You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘election’ tag.

voteAdept politicians pay attention to voting bocs, which are aggregations of citizens who share interests that influence their voting.  Religion, ethnicity, and age are common issue clusters around which voting blocs form.

A voting bloc that has been neglected in the 2016 Presidential campaign is dead people.

It is fair to say that the 2016 Presidential election is a grave decision for voters, but it is a quite different matter that dead people register to vote in significant numbers and many of them do vote.

It is true that electoral officials work to prevent dead people from voting because they have no voting rights; still many of them vote anyway.

Election officials attempt to limit dead people voting by comparing voter registration roles and voting records against the Death Master File maintained by the Social Security Administration.image-20150417-3241-dmi4mw_cropped

When dead people vote and are found out it is considered election fraud.

People who assist dead people with voting are charged with election fraud as was recently the case with an 88 year old Illinois woman, Audrey R. Cook.

Her husband of 66 years, Vic Cook, recently applied for absentee ballots to vote in the 2016 election but died before they could complete them together.

So Audrey went ahead and completed Vic’s for him and sent both ballots in.

Vic’s ballot was identified as a dead person voting and was nullified.

Audrey now faces potential election fraud charges.

375px-Dark_Rosaleen_Anarchy_1The case is complicated by the fact that both Vic and Audrey were Madison County election judges, as Audrey was when she filed the dead person vote.

I hope that the Illinois Attorney General will cut Audrey a break.

She is grieving a loss and to her Vic is not really gone, so it is comprehensible to me that she would assist him in casting his last vote, even from the grave.

Vic’s dead man vote will not count in the election, of course, but we should have compassion enough for people like Audrey who lose those they love to understand how they may continue to act as if they were among the living.


Conversations on topics such as in this post are common at Death Cafe Corvallis.  You are welcome to participate. Information at Death Cafe Corvallis.

 

Image Acknowledgements

vote.jpg
https://warasto.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/vote.jpg

20150417-3241-dmi4mw.jpg
https://62e528761d0685343e1c-f3d1b99a743ffa4142d9d7f1978d9686.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/78456/width926/image-20150417-3241-dmi4mw.jpg

Dark_Rosaleen_Anarchy_1.svg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_rose_(symbolism)#/media/File:Dark_Rosaleen_Anarchy_1.svg

nc bc cc 10%Our national election occurs on Tuesday November 8 and I urge you to vote however your heart and mind lead you, but I also want to tell you who will be our next President and one significant reason why I believe that candidate will succeed.

The important point I want to demonstrate is far beyond a single election because the matter at issue is the future of American democracy.

In 2008 the Obama campaign produced an unprecedented combination of data analysis, social media and campaign outreach to win the Presidency.

The data analysis aspect used new techniques in what is commonly known as data-mining or big data analytics.

Both Democrats and Republicans have long kept databases of voters; you and I and every other eligible voter in the US is in these data-sets.

What Obama’s campaign innovated was a 100 item index that pulls from public and for-sale data sources such that every voter is categorized by education level, home ownership and value, permits and licenses, magazine subscriptions, charitable contributions and much more.General_election_polls_2016_Clinton_v_Trump

The campaign also buys data from companies such as Facebook to track which ads you click on and who your friends are.

The Democrat campaign knows more about you than you know about yourself in the sense that you may forget some of the details while their database, called “Catalyst,” does not.

The campaign technicians render all this data into a 1-5 scale that assigns probabilities to 2 behaviors for every voter: whether they will vote and who they will vote for.

What the campaign does with those ratings is the key to their electoral strategy because those individual profiles based in huge correlations of personal data are used to produce campaign tactics aimed specifically at you and voters like you; this tactic is called micro-targeting.

One way that micro-targeting is used was revealed when the Obama campaign recruited 2 million volunteers through Facebook and then provided each of them with instructions for door-to-door visits with specific individuals based on their ratings in Catalyst.

Another use of micro-targeting is to assign campaign ads to individual social media users. The political ads that you see on social media may well have been crafted uniquely for you, at least if they are from the Democrat campaigns.

Moreover the reactions of micro-targeted individuals are gathered and fed back to the database creating a dynamic loop that is capable of measuring large group responses based on tracking behaviors of individuals within the group.

