Posts Tagged ‘politics’

We’ve Moved!

August 27, 2008

After months of living in the parking lot, WHYY has adopted us and welcomed us into the fold at their website, whyy.org.

The Y-Decide 2008 blog is now officially part of the WHYY family of blogs.

Click here for the new home of Y-Decide 2008.

That url is:

http://whyy.org/blogs/ydecide/

All of the archived content from this site is there and we will continue to give our own take on this election and beyond.  All of our guest bloggers are coming along for the ride so check it out!

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And that’s why I don’t use air conditioning

August 21, 2008

It all makes sense now.

According to Edward McClelland writing for Slate, air conditioning has made this country into what it is today, whether you like what it has become today or you don’t. If it hadn’t been for air conditioning, Florida would still have a million people and six electoral votes.

But the central McClelland’s central question, “Does air conditioning make people vote Republican?” goes unanswered. Yes, states like Arizona and Florida exploded in population, as did Republican fortress Texas. But where did these people come from?

In line with the grand “suburbanization” of America, most of them probably came from northern and midwestern cities where their moderate to conservative Republican votes were often drowned out by strong urban Democratic party machines, rendering them irrelevant in the several states in which they lived.

Air conditioning allowed all of these city escapees to concentrate in large numbers in a the south and southwest, banding together and creating areas with large amounts of electoral votes. (Yes, Idaho and Montana are usually solidly Republican but with all of 4 and 3 electoral votes respectively, so what?)

So while air conditioning might not make people vote Republican, it definitely seems to have made a lot states go Republican.

I went to 270towin.com and had a little fun with their historical maps of past presidential contests. Though you can’t see it because of the size of this map, Arizona and New Mexico each have 3 electoral votes, Florida has 7, and Texas 23. That year, they all happened to vote Democratic, sending FDR to his third term.

Electoral map from the 1940 presidential election

Electoral map from the 1940 presidential election

Sixty years later, those numbers (and the electoral landscape) had changed radically:

Electoral map from the 2000 presidential election

Electoral map from the 2000 presidential election

By 2000, Arizona had gotten 5 more electoral votes, New Mexico 2 more, Texas 9 more and Florida, a whopping 18 more electoral votes. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania lost 13, Illinois 7 and Massachusetts 5. Texas, Arizona and Florida (and New Mexico in 2004) all shifted from Democratic to Republican with 34 more electoral votes under their control.

Of course, this doesn’t explain why states that didn’t “benefit” by the spread of A/C (Ohio, I’m looking at you) switched over to the red column.  But, as a swing state, Ohio could have gone either way in any of the last several elections.  The point is, the solid south (and southwest) have put themselves in the Republican category, it would seem, with a lot of a/c carrying folks moving in.

Your recommended political movie watching

August 11, 2008

Kudos to Dick Polman for his review of Swing Vote.  Having used my new – as an unspoken agreement of marriage – yearly quota of movies I can see in the theater on The Dark Knight, I will be taking his advice and saving it for rental or illegal download throug BitTorrent.

May favorite part of the post, however, is towards the bottom with his list of recommended political movies:

Being There (1979). A surreal comedy-drama starring Peter Sellers as a simpleton named Chance, whose every vacuous utterance is taken as wisdom by the Washington crowd.

Bob Roberts (1992). The liberal themes are a tad shrill, but Tim Robbins’ tale of a scary yuppie who runs for the Senate in Pennsylvania, while ripping off Bob Dylan, makes great use of the mock-documentary format.

The Candidate (1972). Robert Redford’s portrayal of Bill “All the Way” McKay, an anti-poverty activist forced to compromise while running for the Senate in California, holds up very well. Especially when he wins and asks his consultant, “What do we do now?”

The Manchurian Candidate (1962). This lacerating satire of anti-communist paranoia did lousy box office when it was first released, but its stature as a terrifying allegory is unassailable today.

Wag the Dog (1997). When Barry Levinson filmed this devilish piece, about a White House that fakes a war in order to divert attention from a presidential sex scandal, he never could have imagined that the real thing (Monica Lewinsky) would coincide with the film’s release. A great meditation on political/media trickery.

Runners-up: Advise and Consent, All the President’s Men, Charlie Wilson’s War, Dave, The Best Man.

I’ll throw my support to Dave and The Candidate for the content and message of the films and add in The American President for its inimitable Sorkinism and for being the skeleton around which The West Wing was built.  In fact, if you’re recovering from major surgery that has left you in traction for the next two weeks, get your home health aid to load the entire run of TWW into the DVD player.

Make your own suggestions to this list in the comments!

Pixar votes Democratic this time around

July 11, 2008

Onion AV club provides “Your guide to the WALL-E controversy”.

“What WALL-E controversy?” You might ask.

Isn’t that the movie that got near universal great ratings from critics around the country?  Haven’t people been leaving the theater making claims like “best movie ever” and “a historic moment in American filmmaking?”

Yes, yes and probably.

Apparently, though, the movie’s message (and every movie has to have a message, right?) has been stirring up the ire of some conservatives who claim that it’s “liberal fascism,” “hypocritical,” “too popular” (huh?), and my favorite, “prejudiced against fat people.”  In short, there’s a lot of politics behind and around this flick.

Gawker, as pointed out by AV Club’s O’Neal, hits the nail on the head, however, when they point to the bi-partisan nature of Pixar’s successful movies:

One reason for the conservative disappointment with the movie is because Pixar is the cultural equivalent of the swing voter: despite its hippie culture, the studio has been attuned to shifting public attitudes; indeed, given the lead-time on Pixar projects, it’s successfully anticipated them. The studio’s most political project before WALL-E was The Incredibles; the 2004 movie is a not-so-disguised argument against enforced equality and political correctness, and was adopted by conservatives as a morality play of their own. This time, however, Pixar is voting Democrat.

Maybe political scientists in the future will be studying the “Pixar” effect on elections.  We’ll see how this one plays out.

Phrase of the Day: Persuasion Army

June 26, 2008

From Swampland’s account of Obama’s election strategy:

The Persuasion Army. Plouffe repeated this term often. “We’re absolutely committed to building the best persuasion army. We think that’s something Bush did really, really well in 2000 and 2004.” Plouffe said it’s much more powerful to have people from your own neighborhood not only explaining their support for Obama but being able to answer questions and correct wrong impressions. “And it’s not just about quantity, though a critical volume to get the work done is important, it’s about quality and we’re lucky that one of Obama’s strengths is that he draws some really talented people,” he said. Plouffe pointed to yesterday’s L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll: “If only 13% of your voters support you enthusiastically, your volunteer base will be very low, versus when more than 40% say they are very enthusiastic about you, your volunteer base is very high.”

For Hawaii, of course, they’ll need to call in the Persuasion Navy and possibly the Persuasion Air Force.