The 60% Solution

political divide

On occasion here, I write about politics. Rarely, but I do. This blog is more about atheism and skepticism than anything else but events occur that, as a blogger I don’t believe I should ignore. None of us that blog should. Whether it’s generic political, or terrorism, or maybe just something we’re interested in, we should never feel that we have to write on only a single topic.

My being an atheist has nothing to do with where I lean politically and it shouldn’t for anyone else in my opinion. Atheism has nothing to do with the world of politics. Humanism may, but atheism doesn’t. I’m tired of those atheists that I know telling me that as a conservative, I can’t really be an atheist. I must be a closet liberal. I’m not.

I think it was around a decade ago that I read a few articles discussing the divide in this country. The article described that there were about 20% of the voters that were either far right or far left. Not in the sense that some may describe them today; Not Nazi’s or Communists, but those that were hard core conservatives or liberals (the word progressive was never used). At that time, I thought this was about right. There’s always going to be a certain number of people, politically, that are unreachable from the other side.

The same reading informed me as well though that there were some 40% of voters that were on either side. That being, there were another 20% that leaned one way or the other. The point of the articles I read that was there was this slim, 20%, that didn’t identify either way that would decide major elections. I think this is true. But it’s the 20% of those that are not hard core I believe that are just as important as that 20% of what has been described as’s no checklist for me that any candidate has to

Not to belabor the point, but it’s really that 60%, those not hard core right or left, that are important. I consider myself in that group. I don’t think that anyone should vote as a purist, based on the political party, but on what the candidate says they favor or not. There’s no checklist that any candidate has to score 100% on for me to decide whether or not they’re the right person for the office.

When we hear reporters or pundits talking about politicians appealing to their base, what they’re referring to are those hard core 20%. Who they ignore, and hope for, is that they may convince some of the other 60%. They have in the past, and they will continue to do so in the future unless we all stand up and demand responsible government as well as a responsible media.

Forget about those that refuse to listen to another opinion or idea. I may not like someone else’s idea, but I will at least stop and listen to it, if it’s not shouted at me. Instead of shouting at one another and accusing each other of ill intentions, maybe look for a place where we might agree.

Become that 60%.

5 thoughts on “The 60% Solution

  1. There is a rationale and a significant benefit in voting a straight party ticket.

    A candidate’s party designation is more than just a signaler of political orientation.

    It is a statement of intent to vote in concert with the other members of that party in order to enact legislation. That’s why it’s a “Party.”

    The vast majority of questions that Congress must vote on will never come to the attention of the public, who hear about only a small handful of issues that have seized the public’s imagination or the attention of the press.

    As for the rest of the legislation that your elected representatives will vote on, the general public doesn’t know or care anything about them. Becoming informed about these issues is a full-time job, and we elect people to take care of it for us.

    By choosing candidates according to their party, you get a guarantee that these issues will be voted for according to the prevailing political viewpoint of the party you have chosen.

    In actual practice, most legislators are not at all informed about the issues which come to a vote, so they rely on the leadership of their Party to tell them how a Republican or a Democrat should vote.

    By voting for candidates at random, without regard for their concerted action with other members of their party, you defeat the ability of a party to get its favored legislation through and set up Congress for a permanent stalemate.

    In addition, you have undermined the concept of your Party’s viewpoint getting to decide on the hundreds of issues that you will never know about.


  2. When it comes to politics, or almost any other domain, some people are reasonable. They are able and willing to change their minds when presented with good evidence or persuasive argument. They are open-minded, intellectually curious, and willing to interact with others who hold different opinions. They approach these interactions with the mindset of learning and expanding their worldview rather than as winning some sort of ideological competition. And of course, these people we might describe as reasonable seem far too rare. They are out there, but they are not always easy to find – especially on social media.


    • Legislation is far from an “ideological competition.”

      Legislation becomes the law of the land, with real-world consequences that persist for generations.

      There is nothing about the Party designation of any particular candidate that makes them unable to be “open-minded, intellectually curious, or willing to interact with others who hold different opinions.”

      Indeed, since virtually every single member of Congress actually does belong to one of the two parties, they would all be unreasonable, incurious, and unable to interact.

      Legislation goes through readily when the majority of the legislators are of the same party as the president. Party whips ensure that all Democrats vote according to the wishes of the president (if he is a Democrat), even if they don’t particularly want to.

      Straying from the Party is a serious decision because your party GETS YOU ELECTED — with money, campaign expertise, and endorsements.
      That’s why Congress almost always votes along Party lines.

      A problem develops when the majority party is not the same as the President’s pary.
      That is why the Republicans were able to nullify almost every piece of legislation that Obama tried to enact.

      One of the skills Lyndon Johnson was much admired for was his ability (through his long experience in Congress and his personal characteristics) to coax, bribe, overwhelm, induce, overawe, force, threaten, and otherwise enlist Republicans to vote for his programs.

      He would invite the opposing leadership to the Oval Office, where the might and power of the Presidency of the most powerful nation the world had ever known impressed them.
      If they persisted in voting against him, he would threaten to de-fund programs in their home states, but offer them pork-barrel inducements to play along.
      He was an expert wheeler-dealer, and was effective in getting unsupported legislation (such as Civil Rights bills) passed.

      This is called “bi-partisanship.”

      But what about legislation regarding the chemical make-up of road coating asphalt on any federally-funded highway?
      Do you want “general public benefit” to override “business-friendly”?
      The legislators will vote exactly according to the instructions of the party whips (unless a new LBJ can broker a deal.)

      That is why voting for the Party, not the individual, makes sense.
      The vast majority of legislation is decided according to “party viewpoint” in just this way.

      And after all, any specific legislator, regardless of party affiliation, might or might not be “open-minded, intellectually curious, and willing to interact with others who hold different opinions.”

      But they all still have to vote according to their party line — or else lose the support of their party for re-election.


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