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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Pawlenty's quote

--posted by Tony Garcia on 8/30/2006

Cumulo Nimbus Growing

It has been out there for a while now. It has been analyzed and dissected beyond belief. I have a little something to redress on the response to the response.

An article about an interview with Tim Pawlenty included a firestorm causing quote. "The era of small government is over."

There have been many blog postings written that point out how Clintonesque the line was. There have been many people talking about how this proves (or completes) the complete abandonment by Pawlenty of the fiscal conservative and small government ideals. David Strom has a great posting about this quote.
I guess, in a simply factual way, the era of small government ended sometime betweent the initiation of the progressive era and the beginning of WWII, but I somehow don’t think that’s quite what Pawlenty is referring to. Instead, he appears to be suggesting that us limited government types who have been trying to wrestle with the growing size and scope of government are passe. These days, using government’s coercive power to achieve your goals is in! The next wave. What Republicans are, or should be, about.

All I can say is, if that is where the Republican Party is going, or for that matter where our young, hip, and politically skilled Governor wants to take us, I’m not on board! Basically, the version of politics Pawlenty is hawking is one of competing interests trying to wrestle control over the power of the state to distribute the goodies. The Democrats give the goodies to the unions and public employees, the Republicans to the farmers and through new middle class entitlements like free college tuition.
Yeah, that is where the GOP seems to be headed. 'What do the polls say? That is what we believe today.' What is the guiding principle for the GOP? I used to think it was (misguidedly) victory only. After watching state and national GOPers wrap themselves around Lieberman's cause I realize that their guiding principle is "make the Democrats lose". Nothing else matters.

Voting guide for Republican members is expected to be as follows:
1. Do nothing until election day
2. Find candidates with (R) after their name
3. Select those candidates.

To Pawlenty's credit he is doing what politicians do (and we as a population do nothing about)...he is looking for any way to maintain his power. That is all. Once in office all politicians principle boils down to one thing: Maintain Power. There is not a fidelity to "fiscal conservativism" or "small government" or any other platform in the future that the politician feels becomes a liability.

And the supporters simply follow.

Supporters Don't Listen, Only Attack

You may think I'm being too hard on the supporters, but I now point to Marty's posting.
I invite anyone to make the case for me to vote for Pawlenty in the general election. I have strived in my life to find the balance between my ideology and the necessity of winning elections. A party is useless if it has no principles and principles are useless without political influence. As far as I'm concerned right now, the positions Pawlenty has been advocating for lately are contrary to my principles. In fact, Pawlenty calls into question all of my beliefs regarding size and role of government in the economy.

Please try to do better than "Pawlenty is bad but Hatch is worse."
Notice the lines in bold face. I point them out because that is one of the questions I have been asking of Pawlenty supporters for quite some time. Why should I, a fiscal conservative, vote for Pawlenty. To date there has been no answers supporting a fiscal vote FOR Pawlenty.

In a moment I will give a primer on the difference between voting FOR someone vs voting AGAINST someone...and the irresponsibility in the latter. But right now I want to focus on the reaction to Marty's post.

The reaction to Marty's post has been typical of Party over Principle people. They ignore the issue, ignore the questions, attack the alternatives (on a personal level, not in any relation to the issues presented) and attack the "non-loyal" personally. To date the challenge of presenting an arguement FOR Pawlenty has not been presented.

One response to Marty:
Given the choice between two alternatives, I choose the best of the two. What does Marty do? Not choose at all.
A subtle shot at the now "non-loyal" Marty and a failure to answer the issue at hand. Additionally a failure to present reasons to vote FOR Pawlenty.

Another response:
Pawlenty has been a staunch supporter of conservative social issues. We can quibble about a "fee" vs. a "tax" but one can easily dismiss his goo-gooism under pragmatic pretenses.
Again, ignoring the exact issue ("I would rather regain some of my principles and face a Hatch governorship then lose all I have come to believe as a fiscal conservative") and then attempting to marginalize the question & and the questioner.

Finally there is this response:

How much did income taxes go up under gov. Pawlenty?
How much did the gas tax go up?
How much did taxes on business go up?
How much in state spending was cut under Tim Pawlenty?
How quickly did gov. pawlenty sign tort reform, eminant domain reform, and repealing profiles of learning?
How pro-second amendment is gov. pawlenty?
How strongly has gov. pawlenty supported pro-life legislation?
How strongly has gov. pawlenty supported the marriage amendment?
Understand what is happening here? In order to make the case to fiscal conservatives rhetorical questions are asked pointing to very small "subsets" of the fiscal platform. This is intentional as Pawlenty's entire performance, as a whole, in the fiscal light is not good. This is like trying to convince your parents that your high school grades are worthy of reward. "Did I get a good grade on my Calculus test in October of my junior year? Did I do well in Biology in the fall semester of my Freshman year? Wasn't my attendance perfect? Did I break my curfew on weeknights? See, I deserve commendation for my grades in high school."

