Reform Party of California Essays
The Reform Party of California: Its role and its limits
To a large extent, politics is the art and science of spotting problems, finding solutions, predicting the future and trying to get something done. That has to occur within the confines of the constitution and constraints of a chaotic democracy. More than a little of the chaos associated with competing perceptions of reality is at least partially grounded in the factors mentioned before, ideology, special interests and (self-interest - link to essay 3) competing against the public interest. Expert pundits and politicians offer an endless stream of confident predictions of what policies will work best for the future. All of that is based in no small part on an endless stream of [spin - link to essay 4] and usually profound differences of opinion over what relevant facts might be and their relevance to defining and solving problems. In that environment, politics may be more self-serving art (80%?) than public service science (20%?).
Despite the great confidence and sometimes arrogance that routinely comes from expert pundits and politicians, they turn out to be surprisingly bad at predicting future events, especially in view of their usual confidence in their own prowess. A study into what constitutes expert political judgment showed that at the most, expert pundits got predictions of future events right about 20% of the time. Most were not even that good. Stranger still, some statistical models looking at the same scenarios got the future predictions right about 50% of the time. That says that statistical models absolutely trounce human experts when it comes to predicting the future. That is very strange indeed.
Not so strange is the finding that experts are expert at rationalizing or minimizing their failures, but puffing up their egos when they do get something right. Experts tend to accept, with little or no question, facts and outcomes that generally support their world view (ideology) while rejecting facts or, being much more critical, that tend to contradict their world view. When you dig into this, it is clear that all kinds of fascinating human behavior is at work, most of which appears to be subconscious.
For example, experts that made wrong predictions usually softened the psychological blow to their egos by arguing that they were almost right, will soon be right, were wrong for the right reasons or not wrong at all (a very strange reaction to objective failure). Sometimes, they succumb to hindsight, rewriting their own memory of the situation before and after their failed forecast. In the case of hindsight, experts who made wrong predictions tended to partially forget what they believed before making the bad prediction. To save face, they recalled having a better grip on the weight of various factors than what the data said they had to start with. The observed hindsight effect wasn’t conscious. When faced with knowledge that one of their predictions was wrong, many experts simply changed the “facts” about their own beliefs without knowing it. In essence, human brains were subconsciously rewriting history in hindsight to protect the ego.
Little downside: The nature of how the human mind works to distort reality cannot just be obliterated, even if someone wanted to do that. It is a matter of biology and is part of what makes humans what they are. However, that does not mean that there is no choice but to simply accept what human nature in conjunction with the two-party system foists on us. When pundits and politicians make their predictions and sometimes base policies based on those predictions, there is no way for the public to know the track record of who is speaking. Finding quality in experts is like trying to compares costs between hospitals for specific medical services. It is difficult, if not impossible. Given the lack of an accessible, potent mechanism for imposing more accountability and reality into politics there is often, maybe usually, little downside for the players when they are wrong.
That makes sense. For example, the pundit Mike Huckabee has recently predicted that, unless democrats gain greater control of congress in the 2014 elections, president Obama will be driven out of office (impeached) before the end of his second term. That is due to his alleged complicity in an alleged coverup regarding the embassy attack in Bengazhi, Libya in September of 2012. If Mr. Huckabee’s prediction turns out to be right, the public will no doubt be fully informed, if nothing else by Mr. Huckabee himself. However, if he is wrong, the public likely won’t remember it and probably won’t hear much or anything about the failed prediction. Finding out about the failure (or his track record to date) would require a significant effort. That is something very few people are willing or able to do.
Given the way things work, including the human ego and two-party politics, it is very hard to imagine experts voluntarily submitting themselves to a fair, unbiased system of critical review so that the public can easily see how good or bad they really are and how well their work compares to statistical models. There is no upside from the status quo point of view to establish that sort of a quality control system in politics. That alleged lack of upside is the two-party system’s perception, not the RPCA’s perception. Doing that would likely be a benefit to the public interest from the RPCA’s point of view.
What the RPCA offers and can do
If you accept the arguments the Reform Party of California (RPCA) in essays 1-4 and the context discussed above as mostly true, then it is fairly easy to see that two-party system politics is inefficient and error-prone, to say the least. But what can or should a pragmatic, non-ideological political party do in the face of complexity, uncertainty, lack of consensus, massive differences in perceptions of reality and low trust in politics, assuming those things are problems that would be good to address?
