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In the pundit roundup, Rick Shenkman on low-information voters and John S Baick on the incongruities of the Palin/McCain ticket are highlighted.
I have been thinking these last few days that Governor Palin not meeting the media and the GOP making the media the enemy are good tactics.  People who vote for the Palin/McCain ticket - on the right or (conservative Dems/women?) on the left - are people who don't read much, and if they do, are already pushed into the direction of the "media is against us" narrative.
The hope is that there are more Dems (men and women) who read newsreports and find that the "maverick" ticket is anything but, rather than swallow the GOP line and vote for that ticket.  But given Shenkman's analysis...

I am originally from India, and I sometimes doubt the intelligence of the average voter, whether in India or in the US.  Back in the '90s, when I was in India, the right wing nutjobs (the Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP) were rather popular among the majority Hindus (I am a Hindu).  So they won a lot of seats in Parliament.  But never an outright majority.  Initially, other parties shunned the BJP as a Communal force prone to inciting Hindu-Muslim riots, but after repeated elections where multiparty governments collapsed, the BJP eventually came to power in 1998 and ruled for a full five-year term with the help of a few allies.  An argument I heard before 1998 was - "we want stability in our country, so support the BJP" - and this from graduate students at one of India's finest engineering schools.  In 2004, the BJP was kicked out of power, and replaced with the Congress and its allies - presumably people realized the BJP didn't deliver on its promises.  I wonder what 2009 will bring (the Congress has its own faults - a dynastic rule).  Maybe the Indian populace will switch between the two major parties (Congress and the BJP) every five years so neither gets too comfortable.

But the best example I have of a smart voting public is the Indian election in 1977.  Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (Congress) had imposed martial law for two years after a court declared her election to Parliament illegal.  In 1977, after intelligence reports that the voters were favorable to voting her back into power, she lifted the emergency and elections were held.  But a popular movement led by Jayaprakash Narayan combined with the non-Congress parties banding up together dealt the Congress, and Indira Gandhi personally, a severe defeat at the hustings.  This, despite the fact that majority of Indians weren't even literate.

So I still hold out hope for the average voter anywhere...

Originally posted to randomsubu on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 05:53 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tips? n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT, Hillbilly Dem, swaminathan

    Offshore drilling: Mental relief for a mental recession.

    by randomsubu on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 05:57:54 AM PDT

    •  Level of engagement (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      randomsubu, polar bear

      One difference is that Indian voters are highly engaged (except for the highly educated upper middle class and rich!).  They discuss a lot about politics and tend to be well-informed, perhaps because of cultural factors: enjoyment of discussion, gathering in groups.

      The fragmentation and lack of differentiation between parties (apart from the leftists and the communalism of the BJP)makes it difficult to judge the "smarts" of voters - they rarely have real choices, unlike this US election.

      By the way, would you agree that the leftists seem to be the best of the lot at this time?  Their track record in Kerala and West Bengal doesn't seem to be too bad.  They seem to be just as vulnerable as others to corruption, though.

      The problem with the US election system is that the power of the media and the complete failure of their news reporting models has led to huge systemic holes in the functioning of democracy as a system - and other countries are subject to the same system dynamics.  We really need to rework the model of how democracy functions.

      The encouraging part is that Bush approval ratings did fall so low - so people are not totally disengaged or vulnerable to propaganda.  The depressing part is the stakes in this election - the probable global impacts of 4 more years of dysfunctional US government.  The best part is that the hour has produced the man - at least there is a real choice and a good chance that the good guys win.

      •  Bush approval ratings => people are engaged (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        swaminathan

        I agree with that.  Also, I am not sure that now-a-days in India, there are too many economic choices - even the Commies are pro-industrialization, see the Tata Singur project (so I agree with you for recent Indian politics).
        As might be evident from my "Commies" reference, I don't have much sympathy for the left in India.  Their opposition to the Indo-US nuclear deal seems knee-jerk anti-Americanism.
        Every party in India has its issues - communalism, dynasty, parochialism.  The best way forward is what happens in Kerala - switch out the party-in-power every five years.

        Offshore drilling: Mental relief for a mental recession.

        by randomsubu on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 07:56:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Commies! (0+ / 0-)

          Actually, the left in India is not very communist.  They are really socialist, though they have communist in their party titles.  They are slightly more pro-poor than the others, though that sometimes results in unworkable policies - like preventing petrol price hikes.

