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Ask Slashdot: Which Candidates For Geek Issues? 792

Posted by Soulskill
from the cthulu-write-in dept.
Okian Warrior writes "An oft-repeated sentiment on Slashdot is that we should change the situation by voting in better officials. An opinion that appears in nearly every political thread is: 'we're to blame because we elected these people.' On the eve of the first primary (in New Hampshire), I have to wonder: how can we tell the candidates apart? Ron Paul is an obvious exception, and I am not discounting him, but otherwise it seems that no candidate has made a stand on any issue. Consider the candidates (all of them, of any party) as a set. What issue can I use to divide them into two groups, such that one group is 'for' something and the other is 'against'?"
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Ask Slashdot: Which Candidates For Geek Issues?

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  • same old same old (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jfholcomb (60309) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:19PM (#38644058)

    The R's and the D's are truly just 2 arms of the same beast. They both survive only due to blaming the other camp for all of the problems in the world.

    • by TWX (665546) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:35PM (#38644272)

      I used to think this, but I've come to realize that this thinking is not entirely correct.

      The Republicans generally support the goals of big business, and have a top-down approach to wealth. They believe that making people at the top rich will lead to prosperity for all. Many believe that social programs do not help well enough to justify many of them. Many members feel that they have a moral imperative to attempt to push their moral agenda on people who have nothing to do with them, and whose behaviors do not affect them in the slightest. The Republicans are also very good at compelling members to conform and follow, even when a given member may disagree with a lot of party rhetoric, and even when it's not in their best interests to actually agree.

      The Democrats look at individuals for success, and define success through a bottom-up approach, rather than a top-down approach, as many believe that top-down approaches have led to severe inequality. They believe government has the ability to address such injustices and to help dampen inequality. Many believe that an individual's right to make ones' own choices, so long as those choices don't victimize others, is important, but are not willing to ignore data that demonstrates particular freedoms causing lots of harm. Democrats generally like to build consensus before agreeing on a plan, which lately has been to their detriment, as it allows their political opponents to stonewall things that should be able to pass despite objection.

      There are times for either, and both political parties have this habit of becoming sort of rotted out from the insides due to corruption. Unfortunately, it seems that the Republicans rot-out a lot faster than the Democrats, yet members of the party have seemingly short memories of it, like Newt Gingrich, who has managed to be a serious contender for the Republican party's nominee for President despite having resigned from the House of Representative in disgrace.

      • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:50PM (#38644538) Homepage

        I disagree. The real difference between the leaderships of the two party is which elite interests they represent.

        The Republicans are largely the party of the primary economy and part of the secondary economy (resource extraction, agriculture and base manufacturing.) The cultural values that they support - religious values, etc. - are those which coincide with that sector. The democrats are largely the party of the tertiary (and past) economies - some manufacturing, but mostly services, especially financial services and the culture industry. Their cultural values are also thus in line: cosmopolitanism, a sense of "progress" (very important in sectors of the economy that emphasize changing styles, such as retail.) These elites agree on a lot, but they disagree on enough things - where they want public sector activity and where they don't, for example - that the different parties do compete.

        The social / cultural values things - the left's diversity, the right's "family values" - are mostly window-dressing.

        • Re:same old same old (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mattmarlowe (694498) on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:35PM (#38645020) Homepage

          That's one way to look at it....I see things a slightly different:
          *Republicans believe that nothing should hold back an individual or group from achieving success and happiness provided that it is done in a way that is not that harmful to society or others - also, that ideally all individuals and families should be positive role models. Furthermore, republicans generally believe that each section of society has a proper role and size where the family is responsible for giving kids a good start in life and being the primary resource for handling emergencies and major events, that the individual is responsible for what he achieves and his health, that religion and churches should look after the moral health of society and also be the venue through which most general welfare and charitable activities be handled, that government be limited to providing basic infrastructure and a neutral safe ground for everyone to interact, and lastly that when decisions in government be made that it be at the level closest to those impacted (e.g. local control of schools rather than state/federal).
          *Democrats believe the republican "traditional approach" has failed or otherwise lets too many people out in the cold. Their arguments are more from the emotional side (e.g. everyone has a right to good health, it is better that we all have the same standard of living than that some do too much better than others, that too many people are not capable of governing their own life and we should use government to ensure they are both cared for and that their actions be for the general good).

          Both approaches have their pluses and minuses.....I see the sensible middle ground being that for society to succeed long term it must blend both, enough of the republican approach to have wealth, and enough of the democrat approach for everyone to feel they've had a fair chance at life and not rebel.

          Politics is more intense now simply because the USA is at the start or middle of an economic decline and there are two approaches being discussed. Republicans want to do everything possible to recover growth and wealth (no matter how painful it will be). Democrats are more fatalistic and believe that we should be directing our attention towards managing the decline in such a way that no one group gets hurt too bad, and that if any group must be hurt -- it should be at the higher end. Unfortunately, these two approaches are somewhat the opposite of each other...