Assuming it would benefit the public interest, and the RPCA firmly believes that to be the case, a pragmatic or centrist political party like the RPCA can be a source of unspun context and information for assessing the nature of issues and policy options without bias. Because of the RPCA’s non-ideological starting point for politics and its openness to a real competition in a marketplace of ideas, i.e., assessing the merit of competing ideas, the RPCA can provide the kind of information that neither party is comfortable giving to its members. For example, the California Democratic Party will tend to shield its major power bases, e.g., public employees and their unions, from information that might reflect badly or imply that there is a better way to do things relative to the power base. The the California Republican Party is no different. Both have vested interests they protect, partly as a matter of self-interest and partly as a matter of ideology. Because the RPCA is even handed in looking for merit, there is no threat to party ideology. Self-interest for the RPCA is grounded in service to the public interest, not special interests so that will have to take care of itself. Either the public will accept that or reject it. Merit can come from the left, right, center and/or elsewhere. The RPCA’s product is unspun reality, unbiased analysis based on honest assessment of competing ideas.
When it is feasible to do so, the RPCA can also offer for consideration political options arising from unbiased analytical models. Statistical models may be much better than the best experts in predicting the future and thus shedding light on which policy choices would seem to be the most efficient over time. It does not necessarily follow that what the RPCA or its members might ultimately decide for any given issue will fully or partially accord with what comes from that exercise. It could be the case that the RPCA or its members consider other factors than pure efficiency to be important and thus in accord with a policy choice that differs from what a model suggests.
Nonetheless, such options can serve at least as a reference point for what an unbiased source might conclude. Those options can then be accepted or rejected in whole or in part in the face of those choices. If nothing else, that exercise could make it easier to more objectively consider policy options that might be harder to accept if they came from sources who some people might consider to be biased or self-serving. Resorting to neutral sources should, over time, make it easier or more comfortable to objectively assess the strengths and weaknesses of various opinions and points of view. There is value in approaching political issues in that neutral manner.
In short, the RPCA can and will offer a neutral, non-threatening context in which to assess reality and policy options. The point of that is to get better, more intelligent politics than what the two-party system can deliver in view of the severe constraints it has to operate in now (as discussed in essays 1-4).
Another important product the RPCA offers is a transparent source that can be trusted to provide unbiased assessments of policy options and respect for competing ideas. Most Americans are largely passive participants in politics. Many people do not have the time or inclination to assess the details or merits of various policy choices and competing perceptions of reality. Doing that takes real time and effort. For those people, the RPCA can offer a source that ties together disparate threads of information (from non-profit public service sources and in the press and elsewhere from the two-party system) for easy consideration. Obviously, that requires trust in what the RPCA is doing and why it is doing it. The best that the RPCA can do to build trust is to be transparent, non-ideological and honest about the potential and limits of what can be, none of which you get from the two parties now in power.
What the RPCA cannot offer or do
The RPCA cannot make differences in individual perceptions of reality and personal values disappear. Each individual will incorporate those concerns into their own opinions. However, the RPCA does hope that that process will occur after neutral consideration of competing options and arguments pro and con. Regardless, individual values will play a role. The goal of that approach is to reduce the massive gulf in perceptions of reality between the left and right and to give the center a point of view that is not distorted by the ideology of the left and right.
No party can come up with policy choices that all of its members will agree on. Disagreements within political parties are common. Some Tea party members have threatened to leave the republican party because core principles or ideological beliefs have been compromised too much. The best that a party can do is to be transparent about its policy choices.
Special interests: The RPCA cannot dictate to special interests about how they choose participate. Two-party politics is pay to play for the most part and many interests may want it that way. Special interests with money, both legal entities and wealthy individuals, have to decide what they want out of politics (a focus on self-interest or public interest) and whether pay to play or competition on the merits is how politics should operate. All the RPCA can offer is a changed status quo based on the merit of competing ideas in lieu of pay to play. The RPCA’s vision of politics might be appealing to at least some special interests who do not participate in pay to play or who like the idea of competition based on merit. On the other hand, most willing participants in status quo politics may not much care for what the RPCA is offering. That is no surprise. There can be excellent return on investment in the two-party system as discussed in essay 2.