Notice in the series of rhetorical questions the shifting away from fiscal questions once asking a question where the answer is actually damaging ("How much in state spending was cut under Tim Pawlenty?"). Then next one was asking about the speed of signing legislation. I'm not certain that is a credential that is to be considered of a candidate. But, the fiscal conservative retort would be to point out the bills he also signed which include the Transportation Constitutional Amendment and the Northstar Train...the usurping of local voter rights in the Stadium bill and PROPOSING a billion dollar capital investment bill (essentially growing government).

There is so much more to specifically pick apart in the list of rhetorical questions. But the larger idea is the general responses in "defending" Pawlenty.

Again, the responses are to ignore the issue, ignore the questions, attack the alternatives (on a personal level, not in any relation to the issues presented) and attack the "non-loyal" personally. Never believe that the tendency to avoid discussion about issues is unique to the Left. It is epidemic on both sides of the aisle. Wait, correction. Never believe that the tendency to avoid discussion and prevent disagreement about issues is unique to the Left.

Voting For Someone vs Voting Against Someone

Since I have seen the light on this (summer of 2004) I have been waiting for some reasonable examples to help drive this one home. Lieberman's recent ordeal gives an opportunity to show this through the eyes of the Left.

When you vote FOR someone you know what you are getting...in theory. The reality is that you may not have done your homework enough (blame is on you) or the candidate changed since you voted for him (blame is on them). People who voted for Jesse Ventura in 1998 and then were surprised by his governance (style & policy) are the 'didn't do the homework' type. Tim Pawlenty is of the latter type to fiscal conservatives. That tangent is over...sorry.

When you vote FOR someone and you win then election night is not the only day of celebration. You can look forward to, know what you should be getting over, were a part of the driving of policy for the next number of years. THAT is the empowerment of your voting rights.

When you vote AGAINST someone you do not necessarily know what you are getting if you 'win'. This is why it is a wreckful and irresponsible way of voting...and eliminates the empowerment within your voting rights. You may win in ousting someone and you celebrate that Tuesday night (or even Wednesday also). But then you have little to really look forward to. More of the same? Too far the other way?

Let's create a visionable hypothetical. Remember the repeated mantra from the Left in 2004? "Anyone but Bush." I have no doubt that if the ticket were Lieberman instead of Kerry those "Anyone but Bush" people would have gleefully voted for Lieberman. But the largest reason for most of them being in the "Anyone but Bush" mindset was Iraq and the "War on Terror". Imagine their horror to find out that the person they voted "for" did not really aid their main policy position on Iraq. They did not actually vote FOR Lieberman, they were voting AGAINST Bush...and in doing so they accomplished nothing.

Why? Because while their mentality was "vote AGAINST" the action in the voting booth is an affirmative vote. In other words, the actual vote is FOR someone. Thus, in the example above people WANT to vote AGAINST Bush but they cannot. They think and believe they are voting AGAINST Bush. But in trying to do so they must pull the lever FOR Lieberman...and they know nothing about whom they are acting FOR. They are not even necessarily FOR Lieberman.

I know...many partisans on the Left may have understood that example because it speaks to their beliefs. Many partisans on the Right cannot wrap their minds around that...so for them we will create another visionable hypothetical. Rewind to 2002 and imagine that somehow Brian Sullivan said something that made him an objectionable choice as a person to conservatives (including fiscal conservatives). (Let me think of something that would make Republicans hate him as a person regardless of platform...hmm, OH. Imagine he said at the convention that Bill Clinton was a capable and shrewd politician.)

"Damn that Brian. That's it. I'll teach him. I'm voting anyone but Brian", says an offended fiscal conservative. But because our system requires an action of affirmation to vote that offended fiscal conservative selects Pawlenty's name. And did that fiscal conservative get his views represented by his vote? Nope. He would have been better off voting "abstain" (in other words: skipping the vote). Voting AGAINST someone does not pay off and instead opens the door to worse outcomes than intended.

Vote FOR someone or, if you cannot vote FOR someone then noone is deserving of your vote in that race. Skip it. But do not delude yourself into the mindset of voting AGAINST someone. Please remember...your vote is yours to give and there is no Right of a candidate to your vote. Just because you have a vote and there are candidates in a race there is not an obligation to give your vote to a candidate. Votes are too precious to waste on the selection of "the lessor of two evils". Votes are too important to give away to unworthy candidates (in the voter's mind) out of a falsely perceived obligation.

Vote FOR someone or skip it.