      • by belo abismo (2543550) on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:23PM (#38644916)
        I'm a Libertarian and I don't like either party. You're wrong if you think there's a difference between the two parties.

        1. "The Republicans generally support the goals of big business, and have a top-down approach to wealth."

        So do the Democrats. How many poor Democrats are in congress? Seven of the top ten richest congressmen are Democrats.

        2. "Many members feel that they have a moral imperative to attempt to push their moral agenda on people who have nothing to do with them"

        Democrats do this also with issues like affirmative action and gay marriage.

        3. "The Republicans are also very good at compelling members to conform and follow, even when a given member may disagree with a lot of party rhetoric, and even when it's not in their best interests to actually agree."

        Same for the Democrats. How to you think the Democrats get 98% of the black vote. It's almost impossible to get 98% of any group to agree on anything. My friend is a coal miner and voted for Obama because the union told him too. If that's not voting against your self interest, I don't know what is.
        • by maxwell demon (590494) on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:39PM (#38645078) Journal

          My friend is a coal miner and voted for Obama because the union told him too. If that's not voting against your self interest, I don't know what is.

          It is uninformed voting. Doing something because someone else tells you to do it isn't necessary against your self-interest. Of course you are in danger of acting against your self-interest if you blindly trust the advice of someone else. But it does not imply that you actually do.

          I have no idea whether your friend voted against his self-interest, but you cannot conclude either way just from his choice being determined by the union's suggestion.

        • by s73v3r (963317) <s73v3rNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:54PM (#38645292)

          My friend is a coal miner and voted for Obama because the union told him too. If that's not voting against your self interest, I don't know what is.

          Wait, explain how voting for McCain would be in his self interest? Explain how putting the party in power that wants to dismantle any kind of environmental regulation, any kind of workplace regulation, and that has since then introduced legislation in several states to try and dismantle the power of unions would be voting in his self interest? If anything, the Democrats have the interest of the working class in mind far, far, far more than the Republicans.

          • by noc007 (633443) on Monday January 09, 2012 @10:20PM (#38646298)

            How does not voting for Obama = voting for McCain? They weren't the only two candidates on the ballot and there's even a write-in field. And don't say that if one doesn't vote for either party means they're throwing away their vote because that just keeps the two party BS rolling. If enough people voted, we could have someone from neither party in office.

            • by tragedy (27079)

              Sadly, thanks to the paradoxical voting system the US uses where each person gets one vote to cast in favor of one candidate in a one-pass election, there's this thing called the Spoiler Effect. Basically it's what leads to "a vote for Nader, is a vote for Bush" being essentially true. It forces people to game their vote rather than casting it where their true preferences lie and, although it doesn't make upsets impossible, it creates a very strong attractor towards a two party system.

        • by ninetyninebottles (2174630) on Monday January 09, 2012 @09:20PM (#38645578)

          2. "Many members feel that they have a moral imperative to attempt to push their moral agenda on people who have nothing to do with them"

          Democrats do this also with issues like affirmative action and gay marriage.

          Generally arguing politics on Slashdot is the blind screaming at the deaf. Still, this point deserves to be addressed. Preventing discrimination based on gender is not forcing morals on anyone. On the topic of gay marriage it is ensuring individual liberty. Allowing each individual to choose for themselves is not pushing a moral agenda on others. It is giving each individual the freedom to choose. Now if there were a law trying to force people to marry those of the same sex, you might have a point.

        • Re:same old same old (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TWX (665546) on Monday January 09, 2012 @09:46PM (#38645900)

          I'm a Libertarian and I don't like either party. You're wrong if you think there's a difference between the two parties.

          1. "The Republicans generally support the goals of big business, and have a top-down approach to wealth."

          So do the Democrats. How many poor Democrats are in congress? Seven of the top ten richest congressmen are Democrats.

          I have never had any objection to people being wealthy, even ridiculously wealthy, and most Democrats that I've talked to on this matter do not have a problem with this either. The problem is in shirking responsibilities. No legal document founding this country makes any guarantee of being wealthy, or any respect for it.

          If you want to talk about what wealth disparity does, look at the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. ALL had large elements of a super-rich, corrupt elite who wouldn't return to society some of the fruits of their success that they benefitted from society. When income and resource inequality gets too far out of whack, revolution happens.

          2. "Many members feel that they have a moral imperative to attempt to push their moral agenda on people who have nothing to do with them"

          Democrats do this also with issues like affirmative action and gay marriage.

          I am not going to get into a debate about affirmative action right now, the issues of generations of racial discrimination and the ramifications of it are far too far reaching to get in to depth on in this forum. On the other hand, I don't see anyone forcing a social conservative to have a gay marriage. I don't see anyone forcing a social conservative to participate in a blow job, or in birth control, or in sex for pleasure, or in sex in anything other than the missionary position (I'm pointing directly at Santorum here), nor is anyone forcing them to have premarital sex or extramarital affairs. The point in this is that Democrats generally want to not prohibit activities between consenting adults. I do, however, see Republicans arguing that their social restrictions on who can have sex with who when everyone involved are consenting adults, and I find that more disgusting than any of the sexual practices that they seek to render illegal between those consenting adults.

