IVN.us http://ivn.us Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News Wed, 29 Jul 2015 20:50:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Jeb Bush: GOP Primary Voters Hate Compromise http://ivn.us/2015/07/29/jeb-bush-gop-primary-voters-hate-compromise/ http://ivn.us/2015/07/29/jeb-bush-gop-primary-voters-hate-compromise/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 20:50:50 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295666611 Jeb Bush: GOP Primary Voters Hate Compromise

Jeb Bush does not want a repeat of Mitt Romney's 2012 primary election mistakes. While Romney veered to the right to pander to the hardline Republican base, essentially solidifying his general election loss, Jeb Bush is trying to find the middle ground.

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Jeb Bush: GOP Primary Voters Hate Compromise

Jeb Bush does not want a repeat of Mitt Romney’s 2012 primary election mistakes. While Romney veered to the right to pander to the hardline Republican base, essentially solidifying his general election loss, Jeb Bush is trying to find the middle ground.

Bush previously suggested that the Republican nominee must be willing to risk the party’s nomination to remain competitive in the general election. The New York Times reported on Jeb Bush’s appearance in Orlando, Florida, where he stated:

“We need men and women of good will forging consensus, starting to solve problems, kind of building back the muscles of consensus, compromise, and solution-finding to fix these things. Apparently that is dangerous in a Republican primary, but it’s what I believe.”

A Washington Post article cites a Pew survey and an NBC/WSJ poll confirming Bush’s fears that Republicans do not want their leaders compromising with Democrats, even if that means increased government gridlock.

"It is enlightening to hear a candidate realize that compromise is not a hostile notion, even if it hurts Bush with primary voters."Caitlin Hurkes, IVN Independent Author
The Pew survey found that two-thirds of Republicans want their leaders to oppose Obama even if that means decreased policy outputs, while a majority of Democrats want Obama to work with Republicans. Similarly, the NBC/WSJ poll confirms a plurality of Republicans think the congressional GOP has compromised too much with Obama.

It is enlightening to hear a candidate realize that compromise is not a hostile notion, even if it hurts Bush with primary voters. A critical issue facing the next president, Bush explained, is finding a “way to reweave the web of civility.”

“We shouldn’t be scolding people, we shouldn’t say outrageous things that turn people off to the conservative message. Our message is the one of hope and opportunity for everybody,” the former Florida governor concluded.

Jeb Bush finds himself in the position that any candidate in partisan primaries struggles with: how to win the nomination without compromising one’s ideals in order to pander to the party’s base voters (who, as Pew points out, are becoming more partisan and historically vote in primary elections).

Read the full report from The Washington Post here.

Photo Credit: Andrew Cline / Shutterstock.com

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Turkey’s Recent Appeal to NATO Has Foreign Policy Hawks Circling http://ivn.us/2015/07/29/turkeys-recent-appeal-nato-foreign-policy-hawks-circling/ http://ivn.us/2015/07/29/turkeys-recent-appeal-nato-foreign-policy-hawks-circling/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 18:46:30 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295666562 Turkey’s Recent Appeal to NATO Has Foreign Policy Hawks Circling

On July 26, Turkey invoked a rare protocol within the NATO treaty, demanding that all 28 NATO ambassadors discuss the potential of the Syrian civil war spreading into its territory after the IS's recent suicide suicide bombing in Suruç and actions of the separatist-insurgency Kurdish group, PKK.

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Turkey’s Recent Appeal to NATO Has Foreign Policy Hawks Circling

The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened. — NATO Founding Treaty, Article 4

On July 26, Turkey invoked a rare protocol within the NATO treaty, demanding that all 28 NATO ambassadors discuss the potential of the Syrian civil war spreading into its territory after IS’s recent suicide suicide bombing in Suruç and actions of the separatist-insurgency Kurdish group, PKK.

Talks began on July 28, and could realistically entangle or at least get more NATO forces closer to the battles in Syria. When talks ended for the day, a clear message of solidarity with ambiguous intentions was released — but further negotiations are expected.

Turkey, along with Greece, joined NATO in 1952, three years after the 12 founding nations created NATO in Washington, D.C. These two countries were of significant importance militarily, as they stood as the first line of defense against the Soviet Black Sea Fleet. Politically and economically, both countries were significant liabilities to the organization, and are still in this role.

Turkey has 11 primary ethnic groups, groups that have historically not gotten along well. The Kurdish population in Turkey sees itself as having much more in common with the Kurdish population in Iraq, and have made numerous attempts — especially since the fall of Saddam Hussein — at some form of ethnic government structure.

Turkey also has cool at best relations with neighboring Cyprus, with on going territorial disputes.