Note: I have been working on this post for several days. As I have previously mentioned, my free time went from "some" to "absolutely none whatsoever at all between Sunday and Saturday". I had to work this one in parts and sections. Thus, regardless of if you agree or not, should you find some passages that are incomplete please let me know. (I know, I opened the door for those whose reading comprehension skills are on par with a toddler to claim the ideas are 'incomplete'--that is to be expected, I suppose, from people like that.



Blogger Erik said...


I think you are incorrect in your assertation that it is better to abstain from voting than it is to vote against someone.


In our system the large, large majority of elections, despite having a number of names on the ballot, can only conceivable be won by one of two candidates. There are exceptions like the 1998 Minnesota governors race and the 2006 Connecticut Senate race, but largely elections boil down to a choice between two possible winners.

If you accept that by Election Day only two candidates can reasonably be assumed to have any chance at all to win an office, then a rational voter (one who studies the issues and selects the candidate who more closely mirrors his or her views in the assumption that that candidate will act in ways that more closely resemble the voters views once in office than would any of the other possible winners) will select the most agreeable of the two remaining candidates.

As an example, if I agree with candidate A 40% of the time, and with candidate B 5% of the time (and know that either candidate A or B will win an election) it is only reasonable for me to vote for candidate A.

I don't need to agree with that candidate all the time, or even most of the time, to select him or her. I just have to beleive he or she will more closely resemble my views than any other candidate who could win the election.

True, I may select a candidate who I beleive is not a good one, but faced with the knowledge that the other candidate would be worse I am left with the obligation to choose the candidate who would be less bad.

I might prefer to vote for a candidate I believe would be good for my city, state or nation, but if that option is not available (or stands no chance of winning) I am still acting in my own interests by selecting the less bad candidate.

By skipping the election I am basically saying that I don't care whether 5% or 40% of my views are promoted, it makes no difference. However, it does.

August 30, 2006  
Blogger Tony said...

There are two premises in your comment that I disagree with (they may be reality in a sense, but I reject that we should accept them as unalterable).

1) Because there are only 2 "conceivable" possibile winners one should narrow their choices to one of those 2.

2) Finding noone to be "For" one should still select someone.

Yes, it is statistically borne out that one of 2 candidates are the possible winners. I do not deny that fact, but I reject the idea that one's choices for action on Election Day must be narrowed to believing an either/or choice exists. It does not. "Abstain" is still a valid option.

(Surprisingly I have spoken to a number of people who have thought their entire ballots would be invalidated if they skipped any race. Otherwise they prefer to skip a number of races this November. Another example of 'If you don't know your rights you don't know who you are.')

Again, the crucial distinction might be better articulated through another pair of hypotheticals.

1) Coleman vs Wellstone/Mondale. This race fit in perfectly with your 40% vs 5% example. In this race it was very easy to embrace and be FOR the 40%.

2) Bachmann vs Wetterling. Platform-wise (not counting results or lack thereof) this race is about a 85% vs 15% to me. However the FIRST criteria I judge a candidate on is them as a person. I have described a fraction of the reasons why I will not vote for, support, advocate, etc for Bachmann. They are objections to her as a person based on 1st hand, 2nd hand and 3rd hand experiences. Thus, I am unable to be FOR Bachmann. Platform-wise I am not able to be FOR Wetterling. So abstaining is better. I would prefer neither in office and it would be a disservice to my voting power to cast a vote for someone I do not want in office.

"But by not voting for Bachmann you may end up with Wetterling." True...but what is not clear from your argumentation is why that is relevant enough to override my own standards of candidate selection? (Using me as an example, but of course the larger argument is about the electorate in general.)

The only ways I see that it would make sense to override one's selection criteria is if they either view "party victory" more important than all else (or worse, "opposing party defeat") OR to simply vote against someone.

I have written much about the Party over Principles and will spare this comment the explanation of that. But as to voting against someone I ask the following. Given my misgivings in the Bachmann vs Wetterling race can you please tell me how I can vote AGAINST Wetterling...I mean actually, physically cast a vote AGAINST Wetterling (as opposed to filling in the arrow next to Bachmann).

As you can see...there is not a physical way to vote AGAINST someone which makes the justification of voting AGAINST someone empty and unable to be fulfilled.

Abstain--that is the proper and legitimate option when you cannot be FOR any of the options in the race.

August 30, 2006  
Blogger Erik said...


I can understand a situation where personal flaws make it impossible to vote for them. However, I think if you look at the amount of influence government actions have on our everyday lives one cannot accept personal revulsion on it's own as a reason to not vote for a candidate.

I may know candidate a and beleive he is a very bad person. However I also know that he will vote in ways I agree with on 85% of the issues. His motivation for voting that way may not be pure, but in the end the result is the same as someone casting the vote for the purest of motives.