          3. "The Republicans are also very good at compelling members to conform and follow, even when a given member may disagree with a lot of party rhetoric, and even when it's not in their best interests to actually agree."

          Same for the Democrats. How to you think the Democrats get 98% of the black vote. It's almost impossible to get 98% of any group to agree on anything. My friend is a coal miner and voted for Obama because the union told him too. If that's not voting against your self interest, I don't know what is.

          I was referring to the elected officials, not to the public. Terri Schiavo comes to mind. In my opinion, Democrats should have removed the filibuster from the Senate's rules of order and rammed single-payer-with-optout (ie, if you opt out, no one is required to care for you if you can't pay), end of DADT, appointment of judges, cabinet post and agency director positions, and a whole host of other legislation down Republicans' throats just as the Republicans did when they managed to gain majorities in both chambers.

          I know, you're libertarian, so you don't like many of my ideas, but if you want roads, clean air, clean water, postal delivery, the ability to purchase things that require loans, someone to deal with the results of your rights being violated, someone to put out fires, and much, much more, you'll need some form of organizing body, and that is called Government.

        • Democrats suck at falling in line... Why do you think there was so much softening of things like health care reform, and a failure of the card check bills? because DEMOCRATS pealed off.

          If there were bills on the floor that a a filibuster proof majority in the senate and a majority in the house had to pass, and a republican president, you would have the majority leader, the speaker and the president deciding what the bills look like, and when they will be scheduled to be voted on.

        • How is a coal miner voting for Obama a vote against his self interest? Unless you mean to say that he should have voted Green....a Libertarian vote would certainly not be in his interests (you think the Libertarian party supports mine safety regulations with string inspections?)

        • by Ruke (857276) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @12:18AM (#38647236)

          2. "Many members feel that they have a moral imperative to attempt to push their moral agenda on people who have nothing to do with them" Democrats do this also with issues like affirmative action and gay marriage.

          This is the example you chose? Prohibiting same-sex marriage is an attempt to push your own moral agenda onto someone else. Your grandmother's "Fw:Fw:Fw:B HUSSEIN Obama" email to the contrary, no one is going to force anyone to have a gay marriage. Allowing same-sex marriage won't affect heterosexuals in the slightest.

      • by walterbyrd (182728) on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:36PM (#38645034)

        Not to mention illegal immigration, and sky-high debt. Perpetual wars in the mid-east. Out-of-control government spending.

        Yeah, gotta love those constitution shredding dems.

        GWB was not better, but at least Ron Paul wants to uphold the constitution, which is more than you can say for the present Obama-nation.

        • by s73v3r (963317)

          Yeah! Ron Paul wants to uphold the Constitution, with all the gay marriage bans involved in it.

      • Re:same old same old (Score:5, Informative)

        by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:47PM (#38645192)

        Yes and no. Democrats definitely are not defined as "look at individuals for success"; the Republicans often like to bash them for being the opposite of that in their support of big government programs. The parties are too hard to define so succinctly though. Democrats are for the workers but they're actually more supportive of unions than actual individual workers per se. Both parties are mostly beholden to big campaign donors, whether those donors are sitting on top of a giant pool of workers versus a giant pool of stockholders. The "big business" side of Republicans is just a small and declining wing of the party, and it's much less of a division between the two than it was in the past.

        I definitely disagree with the naive European view that the two parties are identical. Just because both lean to the right of the European center does not make them identical. There are distinct and obvious differences. Maybe in certain areas they look very much alike (pro-business).

        A big problem is that because we have a winner-takes-all process in most districts in the US we end up with a defacto two party system. A third party that's viable is very rare and doesn't last long. The two dominant parties will dance around a bit and end up covering roughly half the populace each, with things always kept in flux due to internal party divisions and occasional offshoots. A European parliament may form a coalition of a few parties in order to gain a majority control whereas the US Republican and Democratic parties are essentially coalitions themselves. This is what makes the US parties so hard to understand since they're internally inconsistent.

        Very broadly speaking and due to history, Republicans tend to be mostly rural and southern whereas Democrats are urban and on the coasts. And this strongly influences their outlook. Republicans in the last 50 years have also been the most staunchly anti-communist as well (and thus anti-socialist). So a more rural Republican base is very distrustful of anything to do with welfare whereas a more urban Democratic base is in favor of government programs and assistance. However that strong southern and rural leaning in the Republicans make them much more conservative with regards to moral issues than the urban Democrats.

        So you end up with the inconsistency of the Republicans being for individual freedoms in economic issues while being in favor of restrictions on individual freedoms in social areas, with the reverse broadly holding true for Democrats. Most of the other big differences can be traced back to either historical issues or the demographics of the voting bases. And the history goes all the way back to before the states were independent.

