (although Duke students and faculty have classes Monday!)
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