Al Gore for President…..please please please


I really like Obama, but given a choice between him and Gore, I will pick Gore in a heartbeat. Gore is change, experience, inspirational, visionary, scientific, and the future. He is Obama and more. Only in the realm of coolness and racial glass ceiling breaking can Obama beat Gore.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.ted.com posted with vodpod

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Issues with Median Voter Theory


This is what is stated on Wikipeidia,

Median voter theory, also known as The median voter theorem and the median voter model, is a famous voting model positing that in a majority election, if voter policy preferences can be represented as a points along a single dimension, if all voters vote deterministically for the politician that commits to a policy position closest to their own preference, and if there are only two politicians, then if the politicians want to maximize their number of votes they should both commit to the policy position preferred by the median voter. This strategy is a Nash equilibrium. It results in voters being indifferent between candidates and casting their votes for either candidate with equal probability. Hence in expectation each politician receives half of the votes. If either candidate deviates to commit to a different policy position, the deviating candidate receives less than half the vote.

I have some issues with this theory,

Lets assume, in adherence to the MVT an elections with two candidate with similar positions (one slightly center-right, one sightly center left) will reduce incentive for votes to vote. Why invest energy to vote when it wont make much of a difference anyway. Candidates who position them self to the center in fact drifting away from the mainstream right/left value of the party they originate, thus increase the difference between candidates and their core party constituency, making it more difficult to generate excitement needed to boost voter participation on election day. Knowing this, a candidate who move away from the center towards their core party constituency will reduce their positional difference and allow the candidate to better excite the voters and increase voter turn out.

Why is it important to excite or engage with the emotion of voters? Because in elections with large pool of eligible voters, voting is an economically irrational act. The chance of one vote deciding an election is very impropable. According to a research cited by Freakonomics of the more than 16,000 Congressional elections, in which many people vote, only one election in the past 100 years – a 1910 race in Buffalo – was decided by a single vote. This is precisely the reason I believe to win an election a candidate’s supporter must be engaged not only by rational incentive calculation but also social and moral incentives. To engage in social incentive is to create a social environment where target voters would feel pear pressure to vote for a particular candidate (hey we are all voting for the Republican together why don’t you come along?). To appeal to the moral incentives of voters would be to make voters feel bad about them selves if they don’t vote, this can be done by making them feel unpatriotic or a failing to live up to a moral standard.

Now, is a candidate who’s position is away from the middle and more consist with their core party constituency more able to engages with voter’s social and moral incentives? I believe so. Potential voters of such a candidate may for example ask them self on the election day “If I don’t vote for a candidate who is fighting for my cause make me a hypocrite?” Furthermore, it is also more likely to generate voters in more cohesive social groups with frequent discussion and members reinforcing each others views and encourage each other to vote.

Lastly, one more issue with MVT is that many people who is considered to be median voter not because they have moderate views but because they are just not that interested in politic enough to have a strong view or they just plainly dislike politics. These people are unlikely voters reducing the benefit for candidate to move towards the middle.

Having said all these, do i have any facts to back them up? Only a few.

A glance at New York Times’s election guide will show that these candidate could not be standing further apart on many issues. Although they all properly agree on many more issues, but contentious issues are what is at state in elections.

What does this all mean for Obama’s mission to be a uniter and to appeal to independent and or median voters?

  1. His clearly liberal stance will easily win him the support of the Democratic core constituencies.
  2. He is enlarging the core party constituency by bringing in young voters to the liberal philosophy.
  3. When he engages with independent voters and republicans he emphasis more on issues that appeals to all voters, such as unity, transparent government etc.
  4. He is able to package liberal causes in a way that is acceptable by republicans, such as universal health care without mandate.

Thats all.

Obama! watch out for Asia.


The Field, an election blog had a really impressive post on why Obama should go on his foreign policy tour as planned.

These are just a few things I wanted to add to sections on Asia and Europe.

On Europe it states:

The Field isn’t sure where in Asia would be most beneficial for a presidential candidate to go, particularly if the goal is to speak to a Chinese-American population that is mainly sympathetic to Taiwan and not to mainland China’s government, but maybe some Field readers will offer some additional commentary on that.