        • by lorenlal (164133)

          I'll take an admittedly poor attempt to distinguish.
          Republicans want little or no regulation in the economy. They believe that government regulation stifles business, slows the economy, and discourages creativity.

          Democrats favor more regulation in the economy. They believe this helps set a fair playing field, fosters creativity and competition, and discourages abuse.

          It's overly simplified, and the taxation question is just an absolute mess from my perspective. Lately, I've seen less of the religious tilt

        • Well said, though I'd add the caveat that the broad southern affinity for the Republican Party is a more recent development. The South was more Democratic until only recently. The Dixiecrats were a major force in their party's, and the nation's politics not very long ago, and that stems all the way back to opposition to Lincoln's party. So the Southern attempts to block civil rights advancements were mostly coming from the Democratic Party (which is a fact that most people under 30 seem completely unaware o
      • Re:same old same old (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jasno (124830) on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:48PM (#38645196) Journal

        It's a lot more complicated than that. In each party you have different groups coming together - like monacle-wearing big-bussiness types teaming up with social conservatives in the GOP, or big labor teaming up with environmentalists in the DP. Sometimes one group may even believe things which conflict with the party's platform, but a key issue forces them back to the table - like religious types who like the social policies of the DP but stick with the GOP because of abortion, or blue collar workers who like the social conservatism or 'tough on crime' stance of the GOP.

        In all cases, both parties are manipulated and controlled by politicians. Some have entered politics for noble causes, some for personal gain, and some for a feeling of importance or entitlement.

        Both parties seem to favor some form of big business nowadays - possibly because big business is how things get done in America. Big business manufactures the products, hires the workers, and organizes us into something that has increased our standard of living(while having many, many obvious negative effects - I'm not getting into that).

      • by kaliann (1316559) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @12:47AM (#38647404)

        Other than John Huntsman, the GOP candidates have serious issue with basic science.
        As in, they all claim to believe at least part of this list:
          - Creationism is a valid theory. (Nevermind fossils or the definition of scientific "theory".)
          - Global warming is a hoax or not something that should be addressed. (Nevermind the data and the >98% concurrence among climatologists.)
          - Vaccines cause retardation (Nevermind... facts)
          - Abstinence education is effective. (Nevermind the data that show how high pregnancy rates are when it's all that's available.)
          - Abortion is pretty much never a medical necessity. (That's from the ACTUAL PHYSICIAN candidate, too.)
          - Being gay is a mental disease/lifestyle choice/bad decision/horrible influence on children (Nevermind that the AMA and American Psychiatric association recognize it as normal variation, and studies show gay parents are fine.)
          - Sex is only for man-woman-marriage-baby-making. (Nevermind reality. And Newt Gingrich.)

        It's quite evocative of that famous Asimov quote: Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'

        So yeah, I'd say Huntsman at least doesn't try to play "who is the most sincere anti-intellectual for their Deity" by denying science. As a geek, that's something I like in a candidate.
        I wish sanity were something that was a little easier to parlay into support, but the Primaries are the Crazy Olympics, and it's all about who can out-God and out-blue-collar the next.

        I want to like a party that espouses fiscal and personal responsibility. I want to embrace the idea of less intrusive government. I just don't think it should come at the cost of science.

    • by Teancum (67324)

      The R's and the D's are truly just 2 arms of the same beast. They both survive only due to blaming the other camp for all of the problems in the world.

      If you want to see what I think very well may be an exhaustive list of literally every person running for President of the United States in 2012, I think this site may have it, together with what contact information is available for each of the candidates:

      http://www.thegreenpapers.com/P12/candidates.phtml#LBTN.1 [thegreenpapers.com]

      It really is an exhaustive list, including would-be challengers to Barack Obama for the Democratic Party nomination and a host of 3rd party candidates as well. I will promise you that in this list i

    • by quenda (644621)

      It has been explained to me this way:
      "The Republicans are on the right like our conservative party, whereas the Democrats are on the right like our conservative party.".

  • by TWX (665546) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:21PM (#38644086)

    I'm much more inclined to look at a candidate that uses or has used technology versus those who just like to talk about it.

    In that sense, Obama came into his position while using a Blackberry to keep connected. Presumably this allowed him to use the business features of the device to make his work more efficient. As a user, he would be affected by changes to the law that might restrict what he could do if companies now stop things that they've been doing in practice.

    A candidate who talks about technology without actually putting it into practice is not necessarily a good candidate, in that their understanding doesn't come to a practical level and the could think they understand issues that they don't, and since they don't even use the tech, making a bad decision wouldn't even impact them.

    Run away from candidates who are proud of their provincial, luddite behavior. That's perfectly fine in any random person, but is unacceptable in someone who will be expected to make decisions that affect millions of people but can't be bothered to get informed.