What the RPCA would like to achieve
It may be the case that the RPCA can narrow differences in individual perceptions of reality by looking at alternatives in less threatening ways, e.g., presenting pros and cons of issues in a value/ideology neutral manner. That is what the RPCA wants to achieve. Obviously, that requires significant voter support. The two-party system tells us that we are far apart on most issues but more careful, less biased, sources say that most Americans (not ideologues) are often not that far apart. One RPCA goal is to at least partially convert politics from win-lose ideological and/or self-interest combat to a search for win-win, win-neutral or neutral-neutral scenarios whenever that serves the public interest.
Ultimately, the RPCAs’ goals include a higher GDP growth rate and a slow, intelligent recovery of fiscal control. The party wants to build a more efficient, responsive and transparent brand of politics compared to the often non-responsive, opaque product the two-party system typically delivers. Given the way politics now works, there is no reason to believe that better, more efficient governance can promote average economic growth without fomenting economic debacles like the 1980s S&L crisis or the economic meltdown of 2007-2008. In terms of its business climate, the business community perceives California to be a relatively unfriendly place (Chamber of Commerce; business community perceptions; think tank perceptions). The RPCA believes that California’s business and tax climate can and should be improved without loss of regulations that most Californians clearly want, despite contrary business sector wishes. Although achieving an optimum balance has been impossible to attain so far under the two-party system, it is the RPCA’s goal. Without economic growth and health, it is difficult or impossible to be compassionate in governing.
1. Philip E. Tetlock, Expert Political Judgment: How good is it? How can we know?, Princeton University Press, 2005, see, e.g., pages 49-51 and 53-54. Maybe not surprisingly, there is no universal agreement among social scientists that something like “expert political judgement” can even be measured. That school of thought sees politics about like this; History is “ultimately one damned thing after another, a random walk with upward and downward blips but devoid of thematic continuity. Politics is no more predictable than other games of chance.” (page 19) Of course, if that perception of reality is true then why should anyone listen to any pundit or politician confidently expressing any opinion about anything relevant to politics? And, why (i) were the statistical models so much better than human experts and (ii) is it that certain types of human thinkers were consistently better than others in predicting the future? It must be the case that expert pundits and politicians themselves believe in their own ability to see the future, otherwise they would not be so certain that they possess anything more than a faint idea of what they are talking about or why they feel the way they do. To say the least, all of this can be disconcerting to some people, especially ideologues. Unspun reality has a nerve-wracking tendency to undermine ideology. That implies that many (most?) ideologues will reject or distort the science and the results described here. If they didn’t, that would open the door to a real, critical review of exactly what the two-party system has done, especially ideologues, and how effective they have been and might be going forward.
2. Philip E. Tetlock, Expert Political Judgment, pages 202-205. “Hindsight bias is a failing of autobiographical memory.” Page 205. The human mind is adept at playing quiet, comforting tricks with memory and thus perceptions of reality. Unfortunately, we are typically unaware of this and many people will tend to deny or disbelieve it when confronted with this aspect of human nature. Discomforting as it may be, science strongly suggests that our brains betray us by distorting memories a little each time we recall them (link to the original scientific publication describing recall-induced memory distortion). Hindsight bias seems to be part of the phenomenon at least when a challenge to the ego is involved, e.g., when an expert is told that his or her prediction is wrong.
3. One can argue that knowing how good or bad expert political judgment is does not serve the public interest because politics is just a game of chance. But, if the results of the science discussed here really do apply across the board, experts playing that game of chance are wrong at least 80% of the time. Knowing how effective the experts really are would thus only serve to undermine trust our whole political system and that would harm the public interest. That is one way to see it. Conveniently, that “ignore it and it won’t bite you” vision tends to preserve the status quo. Another way to see it is to call the two-party system’s bluff and demand to be treated like adults. Why does the two-party system think that indulging in endless spin (link to essay 4) and confident prognostication serves the public interest any better than brutal honesty? Why treat American citizens like mushrooms? When one looks at the poll numbers, trust in government in Washington (and in California to a lesser extent) has been low for years. Being more honest and transparent would increase public trust and better serve the public interest. That just might make governing easier and maybe a bit more efficient.