To visit Asia without stopping by Japan (America’s most important strategic and economic ally in Asia) will not impress the Japanese, and will give Clinton ammunition to attack Obama. Some Japanese were not happy when Bill Clinton flu over Japan to visiting China first before Japan in 1996 (thats the correct year if I am not mistaken). So drop by Japan. A note of caution, while in Japan, although unlikely, don’t be ambushed by the anti-American-base-in-japan protesters. A number of American soldiers was just charge with gang-raping an underage Japanese girl. There has been numerous allegation of American soldiers raping underage Japanese girls, ever since the end of WW2.

Visiting mainland China is risky, because of the nuanced triangular relationship and Obama should not want to be accuse of influencing the up coming presidential election in Taiwan held on the 22nd of march. However it would be a big plus if Obama can give a confidence building speech in Japan along the line of:

  1. He sees US-Japan alliance to be fundamentally important to peace and stability in Asia (meaning the US will protect Japan, please don’t re-militarise and don’t build nukes);
  2. He will adhere to the Three Joint Communiques (meaning recognizing one China);
  3. His policy toward Taiwan will be bound by the Taiwan Relation Act (meaning peace in Taiwan is very very important to America).
  4. Voice strongly against war in Taiwan strait and unilaterally changing status quo between china-Taiwan (meaning dont want Taiwan to officially declare independence)
  5. Tell China, that he sees China to be a strategic partner not strategic competitor (meaning we are friends not enemy).
  6. Give a somewhat tough talks on Chinese human rights record and encourage china to do more about protecting environment.
  7. Talk tougher against north Korean nuclear program and human right record.
  8. Pledge to have real consultation with South Korea and other Six Party Talk members (meaning no saber rattling against North Korea).

These policy positions are not innovative, they are basically the positions Bill Clinton’s administration had and Asian states involve usually comfortable with them. Stating them in a speech will build confident among Asian states and American foreign policy people.

While in Asia, Obama might want to talk about labor/environmental standard in China and health and safety issues regarding imports. This will be evident against suggestion made by the Clinton camp that Obama says one thing to American audience and something else to foreign government.

Regarding European trip it states:

The BBC reports:

US presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s roots have possibly been traced to an 18th century Irish shoemaker. Church of Ireland rector Canon Stephen Neill said the Hawaiian-born Illinois senator’s ancestors hailed from the village of Moneygall in County Offaly. He said Mr Obama is directly descended from shoemaker Joseph Kearney’s son Fulmuth, who emigrated to the US…

It’s not just where Obama could go, but who he might bring along on a trip to his ancestral Ireland… perhaps including Governor Kathleen Sebelius (nee, Gilligan) with him to remind of the link from Ireland to the senator’s grandparents and mother’s native Kansas, and maybe a member of the Kennedy family (i.e. former Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith, a supporter), and there he would have the makings of a photo op heard round the world while sipping Guinness meeting long lost cousins in a local pub.

I am biologically an Asian and have been target of racist language, I am against racism and racism have no place in politics. However there are voters who are not racist but may be unconsciously effected by sublime anti-Obama message. Obama might be able to use his ancestral trip to Ireland to subtlety remind people that he is half while.
I feel like small man to even suggest this.

One more thing, Obama is already seen by pundit to be too European, don’t give Republican ammunition to attack Obama like the way they attacked John Kerry.

Primary results can be misleading


From Daily Kos

A full 15% of voters who said they will be unsatisfied if she gets the nomination voted for Hillary Clinton. In contrast, only 4% of Obama voters say the same about their candidate.

Read the rest

and Jeff Greenfield of Slate also warn against using primary results to estimate electability in the general election.

Clinton-Obama battle over who will be a better general-election candidate based on the primary results. The Clinton campaign says she’d be the better fall candidate because she’s stronger with her party’s core of white working- and middle-class voters in Democratic states. The Obama campaign argues that he’d be better in the fall because he can attract independents, bring new younger voters to the polls, and compete in traditionally red states.

Who’s right? Neither side. Why? Because they are both arguing from the false assumption that primary contests can provide a guide to the fall campaign. Look back across recent political history and you’ll be hard-pressed to find such a link.

Read the rest.

Odds still strongly favor Obama


Prices on Intrade the prediction market still suggest that Obama has 75% chance of winning the Democratic nomination, while Hilary has about 23%.

Although, its still really far away, market prices are telling us Obama has 47% chance of winning the white house in November follow by McCain at 37% and Clinton at 14%.