    "Those Internets" -George W. Bush

    "The Internet is a great way to get on the Net" -Bob Dole

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:32PM (#38644244)

      "We do have to make sure that there are computers in a computer age inside classrooms, and that they work and that there’s Internets that are actually -- there are Internet connections that actually function." - Obama

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/06/president-obama-internets_n_891781.html

    • by White Flame (1074973) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:38PM (#38644338)

      Users don't understand the technology they use, and what legislation would do to it in the long (or even short) run. They look at currently available features, and it never enters their mind that other possibilities could exist. It's only the power users and geeks who do the digging to be informed (regardless if the subject is computing, cars, politics, etc).

      I'd rather have a technologically unaware representative who will work against PATRIOT/SOPA/etc than somebody who uses an iPad and has buys into security theater and its IP equivalents.

    • by roman_mir (125474) on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:15PM (#38644818) Homepage Journal

      I'm much more inclined to look at a candidate that uses or has used technology versus those who just like to talk about it.

      - then it's Ron Paul, no contest.

      Why, you ask?

      Because without technology and especially the Internet where would Ron Paul's campaign be? You certainly wouldn't hear about him or anybody like him in the MSM, so then what, town hall meetings?

      Ron Paul is actually using the technology in the political process. Obama's blackberry and what not, and you are still going to get SOPA and PIPA and no veto from Obama.

      Do you realise now how silly it is, to say that the most important thing is who uses the technology most is your preferred candidate, because you are actually oblivious as to how the technology is really used?

      The question is actually this: who is going to prevent government force from taking your liberty to use and work with technology that you choose?

    • by Dave Emami (237460) on Monday January 09, 2012 @09:02PM (#38645392) Homepage
      I know this is heresy, but if you put aside your policy opinions and his verbal gaffes, Bush is much closer to the average Slashdot reader than is Obama when it comes to working with technology. Specifically, I'm talking about what he had to learn to fly an F-102. Yes, it was primarily analog tech, but it's still quite complicated, and you can't fly the plane unless you're capable of interpreting that data in real time. Also, part of pilot training is understanding the aircraft's systems, knowing what can go wrong with them, and being able to troubleshoot them -- not to the same degree as the ground crew, but a pilot has to be able to figure out what problem he's dealing with and what can be done about it. Being able to approach problems that way transcends specifics in technology, and is more similar to dealing with a network issue or fixing a software bug or the rest of a techie's everyday experience than anything Obama is likely to have done.

      Let me put it this way: sit Bush and Obama down. Give each one a motherboard, hard drive, and all the other makings of a PC. I'd bet decent odds that Bush would have the thing working first.

      (Note: I am not asserting that either man is smarter than the other, just that Bush is more experienced with, and more likely to be comfortable with, dealing with technology shorn of its user-friendly trappings. Sending emails on a Blackberry doesn't qualify).
  • Geek issues? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:22PM (#38644090)
    Geeks are not even in agreement on technical issues, so how can you expect a candidate that would be good for "geek issues?" Half of /. supports net neutrality as a way to protect the spirit and nature of the Internet, and half oppose it as yet another regulation that will lead to handouts to entrenched interests at the expense of everyone else. There are people who support the interests of the copyright lobby, and people who oppose them. There are free software supporters, and people who think the GPL is a bad thing. Any number of candidates might be supported by the general geek community.
    • Re:Geek issues? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TWX (665546) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:42PM (#38644410)

      Geeks don't agree, but geeks don't literally come down as on only one side of each of several issues with another group of geeks coming down on exactly the opposite side of the set of issues either. A politician who knows the issues and can actually talk about them with some kind of insight is the kind of person we would ultimately want, even if not everyone agrees with everything they stand for all of the time.

      My wife is an MIT alum and is really active in her alumni group, so I know A LOT of extreme übergeeks. They fall all over the place as far as opinions on the political responsibilities and ramifications of technology, yet they all would agree that generally understanding and employing technology and being able to look at the results of its usage is essential in the further progression of society. After all, Technology is what differentiates human beings from all of the other animals on this planet. We are the only species that engages in any sort of high level manufacturing beyond a little bit of the use of found objects in a few other mammals.

    • by kiwimate (458274)

      Actually, I'm not 100% certain that the submitter meant to discuss "geek issues". That's the title of this story, but that phrase isn't used in the summary.

      Personally, I think that's a good thing. If one is determined to cast a vote based solely (or even mainly) on a candidate's viewpoints on net neutrality or SOPA, I think one needs to reevaluate one's priorities. With all that is going on in the world today, and in America specifically, I have a difficult time seeing these as the most pressing issues for

  • by jockeys (753885) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:22PM (#38644096) Journal
    When asked to choose: "R or D?" it's sort of akin to a polite rapist asking you: "Which hole?"
    • by ruiner13 (527499) on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:01PM (#38644678) Homepage
      The two party system has to go. It only fosters a "you're with us or against us" mentality that doesn't get anything done. Get rid of political parties, make lobbying illegal, and one more thing. Make all politicians write summary documents about any bills they vote for. If they can't summarize it like any child does in reading class, they should NOT be able to vote on it. It also provides an audit trail into their dumb thoughts at the time.
      • by Ichijo (607641) on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:26PM (#38644944) Homepage Journal

        Duverger's law [wikipedia.org] explains that we only have two viable parties because we use an antiquated voting system that encourages tactical voting. If you don't vote for one of the top two candidates, you're basically "throwing your vote away."