"Key to the NATO meeting is Article 5's casus foederis mandate--an attack on one is an attack on all."David Yee, IVN Independent Author
The disparity of wealth, even though Turkey has the 17th largest economy in the world, has kept them from entry into the European Union since their original bid in 1987. Europe also demands an acknowledgement of past genocides against ethnic minorities, and the ending of hostilities with other EU members.

Key to the NATO meeting is Article 5’s casus foederis mandate — an attack on one is an attack on all. Two outcomes are possible if NATO finds that Turkey has in fact been attacked: all out involvement in the Syrian and IS conflicts and/or a significant buildup of aircraft and forces in Turkey.

Critics in Europe are contending that Turkey is only interested in going after the Kurdish separatists, claiming that Turkey has long turned a blind eye to the IS.

America considers the PKK a terrorist organization, though the U.S., according to Turkey, has distanced itself from Turkey’s recent attempts to press the attack on the PKK with airstrikes.

Politically in the United States, the major parties seem split on NATO’s role in U.S. foreign policy and defense. Pew Research, in a poll on NATO during the Russia crisis, found Republicans and Democrats sharply divided as to American engagement in NATO led missions.

The biggest fear at this point is that American involvement may be forced by mutual defense treaties, satisfying the urges of the hawkish lawmakers in both parties in Washington.

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Why Aren’t The Two Fastest Growing Demographics in Calif. Voting? http://ivn.us/2015/07/29/low-voter-turnout-seen-among-fast-growing-california-demographics/ http://ivn.us/2015/07/29/low-voter-turnout-seen-among-fast-growing-california-demographics/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:28:38 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295666596 Why Aren’t The Two Fastest Growing Demographics in Calif. Voting?

Only one in three eligible voters cast a ballot in the 2014 general election to elect all the statewide offices, congressional representatives and approve initiatives, a record low. But, for two of California's fastest growing groups, the numbers are even more troubling.

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Why Aren’t The Two Fastest Growing Demographics in Calif. Voting?

Only one in three eligible voters cast a ballot in the 2014 general election to elect all the statewide offices, congressional representatives and approve initiatives, a record low. But, for two of California’s fastest growing groups, the numbers are even more troubling.

“Everyone was quite shocked about that and, of course, very concerned, but we wanted to know with that low of a turnout, what groups that vote even lower — what did they do in this record low context, or how low was their turnout,” said Dr. Mindy Romero, founding director of the California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP) at UC Davis.

In this month’s Policy Brief, the CCEP found that, as low as the turnout was for the general population, the turnout from Latino and Asian-Americans was even lower.

The percent of registered Latinos who voted was 27.5 percent (down 18 percent from 2010), while for Asian-Americans the number was 36.3 percent (down 12 percent 2010). The voter turnout for all registered Californians was 41.7 percent (down 17 percent from 2010).

These numbers are a problem because it shows just 17 percent of eligible Latinos and 18 percent of eligible Asian-Americans cast their ballots — less than one in five people eligible to vote did so.

Predicted population trends will result in more eligible Latino and Asian-American voters, but if the turnout percentages remain at these low levels, they will remain under-represented in the political process.

In the next 25 years, it is predicted that the state’s population will grow by 21.4 percent, with the Latino and Asian-American populations growing by 41.5 percent and 33.8 percent, respectively. By the 2016 general election, California is expected to have a minority-majority electorate, with non-Latino whites making up a little less than half of the state’s eligible voters.

Romero pointed out that Latinos and Asian-Americans are two groups that are predisposed to low voter turnout.

“You’ve got demographic issues, issues specific to this election, lack of education and outreach to these communities,” said Romero. “And then you have these big issues that are always there, when groups are under-represented — there’s a lack of familiarity to the electoral process. So they get disproportionally impacted by institutional barriers.”

Those institutional barriers include voter registration requirements, language barriers, lack of voter education, and access to additional information. Shelly Chen, the voter engagement coordinator at Asian-Americans Advancing Justice, pointed out how similar barriers keep many Asian-Americans from voting.

“There’s the misconception that Asian-Americans don’t go out and vote because the community’s apathetic or they don’t care, but what we believe is that our communities are facing a lot of barriers to the voting process,” said Chen.

On top of that, Latinos and Asian-Americans (along with the general population) are increasingly registering as No Party Preference, or NPP. And because most voter education is driven by the campaigns and the political parties, those who are NPP do not receive as much voter education and are not targeted with GOTV efforts, making them less likely to actually vote.

How can Latinos and Asian-Americans be encouraged to vote?

Dr. Raphael Sonenshein, executive director for the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at CSU Los Angeles, says that Latinos want to see action in their elected officials.

“One of the very important things often pointed out is that Latino voters are getting tired of people saying, ‘I’m not as bad for you as the other people are,'” said Sonenshein. “They’d actually, like most voters, want to hear what you’re going to do for them to improve their lives and situation, what you’re going to fight for and how you’re going to get it done.”