So despite Obamas loses last Tuesday, he is still the odds on favor to win.

Slates’ got a nice article on political gambling, read.

News Futures is another market for predictions, check it out.

Hilarys’ Dream Ticket is Blackmailing


Bill and Hilary Clintons’ call for the dream ticket with Hilary as president and Obama as veep is their way of telling Democratic power brokers that the only way to avoid having the primary fight continue all the way to the convention in Denver is to accept Clintons’ version of the dream ticket. In short, give Hilary the nomination or see the Democratic Party implode by the prolong and brutal primary.

Is this view too cynical?

Its hard not to be, When Hilary is offering the second place to Obama who is leading in popular vote, delegate and stats won; Hilary has suggested numerous time that Obama does not have the competence to be the commander in chief but will give the veep slot to Obama? that’s a contradiction; When asked, Hilary refuse to specular if she will accept the veep slot if Obama won the nomination, saying it would be presumptuous to specular.

Yes, its hard not to be cynical of Hilarys’ dream ticket.

UPDATE: More on Clintons’ cynicism; Bill Clinton went on Rush Limbaugh on the day of the Texas primary, to gather Republicn vote (who want to see Democrats destroy each other) for Hilary perhaps.

Days before Texas primary Limbaugh said this in an interview with Laura Ingraham

I want Hillary to stay in this, Laura. This is too good a soap opera. We need Barack Obama bloodied up politically, and it’s obvious that the Republicans are not going to do it and don’t have the stomach for it, as you probably know. We’re getting all kinds of memos from the RNC, saying we’re not going to be critical there. Mark McKinnon of McCain’s campaign says he’ll quit if they get critical over Obama. This is the presidency of the United States we’re talking about. I want our party to win. I want the Democrats to lose. They’re in the midst of tearing themselves apart right now. It is fascinating to watch, and it’s all going to stop if Hillary loses. So, yeah, I’m asking people to cross over and, if they can stomach it — I know it’s a difficult thing to do, to vote for a Clinton, but it will sustain this soap opera, and it’s something I think we need. It would be fun, too.

UPDATE: Obama hits back

UPDATE: Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson explains away the obvious contradiction between accusation  of not competent enough to commander in chief and Obama as veep contradiction by stating:

We do not believe that Senator Obama has passed the commander in chief test. But there is a long way between now and Denver.

Source.
I felt stupid reading his explanation.

UPDATE: From Jack Ohman, Oregonian Opinion

Can Obama materialise his promise of change?


Sceptics argues Barack Obama’s hopeful speeches are exceptionally moving and inspirational, but question how is that going to change Washington? How is Obama going to get politicians on the Capital Hills to agree on issues that they disagree so consistently? How?

In the writing of one such sceptic, in this case New York Times columnist Gail Collins

Admit it, people. When you try to envision how the politics of hope would play out in the real world, things go a bit fuzzy. How’s Obama going to get Republicans to work with Democrats on national health care when Republicans don’t want national health care? How’s he going to run a positive ship in a sea of negativity?

What these sceptics always seem to forget is that Obama has consistently argue that change comes froms the bottom-up, not top-down. No amount of persuasion will get the politicians to agree on issues that their constituency disagrees. Politician response to the mood of their constituency. So, the only way to for example to pass a national health care is to convince enough people in the voting district of representatives blocking the bill that it is in their interest to pass it.

Being able to make persuasive speeches to mobilise a critical mass of people to vote for representative who is for national health care is what Obama brings to the table that no other politician on this campaign cycle can.

The change Obama has been talking about was never about him changing Washington, it was always about him together with the masses that he help inspired change politic as usual in the capital. Hillary may have fought hard for her medical care reform during her first lady years, but t it was a failed cause without mobilisation from the bottom-up.

With that understanding, lets revisit Clinton’s claim that Lyndon Johnsons contribution to the signing of Civil Rights Act of 1964 by sending it to the congress and signing is somehow on par with Martin Luther King is a bit weak. It is a weak claim because by the time bill was sent to the congress, the battle for civil rights have already been won by King in the streets, from the very bottom.

UPDATE: Nicholas von Hoffman speculate how on Obama’s bottom-up government might emerge, read.
UPDATE: Arianna Huffington wrote a column on the need for inspirational presidents, read.