4. The RPCA fully understands that most special interests, including the two parties, will strenuously argue that what they do serve the public interest over special interests and that politics is not pay to play. Those interests will be able to point to many things that support their arguments. Those arguments are heard and have been considered. They are not persuasive. The balance of the evidence (as discussed in this series of essays and from many other sources) and common sense have led the RPCA to the firm conclusion that money plays too big a role in accessing government and that service is tipped too far in the direction of serving special interests at the expense of the public interest. This amounts to differing perceptions of reality. The question is obvious: What does your instinct and common sense tell you about how politics works and who it serves? The RPCA’s positions on those points and why it holds those positions and should now be clear. This is a fundamental dispute over what politics is and how it should operate. In these regards, the RPCA is different from the California Democratic and Republican Parties.
5. The issue here is one of reasonable balance. Democratic ideology and approach to governance embraces an ever growing and complex web of regulation. That imposes an increasing burden on essentially all aspects of commerce and society. Republican ideology and approach to governance embraces stark deregulation, including deregulating things that most Californians want some regulation of. There has to be a better balance. Because democrats dominate California government, complexity and burden will increase even if it is not needed or wanted.
Reform Party Candidate Looks for Staff and Volunteers
For Immediate Release - Reform Party candidate for Florida’s Second Congressional District, Cleave Drummond, is currently searching for staff and donations. He is most notably looking for a campaign manager and other high level campaign staff, which is necessary for him to have if he wishes to win the elections.
Currently he is running against Republican incumbent Steve Southerland and Democratic hopeful Gwen Graham. Both candidates have been doing well with fundraising. Graham has done two large fundraisers in the state capital, the last of which netted her sixty two thousand dollars in contributions. Drummond is struggling to keep pace.
He hopes that with a properly staffed campaign he will be able to close the fundraising gap, and with over a year until the election, he still has time to put together a competitive campaign.
“I don’t care what party they are from,” said Mr. Drummond, “as long as they want to help, I’ll put them to work”.
The first official member of his staff has taken a role as a public relations advisor. Current Reform Party Communications Chair and Lason Media founder, Nicholas Hensley, has recently volunteered to handle a limited amount of public relations work and campaigning. The campaign has already seen a positive effect from the addition of Mr. Hensley, and started to gain some momentum.
If you would like to learn more about Cleave Drummond’s campaign for congress, it is possible to visit his website at www.drummondforcongress.org or contact his campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Immediate Release
The Reform Party of the United States of America is rebuilding their organization. Founded in 1995, the party found mainstream success when Ross Perot obtained eight percent of the popular vote in the 1996 presidential election and Jesse Ventura was elected Governor of Minnesota in 1998. Disaster struck in 2000 when Pat Buchanan followers led a takeover of the party, leading to a loss of ballot access and a decade of in-fighting that decimated party membership.
Over the past decade, the party has pulled itself together. The Reform Party has twenty four active affiliates, four of which were added to the organization during the 2012 convention. The position of the party was strengthened when Kevin Kennedy on the board of Belleville, NJ became publically affiliated and Bob Acker won a seat on a local utilities board in Colorado.
In January of 2012, the Reform Party Executive Committee began by chartering a new Communications Committee, chaired by Nicholas Hensley of North Carolina. The committee maintains internal communications and public relations and is composed of professionals with a background in modern marketing techniques.
The committee launched a new website with help of webmasters JD West and Cleave Drummond. This website replaced a page that dated back to the late 1990s. Additions included a press section that is regularly updated with press releases approved by a three member oversight board. “This is a big step forward for the party, which hasn’t released any press announcements in recent memory,” said Hensley.
Their web presence is anchored by the use of social media sites. Daily maintenance of these once abandoned pages has seen in an explosion in followers and activity. “We’ve nearly tripled our Facebook following and doubled our twitter followers. We’ve got new Linkedin, Tumblr and Google+ pages,” said Hensley.
Since 2013 is an off year for federal elections, the committee has turned to infrastructure building and content creation while state and local affiliates run candidates for local offices. “We have a lot of projects we’re working on,” Hensley said “We’re working on press releases, a press kit, an organizer kit with fliers, business cards and all the materials an on-the-ground organizer will need.”
The Reform Party is working to put itself in a better position to win offices during the mid-term, when they hope to reemerge as a viable alternative to Democrats and Republicans.
