Thursday, March 26, 2009

For the record...

For the record books, poll results below. By the way, anyone see this kinda amazing quote from the JEC Counsel?
"Nowhere in the rules or charter is there an allowance, even for honest mistakes."
New poll question is up.


Logan said...

That's some pretty biased wording there.

AdamGreen said...

Please feel free to suggest other wording.

Anonymous said...

Adam Green, are you sure you are a real professor? Of Political Science?

Try asking a poll question that isn't like "Which do you like better: horses or Nazis?" Did you cut your teeth putting together Congressional mailers?

One can agree that the will of the people is paramount but that the will can be corrupted by a dishonest political process. A counter-position to "the will of the people" is not "technical rule of law" but dictatorship.

The rule of law is the will of the people. It is established through their elected representatives -- in this case, through election rules crafted by their elected Senators and interpreted by judges appointed by their elected President with the consent of their elected Senators.

A poll question asked by a competent thinker could be crafted by asking, "Should the Court be as deferential to the decision-making process of the JEC as it claims it must be?"

AdamGreen said...

First, anonymous, if you want your ideas to be taken seriously "stand by your comment" and post your name.

Second, your proposed question of, "Should the Court be as deferential to the decision-making process of the JEC as it claims it must be?" is irrelevant to the issue posed in the poll question. The poll isn't about the Court decision's merits -- it's about the broader rules that the Court was operating under.

It's completely possible that the Court decided correctly, based on flawed rules that don't take into account the will of the people.

(The analogy would be countless U.S. Supreme Court decisions where the court said we don't agree with the outcome, but this is what the law says so we need to decide this way -- Congress can feel free to pass a new law and overturn us.)

So, ask yourself this question. If a candidate that is the popular choice of students spends $1001 (aka "an honest mistake" to use the JEC's words), is that person equally worthy of being kicked off the ballot as someone who spends $20,000 in blatant violation of the rules?

If your answer is yes, than you support the "technical rule of law" -- and judging by the current poll results, some people agree with you.

If your answer is no, than you may think that the current rules -- which don't allow the JEC to account for an "honest mistake" -- are not aligned enough with the will of the people.

If students at large agree that the Court decided right based on the rules on the books, but that the rules on the books just kicked off a popular candidate based on an "honest mistake," than, assuming there's any sort of democratic processes at play, the people could change the rules to prevent the same thing from happening in the future. Assuming they have leaders who would step up to make that happen.

Anonymous said...

1. You're right -- everything done anonymously is immediately discredited. Do you teach your Political Science students to ignore the Federalist Papers and the Silence Dogood Letters? Tell Benjamin Franklin to stand by his comments!

2. None of your argument accounts for the flawed poll question you asked. If "the will of the people" loses is the "technical rule of law" not the will of the people? Also, the will of the people is not undone by the technical rule of law (especially when you use the word "technical"; usually, the less rigidly law is applied, the more controversial the result).

In fact, the law is a result of the will of the people. That you put enforcing the law outside the sphere of the will of the people is most troubling. It is reasonable to think that a person can believe the law should be enforced without having to select an answer that implies they don't believe in the right of the people to choose their own leaders.

3. You approach reasonableness when you bring up the difference between the court's rigidity and the possibility it should allow for an "honest mistake." This is an actual dichotomy that could serve as a useful poll question. I suggest you replace your false dichotomy with that. Its answers could provide useful information to next year's officials who I am sure will look to clarify the election rules.

4. You start rocking the boat again when you question whether a person who is $1 over the limit is equally problematic as a person who is $2000 over the limit. Again, a misleading question. Should somebody who sets fire to his opponent be more deserving of elimination than a person who is $1 over the limit? Of course. Does that mean the person who is $1 over the limit should avoid the application of the law because somebody else was worse? No. The law is not a continuum, it (ideally) is a line where one's behavior is either legal or illegal. In the context of student elections, punishment is basically limited to one option.

Also, do not forget that a candidate is not kicked off the ballot for one offense but for a cavalcade of offenses. Specifically, Kyle was convicted of five separate campaign violations and was assessed three more for overspending. Six would have been enough to remove him from the ballot. He managed eight, four of which were uncontested.

5. Seriously though, did you used to make Congressional mailers? This poll reads like something straight out of one.

AdamGreen said...

1 - I'm fine with a "Federalist Papers exception" for anonymous posting. In the case of the Federalist authors, they feared persecution by the British throne if they spoke out. If you're attributing that sort of power to GWBlogspot, I suppose...thank you? Though, honestly, based on the level of thought in your last comment, you should feel proud to put your name on the comment. You deserve credit for it.

2 - The poll does not say that technical rule of law and will of the people are mutually exclusive. It says "when push comes to shove" -- which means, during the times when they may contradict. It's a legit question. Obviously you are a solid "rule of law" person -- you think that $1 over the limit means a candidate should be kicked off the ballot, regardless of the will of the people in electing that person and regardless of whether it was an "honest mistake." That's a legitimate position to have. Others may disagree. Hence, the poll.

3 - Again, I don't think the current poll is a false dichotomy. But that's fine...I'll add your poll question too, if you think that will be helpful for future rule-makers. Let's see what happens.

4 - "The law is not a continuum, it (ideally) is a line where one's behavior is either legal or illegal. In the context of student elections, punishment is basically limited to one option." You state an opinion as fact. Again, this is the point of the poll. In actual law, "honest mistakes" actually do get treated more leniently than blatant rule breaking. But if you think a candidate should get kicked off the ballot for going $1 over, that's a legit opinion to have.

5 - No. By mail, do you mean paper? So primitive. I'd point out that you are accusing me of asking a rigged question, yet the side you accuse me of rigging the question against appears to be winning. So, seems like you can stop making this argument.

Overall, thanks for engaging. Smart stuff, even if we argue over some stuff. Again, you should be proud to post your name. (And I promise, no persecution...)