"Some people say they're not one-issue voters, but if you're not right on that issue, you may not get listened to on the other issues."Dr. Raphael Sonenshein, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs
Sonsenshein pointed out that Latino participation can be high when there are issues or candidates important to their community, such as immigration, but that’s not the only issue important to them.

“Some people say they’re not one-issue voters, but if you’re not right on that issue, you may not get listened to on the other issues,” said Sonsenshein. “It’s more of a threshold issue, but clearly Latino voters are extremely interested in issues of economic mobility, education, opportunity, but specifically, it’s difficult to get at that discussion if you’re perceived as hostile to immigrants.”

One of the ways Advancing Justice is encouraging Asian-Americans to vote is to increase education through its “Your Vote Matters” campaign, which includes a multi-lingual phone bank in 17 Asian/Pacific Islander languages.

“A lot of folks are limited English speaking, may not be familiar with the process, but when they hear someone on the phone who speaks their language or is able to engage them on the phone in a really competent way, the personal connection really makes a big difference,” said Chen.

Romero agrees that personal engagement is a good way to increase voter participation.

“It has to be a deep connection, has to be ‘Let me know you how I’m going to represent your interests,’ ‘Let me show you why this matters,’ ‘Let me show you why this impacts your community,’ said Romero.

“A door hanger, a phone call typically isn’t going to work. The sad thing is that the candidates think it works, so when they don’t get a response from the Latino voter, the Asian-American voter, or the community that they’re attempting that with, then they think, ‘Well, nothing works,’ and they don’t come back at all.”

“If you use the old models and you don’t reach out to them, then you miss all those new eligible Latinos and Asian-Americans that are going to be coming in, then you’re just going to end up having very low turnout across the board, which is bad for democracy,” said Romero.

But what happens if Latinos and Asian-Americans increased their voter participation?

“These communities are actually going to be reaching the tipping points where they really are going to affect the elections, then that can be consequential, not just for the candidate and the issue, but more consequential for the communities themselves,” said Romero. “Because they understand that they have an impact, how empowering is that?”

CA Fwd and the Independent Voter Project will be co-hosting an event on August 19 in Sacramento regarding the future of election reform, voting rights, and California’s nonpartisan primary. It’s free and open to the public. Featured guest speakers include Secretary of State Alex Padilla and State Senator Steve Glazer. To get more info and attend, head to the RSVP page for the California Nonpartisan Primary Summit.

Editor’s note: This article, written by Nadine Ono, originally published on CA Fwd’s website on July 28, 2015, and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN. To learn more about CA Fwd, visit the organization’s website or follow the group on Facebook or Twitter

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California Asm. Cheryl Brown: Nonpartisan Primaries Break Partisan Gridlock http://ivn.us/2015/07/29/california-asm-cheryl-brown-nonpartisan-primaries-break-partisan-gridlock/ http://ivn.us/2015/07/29/california-asm-cheryl-brown-nonpartisan-primaries-break-partisan-gridlock/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 10:45:46 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295666556 California Asm. Cheryl Brown: Nonpartisan Primaries Break Partisan Gridlock

In an interview for IVN, Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown of California's 47th district explained that the nonpartisan, top-two open primary system "requires candidates to build broad local coalitions." Brown is among the confirmed panelists who will speak at a series of discussions on voting rights, nonpartisan primaries, and the future of elections, hosted by the Independent Voter Project and California Forward on August 19.

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California Asm. Cheryl Brown: Nonpartisan Primaries Break Partisan Gridlock

CALIFORNIA — In an interview for IVN, Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown of California’s 47th district explained that the nonpartisan, top-two open primary system “requires candidates to build broad local coalitions.” Brown is among the confirmed panelists who will speak at a series of discussions on voting rights, nonpartisan primaries, and the future of elections, hosted by the Independent Voter Project and California Forward on August 19 in Sacramento.

Assemblywoman Brown was first elected to the California State Assembly on November 6, 2012, the first election to incorporate California’s new primary system. She represents California’s 47th district, located in San Bernardino, which includes Colton, Fontana, Grand Terrace, Rialto, San Bernardino, and the unincorporated communities of Bloomington and Muscoy.

"I support California’s (nonpartisan) primary system because it requires candidates to build broad local coalitions."Asm. Cheryl R. Brown
Brown’s 2012 general election victory came as a surprise for the Inland Empire since she trailed Joe Baca, Jr. in the primary, 42.3 percent to 29 percent. However, Brown came from behind and won in the general election, 56 percent to 44 percent.

The 2012 primary included two Republican candidates, Jeane Ensley and Thelma E. Beach, and two Democratic candidates, Baca and Brown. Under California’s nonpartisan, top-two open primary, all candidates and voters (regardless of political affiliation) participate on a single ballot. The top two vote-getters (again, regardless of party) move on to the November ballot. This allowed both Baca and Brown to advance to the general election in a heavily Democratic district.

