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Old 1st October 2020, 10:44 PM   #1
Lurch
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The phenomenon of the undecided (and 3rd party) voter

In this time of strife particularly, and this near a consequential election, it astonishes me that there can be any meaningful number of voters who have not settled on a candidate. The differences between the Presidential candidates is about as stark as it is possible to be, excepting that both are old white men.

Do these people live principally under rocks? Or do they have some mental condition whereby the decision-making process is badly impaired, having them straddling fences all their lives? Or do they revel in the power derived from being avidly sought after as a highly valuable commodity?

Whatever the nature of these strange creatures, the maddeningly frustrating phenomenon of their professed indecision confounds me.


Ancillary to this, at least in these perilous circumstances, is the puzzling third party supporter. In any sense one cares to survey the political scene, the US has but two parties. It should be taken as emblematic that the vainly placed votes for other than the Big Two is practically the definition of insanity. (As in the old saw about doing the same dumb thing over and over and expecting a different result.) And even more so for the write-in, where one might as well not bother at all for the good it'll do. Aside from deriving some spurious satisfaction at having voted one's 'principles.' Right.

In the hurly-burly world of politics, where practicality is (or should be) the necessary driver, unicorn-seeking idealists are too rare to exert meaningful effect. Their *real* impact is to steal votes where close-run races are concerned. It most certainly was the case in '16. I hope not this time round!

In 2020, these idealists who look to the backwater of the political scene should seriously consider giving their vote to Biden/Harris, in order to ensure the thwarting of a precipitous plunge into authoritarianism. Clinging to their ideals and principles in these parlous times runs the risk of a worse state of affairs than supporting an otherwise hated but better place from which to continue the fight. A headstrong push for significant (much less radical) change could be their--and the nation's--undoing. Patience is the watchword in a polarized populace of several hundred millions, and especially where a general conservatism (by the standard of other western nations) is the norm.

Last edited by Lurch; 1st October 2020 at 10:48 PM.
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Old 1st October 2020, 11:07 PM   #2
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The only reason to be undecided or 3rd party is when you believe that your vote doesn't matter, either because you live in a very one-sided state or that you are in a socio-economic bracket where the outcome won't affect you either way.

Big companies tend to donate to both sides precisely for this reason.
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Old 1st October 2020, 11:16 PM   #3
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The undecided are in a number of different camps.

Some can't decide between the Democrats or the Republicans. We hear a lot about them.

But there are also those who can't decide between a major party or a third party. Like they waffle back and forth from the Greens to the Dems and back again, or GOP and Libertarian.

I think another class are those who just can't decide if they will vote at all. Not the lazy or apathetic ones, but people who really think about it and for whatever reason think that voting is bad or pointless (like they hate all the parties, or are so far into the weeds that they see no meaningful difference between the two big parties).
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Old 2nd October 2020, 04:50 AM   #4
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As a third party voter (sort of), my views are so off-kilter you would probably consider it a bad sign if I supported your candidate.
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Old 2nd October 2020, 07:22 AM   #5
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I can see every "major" third party wanting to field a candidate except the Constitution Party. They are theocratic conservatives and Trump is basically one of them.

Let me see if they are running anyone...

Don effing Blankenship? Yeah, that is sitting this one out. Any possible objection that party would have for Trump would be even worse when applied to Blankenship.

I guess they need to run someone for ballot access issues, but you'd think it would be someone that isn't objectively worse than Trump by pretty much any political perspective.
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Old 2nd October 2020, 07:26 AM   #6
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The problem with political discourse in America is that unless you're either A) really into politics or B) a total fanboy for one of the political sides changes are you aren't really talking about politics all that much, not enough so your views get into the general discussion.

The only undecided voters we really have in the broad social level political discussion are those lovely people who mistake not having their perfect "Fix everything" candidate handed to them on a silver platter to be the same thing as "having to choose between the lesser of two evils" and that's just bog-standard try-hard edge-lord contrarianism. We can't adjust for that.