After the 2008 election victory Obama directed the data analysts on his campaign to develop ways to use that technology for conducting White House policy efforts and called the resulting system “Legacy.”51i-UovOAYL._SY346_

This ultra-sophisticated use of data analysis to conduct a political campaign is studied in a fascinating book, Hacking the Electorate: How Campaigns Perceive Voters by Yale political scientist Eitan D. Hersh.

In addition to describing how political data-analysis and micro-targeting work, Hersh postulates that the sources of public data that campaigns draw from are likely to skew the data-set to preference some voter characteristics over others; for instance consider the data sources in which individuals are classified by race.

Why does any of this matter to you?

It matters because human beings have a peculiar relationship with our own thoughts in two ways.

The first is that it is hard for us to distinguish between our subjective feeling of certainty and the objective degree to which a claim about the world is certain.

For example, in this column I am claiming to know who will win the 2016 election.

In fact I cannot know that for certain because all sorts of events could occur to prevent that from happening, so I am really asserting a probability of an outcome based upon assumptions about the conditions.

LW268-MC-Escher-Hand-with-Reflecting-Sphere-1935Still, in my gut I feel totally certain about it despite being a skeptic about most things, and cannot convince my subjective sense to entertain more doubt.

The second peculiarity of human thought is while you and I know what we think and believe, we typically do not know where those thoughts and beliefs came from.

Try it yourself; consider some of the ideas (thoughts and beliefs) that you feel strongly about. Where did you get those ideas? Were you born with them? Were they taught to you? Did you inherit them? Did you discover them or make them up yourself?

If you are like most of us, then even the thoughts that you feel most certain about do not provide you with signs of their origins.

I am confident that you have reasons in favor of those ideas, but are those reasons actually the causes from which you formed the belief in the first place or are they premises that you developed to justify a belief that you already held?

Attend closely and I think that you will find that it is not easy to be sure about the workings of your own mind.

Why does this matter? Because there are interest groups who work hard to put ideas into your mind and once an idea is in your mind it is likely that you will experience it as certain and true, largely because it presents itself as your own idea.

To put it as clearly as I may: if I can get an idea into your mind and also get you to view it as your own idea, then I have succeeded at manipulating your mind.6914441342_605f947885_z

The manipulation of beliefs – the deliberate changing of people’s minds – is an ancient practice that we find today in advertisers, propagandists, magicians, preachers and teachers.

This mental manipulation is what the data-driven campaign is designed to do.

To be fair, politicians have sought to understand the public mind and put ideas into the minds of the people since at least ancient Greece.

Data-driven campaigning is not new, although the technological sophistication produces an unprecedented level of control over messaging.

That brings me to my prediction that Clinton will be elected President by a wide margin with the Democrats taking the Senate and making gains in the House.

That may not seem like a bold prediction to you because it has become common wisdom on the eve of the election, but I am basing my view on the uses by the Clinton campaign of whatever the Catalyst data-base has become.

One point to draw from this observation is that a candidate’s campaign foreshadows what their administration will be like.

Clinton’s campaign, like the Obama campaigns, are highly organized, disciplined and data-driven.

I view organization and discipline as positive attributes of an executive administration and they stand in stark contrast to the Trump campaign which spent more money on “Make America Great Again” hats than on data analysis.

However you evaluate these facts the reality of contemporary political dynamics calls for rigorous critical thinking about the messages that you receive and believe, if you care about your individual freedom as a thinker.

The future of the American political system is all about data and the more that you know about those processes, the better equipped you will be as a citizen and voter.

 

Image Acknowledgements

nc bc cc 10%.jpg
http://apps.cytoscape.org/media/cytonca/screenshots/nc%20bc%20cc%2010%25.jpg

General_election_polls_2016_Clinton_v_Trump.svg
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/df/General_election_polls_2016_Clinton_v_Trump.svg/1280px-General_election_polls_2016_Clinton_v_Trump.svg.png

51i-UovOAYL._SY346_.jpg
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Y37Z5OW

LW268-MC-Escher-Hand-with-Reflecting-Sphere-1935.jpg
http://www.mcescher.com/gallery/italian-period/hand-with-reflecting-sphere/

6914441342_605f947885_z.jpg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/75279887@N05/6914441342

Images are found via CC Search for Creative Commons licensed content.

Image result for democrat republican politicsI think it a fair observation that most Americans are not pleased with the 2016 Presidential contest, but it is also fair to challenge ourselves to describe what we would prefer.