“[Top-Two] gave our campaign a great opportunity to build a diverse coalition of local stakeholders,” Brown said.

Prompted to respond to the effects on policymakers within Sacramento, Brown remarked that the nonpartisan primary “has brought more moderate legislators to Sacramento who have offered new ideas to their respective parties.”

Political scientists R. Michael Alvarez and J. Andrew Sinclair confirmed this in their book, Nonpartisan Primary Election Reform: Mitigating Mischief. Alvarez and Sinclair mention Brown as one of a growing number of moderate policymakers who have emerged under California’s nonpartisan election system. According to the authors, Brown has “parted ways with most other Democrats” on gun control, marijuana, various regulatory issues, tax credits for businesses, and other issues.

Proponents of the nonpartisan, top-two open primary argue that while some say producing more moderate candidates or allowing independents a voice in primary elections was the purpose of the election reform, the truth is that it was about implementing an election model that puts voters first, not parties. Nonpartisan election reform is about giving all voters, regardless of party affiliation (or lack thereof), an equal and meaningful voice in all integral stages of the public election process.

 

Nonpartisan Reforms Require Voter Education, Not Political Talking Points

 

Assemblywoman Brown believes nonpartisan primaries have had a positive effect on California politics, and while there is vocal opposition to the reform within the established parties, Brown said it is “not controversial among a majority of California voters.” She believes California should address voter participation next, arguing that “making it easier to register to vote and to cast a vote are steps in the right direction.”

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http://ivn.us/2015/07/29/california-asm-cheryl-brown-nonpartisan-primaries-break-partisan-gridlock/feed/ 0 Alameda, Calif., resident Michelle Wong shows off her "I Voted" sticker on her dog, Sarah. democrat-republican ca-capitol florida-elections
Voter Participation Center Faces Tough Hurdle Keeping Voters Engaged in Negative Political Environment http://ivn.us/2015/07/29/interview-with-the-voter-participation-center/ http://ivn.us/2015/07/29/interview-with-the-voter-participation-center/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 10:30:49 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295666013 Voter Participation Center Faces Tough Hurdle Keeping Voters Engaged in Negative Political Environment

Founded in 2003 by Democratic political operative Page Gardner, the Voter Participation Center (VPC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging unmarried women, minorities, and Millennials to vote, which the organization has dubbed the "Rising American Electorate (RAE)."

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Voter Participation Center Faces Tough Hurdle Keeping Voters Engaged in Negative Political Environment

Founded in 2003 by Democratic political operative Page Gardner, the Voter Participation Center (VPC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging unmarried women, minorities, and Millennials to vote, which the organization has dubbed the “Rising American Electorate (RAE).”

“We are very much concerned with the underrepresented — those in our society who are not participating at a level that is consistent with their general representation in the eligible voting population,” said Gail Kitch, executive vice president of communication and finance for VPC, in an interview for IVN.

“So closing the gap between the numbers of the groups we associate ourselves with [is the goal], because they are underrepresented and they are unmarried women, Millennials, and minorities. This group is going to represent 57% of the eligible voting population in 2016, but in the most recent presidential election voted at a level of 48%. So you can see there’s a fairly significant gap there.”

So far, the VPC’s main method of encouraging people to vote is through old fashioned mailing lists. Kitch claims that while the organization is considering other avenues for interacting with potential voters, mailing lists still remain the most reliable due to their universal reach.

“Mail allows you to reach the individual you are trying to reach fast,” said Kitch. “We have also been doing some work with online voter registration and turnout, which is what we’re really interested in, but our starting point is getting folks registered to vote.”

Kitch states that while the group is doing more with online voter registration, the venture has proven challenging.

“At this point it still remains the case that online registration remains fairly complicated and also not always measurable.” Kitch explained. “You can’t tell if you’ve accomplished your goal because there’s no way to be certain that the person was able to successfully access what they needed online.”

"I like to think that the work we do serves as an antidote to that partisan bickering we find so off putting."Gail Kitch, Voter Participation Center
With more and more states beginning to allow online voter registration, such an issue will likely be a challenge for the VPC in the 2016 election. In addition to increasing awareness, VPC plans to educate voters on local voting restrictions and mobilization efforts.

Research from VPC has revealed an increased amount of participation from its target demographics in presidential elections, yet the organization sees room for improvement when it comes to midterm elections, where the RAE notoriously underperforms. According to the organization’s website, “more than 75 million members of the Rising American Electorate did not vote” in the 2014 midterm elections.

Kitch claims that one big goal for 2016 is to get voters to continue to vote in 2018.

“We want to ensure that these folks are continuing to participate in what would be considered off-year elections — the midterm elections,” said Kitch. “Yes, the President is key and federal elections are important, but in those midterms — those non-presidential years — you have key state races, governors, and state legislatures.”