People who are (somehow, don't ask me) looking at Biden and Trump and honestly not being able to make a decision probably do exist, but they aren't "in the talk."
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Old 2nd October 2020, 07:27 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
The only reason to be undecided or 3rd party is when you believe that your vote doesn't matter, either because you live in a very one-sided state or that you are in a socio-economic bracket where the outcome won't affect you either way.

Big companies tend to donate to both sides precisely for this reason.
I disagree, you could be someone whose principles are so important that you simply cannot bring yourself to vote for a candidate for one of the two major parties.

That said, I think that there are comparatively few people trying to decide whether to vote for President Trump or Joe Biden. There are far, far, more people who lean towards one candidate but are undecided about whether they're going to vote.
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Old 2nd October 2020, 09:53 AM   #8
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There's a huge amount of effort and money that is going into dissuading potential voters and/or smearing candidates. Some of these marketers are experts at their jobs and these tactics can be hugely effective with folks who only pay so much attention to politics.

Nobody bothers to smear the 3rd party candidates, which probably makes them look quite attractive in comparison.

My suspicion is that the bulk of "undecideds" are dissuaded potential Dem voters and those who lean to the right who don't like Trump, but see the all the negative spin and couldn't vote for a socialist/anti 2nd am/pro-abortion candidate.
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Old 2nd October 2020, 10:25 AM   #9
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Yes, when the choice is between Adolf Hitler Trump and Joe Stalin Biden, who could possibly want a third option?
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Old 2nd October 2020, 11:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Yes, when the choice is between Adolf Hitler Trump and Joe Stalin Biden, who could possibly want a third option?
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Old 2nd October 2020, 11:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
I disagree, you could be someone whose principles are so important that you simply cannot bring yourself to vote for a candidate for one of the two major parties.
I disagree with your disagreement.


The fact that some people can indulge in this kind of principle is a clear sign that they are living so comfortably and securely that they can afford to take what they perceive to be the moral high ground, which brings us back to my initial point.
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Old 2nd October 2020, 11:42 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Yes, when the choice is between Adolf Hitler Trump and Joe Stalin Biden, who could possibly want a third option?
Yeah, I can't imagine America having to choose between Hitler and Stalin.
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Old 2nd October 2020, 11:45 PM   #13
The Great Zaganza
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Originally Posted by Cain View Post
Yeah, I can't imagine America having to choose between Hitler and Stalin.
easy choice.
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Old 2nd October 2020, 11:45 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Yes, when the choice is between Adolf Hitler Trump and Joe Stalin Biden, who could possibly want a third option?
What is desired and what is obtainable can be impossibly far apart. Is it at all realistic to expect any 3rd party, or a write-in, to beat out the two big ones? Not this year, for sure. Any prediction of when America just might reject both of the 'status quo' parties for an alternative?

A seat or two in Congress is a far cry from the big prize of House dominance, let alone the Presidency.

There might come a shooting civil war before the US populace evolves to rejecting the existing political hierarchy.
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Old 3rd October 2020, 05:28 PM   #15
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The main thing to know about the undecided/center category is that it nearly doesn't exist. Studies have shown several times that those who claim to be in it typically do actually favor one side or the other but just avoid admitting it til the last minute, and the party that's been obsessed with trying to chase them has kept losing by that strategy while the part that has ignored them has been winning.
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Old 3rd October 2020, 06:49 PM   #16
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The large demographic that I think really matters is the under motivated voter and not the "undecided" voter or even the overly idealistic 3rd party voters. In some cirumstances it seems that 3rd party voters have spoiled elections (Gore/Bush and Clinton/Trump) but even that is hard to say for sure because there are spoilers on each side(Green party vs. Libertarian party). I think the "undecided" voter is largely a myth. There are tons of people who barely care enough to vote or could easily be persuaded or disuaded. I heard Rick Wilson trying to explain once that there is an important distiction and difference between the "independent" voter and the "centrist" voter but I cannot recall what that distinction was.
When it comes to Trump specifically, I cannot imagine anybody that is truly undecided at this point. Biden and Trump are both known quantities, no mystery candidates this time.
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Old 3rd October 2020, 07:13 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Lurch View Post
Ancillary to this, at least in these perilous circumstances, is the puzzling third party supporter.

