Fair is Fair: how liberals can win the 2020 election

Fair is fair . . . until it isn’t. Let’s face it. Republican conservatives and Democrat liberals don’t get along in America. Every day conservative and liberal leaders argue that the other’s political platform is unfair to citizens because of this and that. But are either of the parties’ platforms really ‘fair’? And why does one party’s platform seem more ‘fair’ than the other? In the new book America the Fair, Dan Meegan dissects what Americans see as fair and how our approach to politics is affected by it.

Who we are and how we think. Meegan, a cognitive scientist, holds the reader’s hand as he explains why we all think the way we do when it comes to justice and politics.

““. . . liberals are more concerned about care than conservatives, and conservatives are more concerned about fairness than liberals.”

Need vs. Equity. Let’s say you are at a potluck and everyone is being served a soup they all brought ingredients for. However, not everyone was able to bring ingredients, so there ends up being people that contribute more to the dish than others. To go along with Meegan’s definition, liberals would be the people at the potluck who are more concerned with everyone getting fed rather than keeping track of who brought what to make the soup. They focus more on the “need” aspect of the equation rather than the “equity” portion. Conservatives, on other hand, would be more concerned about everyone’s serving being proportional to what ingredients they brought to make the soup in the first place.

The power of fairness. Whether we lean toward being more need or equity-minded affects when our personal injustice trigger – that little voice in the back of our heads that goes ‘that’s not fair!’ – decides to go off. This is what gives us our predisposition to what party platform we align ourselves to. For liberals wanting to utilize this cognitive behavior to overturn conservative power in America, Meegan offers his new book as “a how-to-guide for Democrats hoping to make that happen.”

The Key to Liberal Success: There’s a reason why the Republican party is one of the oldest political groups in America. Its conservative leaders know how to convey its values in a way that appeals to the equity-minded citizens, while making liberal policies seem ineffective. This not only secures them the support of the equity-minded citizens, but also the more squeamish need-minded citizens who get cold-feet on election day. For liberals to stand a better chance against conservatives, Meegan claims that they need to convince more equity-minded citizens to join their cause.

“. . . if enough of them abandoned the Republican Party for the Democratic Party, the former would be rendered powerless.”

Hate the sin not the sinner: “If liberals are going to compete with conservatives and win back America, they need to develop and use frames of their own that paint a very different picture.” Meegan doesn’t think that liberal policies themselves are the problem – the problem is that liberal leaders keep phrasing their policies in ways that only attract need-minded people, and not “equity” minded people. If liberals were to find a way to make their policies sound fairer for the latter, then they would be able to attract more support.

With a couple of psychological tweaks here and there, liberalism could invite a larger following and truly flourish in America. Then, claims Meegan, the country might take another step in the right direction for creating more fair society for everybody.

MEEGANYou can find more information about the author, or purchase America the Fair, here.


 

Christine Gaba is a senior writing major at Ithaca College with a minor in English. When she is not reading or writing you can find her playing her clarinet, in the kitchen baking, or at a coffee shop with friends.


Also of interest:

Cornell University Press Podcast 1869, Ep. 69 with Dan Meegan, author of America the Fair:

 

 

Fair is Fair: how liberals can win the 2020 election

On this #ElectionDay, WOMEN WILL VOTE

Today’s the day. It’s Primary #ElectionDay in seven American states, and this election season, it seems that no one is willing to sit on the sidelines. Women will vote, and make sure their voices are heard. But as we all know, this wasn’t always the case.

women will vote.jpgIn their book Women Will Vote, Susan Goodier and Karen Pastorello explain how the 1917 referendum that marked women’s right to full suffrage in New York State was a turning point in history. The victory at the polls signified the coming together of rural, urban, African American, Jewish, immigrant, and European American women. And, also, a victory for the male suffragists that supported it.

As Goodier and Pastorello point out, only when upper-class women convinced the majority of men to support them, did suffrage succeed. After all, at the time only men made political decisions, and only with men on board did women finally have the power, and the number of voters needed, to get the legislation passed.

Moreover, the authors argue that the popular nature of the women’s suffrage movement in New York State, and the resounding success of the referendum at the polls, relaunched suffrage as a national issue. If women had failed to gain the vote in New York, they claim, there is good reason to believe that the passage and ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment would have been delayed. Today many, if not most, political battles start at the state level; and the activism behind New York women’s victory in 1917 is clear proof that local efforts spur social change. As mentioned in our #1869 podcast celebrating the 2017 centenary of the referendum, we should remember that New York State was the tipping point in the national movement that finally gave women a political voice and vote.