Still, there is another major challenge the VPC must contend with that might be a tougher hurdle to clear; namely, the ever-increasing partisanship of national elections. It has turned into a hostile environment that sometimes serves to drive away voters.

“Some of the increasing negative aspects associated with heavy negative partisanship we see sometimes can be a way to suppress turnout,” Kitch explained. “So, if anything, it probably means we have to redouble our efforts. I like to think that the work we do serves as an antidote to that partisan bickering we find so off putting.”

The challenge only seems to be growing as political parties and outside groups spend unprecedented amounts of money on negative attack ads during election cycles. While all of this is going on, reports suggest that the number of “safe” seats in Congress continues to grow, leading many voters to believe that no matter what, their voice won’t matter in elections because the game has already been rigged to favor the incumbent or one of the two major political parties.

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To End Washington Gridlock, It’s Time to Experiment with States’ Rights http://ivn.us/2015/07/29/end-washington-gridlock-time-experiment-states-rights/ http://ivn.us/2015/07/29/end-washington-gridlock-time-experiment-states-rights/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 10:00:15 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295666486 To End Washington Gridlock, It’s Time to Experiment with States’ Rights

Gridlock dominates American politics at the national level. Among other things, partisan animosity and distrust undermines congressional function. Partisan or ideological differences and policy choices are so far apart that the two sides usually talk past each other with little mutual understanding or willingness to understand.

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To End Washington Gridlock, It’s Time to Experiment with States’ Rights

Gridlock dominates American politics at the national level. Among other things, partisan animosity and distrust undermines congressional function. Partisan or ideological differences and policy choices are so far apart that the two sides usually talk past each other with little mutual understanding or willingness to understand.

According to polling data, political willingness to compromise is generally low among most conservatives and many liberals. House speaker John Boehner sees political compromise this way: “I reject the word.” That attitude guarantees ineffective governance, which harms the public interest.

"Gridlock amounts to more than just a failure of the two-party system to govern in the public interest."Dissident Politics
From a rational point of view, the situation is unacceptable. Gridlock amounts to more than just a failure of the two-party system to govern in the public interest. It fosters public distrust of the federal government, which makes efficient governing impossible.

To some degree, partisan animosity and associated gridlock damages everything from the economy and national security to foreign policy and research policy.

A common complaint that conservatives make about federal governance is that many matters should rightfully be decided by individual states, not the federal government. Disputes over states’ rights versus federal government prerogative are old, beginning with the founding of the Republic. The two sides argue based on their ideology, biases, and/or self-interest. That amounts to unresolvable arguments over ideology or “political religion” because the arguments are largely based on personal morals or faith.

For many contested issues, a single national federal policy may work better than differing individual state policies. Because America is complex and dynamic, it is time to let states test their policy choices if they wish.

A single federal policy that best served the public interest at one time may no longer do so. An objective assessment should elucidate competing state and federal policy outcomes. If one accepts that as basically true and believes that federal gridlock is damaging to the public interest, then looking for new solutions is rational.

Although no single governance tactic will completely eliminate gridlock or partisan animosity, policy competition via opting out of some federal laws makes sense. Opt-out flexibility demonstrates good will and it affords all states the freedom to test the efficacy of their policy choices.

If an experiment clearly fails, then its proponents have to acknowledge failure and live with it or change their policies. Citizens in those states can then support or reject their political leadership with their votes.

Monitor the experiment critically but fairly

One version of opting out of a federal policy that could rationally be left to states — e.g. no child left behind, federal health care law, the VA system for veterans, or social security — would posit that a state wanting to opt out can do so and keep the federal tax money it would otherwise pay.

In return, any opt-out would be accompanied by funded, unbiased federal and/or academic data-gathering and analysis. Politics grounded in empirical data, unbiased logic, and an understanding of human behavior can be highly effective. The payoffs of carefully monitored opt-out experiments could be very high.

Since human experts are usually not much better than chimpanzees at predicting the future, results of the opt-out program could be quite surprising. Unbiased information from carefully monitored opt-out experiments could show that a federal or state solution or non-solution to an issue performs best.

Obviously, there will be disputes over most everything, including what can be opted out of, how to analyze the data, and how to define success and failure. History suggests that there probably will be some ideological and/or economic resistance to simply gathering the data, but opt-out freedom should carry at least that price.

Benefits of monitored opt-out experiments could include potential softening of partisan animosity and maybe reduced federal gridlock. If nothing else, it should be easier to pass legislation that includes an opt-out for one or more states.

Politicians from states sympathetic to states’ rights or hostile to the federal government would probably hesitate to block what those states want. That should better serve the public interest than the current dysfunction.

