A thought experiment

Rather than trying to explain this, I want to demonstrate it. The idea is that voting records of office holders do not matter.

Let’s take two Senators, say Tester and Daines from my former home state of Montana, one a Democrat and one a Republican. Lets assume that there are ten pieces of important legislation, and that Tester and Daines voted as indicated:

  • 1. A bill to designate certain areas of Montana wilderness. (DEFEATED 27-73) Tester votes Yeah, Daines Nay.
  • 2. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code to index the floor over which Social Security benefits are taxed. (DEFEATED 46-54) Tester votes Y, Daines N
  • 3. A bill to release highway funds for portions of the Montana Interstate badly in need of repair. (PASSES 95-5) Tester votes Y, Daines votes N
  • 4. A bill to remove marijuana from the banned substances list. (DEFEATED 96-4) Tester voted N, Daines voted N.
  • 5. A bill to protect endangered species by re-listing wolves as a protected species. (DEFEATED 60-40) Tester voted Y, Daines voted N
  • 6. A vote to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. (Approved 67-33) Tester voted Y, Daines voted Y)
  • 7. A bill to authorize funding for forest fire fighters for the coming fiscal year (PASSED 61-39) Tester voted Y, Daines voted N)
  • 8. A bill to overturn portions of the Affordable Health Care Act regarding mandatory payment of premiums to private corporations. (DEFEATED 57-43) Tester voted N, Daines voted Y
  • 9. A bill to override presidential veto of approval of the Keystone Pipeline (PASSED 67-33) Tester voted Y, Daines voted Y
  • 10. A bill to approve the weapons budget for the coming year. (PASSED 98-0) Tester voted Y, Daines voted Y

Looking over the voting record, the Conservation Voters, based on votes 1, 5 and 7, gave Jon tester a 100% approval record, and Steve Daines a 0% approval rating.

Based on 8,9 and 10, the American Conservative Union gave Jon Tester a 67% approval rating, and Steve Daines a 100% rating.

AARP issues a favorable scorecard to Tester based on 2 and 8, and Daines a negative.
Now, go back to the list above, and reverse the votes. Change every Tester Y to a N, and the same for Daines. Note that in doing this, nothing changes except two very critical bills – TPP and Keystone. On those votes, their votes would have made a difference, and they both voted with the Republican majority.

However, each will have a completely different voting record to present to voters and to the groups that tally votes.

Voting records do not matter. They can be and are tailored to suit the needs of the office holder.

  • Most votes are lopsided, so a senator can vote either way without affecting the outcome.
  • Senators agree in advance on who is allowed to be for or against certain bills, often based on election cycles.
  • Some bills, like TPP and Keystone, are supported by powerful interest groups, and so transcend parties and always receive just enough support to pass.

Tester could easily present himself as a Republican, Daines as a Democrat, without affecting the outcome of legislation, and voters would support them based on party affiliation.

Voting records are completely meaningless.

9 thoughts on “A thought experiment

  1. It’s money that matters. http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/fixgov/posts/2014/11/07-spending-per-voter-2014-midterm-senate-wallack-hudak

    Montana spent over $15 per vote, #9 nationwide in spending per vote. I’ve been looking at it all wrong, however. The money isn’t to buy votes, it’s to buy the media. Hard to lay a hand on anyone who spends that kind of money on ads. It’s the same reason the Forest Service and DOD spend so much on ads. The greater the crime, the greater the need for a pr budget, and the “friendly coverage” that it buys. Journalists and voters have the same problem: The influence of money. In this environment, there are never any conspiracies, and almost no political corruption. Exceptionalism preserved in a bottle with a cork in it.


    1. Within this system the politicians of either party are interchangeable, and the political system acts as a wind tunnel, a place to spend energy without having any real effect on public policy. That is my point above.

      Tester could be Daines, and visa versa, in this system, changing their voting patterns and public utterances, and nothing else changes.,


        1. I cannot deal with you, Swede. I cannot communicate with you. You are a stone wall.

          You still have not read the effing post, and I am tempted to explain things to you that are contained in the post, but realize you would not read that either.

          Just go away. Pogie’s got an opening for commenter.


          1. You seem to think that Swede cares what you think, Mark. Swede’s entire purpose, his raison d etre, ISN’T to discuss ideas, contrast and compare various candidates, political parties or philosophies. His one unwavering goal is to help the Republican Party attain and exercise as much power as possible.

            So don’t expect consistency, integrity, or sensibility since different circumstances require conflicting opinions as well as approaches.

            The one remaining constant trait is attempted augmentation of power for the Republican Party through any and all means written or video’d

            He’s much better at staying on message than most with the possible exception of TM Cowgirl. She at least actually does analysis even if the conclusive results always seem to be the same.

            Swede’s a pretty good and highly motivated propagandist. And that’s all “he” does.

            He used to have 2 or 3 kind of interchangeable aliases, remember? Big Johaanson or whatever it was. He’s dumped all that a long time now.

            I never ever see Swede express a defined and explained opinion on any subject anywhere any time. Instead he’s subversive. He attacks others defined and explained opinions. He attacks them fairly, unfairly, with funny humor, with failed humor, with derision, with falsehoods, with facts, with vids, with deflection, with mis-direction, with stupidity. If you ask for his solution he evaporates. Or on the rare times he offers a solutions it’s invariably ‘vote repo’ generic and non specific.

            3 years ago he was always for every flavor of the month all the way and through Mitt.

            What if he’s a bot?


          2. Interesting thought, but Swede and I know people in common in Billings. But I wonder, is Cowgirl a bot? Pogie? How else can they put out the same tripe day in and out?

            I lost it with Swede here because I had just been punked by Pogie, who told me I was welcome to post at his website anytime. I took him up on it, and found I was still banned. The fucking liar totally doofused me. My bad on both counts, being punked by Pogie and taking it out on Swede.

            We all know about Swede. He can barely read, and WILL NOT read anything he does not agree with.

            But I will answer his question, about Obamacare passing by a slim margin. It is contained in the last part of the post, which he of course did not read. “Some bills, like TPP and Keystone, are supported by powerful interest groups, and so transcend parties and always receive just enough support to pass.”

            ACA was seen as critically important by AHIP, and so they hired the Democrats to pass it. Swede, because Obama was president when it passed, automatically reverts to his natural D vs R mindset. It’s all he knows.


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