The Reform Party’s website can be found at www.reformparty.org and can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
You may be amazed at the increase of parrots in America. A century ago there were indigenous parrots in the lower united states. They thrived in the southwest, but as their food disappeared so did they. Now there are just a few left. But don’t fear, they are being replaced. Not by another Parrot, but by the human parrot. Human Parrots having been multiplying for decades. We all know what Parrots are famous for. ” Poly Want A Cracker” Rrrrr!. Most of us laugh at this but with human parrots it’s not very funny. The human Parrot are famous for complaining. ” The government is horrible” ” Congress doesn’t do anything”. Rrrrr! Love you Rrrrr! You can say they are lazy. You can say they don’t really care. If they cared and weren’t lazy we wouldn’t be in this mess, but that’s not really the problem is it? Americans do a lot in their lives. They work , play sports , travel , socialize and do that more then most other citizens in other country’s. Americans are the hardest workers in the free world. So what’s wrong?
Reform Party national chairman David Collison called the debate between Democrats and Republicans on raising the nation’s debt ceiling another reminder that the country is faced with a deficit in leadership on the most critical economic issues.
"The Democrats and Republicans continue to prove to the American people that they are incapable of addressing the $14 trillion debt they created," said Collison. “This is a debt that has grown by over $10 trillion in less than 20 years, and neither party has a plan to make it stop. Well, it needs to stop. We can not afford to keep raising the debt ceiling and sacrifice the future of our children and their children.”
Collison added that the Reform Party believes that the American economy cannot withstand the poor leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties any longer.
"The only way America will balance our budget and end our out of control debt to China, once and for all, is through shared sacrifice by ALL Americans, an end to corporate welfare, serious across the board spending cuts and elimination of special interest budget projects, along with addressing serious structural economic issues in America.”
Collison noted that none of current proposals by either side would do anything to keep the national debt from reaching $20 trillion in less than ten years and will not keep debt payments under $800 billion in the same time frame. Current government projections have payments on the national debt approaching 80 percent of all revenues in the coming years, which will make funding the nation’s military, social security and other key programs impossible.
“Unfortunately, both side have waited until the last moment to try and deal with the most complex issue facing the country,” Collision said. Calling such a move “totally irresponsible governance,” Collison called on all Americans upset with the continued status quo to contact the Reform Party to help build a strong alternative to Democrats and Republicans running for elected office.
“Right now,” Collison said, “we have Democrat and Republican politicians that are more concerned about elections than the best interests of the American people or the financial future of our country. We need people committed to honest leadership and new ideas to unseat these lawmakers before they do more damage.” The problem exists because only two extreme positions are represented at the table.
The public needs the Reform Party, a balanced party, focused on practical, American solutions – not political ideologies.
To inquire about getting involved in a state party, e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Reform Party has been on record opposing a raise in the nation’s debt ceiling since January of 2011: http://reformparty.org/the-reform-party-says-no-to-increasing-the-federal-debt-limit/
What is the Reform Party doing in 2012?
We are currently focusing on:
- Building strong state party organizations
- Increasing fundraising capabilities
- Helping state parties increase their skills and resources
- Helping state parties identify potential candidates for local, state, and federal office
Building State Party Organizations
In states with very little organization, we are focusing on networking activists so they can build strong, functioning state parties. Contact us today to find out how you can get involved!
Printing and mailing material, maintaining websites, hiring petition gatherers, all of these things take money. The Reform Party can not be successful unless the state parties and the national committee can meet our legal financial obligations and are able to pay for the services we need. While the vast majority of our labor is all volunteer, it still takes money to have a functioning organization.
At the national level, increasing small donors is critical to our core beliefs. Only by relying on small donors like you can we ensure we are accountable to all of our supporters and not any single large contributor.
Helping State Parties
Strong state party organizations are critical to our success. In states with ballot access, we are focusing our national efforts on helping them to identify and run candidates, to build their state fundraising, and to increase their leadership abilities.
In states without ballot access, we are focusing on identifying independent candidates for office that the state party can support, and on strategies to regain ballot access.
The Reform Party is looking for individuals who are willing to seek public office at the local, state, and national level. We can not be a political party without candidates, and we can not impact the political landscape without credible candidates.
What do we look for in a candidate? Generally speaking, you should have desire to take on the very difficult problems that face us at all levels of government. Your focus as a candidate should be in line with the local, state, or national Reform Party Platform. And finally you should be willing to work for the success of not only your own campaign, but for the success of your fellow candidates and the Reform Party in general. The strength of a political party, unlike an independent campaign, is that it builds on the success of each candidate, and by doing so can have a gradually increasing impact on elections.
If you are interested in seeking office, please contact us for more information.