Election 2014 | Getting Out The Vote

Communities all across the U.S. have elections this coming Tuesday Nov. 4. My state of Iowa is electing a governor and a senator. We will also elect a member of congress from our district. There are races for many other state and local offices and some ballot questions to decide.

Both Melanie and I are volunteering with our Democratic party Saturday through Tuesday to Get Out The Vote – GOTV. We have also been helping before these final days. There are thousands upon thousands of citizens who are doing this all across the country. They come from both major political parties. I think this is the correct grass-roots way.

The overwhelming amounts of BIG donations coming from undisclosed donors is destroying our system where each common person feels their vote counts as much as the next. People feel their voice does not count any more. They are losing interest and are fed up and angry with government. I feel campaign financing reform should eliminate all donations like those. That is an issue for another post.

Control of the senate hinges on the outcomes of only a few states where there are competitive races. Iowa has one of those races. Our long time senator, Tom Harkin, is retiring. Many of us are supporting current congressman, Bruce Braley, to be his replacement. Today, I visited the FiveThirtyEight blog by Nate Silver to see what the current projections look like in those competitive races. Our Iowa race is within a point based on his polling.



For the final four days, volunteers will be visiting the homes of potential voters and calling them to see if they have voted. If we find they have actually voted based upon official records, that night we will strike their name from the list. We won’t ask them the next day.

Early voting is widely available in Iowa. Past history shows many take advantage of early voting in our county, which is a Democratic stronghold. We are looking for every possible vote for our candidates in order to have election results in our favor.

14 thoughts on “Election 2014 | Getting Out The Vote

  1. Good for you, Jim and Melanie! If only there were more citizens like you!

    The implications of this mid-term election are greater than normal because the control of the senate is at stake. Many people might feel that this is no big deal since the White House is still Democratic, but they would be wrong. Government still needs to function, but under political gridlock, it won’t. Many don’t realize that the GOP-caused sequester is still in effect and that funds are being squeezed in places where it doesn’t make sense, such as for basic research and the CDC, to mention only two examples. Under total gridlock, this will only get worse.

    Perhaps an even bigger issue is senate approval of judicial appointments, some of which are a prime source of future supreme court nominees. These few battleground contests may well determine whether the SCOTUS will be making more decisions like Citizens United (the dumbest decision in our lifetimes, IMO) or not.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Glad to hear you’re a democrat Jim. Also dropped by to let you know I now have another blog besides the botanical one. Just hover over the gravatar and the URL is there.

  3. Good for you! I’m pretty fed up with the politicians in my state, their behavior is deplorable…but I still intend to vote.

    • Good. I’d say fed up is a very common reaction of way too many people. I hope that changes in the near future. We are getting nothing productive done. It seems all we are doing is tearing down systems and not maintaining or improving things that should be kept. Sort of like house and car maintenance. They start to fall apart. Perhaps that is the goal of some in government, to destroy it.

      • Sadly, government is composed of people and all through time there have always been people who like to stir up trouble both in and out of politics. Combine that with instant access to media in all forms and it is easier for those trouble makers to have a larger voice. That’s when politics stops being about platforms and more about who has a bigger bullhorn. I just look at the billions of dollars being wasted on making the other guy look like a bad choice. I can think of many other ways to invest those funds and the fact that so many people are willing to throw away funds just to get a party elected raises some serious questions as to their ability to manage a government. I completely agree with you that the maintenance of our country is in serious jeopardy both psychologically and physio-graphically.

        • I agree with your take on politics, Mrs. P, and as a former conservative voter I would like to add that the outside money pouring into politics is mostly fueled by the infamous Citizens United decision by the conservative 5/4 SCOTUS decision in 2011 that gave large organizations the same status as individual people. It was the most inane decision of my memory.

        • Jim, I try to vote for the person not the party. When I am at my best I look at their track record…sometimes I don’t have the time that I’d like to do that, though. I am not familiar with your Citizen’s United reference…something I should probably look up.

        • To Mrs. P and others. Citizens United v. FEC is a landmark decision that marked an abrupt turning point in American law, one I would hope every voter would recognize. Here’s one link. Wikipedia has a page on it as well.

      • The basis of morality in political thinking surely needs analyzing, Jim and Steve, but Haidt’s approach does little for me. I find the “6 moral foundations” to be a parsing of behavior that is unhelpful in seeking reasons for that behavior. Defining terms and concepts is essential in science, as we all know, but here I think it does more harm than good because the terms are mushy. I’m thinking that much of social science is a lot like political science and economics, that is, not science at all.

        I would suggest a different approach to the problem, i.e., Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I’m thinking that what Haidt terms “moral foundations” are simply social instincts that are present in the general population and probably distributed along some kind of bell curve. How these instincts play out as political leanings, however, are subject to circumstances and forces. I think Maslow’s hierarchy explains it: how one reacts depends on where one sits.

        Maslow postulated that physiological needs in everyone are prime. These are food, clothing and shelter. Up next is “safety”, meaning a need for security from danger to both life and limb and to one’s means of livelihood. Then there’s Love/belonging, Esteem and Self-actualization. In his theory, as each level of need is met, it is accepted as filled and people’s motivation changes to achieving the next level up.

        It is just common sense to me that someone still at the Safety level will not have the same motivations or political thinking as someone higher up. To take an extreme example, a Walmart checker won’t be thinking like Mitt Romney. Also, consider that there are numerous forms of self-actualization, such as Michael Bloomberg playing at politics and Bill Clinton’s charity hobbies, not to mention Bill and Melinda Gates and their foundation. Altruistic endeavors are much easier and more fun if one has ascended to the peak of his pyramid of needs.

        Of course, this explanation is simplistic. Human beings are all the same and yet all different. Genes are different and so are life experiences. Someone who has had a lot of bad luck is probably going to be more cautious and need more savings to feel safe, for example. But I think how this plays out was on full display in the 2012 presidential campaign, particularly with Romney’s 47% gaffe. He probably didn’t believe himself what he said, but he knew his audience.

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