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Senate Committee OKs Basic Banking Services for Billion-Dollar Marijuana Industry http://ivn.us/2015/07/28/senate-committee-oks-basic-banking-services-billion-dollar-marijuana-industry/ http://ivn.us/2015/07/28/senate-committee-oks-basic-banking-services-billion-dollar-marijuana-industry/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 19:51:14 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295666558 Senate Committee OKs Basic Banking Services for Billion-Dollar Marijuana Industry

The Senate Appropriations Committee took a 16-14 vote Thursday to approve a measure that would make it easier for marijuana businesses to obtain basic banking services with financial institutions. The amendment, proposed for the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, was authored by U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

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Senate Committee OKs Basic Banking Services for Billion-Dollar Marijuana Industry

The Senate Appropriations Committee took a 16-14 vote Thursday to approve a measure that would make it easier for marijuana businesses to obtain basic banking services with financial institutions. The amendment, proposed for the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, was authored by U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

The amendment would prevent federal funds from being used to prohibit or penalize financial institutions that provide services to marijuana businesses in states where it is currently legal to sell or produce the product. This will make it much easier to obtain legitimate financial records instead of having marijuana businesses use old-fashioned cash and bookkeeping methods.

Banks are currently reluctant to provide any depository or basic banking services to these businesses over concerns for public safety. However, forcing these groups to exclusively conduct business “under the table” makes it challenging for many states to monitor their transactions and collect taxes.

This critical step to allow businesses to have access to financial institutions’ banking services is a responsible way to allow states to regulate the growing marijuana industry. This will allow marijuana businesses to operate in the same way as other legal businesses or commercial entities.

According to Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, Colorado’s marijuana industry is on track to rake in nearly $1 billion in revenue in 2015 alone. To deny these companies banking services forces them to store large amounts of cash and it raises significant concerns for public safety. It is because of reasons like these that various federal, local, state, and law enforcement officials support the measure.

Four states allow marijuana to be sold for recreational use, and 23 states and the District of Columbia permit medical marijuana. An additional 16 states have legalized CBD oils, a non-psychotropic component of marijuana, proven to effectively manage epileptic seizures that afflict children.

Republicans Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Bill Cassidy (Louisiana), and Steve Daines (Montana) sit on the Senate panel and voted for the amendment, whereas Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was the only panel Democrat to oppose the measure.

Photo Source: The Denver Post

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How to Understand What is Going On in That Candidate’s Head http://ivn.us/2015/07/28/understand-going-candidates-head/ http://ivn.us/2015/07/28/understand-going-candidates-head/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:16:19 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295666444 How to Understand What is Going On in That Candidate’s Head

Jokes about politicians are funny, usually because of the glaring kernel of truth they contain. To most who follow politics, our leaders have become stereotypes -- almost cookie cutter images of the people we'd expect to have as a politician. But to social scientists, politicians are a bit more of a quagmire.

David YeeIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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How to Understand What is Going On in That Candidate’s Head

Every politician has a promising career. Unfortunately, most of them do not keep those promises. — Jarod Kintz

Jokes about politicians are funny, usually because of the glaring kernel of truth they contain. To most who follow politics, our leaders have become stereotypes — almost cookie cutter images of the people we’d expect to have as a politician.

But to social scientists, politicians are a bit more of a quagmire.

Take any given profession and there are hundreds, if not thousands of large-scale studies done on what personality traits are best suited for that profession. Putting the right people in the right jobs can save industries billions of dollars each year.

But with politicians, there have only been a small handful of studies into their personality traits.

In modern personality testing, the Big 5 trait theory (also known as the OCEAN) is the gold standard, measuring personality on the traits of openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

These five traits, common to everyone, form a sketch of how the person will act in a given situations. It’s not a magic crystal ball, but it’s the best tool available to psychologists.

In 2012, researchers from the University of Illinois and Western Kentucky University developed the biggest large-number study of politicians on personality, with some intriguing results.

There is wide variance in the motivations, values, and patterns of interactions among politicians. As the researchers found:

Some are stridently ideological while others seek moderation and compromise. Some thirst for higher office while others harbor no such ambition. Some relish campaigning and interacting with constituents while others absorb themselves in crafting the fine details of legislation. Some seek media attention while others prefer to work in relative anonymity. To some extent, these sorts of differences emerge in response to the varied situations legislators face. But these differences in behavior also are influenced by legislators’ basic psychological tendencies—that is, by their personalities. Thus, we contend that attention to personality can help explain fundamental elements of legislators’ political predispositions and patterns of behavior.

What the researchers are saying is that personality testing should, in fact, be able to have certain predicting power when it comes to the politician’s actions.

Breaking Down the Findings

One humorous finding validates what the general public already “knows” about politicians: they are all a bunch of liars.