What do you hope for the American political process to be?

The answer to that question lies in your presuppositions about human nature and the purpose of government.

Philosopher John Locke (1632–1704) produced an influential account of theImage result for locke concept of government and the basis of its validity in his “Second Treatise on Government.”

A key idea in that work is the assertion that the purpose of government is to protect the rights of life, liberty, and property of its citizens and to pursue the public good.

If this idea sounds familiar, then you may be thinking of the authors of the American Constitution and Declaration of Independence who closely followed Locke’s political philosophy.

So how does a government determine which actions will best protect the rights of its citizens?

Some people think that government should be minimal, allowing economic powers such as corporations to manage society.

Other people think that government should advance the pubic good even if that requires overriding the natural rights of some citizens.

A third view is promoted by an OSU graduate student, Sami Al-AbdRabbuh (Industrial Engineering) who is also is a candidate in the 2016 election for the Oregon State House of Representatives for District 16 – Corvallis and Philomath.

He argues that science should be the basis of governance; “Science is the act of learning in a way that is more impactful than just trial and error or following the trends of the polls. Public policy that’s informed by trial and error and perceptions isn’t going to do so much good.”

Al-AbdRabbuh believes that our current political system promotes decisions produced by emotion-laden perceptions generated by stories that competing politicians sell to the voters solely for the purpose of getting elected.

A rational society, he maintains, would develop public policy from rigorous data gained from the real-life experiences of the people in it.

His idea proposes that we use scientific method to determine and weigh the interests of individuals and produce analyses that distribute the promotion of those interests fairly across the population.

Al-AbdRabbuh champions science as a model for government because science is a successful means of neutralizing our social/cognitive biases which make it appear as if the experiences that individuals have in common are instead issues of opposition.

This is a good point that you can see played out in the current election.

If you systematically study individual people from different cultures you find that there is a significant commonalities among people regarding basic needs and values.

Given this evidence some people immediately focus on the fact that the cultures are different and so assume that the needs and values of individuals from them are also different.

When someone’s social/cognitive bias selects out the differences only, there is little hope for them to perceive the factual commonalities.

Al-AbdRabbuh believes that scientific method allows us to minimize these biases and bring the authentic lives of many different people into productive co-operation.

It is true that science is one of our most powerful problem-solving methodologies.
                       
It is also true that many people do not trust science and I agree that there are reasons to be suspicious of it.

Science does not have a built-in moral guide which is how we end up with social problems that are the products of science such as nuclear weapons and global pollution.

Now we face potential dilemmas with scientific advances in artificial intelligence and genetic engineering.

If government is required to regulate the excesses of science, how can science be trusted to guide public policy?

The answer to this concern is that the “science” at issue here is not an institution or interest group, but rather a form of thinking, the scientific method.Image result for scientific method

Scientific method is logical reasoning based in measurable evidence and testable claims.

The criterion of testability is essential to this concept of science because the method involves testing a claim against the ways in which it may turn out to be false.

Compare this to the major campaign claims in our national election; “We stand stronger together” and “I will make America great again.”

These are not testable claims; it is not clear what would count as measurable evidence for or against them.

In contrast to emotional story telling which is designed to persuade the electorate, Al-AbdRabbuh argues that we need governance based on reasoned analysis of evidence that comes from listening to the needs and values of individuals.Image result for platonic forms 

Such government would be based in a science of human relations.

In the 3rd century BCE Plato argued that our leaders should be philosophers and by that he meant they should be well practiced at logical and analytical thinking, which today is largely the domain of the sciences.

Al-AbdRabbuh points out that governance by scientific thinkers “is not an outrageous idea. Thomas Jefferson was an inventor and German leader Angela Merkle is quantum chemist.”

You may assess Al-AbdRabbuh’s platform and qualifications on their own merits at http://sami2016.com.

So far as I can tell he is the only candidate in the current election who is talking about the form of thinking that should guide public policy and for that reason he is worth listening to.

Image Acknowledgements

12480988943_6e8357c76f_b.jpg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/12480988943

john_locke.png
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/69/John_Locke.png

The_Scientific_Method_(simple).png
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/27/The_Scientific_Method_(simple).png

Plato_-_Allegory_of_the_Cave.png
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/14/Plato_-_Allegory_of_the_Cave.png

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 319 other followers

RSS thought currents

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.