Today #NYCvotes and polls will be open through 8:00 PM. Reflecting on the story of Women Will Vote let’s try to bring back the notion of coalition the women who fought for suffrage embodied, and remember that by coming together in spite of our differences we’ll be better citizens, ones able to focus on common goals, and to act for the common good of our society.

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Featured upcoming event:

“The Greatest Victory: Women Will Vote” presentation by Karen Pastorello, on Friday July 6th, from 6pm to 7pm. More details here: https://thehistorycenter.net/calendar

About the author of this blog post: Adriana Ferreira is the Social Media Coordinator at Cornell University Press. She admires women like her grandmother Delia, doctor and poetry writer, who advocate and stand for women’s rights.

On this #ElectionDay, WOMEN WILL VOTE

Political Upheaval: a glimpse into racial politics, state political patronage and the future of Malaysia

Since the early 1970s, capitalism and politics have been organised and rationalised in Malaysia in a distinctive way: the principal stated aim being to transform the comparatively disadvantaged social and economic position of ethnic Malays vis-à-vis ethnic Chinese. Promotion of an ethnic Malay business and state bureaucratic class, together with insistence on Malay political supremacy within the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN, or National Front) coalition, were integral to the strategy.

But in spite of initial improvements for ethnic Malays in general, the model’s real power lay in growing capital accumulation opportunities for capitalists that were closely aligned to the dominant BN party —the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). And as inequality grew, so did BN’s reliance on repression of its opponents and critics. Ethnic and religious nationalism were both used to justify BN rule and discredit challenges to it, but yet this model’s problems would mount.

PARTICIPATION

As explained in Participation without Democracy: Containing Conflict in Southeast Asia, the unequal distribution of costs and benefits of development have exerted political pressures across the region. However, precisely how capitalism is organized affects the bases of support and opposition for particular institutions and ideologies of participation and representation. In neighboring authoritarian Singapore, for instance, the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) interests and ideological dominance link to state capitalism under technocratic rule. Hence, the PAP developed state-controlled consultative institutions and ideologies for incorporating experts, civil society actors and others into public policy deliberations.

Comparable forays in consultative representation in Malaysia were limited and counter-productive. Two national consultative committees—during 1989-90 and 1999-2000—produced governance reform proposals antithetical to the regime’s political patronage systems. As a result, the politically disaffected sought to exploit electoral politics and civil society mobilizations. These peaked under Najib with huge street demonstrations, organised by the Bersih movement pushing for electoral and other institutional reforms.

Malaysia’s May 9 general election result was a shock, ushering in the first change of government in 61 years of independence. To be sure, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government had been on the nose for years, saved at the 2013 election by massive electoral malapportionment. In 2018, though, the scale and range of obstacles to free and fair elections was unprecedented. These included further racially-skewed boundary changes, barring of key opponents, boosts in phantom voters, deregistration of a major opposition party, and an Anti-Fake News law to blunt debate about Najib’s alleged role in Malaysia’s biggest ever corruption scandal.

Yet still one of the world’s most durable authoritarian governments fell, and the Pakatan Harapan (PH, or Coalition of Hope) formed government. Paradoxically, 92-year-old former authoritarian BN leader, Mahathir Mohamad, is again prime minister.

Mahathir’s political comeback was precipitated by allegations of at least $4.5 billion stolen from the state investment company One Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), including almost $700 million siphoned into Najib’s personal bank accounts. Mahathir aligned with Bersih’s call for Najib’s resignation and co-established Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Malaysian United Indigenous Party) in direct competition with UMNO, as the authentic champion of Malays. And in early 2017, HP elected Mahathir leader.

It is an unlikely coalition of forces, comprising alienated members of the old political establishment combined with popular reformist forces, that has made this victory possible. Many of the latter seek the dismantling of racial politics and state political patronage: foundational pillars of the prevailing Malaysian political economy. But how much will government change translate then to regime change? This depends on the way that contradictions within this multi-ethnic coalition are resolved or managed, and how the PH’s technocratic, nationalist, democratic and even authoritarian elements play out to lead change.

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Related article: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-44036178

About the author of this blog post: Garry Rodan is Professor of Politics and Director the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University, Australia. He is also an elected Fellow of The Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Political Upheaval: a glimpse into racial politics, state political patronage and the future of Malaysia