Seventy-five percent of respondents ranked themselves only in the top two categories of each trait (meaning that the politician believed themselves to be strong on every single aspect). This degree of skewness in self-reported personality testing is unheard of, especially when the vast majority of the study’s cohort engages in the skewing.

This initially concerned the researchers, because with this sort of distribution there might not have been enough variance to draw conclusions. However, those fears were allayed (life exists on a bell-curve, even when sharply skewed), and several interesting conclusions were drawn:

  • Openness to experience is a strong predictor of liberalism;
  • Conscientiousness is an equally strong predictor of conservatism;
  • Extraversion tended to be equal between political ilks;
  • Agreeableness had modest links to liberalism; and
  • Emotional stability had modest links to conservatism.

All of the findings were compiled into a regression model that found, in part that:

  • Legislators find meeting with constituents to be an unpleasant experience;
  • Female legislators do not enjoy participating in committee hearings as much as their male counterparts;
  • Most legislators enjoy working and creating legislation; and
  • Legislators with high extraversion and emotional stability are most likely to seek higher office.

Seeking higher office is one of the more interesting findings, as openness to experiences would logically be a “go-to” predictor of seeking a new position; yet in the dog-eat-dog world of politics, mental toughness and putting on a happy face for the crowds seems to be the needed traits.

A final thought of the researchers was the usage of personality testing during the vetting process for judges, especially ones with life appointments.

By extensively examining the personality of these judges, the appointing body (usually the executive) can get a better understanding of what they are getting. For instance, Chief Justice John Roberts had an incredibly conservative track record prior to joining the Supreme Court, but has become a swing vote often siding with the liberal minority on the court. President George W. Bush would never have nominated him had there been even an inkling that his political positions would change.

Potential justices are already subjected to a broad array of questionnaires, ranging from finances to personal lives, in order to avoid potentially embarrassing “gotchas” during the confirmation process. Adding an element of personality testing would be a logical complement to an already lengthy vetting process.

The next president is likely to appoint at least two justices to the high court. It will be interesting to see if modern business science will become part of the vetting process.

Photo Credit: Cienpies Design / shutterstock.com

David YeeIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Rand Paul Needs A Jumpstart as Campaign Stalls ahead of First Debate http://ivn.us/2015/07/28/rand-paul-needs-jumpstart-campaign-stalls-ahead-first-debate/ http://ivn.us/2015/07/28/rand-paul-needs-jumpstart-campaign-stalls-ahead-first-debate/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:31:58 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295666517 Rand Paul Needs A Jumpstart as Campaign Stalls ahead of First Debate

One of the more anticipated campaigns for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination has seemingly dropped from the national conversation and is struggling to raise money.

Carl WicklanderIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Rand Paul Needs A Jumpstart as Campaign Stalls ahead of First Debate

One of the more anticipated campaigns for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination has seemingly dropped from the national conversation and is struggling to raise money.

Called “The Most Interesting Man in the Senate” by Reason magazine, Rand Paul has built his Senate career on filibustering extrajudicial assassinations and opposing the security state.

In the last year, Paul consistently polled close to presumptive leader Jeb Bush. However, as the field has widened, the Rand Paul campaign has practically disappeared from national headlines.

The disconcerting news continued over the weekend when National Journal reported that the Kentucky senator’s super PAC, America’s Liberty PAC, received only $3 million for the first quarter, the lowest among the field’s PAC networks.

Paul had a generous first day of fundraising when he announced his candidacy in April. He received over one million dollars in that first 24 hours, but finished with only $7 million for the entire first quarter. The average donation was $65. The result has been a campaign that has apparently stalled. As of this writing, Paul is tied with Ted Cruz in the Real Clear Politics poll average with 5.7%.

Despite the downward trend, Paul is not discouraged. On Fox News Sunday, he told host Chris Wallace:

“I’m a Republican who can win [the] independent vote . . . We have to convince enough Republicans that this is a winning message, that I could actually win the purple states, and that’s what early polling shows.

In April, Paul was beating Hillary Clinton in Colorado and running close to her in Iowa and Virginia. However, recent head-to-head polling data for Paul has been hard to find.

For instance, a Quinnipiac poll from the past week found favorability ratings for Rand Paul on par with Scott Walker, Bush, and Clinton in Colorado. However, the Kentuckian did not appear in the head-to-head match-ups with Republicans or Democrats.

Paul’s diminished standing in the field could be attributed to the entrance of businessman and reality TV star Donald Trump. As a likely candidate for voters registering discontent with the current state of electoral politics, Paul has failed to stand out from the crowd.

The problem was recently explicated by The American Conservative editor Daniel McCarthy in the New York Times, when he said the candidates’ “similarities are more striking than their differences. All want to be the generic conservative candidate.”

With a campaign video last week featuring Paul cutting the tax code with a chainsaw, the senator may have been trying to alleviate the problem in an extravagant way.