        • by ruiner13 (527499) on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:31PM (#38644990) Homepage
          I'd argue you are throwing your vote away if you DO vote for one of the two major parties. They are both so rigid in their hatred of each other, you can already determine the outcome of votes depending on which party introduced it. There is no rational thought any more.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            It's simple. Because a voting district can only have one answer, only the largest majority party in any given region gets ANY representation. So, for political parties, you must be this tall to ride this ride. A third party either can't get off the ground, or if it does, replaces one of the other two. Representation by geography is strangling American politics as it leads inevitably to a two-party system. And unlike the days when we all got our news from Walter Cronkite who tried to at least appear imp
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sporkbomb (2549308)

          Duverger's law [wikipedia.org] explains that we only have two viable parties because we use an antiquated voting system that encourages tactical voting. If you don't vote for one of the top two candidates, you're basically "throwing your vote away."

          I would think that IRV (Instant-Runoff Voting) would abolish such foolishness otherwise known as a political duopoly.

      • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... ro.net minus bsd> on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:46PM (#38645180) Homepage Journal

        There is nothing legally or constitutionally prohibiting another political party from forming in America. Indeed there are several other would-be political parties that routinely get votes and even hold conventions and at least pretend to be competing against the major two.

        The problem is really one of money and people willing to support those parties.

        This said, I would have to agree with you that some of the legal mechanisms that keep the major parties entrenched into their position and keep other minor parties from getting accepted is a tragedy and something that ought to be fixed in some fashion. Something even as mundane as proportional allocation of electoral votes (tried in Colorado, and the voters failed to pass the referendum question) would go a long way to helping support 3rd parties being recognized as a legitimate political force. Or more importantly simply winning some seats somewhere, even if it isn't everywhere (like the Libertarians are trying to do with the Free State Project).

        There are valiant attempts to go beyond the two major parties, but it takes people doing something about it rather than constantly bitching that they need to go. You also have to be very creative in terms of working within the system as you need to be aware that the deck is stacked against you.

        H. Ross Perot had a real chance to make a real difference, had he not flaked out so awfully. If some billionaire or even a not so terribly huge group of multi-millionaires got together and wanted to make a real challenge to the status quo, I'm pretty certain they could make it work. Or perhaps if a group of more ordinary folks got together and put together a genuine populist movement (Occupy Wall Street actually getting organized in some fashion?) they a true competitive 3rd party could form. The sad thing is that most of the 3rd party groups want to remain 3rd party groups and aren't focused on actually winning elections instead of spreading their political message. That takes a whole lot of work, organization, and effort.

  • by poity (465672) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:23PM (#38644116)

    Just admit it, you wanted a politics flamewar on /. for some entertainment, and since flamewars are page view magnets the editors happily oblige.

  • by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:25PM (#38644136) Homepage Journal
    Full disclosure, I managed Warren Mosler's [warrenmosler.com] 2010 US Senate campaign. But I encourage Slashdotters to look at the third party candidates running in their jurisdiction. As Eugene Debs pointed out, It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.
    • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:48PM (#38644510)

      Well, that all depends. Was it better to vote for Nader in 2000, and get George Bush? Or would it have been better to vote for Al Gore and get Al Gore?

      Hard to say, really, but I don't think the tautaulogy works for everyone.

  • John Huntsman (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jader3rd (2222716) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:25PM (#38644140)
    You can see John Huntsman tip toe around certain questions about the envrionment by saying that he believes that a leader should listen to the experts in the field on the issues.
    • Re:John Huntsman (Score:5, Informative)

      by rrohbeck (944847) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:35PM (#38644276)

      He's the only acceptable one in the GOP bunch. Romney is second but he's clearly a 1-percenter and beholden to big money so you can't expect any solutions from him.
      Perry and Santorum are GWB squared and Libertarianism is a stupid outdated ideology so Paul doesn't make the cut either although he has a few good ideas. Gingrich has proven that he's an unethical asshole (just like Perry and Santorum.)

      • by Nimey (114278)

        Huntsman's a 1%er too, you know. He's not batshit crazy and seems able to respect those he disagrees with, but he's certainly rich.

      • Re:John Huntsman (Score:5, Informative)

        by MrMatto (2429900) on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:23PM (#38644918) Journal

        He's the only acceptable one in the GOP bunch. Romney is second but he's clearly a 1-percenter and beholden to big money so you can't expect any solutions from him. Perry and Santorum are GWB squared and Libertarianism is a stupid outdated ideology so Paul doesn't make the cut either although he has a few good ideas. Gingrich has proven that he's an unethical asshole (just like Perry and Santorum.)

        A vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for the banks. Let's take a look and see who's paying for his campaign. Shall we?