In American democracy third parties provide an essential backup for the main parties.


Problem: Suppose Donald Trump dies. Do republicans vote for a corpse?
Do they have time for another primary before the election?
Do they really want a second banana, Mike Pence?

Solution: Libertarian third party candidate, Jo Jorgensen.
She answers every question with the words “small government.”
A phrase close to the heart of every republican.


Problem: Suppose Joe Biden dies. Same set of troubling problems for the democrats.
And again they wouldn’t really want Kamala Harris in office for the same reasons.

Solution: Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins. He has a sexy southern accent.
Good enough for most democrats.


This “mini-me” aspect of third party candidates solves most problems
when major parties have a blow out. That’s why they never get invited
to the debates.
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Old 4th October 2020, 05:39 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Solitaire View Post
In American democracy third parties provide an essential backup for the main parties.
Nope, it does not. American system is inherently hostile to third party and once two parties are established, it will be petrified in that rigid form until everything falls apart from internal stresses.

We are at beginning of end.
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Old 4th October 2020, 08:13 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Yes, when the choice is between Adolf Hitler Trump and Joe Stalin Biden, who could possibly want a third option?
Perception filters are askew.

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Old 4th October 2020, 08:33 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Cain View Post
Yeah, I can't imagine America having to choose between Hitler and Stalin.
They appeased Hitler much longer than they allied with Stalin.
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Old 4th October 2020, 08:49 AM   #21
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It's not just the undecided voters, of course. There are the non-voters. In 2016 only 55.5% of the voting age population did so.
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Old 4th October 2020, 10:25 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
It's not just the undecided voters, of course. There are the non-voters. In 2016 only 55.5% of the voting age population did so.
The non-voting bloc being larger than all others put together is another notable phenomenon. This time around it had better be whittled down some. But the non-voter, in the consideration of those blocs which do vote, might as well not exist.

Immediately after the 'debate' the other day (it already seems a half lifetime ago!), a newscast featuring a small clutch of undecideds discussing the event still had some (as I recall) indicating their being *still* not knowing which way to lean!

This is the kind of inability to arrive at a conclusion that astonishes me. I can hardly conceive of this degree of indecision. It makes me wonder if it's more a ploy to retention of power unto themselves, by having great attention focused their way in the seeking of their vote.

With the American penchant for the campaign season to occupy half an incumbent's term in office, how is it possible for anyone contemplating voting to not have made up their mind just a month before polls close? Hell, trump was campaigning the day after his inauguration. Only those who don't vote could be forgiven for ignorance and indecision by this point.
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Old 4th October 2020, 10:46 AM   #23
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I wonder how many of the undecideds are waiting for the Vice Presidential debate. With Trump having covid19, and Biden being Biden, the chance that the elected VP winding up running things seems significant.
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Old 4th October 2020, 11:59 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
easy choice.
Easy in hindsight, especially considering Stalin got a better deal from history than Hitler did.

But when you look at the people in Europe who were actually trapped between those two monsters, it wasn't really an easy choice for them at all.

Of course it's a terrible metaphor, so I don't blame you if you don't want to take it seriously.
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Old 4th October 2020, 12:05 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
They appeased Hitler much longer than they allied with Stalin.
Americans Will Always Do the Right Thing — After Exhausting All the Alternatives
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Old 4th October 2020, 12:11 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
They appeased Hitler much longer than they allied with Stalin.
Appeasement was a European policy, notably in the UK. Hitler defied the Versailles treaty in the Rhineland in 1936, and was met with appeasement by the European powers. This European policy of appeasement continued roughly until the outbreak of the war in 1939 - three years.