The drop in prestige has also coincided with a few moves that have puzzled and angered some of Paul’s would-be supporters. The first was when Paul signed Sen. Tom Cotton’s open letter to Iran. The other was when Paul decried the subsequent nuclear deal and seemingly endorsed military action over the Islamic country’s nuclear program.

Other Paul supporters defended the senator from what is sometimes a reliance on libertarian “purism.” However, one of Paul’s more enduring qualities is that he is willing to buck his party on certain issues.

The senator has clearly distinguished himself from many of his GOP peers on executive power and government secrecy. However, his reaction to the Iran deal, which is supported by more than half the country and nearly half of all GOP poll respondents, permits Paul to blend in to the field.

The first presidential debate will be held on August 6 and the Rand Paul campaign could revitalize itself in the polls and in the campaign coffers. It was a debate exchange between Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani that first propelled the elder Paul’s presidential campaign and profile. Although, with at least ten candidates and two hours to explain their positions, there may be few opportunities to reverse the trend.

Carl WicklanderIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Bernie Sanders Is on Mission to Save Families Money and Protect the Planet http://ivn.us/2015/07/28/bernie-sanders-mission-save-families-money-protect-planet/ http://ivn.us/2015/07/28/bernie-sanders-mission-save-families-money-protect-planet/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:00:18 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295666483 Bernie Sanders Is on Mission to Save Families Money and Protect the Planet

Sanders formally introduced this legislation as the Low Income Solar Act, echoing a similar message he’s sent to Congress in past years: empowering our low-wage earners is not a job for a welfare state, but for a country that values equal opportunity.

Daniel FarisIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Bernie Sanders Is on Mission to Save Families Money and Protect the Planet

Independent Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has a plan to kill two birds with one stone.

The first bird? He wants to spend $3 billion to provide solar panels for America’s poor over the next 15 years. The second bird is moving us further away from our dependence on oil, coal, and other dirty fuels—and he’s going to do it not by trusting America’s corporations to do the right thing, but instead by providing for America’s most vulnerable citizens with a common-sense fix for one of life’s most significant expenses: home energy.

Sanders formally introduced this legislation as the Low Income Solar Act, echoing a similar message he’s sent to Congress in past years: empowering our low-wage earners is not a job for a welfare state, but for a country that values equal opportunity.

Mr. Sanders said:

“The scientific community tells us very clearly if we’re going to reverse climate change and the great dangers it poses for the planet we must move aggressively to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy … we can achieve this goal, save families money and protect the planet for future generations.” – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

This particular piece of legislation seems well-timed; the Obama administration has previously expressed interest in building solar panels on federally subsidized housing.

The Rising Economic Tide

There’s little doubt that programs like these could have a profound impact on the economy and the country at large. Bringing thousands of households into the “solar fold” will help drive down the cost of adopting alternative fuels for everybody, effectively making solar power an affordable alternative for families who otherwise couldn’t afford it.

It will also help to jump-start the still-nascent alternative energy industry which has, despite surprisingly strong performance, been held back by the influence of America’s largest energy providers: oil companies.

By enlisting the government to push more money into solar initiatives, Sanders hopes to jump-start an already growing industry into something that stands a chance of upsetting the balance of power that has favored Big Oil for far too long.

A Strong Precedent

Despite the fact that Sanders is frequently referred to by the corporate media as a “long-shot” and a “radical,” the truth is something else entirely: his message is resonating with a significant number of Americans.

But perhaps more importantly, his $3 billion solar plan has a strong precedent. For decades, the federal government has subsidized phone service for lower-income Americans who came to rely on phones for their livelihoods.

"Empowering our low-wage earners is not a job for a welfare state, but for a country that values equal opportunity."
More recently, there have been calls to phase out phone subsidies in favor of low-cost, high-speed broadband for the same purpose: to provide the services — either cheaply or freely — that most Americans depend on to put food on the table.

In other words, cheap solar power is just the latest example of a government leveraging both its largesse and its access to emerging technologies to provide important opportunities to those who need them most.

And it’s the best example of a win-win situation; America’s low-income households get a bit of help that they desperately need, and government money goes where it should have been going all this time: to civic- and ecologically-responsible companies.

But more than that, Bernie Sanders is building on a movement in America that seems a radical departure from the once-popular, Atlas Shrugged-fueled idea that economic opportunity must flow from the top down. We’re beginning to see what happens when we look to the underprivileged around us, whether we’re fighting for proper care for veterans or making sure underprivileged Americans have the tools they need to prosper.

But we’d expect nothing less from Bernie, who seems to be campaigning not for himself, but for the American people. With every step on his campaign trail, he convinces more and more Americans to vote for the truth instead of a particular version of it. As his popularity gains traction, let’s hope his latest piece of legislation does, too.

Daniel FarisIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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