        Goldman Sachs $367,200

        Credit Suisse Group $203,750

        Morgan Stanley $199,800

        HIG Capital $186,500

        Barclays $157,750

        Kirkland & Ellis $132,100

        Bank of America $126,500

        PriceWaterhouseCoopers $118,250

        EMC Corp $117,300

        JPMorgan Chase & Co $112,250

        The Villages $97,500

        Vivint Inc $80,750

        Marriott International $79,837

        Sullivan & Cromwell $79,250

        Bain Capital $74,500

        UBS AG $73,750

        Wells Fargo $61,500

        Blackstone Group $59,800

        Citigroup Inc $57,050

        Bain & Co $52,500

        Courtesy of Open Secrets:

        http://www.opensecrets.org/pres12/contrib.php?cycle=2012&id=N00000286 [opensecrets.org]

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>You can see John Huntsman tip toe around certain questions about the envrionment by saying that he believes that a leader should listen to the experts in the field on the issues.

      Hmm? He believes in global warming and evolution. He's the most pro-science candidate the Republicans have. Ron Paul doesn't believe in evolution, it's been reported.

      He also speaks Chinese, and is all round I think the best candidate. I'll vote for him if he 1) Didn't forge that racist attack ad against him and 2) He hasn't

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:25PM (#38644142)

    What issue can I use to divide them into two groups, such that one group is 'for' something and the other is 'against'?"

    Next time you're at one of their townhall meetings, just ask one simple question -

    vi or emacs?

  • by tatman (1076111) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:26PM (#38644152) Homepage
    I'm beginning to believe this "2 party system" is the problem. It seems like the R's and D's just recycle the same ole, same ole; as some other comments have stated. Independents and other parties have little hope, and very rare success, of seeing candidates in Congress. I can't even imagine its even possible that we will ever see the white house held by a party other than R's and D's. Part of it the problem, maybe all of it, is $ from corporate and union donors. There is just too much $ handed over via campaign contributions to too few candidates.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by prshaw (712950)

      I don't think it the 2 party system that is the problem, more that we (voters/public/peons) expect to find someone that will take a position on all the issues that we agree with. We could have 20 parties and different canidates from each and still not find one that agreed with our views.

      That and our 'if you are not with us you are against us' mentality.There is no bend in what we will tolorate anymore.

      I don't have a problem with the $ from corporate and union donors, I have a problem with the either outrigh

    • by sasha328 (203458)

      I'm not sure it's the two-party system that's failing. It's more the division of power that is failing you.
      Most Westminster-system governments are more-or-less two-party systems, but there are many 3rd and 4th parties that "keep the bastards honest" like we say in Australia.
      A Westminster system of govenment [wikipedia.org] means that the executive is accountable to the Parliament and is an elected member. Which means they can be replaced at any time and must answer questions in Parliament.
      Judging your politics as an outsid

  • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:40PM (#38644374)

    An oft-repeated sentiment on Slashdot is that we should change the situation by voting in better officials. An opinion that appears in nearly every political thread is: 'we're to blame because we elected these people.' On the eve of the first primary (in New Hampshire), I have to wonder: how can we tell the candidates apart? Ron Paul is an obvious exception, and I am not discounting him, but otherwise it seems that no candidate has made a stand on any issue. Consider the candidates (all of them, of any party) as a set. What issue can I use to divide them into two groups, such that one group is 'for' something and the other is 'against'?

    I don't think you got the appropriate sense of the pronouns in use. When it's said that we(1) should change the situation by voting in better officials and that we(1) have no one to blame but ourselves, that we(1) refers to the voting populace at large. You've transposed that to mean we(2) meaning /.ers (or perhaps geeks in general) but we(2) do not have a lot of political clout for a number of reasons mainly boiling down to the number of voters that will base their decision on "geek issues". First, there aren't many of us -- so already that's going to be a niche demographic to target. Second, as a group, we are very divided on non-geek issues such as economics and foreign policy. That makes us less attractive as a target because it means that we aren't likely to vote as a bloc unless geek issues become so important that they override other policy differences (for instance, most /.ers wouldn't vote for a foreign-policy hawk that was anti-gay and pro-life even if he had 100% from the EFF). Finally, geek issues just aren't very poignant with the electorate at large -- virtually no one is going to make their political decision based on those issues so there's very little for candidates to gain (and much to lose) by staking out strong positions.

    Ultimately, living in a democracy means accepting that sometimes the voters either don't care or disagree with you, even after all your attempts to convince them otherwise. It's a hard pill to swallow, especially when many arguments are of the form "if you REALLY understood issue X then you would have policy Y" and its contrapositive "if you don't favor policy Y then you don't understand issue X" that simply can't accept that sometimes you just can't convince people. Politics always has losers, and the losers invariably believe that they are right and somehow the political process must be defective merely because they lost.

