My new Think Again column is called “Our Broken Political System,” and it’s really about what a much better country Canada is than this one. You can find it here.
I didn’t go see any live music this week, sorry. And I don’t have a time machine, but if I did, one of the things I would use it for, after killing Hitler, Stalin and Mao, and teaching the old Jews in Florida how to use their voting machines, would be go to the Checkerboard Lounge in Chicago on November 22nd, 1981 at the Muddy Watters show when Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Ian Stewart showed up together with Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, and an unfortunately soused Lefty Dizz, who eventually gets pushed off the stage, belatedly I might add. Still, it’s all pretty cool and new you can see it on DVD and listen to it later on cd, that is if you buy the package which you can find here.
You can also watch the dvd (or bluray, in my case) and listen to the cd of Jimi Hendrix and a reformed Band Of Gypsys at the Berkeley theater in 1970. The show drove a lot of people crazy and it’s kind of a mess but I’m told it’s a big improvement, aurally, over previous editions of the same show. I’d use my time machine for this too, but it would not be that high on my list. More here.
The Low Spark of Well-Heeled Boys: How Citizens United Undermines the Press and Democracy
by Reed Richardson
Democracies as large as ours routinely suffer from an electoral paradox—voters know the least about those elections where they can have the most impact. We tend to care more about who’s running for president rather than city council or state legislator, in other words, even though the latter often has a more significant impact on our day-to-day lives than the former. How low-information voters make their choice on election day (providing they vote at all), then, can provide valuable insight as to how to make our democracy more engaged and vibrant.
This past week, David Schleicher, an electoral law professor at George Mason University, makes the argument in an Atlantic essay that many voters now rely upon national-level political cues to inform their votes in local races. The common piece of ballot box shorthand, of course, is a political party label. This is not exactly a revelation. Twenty-five years ago, a House back-bencher by the name of Newt Gingrich was utilizing his political action committee, GOPAC, to sell thousands of cassette tapes to budding GOP candidates, training them how to parrot national-party talking points in winning local races.