The war in Europe lasted about six years, from 1939 to 1945. Even before it broke out, Roosevelt was already laying the groundwork for lend-lease and other programs to support the anti-Axis forces in Europe. The US was sending material aid to the Soviet Union by 1941.

So that's maybe three years of "appeasement" (which was more accurately a public pose neutrality and non-interference, while secretly supporting the UK and France against Nazi aggression) of Hitler, versus a good four or five years or more of alliance with Stalin.
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Old 4th October 2020, 12:14 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
I disagree, you could be someone whose principles are so important that you simply cannot bring yourself to vote for a candidate for one of the two major parties.

That said, I think that there are comparatively few people trying to decide whether to vote for President Trump or Joe Biden. There are far, far, more people who lean towards one candidate but are undecided about whether they're going to vote.
Some of us are just very sick and tired of voting for the "lesser of two evils"....

In this one you have Orange Man Bad and Creepy Grampa, Creepy being the lesser of two evils, but frankly its not so horrible to think maybe we need more parties than the two, because they do tend to suck.
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Old 4th October 2020, 12:15 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
I disagree with your disagreement.


The fact that some people can indulge in this kind of principle is a clear sign that they are living so comfortably and securely that they can afford to take what they perceive to be the moral high ground, which brings us back to my initial point.
Which is just a veiled way of saying vote for my guy... or you're hitler.
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Old 4th October 2020, 12:16 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Suddenly View Post
I can see every "major" third party wanting to field a candidate except the Constitution Party. They are theocratic conservatives and Trump is basically one of them.
Donald Trump is in no way, shape, or form, a theocratic conservative.
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Old 4th October 2020, 12:20 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Mader Levap View Post
Nope, it does not. American system is inherently hostile to third party and once two parties are established, it will be petrified in that rigid form until everything falls apart from internal stresses.

We are at beginning of end.
The problem I have with third parties is the attitude that they deserve to be taken seriously in national elections when they can't even figure out how to be taken seriously in local and regional elections.

Show me a third party that is putting candidates in state legislatures, and I'll show you a third party that could get taken seriously in a gubernatorial or Senate race. Show me a third party that's putting candidates in Senate seats and Governor's mansions, and I'll show you a third party that's ready to be taken seriously in a Presidential election.
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Old 4th October 2020, 12:42 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
They appeased Hitler much longer than they allied with Stalin.
How did the US appease Hitler? I could have sworn that was Neville Chamberlain's job.
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Old 4th October 2020, 01:30 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Donald Trump is in no way, shape, or form, a theocratic conservative.
Nah, he just gives them everything they want. I'm not concerned with Trump's interior mental state, which is probably a diet coke infused haze of golfing porn stars and calliope music.

The actions of his administration, especially as to nominating judges, is a different story.
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Old 4th October 2020, 03:58 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
The problem I have with third parties is the attitude that they deserve to be taken seriously in national elections when they can't even figure out how to be taken seriously in local and regional elections.

Show me a third party that is putting candidates in state legislatures, and I'll show you a third party that could get taken seriously in a gubernatorial or Senate race. Show me a third party that's putting candidates in Senate seats and Governor's mansions, and I'll show you a third party that's ready to be taken seriously in a Presidential election.


With different voting system you would have different parties through history of USA.

And since with some of those voting systems third parties would be actually viable, there would be serious parties staffed by serious people, not just margin of margin like now.

It is almost like there is reason why third parties in USA today are bunch of weridos. No one serious bothers with creating third party within current system, since it is doomed from start and waste of time.

For example, if USA was actual democracy with viable multiparty system, not pseudodemocracy transitioning into right-wing authoritarian state as we speak, Bernie would have his own party instead of being part of Democrats.
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Old 4th October 2020, 04:18 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Mader Levap View Post


With different voting system you would have different parties through history of USA.