    [ And, I hate to say this but I'm not being cruel here, I personally will not vote on geek issues. I think foreign policy and economics are far more important than SOPA and patent law. That's not to say I don't have opinions on the latter, or think that the 'wrong' policy might harm us, but rather I have priorities and I'd rather have the foreign policy that I like and the geek law that I don't rather than the other way around, in such cases where it appears that I cannot have both concurrently. ]

    • I think foreign policy and economics are far more important than SOPA and patent law.

      What makes you think that SOPA and patent law has no impact on economics? As far as I can tell, SOPA will be the death of a good chunk of the New Economy 3.0 companies....

  • Pete Ashdown! (Score:5, Informative)

    by nilbog (732352) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:45PM (#38644456) Homepage Journal

    Pete Ashdown isn't running for president, but he is running for a senate seat against that epic ass clown Orrin Hatch. He started the best ISP I've ever used here in Utah and has run for congress before with a very tech-savvy platform and utilized cool technologies in his campaign.

    Check him out: http://peteashdown.org/ [peteashdown.org]

    In my mind getting rid of Orrin Hatch and getting Pete Ashdown to replace him is killing two birds with one stone.

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:56PM (#38644616)
    I believe that the American political system can't be reformed because Americans are too stupid. I read a recent poll that said that something like 76% of voters want all incumbents out of Congress, but something like 56% actually say "All but my Congressman". That sums up the problem in this country. Everybody wants everybody else to sacrifice so they don't have to. When nobody will sacrifice, nothing will change. It pains me to say it, but we get the government we deserve because of our own stupidity.
  • by DigiTechGuy (1747636) on Monday January 09, 2012 @08:37PM (#38645048)
    Ron Paul has my vote. Sound economic policies and he stays true to individual liberty and property rights. Other candidates (on both sides) have hit on some of his point but always take the party stand on the typical left vs right issues. Ron Paul is a winner across the board, he can out-republican the conservatives in the primaries on issues of property rights, taxes, etc. and can out-democrat the liberals on issues of civil liberties, war, etc. He's a winner across the board with both parties if both sides will accept the principle and great benefit of freedom, which both parties wish to take away from us in various ways.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by s73v3r (963317)

      and can out-democrat the liberals on issues of civil liberties

      Yes, he has that perfect civil liberties stance of being against gay marriage.

      And no, I don't believe the idea that he's against government in all marriage. Get him to introduce a bill that removes recognition of straight marriage from the federal government, and then maybe I'll think about him.

      And with his "let the states decide!" bullshit, how would conservatives like it if states were to decide whether or not you could have guns?

    • by Xyrus (755017)

      Ron Paul has my vote. Sound economic policies and he stays true to individual liberty and property rights. Other candidates (on both sides) have hit on some of his point but always take the party stand on the typical left vs right issues. Ron Paul is a winner across the board, he can out-republican the conservatives in the primaries on issues of property rights, taxes, etc. and can out-democrat the liberals on issues of civil liberties, war, etc. He's a winner across the board with both parties if both sides will accept the principle and great benefit of freedom, which both parties wish to take away from us in various ways.

      Sound policies? He wants to take off the straight-jackets in the sociopath ward of our society.

      Granted, his views on the military are something that I happen to agree with, but turning our country into even more of a greed-fueled, egocentric, plutocracy is not my idea of progress.

      He seems to believe that humans are fundamentally good and altruistic. We aren't. If we were, then systems like capitalism, communism, and socialism would work just fine. However, history has shown repeatedly that a not insignifica

  • by rbrander (73222) on Monday January 09, 2012 @09:00PM (#38645374) Homepage

    A conservative should be against disruption, and a progressive should be in favour of, well, progress.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, Democratic politicians are not unlikely to be in the back pocket of Big Coal, Big Oil, and Big Content, where they try not to notice the Republicans in there with them. At least Republicans hate solar, we can at least distinguish the two on one tech issue.

    Frankly, I think ALL the available politicians are "conservative" about disruptive technologies, since new companies are still poor and unable to bribe\\\\\\ contribute to their campaigns, and the existing Powers That Be are able to ensure that any disruptions are thwarted, or at least slowed down.

    I think that Canada's NDP ("New Democratic Party" - based on the British Labour Party - no longer actual socialists, but as far as we go in that direction) does show what a genuinely progressive party would be like in the States. They don't take corporate contributions. And here's the most anti-DRM piece I've ever read from a national politician - from an NDP Member of Parliament, last month in the Huffington Post, protesting our Conservative Party's new "C11" bill:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/romeo-saganash/copyright-canada-reform-bill-c-11_b_1143332.html [huffingtonpost.ca]

    Excerpt:

    "Most nations with modern copyright laws do not criminalize bypassing digital locks for non-commercial use. They allow people to burn a CD from music purchased on an iPod. They let you copy a new DVD to your laptop. They don't prevent someone who is visually impaired from using software to read ebooks aloud. They don't stop teachers from referencing other media to illustrate a lesson. Under Bill C-11, all of these acts are crimes."

  • by Khashishi (775369) on Monday January 09, 2012 @11:24PM (#38646828) Journal

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