          The nuclear deal seems to be quite a complex problem.  Have you noticed that a significant chunk of the scientific establishment is against the deal?  The biggest problem is that Manmohan Singh refused to provide details of the deal - what's up with that?  And the letter that was released recently, indicating that the US could essentially pull out anytime it liked, and would pull out if India did any testing, indicates clearly that we gave up a lot for relatively little.  It is not at all clear to me that the deal is good for India.

          I did have a knee-jerk opposition to the deal: I figured that if Bush was for it, it could not possibly be good for India.  In fact, I have my suspicions that Manmohan Singh must have been strong-armed significantly somehow.  Otherwise it makes no sense that he would have put his entire Government in jeopardy for the deal.  The Left pullout damn near pulled down the Govt, and only some enormous corruption has kept it alive.  No party would go through all that for principles alone, definitely not here.

          The reason every party in India has issues is that the system discourages honesty.  We have been lucky so far because there were at least a few honest leaders left over from the freedom struggle days.  It is going to get a lot worse soon, I think.  The states are already in that situation, with government essentially becoming a license to steal, and making basically no long-term plans whatsoever.

          That's the problem with the "switch every 5 years" model - it will encourage even more lack of  long-term perspective - people will try even harder to "get theirs" while they can.

          Lovely sig line, by the way!

          •  The deal has positives (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            swaminathan

            One thing I can't figure out is - if Indian nuclear technology is so developed, why don't we produce more nuclear energy?  Despite all the hype around BARC etc. (disclosure - I worked in a BARC-funded project for a few months), I have not seen any nuclear plants planned using indigenous technology.
            So that suggests we need external help.  I see this letter that has some scientists sort-of opposing the deal, but at least Dr MR Srinivasan seems to have come around.  As the latter letter says, India can always test nuclear weapons and build up its arsenal - the question is, can India deal with the (pun unintended!) fallout?
            In the future, considering climate change, nuclear energy is going to be big.  So I can see a scenario where we get US technology and uranium for a few years, developing our energy resources, and later, if required, dropping out of the deal... ;-)

            [Not everything Bush does is bad - I liked his support for comprehensive immigration reform.]

            Offshore drilling: Mental relief for a mental recession.

            by randomsubu on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 10:26:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I too recently worked on a fusion energy project (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              randomsubu

              I interacted with someone from Kalpakkam, who was obtaining some French technology.  But he said that for the most part, we do have most of the technology we need, and I think we are building some indigenous reactors (possibly not wholly indigenous).

              The trouble with getting technology from other countries is that they are very reluctant to help you become self-sufficient - they want to keep on doing business.  So it ends up being quite nasty business all around.

              Oh well, hope it all works out OK.  Good chatting with you.

  •  shenkman is a hack (0+ / 0-)

    His article cites data from 7 years ago; it reads like a rehash of a college paper he wrote around 2002.

    I call bullshit.

    •  Ummm... not quite (0+ / 0-)

      I see references to 2006 Zogby and National Geographic surveys, and a 2007 Pew study.  Also some PIPA studies that date around 2002/2003 and maybe later - but these measured public knowledge of matters relating to Iraq and 9/11 as the US was about to invade Iraq, so data from that time is relevant.
      I do wish he had provided direct links to these studies, but other than that, the piece seems solid.

      Offshore drilling: Mental relief for a mental recession.

      by randomsubu on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 10:16:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  he didn't link to any of it (0+ / 0-)

        Zogby has pretty much been completely discredited as a pollster, and there's no links to the original data...so who knows how they got those numbers.

        He's a hack. Just because he's reinforcing your preconceptions doesn't make him less of one.

        •  Wrong again (0+ / 0-)

          Actually, I did note in my reply that Shenkman has not provided links.
          And if you read my post carefully, you'd see that I actually am not convinced one way or the other about voters being stupid (an idea from Shenkman's book title).
          Look like it's you who has preconceptions about Shenkman.

          Offshore drilling: Mental relief for a mental recession.

          by randomsubu on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 10:46:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  sorry (0+ / 0-)

            if I came off as personally criticizing you...you did mention the lack of links.

            His thesis may end up being accurate; I'm just calling him out on the poor quality of the article. It's just pundit-noise which distracts from the little real discussion and insight available from the chattering class.

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