And since with some of those voting systems third parties would be actually viable, there would be serious parties staffed by serious people, not just margin of margin like now.

It is almost like there is reason why third parties in USA today are bunch of weridos. No one serious bothers with creating third party within current system, since it is doomed from start and waste of time.

For example, if USA was actual democracy with viable multiparty system, not pseudodemocracy transitioning into right-wing authoritarian state as we speak, Bernie would have his own party instead of being part of Democrats.
I'm saying third parties aren't doomed from the start. What dooms them is attitudes like this one.

Filling a seat on a state legislature requires convincing a majority of voters in a single state voting district to vote for your candidate. That seems like a challenge a serious-minded third party could meet, if they focused on it. And if you can get one voting district, you can get two or three. And two or three more in two or three other states as you keep working at it. Build from there, and start looking at making a serious run at a governorship in one of the states where you've built a favorable position. Take a serious look at putting someone from that state into the House of Representatives, or the Senate.

As far as I know, none of the third parties talking about being taken seriously at a national level are making a serious attempt to do anything like that.
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Old 4th October 2020, 04:22 PM   #35
theprestige
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Originally Posted by Suddenly View Post
Nah, he just gives them everything they want. I'm not concerned with Trump's interior mental state, which is probably a diet coke infused haze of golfing porn stars and calliope music.

The actions of his administration, especially as to nominating judges, is a different story.
None of the judges he's nominated are theocrats. They're not even outside the mainstream of conservatism. Nominating a mainstream conservative judge isn't evidence of theocratic conservatism. Unless your position is that all conservatism is theocratic.
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Old 4th October 2020, 04:33 PM   #36
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Not sure why it is so hard to understand.

You lot ain't exactly spoiled for choice.

The orange nutter, or your great great grandad you hope remembers his own name signing stuff.
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Old 4th October 2020, 07:11 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
None of the judges he's nominated are theocrats.
Actions vs. interior mental state again.
Quote:
They're not even outside the mainstream of conservatism.
Whatever that means. All three of them are garbage for different reasons. Gorsuch would be rightly considered a loon twenty years ago but our politics has made wingnuts mainstream. This new nominee has apparently worked with orgs wanting to make homosexuality illegal.

Kavanaugh is mainstream I guess in that he is the mediocre entitled product of privilege whose only brush with accountability was that he for a second thought he wouldn't get to be on the supreme court and would have to settle for being a circuit appeals judge. Which he handled by acting like an unstable spoiled brat.

So yeah, I can give you Kavanaugh.

Even said, they will give evangelicals all they want. Abortion, the weaponization of religious freedom circumvent civil rights laws, and so on. What they are isn't relevant. What they are doing is what matters.
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Old 4th October 2020, 07:15 PM   #38
The Great Zaganza
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Plenty of Trump's judges are certainly outside of mainstream qualification: there is a clear prioritization of young age over suitability.
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Old 4th October 2020, 07:39 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm saying third parties aren't doomed from the start. What dooms them is attitudes like this one.

Filling a seat on a state legislature requires convincing a majority of voters in a single state voting district to vote for your candidate. That seems like a challenge a serious-minded third party could meet, if they focused on it. And if you can get one voting district, you can get two or three. And two or three more in two or three other states as you keep working at it. Build from there, and start looking at making a serious run at a governorship in one of the states where you've built a favorable position. Take a serious look at putting someone from that state into the House of Representatives, or the Senate.

As far as I know, none of the third parties talking about being taken seriously at a national level are making a serious attempt to do anything like that.
Out of curiosity I took a look at the Green Party website to see where they've been elected, and the highest offices were Mayor and State Legislator. One of each. All the rest were on city councils, school boards, etc. If that's the best one of the "larger" third parties can do, they have a long way to go before they're taken seriously on the national level.
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Old 4th October 2020, 07:55 PM   #40
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I suspect the Green party's biggest handicap is not being able to make peace with heavy industry.
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