Sunday, March 11, 2012

Who I'm Going to Vote For on Tuesday

I admit, I'm very easily influenced by the folks at the Arizona Republic.  Here are my picks:

Mayor:  Mark Mitchell.  He's been in city council for 3 terms now.   He has the connections and the experience to "Keep Tempe Different".  I'm not sure I trust Monti.  My barber told me he's basically ruined the restaurant.  It's believable because I've been there a couple of times, and I was surprised how bland the food was.  I was expecting it to be a lot better.  Is this what I want from my mayor?

City Council:

Corey Woods:  He actually came to my house and shook my hand and this isn't the first time I've met him.  He was at the city of Tempe Easter egg hunt, and by all accounts he's everywhere doing everything.   He has a ton of energy and passion and deserves to stay in there.

Kolby Granville:  He has some really smart commentary on his website about Mill Avenue, density in Tempe.  He's been on the peace corp and has been active in the community.

Dick Foreman:  Dude, he wants to build a sandy beach and swimming pool at Tempe Town Lake AND he wants to run a street car basically from our house right to this sandy beach.  What's not to like?

It helps that these are exactly the candidates Arizona Republic endorsed.

So, the election is in two days, please try to change my mind :-).

Tempe Primary Elections This Tuesday

Ok, I don't know near enough about the candidates, but I'm going to blog about what I do know and how I plan to vote based on some pretty incomplete information:

The Mayor Race:
  • Mark Mitchell
    •  Current councilman past 11 years, VP of Arizona Flooring an dInterriors
  • Michael Monti
    • Longtime downtown Tempe restaurateur
  • Linda Spears
    • Former councilwoman and a certified public accountant
Council Members vying for three seats:
  • Dick Foreman
    • Southwest Gas Corp's directory of corporate public affairs and formerly served on Tempe Union High School District's governing board
  • Kolby Granville
    • Lawyer at Phoenix-based Mariscal, Weeks, McIntyre, and Friedlander.  Co-owner of the Spacing Effect.   He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique
  • Joel Navarro
    • Member of the Phoenix Fire Department since 1995 as captain and paramedic
  • Angie Taylor Thornton 
    • Retired Tempe businesswoman, former president of East Valley Women's League, former parent-teacher organization president at Waggoner Elementary School, Kyrene Middle School and Corona del Sol High School
  • Corey Woods
    • Director of College and Career Articulation for the Phoenix Union High School District
Issues and Links:
  • South Tempe ammenities
    • Linda Spears would focus on rebuilding south Tempe
  • Tempe Town Lake Dam
    • Monti and Foreman wants to build a chlorinated swimming at Tempe Town Lake with a white sand beach.
    • Renovate the Flour Mill
  • Empty strip malls
    • Linda Spears wants to renovate these

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Passionate Pragmatist

I loved this post about how weak and feckless moderates in Congress have been.
On economic policy at least, I have what I think are pretty moderate views so I always want to look back fondly on the contributions of self-proclaimed moderate politicians. But while centrist legislators almost invariably end up playing a pivotal role in America's major policy debates, looking back at Olympia Snowe's self-indulgent farewell op-ed in the Washington Post one can't help but be struck by the lack of really meaningful impact that Snowe has had on the course of policy. She complains about the relative disempowerment of moderates in the political system, but the nature of Congress' institutional rules is that generally nothing happens without the agreement of moderates. It's true, as Snowe writes, that the quantity of moderate members has declined but that means that the influence of the remaining ones—i.e., Olympia Snowe—is greater than ever.
How many Senator's can you name? For me, there are many, but I know about Olympia Snowe because she wielded significant power during Obama's first term. She was instrumental in shaping the size and scope of the stimulus and the health care bill, two of Obama's most significant achievements. She also shaped Bush's tax cuts.

Here's the curx of Yglesias's argument:
Taking advantage of the low interest rate environment of the aughts to pass regressive tax cuts was either a good idea or it wasn't. Opinions on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are sharply divided, but approximately zero people believe the Snowe/Collins/Specter/Nelson compromise version of ARRA was the right thing to do. That's not because of "polarization"; it's because their position didn't make any sense on the merits and just reflected a mindless less is better than more mentality.
This is why, maybe, people tend to revile moderates - they seem so weak, feckless and wishy washy. Instead of taking a strong stand on nuanced positions, they always revert to soft-peddling on controversial issues, it becomes mindless.

Rather, to me, the definition of a true pragmatic, moderate is someone who studies each issue independently. Rather than falling back on tired ideology time after time, considering each issue on its merits, making strong decisions, and backing them. These are the people with power and are willing to take ownership of their decisions. These are the swing voters who can be counted on to support people and not party.

Snowe did wield a lot of power, but she chose not to take advantage of it, rather she shrunk from the moment. Weaken a bill rather than support or oppose it. In this way, it seems, she was trying to find a way out from a responsibility the Constitution created exactly for people like her. She couldn't face the pressure and now she's not running for another term - trying to shift blame off herself and onto others.

This last point is crucial, so I want to make it with added emphasis. The Constitution was written to force compromise. Those in the middle, the pragmatists, wield the most power in such a system. Our founders purposely wrote the document to weaken the influence of demagoguery. The extremes of the Tea Party or the Occupy Wall Street, they have a voice, but they usually can only come down on the side of gridlock.

If you want to get a bill to actually pass, you need to find the moderates of both parties and win their support. They have all the true power. It's time we find some moderates out there willing to step up and take it.