I could know that party pressure will force the votes I prefer, or they could be forced by popular polls or my districts makeup. As long as I understand the politician I personally dislike vehemently will vote in a way I approve of 85% of the time I need to compare that percentage against the opponent's likelihood of voting with me on the issues.

If the politician I hate will vote favorably 85% of the time, their major party opponent, who is a wonderful human being, will vote favorably 20% of the time, can I afford to not select the candidate who will vote in favor of my positions most of the time?

I don't mean to denigrate you, I understand your position and sympathize, but I feel that by not choosing the better of two candidates (on issues) when one of the two will obviously win can only be the result of a person allowing their vanity overcome their knowledge of which candidate will be better for their district, their state or their nation.

August 30, 2006  
Blogger Tony said...

OK, your position and my position on "personal issues" as criteria I concede are irreconcilable (for the two of us at least) and both positions are reasonable. Suffice it to say that I believe we as a society should never knowingly put a bad person into public office. Nixon, Clinton, Cong. Jefferson (New Orleans), Kennedy, Marion Berry...should not have been put into or returned to office. They are people who are (or were at the time of their last office) broken. They did not attempt to fix their maleficent ways.

Let's move over to the Pawlenty example now. It seems that the fiscal conservative is getting a diminishing % of platform match from Pawlenty and assumably a small % of platform match from Hatch. (I'm pulling numbers out of the for the sake of argument & demonstration.) Let's say 40% and falling vs 15%. How can one cast a vote against the 15% candidate? Not possible. So, again, not being able to be FOR either candidate the best choice is to "abstain".

Erik, I thank you for being able to address the issues. THAT is what is productive in public discourse and welcome your more of your opinions.

(And this is for those out there who have problems with understanding what they are reading. Examples are not issues and it is obvious you cowboy-wannabes need that spelled out for you.)
Point #1...Don't vote against someone; vote for someone.
Point #2...If you cannot be for any candidate then abstain. I mean, skip the race.
Point #3...Pawlenty has diminishing credibility on fiscal conservativism. (Sorry, big words give you guys problems.) I mean, Pawlenty fits less and less in the fiscal right-wing.
Example #1...The first step a candidate for public office must pass for my support is character. Bad character, no support...no exception.
Example #2...What if Lieberman ran against Bush in 2004. It is pretend so we can talk about an idea. (Maybe when you are done with your coloring books someone can tell you teach you what "hy-po-the-ti-cal" means.)

Sorry...some people (mostly cowboy-wannabes and people with alliteration for names, oh and the deck o cards) are really that dense and do not seem to understand these things.

August 30, 2006  
Blogger Erik said...


I think you're right. We've hit a wall here.

I believe most elections boil down to a choice between two possible candidates, and that it is my responsibility (owed to myself, my community, and my young daughter) to select the best candidate from among those two options.

I believe this because government's actions have a tremendous effect on or lives, and if I choose the candidate who agrees with me more often I am doing my duty. If I have to hold my nose while I do it I will, but I'll also fight in the primaries and endorsing conventions so that a good candidate emerges.

I happen to disagree with you about Pawlenty and have no problem at all voting for him.

I also understand your position that if you cannot vote for someone you believe will do good in office you shouldn't vote for anyone.

I just disagree and believe it serves my interests to select the least bad candidate in that circumstance.

I hope you come around to my way of thinking by election time, but tend to doubt it.

Thanks for the discussion.

September 01, 2006  
Blogger Tony said...

I wanted to add a different wrinkle in response to your last comment.

"I hope you come around to my way of thinking by election time, but tend to doubt it."

Even if I came around (mostly) to your way of thinking (actually, if I returned to it would be more accurate) the next thing to overcome is my belief that THIS election is probably the best time to lose. I know I am in the minority on this and I have a few long posts on this. So here is just the nutshell. If you want the whole nut I will have to find the most recent post on the topic. (And now that I think about it, it might be on a comment on someone else blog...dangit.)

Why lose in 2006? A loss by bad, moderate, liberal or moving-leftward Repbulicans now means two things. One, Democrats (hard-left ones in many cases) would be in office. If anything goes wrong (terrorist attack, Iran fires a nuke at Isreal, economy collapses, etc) it would be very easy to blame them. Certainly, the media would not, but the reasonable and not-deep-in-politics populace are paying enough attention outside of just the MSM that APPROPRIATE blame will find its proper place. This should lead to a backlash. (For an analogous snap-back compare the Senate for 80th Congress to the ones before and after.)

Two, (and this can apply at any election, so it is not unique to 2006) the left-ward Republicans (candidates & incumbants) can be replaced by a fresh and conservative batch in 2008. Since I believe that coattails actually go up the ballot this would help the GOP Presidential candidate substantially. And a GOP smarting from a 2006 whipping will be more likely to find a 2008 Pres candidate closer to Reagan than Bush I.

September 01, 2006  

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