Tag Archives: Elections

Black Lives Matter, Direct Action, and the Sanders Campaign

The Left was rankled when Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted an event at Netroots Nation last month, putting Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders on the spot about racial inequality and police violence. The tension has continued since, with several protesters recently cutting a Sanders event short in Seattle. The actions have prompted a lot of anger and confusion from Sanders supporters that haven’t thrown their full support behind the movement for racial justice. The conversation is one worth having, but let’s try to avoid using this tone and maybe re-center the conversation on what black people in this country face, rather than the plight of liberal politicians. Instead, I’ll highlight what others have written about the issue, because they all put it more eloquently than I.

Speaking about radical left ontology, Nikhil Pal Singh addresses the potential – and necessary – roots of a truly anti-racist, radical leftism at Social Text:

In the US historical experience, black freedom struggles offer key insights into how radicalizing opposition to racial domination is a route to a universalist politics of human emancipation grounded in political economy. In the era before WWII, elite consensus viewed capitalist civilization as a racial and colonial project. Despite post-racial and post-colonial transition, it is not clear that capitalism suddenly stopped being what Cedric Robinson termed “racial capitalism.” From structural adjustment to subprime mortgages, the naturalization of the unequal worth of peoples has been retained as one of the surest ways to justify and profit from collectively enforced misery.

Activists shutting down a highway in New York City last November.

Activists shutting down a highway in New York City last November.

If Sanders is serious about pulling the Democratic Party to the left, it should require embracing anti-racism as the heart of the movement. As Malcolm Harris argues in his review of Mary Helen Washington’s The Other Blacklist, the conflict between an anti-racist political movement on one side and a liberal political campaign on the other is “between one theory of universal liberation and another, between a race-blind reformism and a shard from a shattered revolutionary tradition.”

One issue is that many liberals who aren’t on board with Black Lives Matter don’t understand this tactic. Even though a quick google search will define ‘direct action’ as “the use of strikes, demonstrations, or other public forms of protest rather than negotiation to achieve one’s demands,” many observers continue to believe that protesters should appeal to the Sanders campaign rather than interrupt it, that they should ask for a platform on racial justice rather than demand it. Never mind the fact that Black Lives Matter has, from the get-go, been about stopping the status quo and disrupting a system – and a society – that doesn’t bat an eye after ending black lives. That’s why highways, malls, and everything have been frequently shut down. That’s why campaign events are being shut down.

Activists marching through Penn Station last month, on the one year anniversary of Eric Garner's death.

Activists marching through Penn Station last month, on the one year anniversary of Eric Garner’s death.

Now, tactic and strategy are different, so it’s also worth addressing the strategy behind who gets interrupted. As Elie Mystal points out, this tried and true strategy of “[g]oing after your friends is effective when your enemies have already tuned you out and your friends have relegated your concerns to fringe issues inappropriate to talk about in front of independents. The Democratic party has pushed racial justice to the sidelines for a generation now. They nod and wink to the African-American community with the smug assurance of ‘what are you gonna do, vote for the Republican?'” The strategy has been used by the LGBT movement, the Tea Party, Occupy, etc. And, in light of the fact that Clinton’s events were notoriously controlled and closed to the public up until recently, it makes sense for activists to target Sanders. In fact, as Mystal points out, these actions have a really easy-to-follow logic:

White progressives are like, “Oh, but why don’t you go after Hillary Clinton instead of Bernie Sanders?” Fools. THIS IS HOW WE GO AFTER HILLARY CLINTON. The minute Sanders figures out that to defend himself he has to take the attack to Clinton on racial justice is the minute you’ll understand what is going on here. Bernie Sanders isn’t going to win. But he’s the only one who can pull Clinton to the left. If he wants to “be a friend” to the black people, then he needs to ACT like it.

And, Clinton aside, these actions have directly changed how the Sanders campaign conducts itself. Racial issues have been featured in messaging that used to be centered solely on economic inequality, and Sanders has begun to put together a platform on the issue (albeit still nascent), as Jamil Smith notes.

Smith is also smart to point out that problem is not so much Bernie Sanders himself as it is his supporters who quickly denounce activists for interrupting events, some even calling for activists to be arrested, apparently missing out on the whole year of left activism against police violence. As Malcolm Harris tweeted yesterday (pardon me while I paste them together):

People are taught to be really embarrassed and shamed and uncomfortable when someone disrupts a speaker. Seeing that language a lot. Public vulnerability in others is hella embarrassing. It’s scary when someone grabs a microphone, we’re all the sudden asked to pick sides. And the first instinct is to shame them for making this demand, for asking more of us than we expected. Easiest to boo and demand a return.

At the same time, Trump goes up there and talks about buying politicians in both parties. That system is obviously worth disrupting. At this point in the cycle it makes total sense to me to attack the electoral system’s ability to incorporate left dissent through the Dems.

I’ll give Jamil Smith the last word:

Sanders acolytes insist upon nominating their candidate first as an ally for black people. They act insulted that they are not trusted to recommend their candidate as the top advocate for black liberation in the presidential race. Yet, they and the campaign spend time devising tone-deaf chants (“We Stand Together”) to drown out any future protesters, as [campaign press secretary Symone] Sanders announced during a Sunday night event in Portland. I’m not against criticizing activist tactics, but the idea that #BlackLivesMatter protesters are hurting their cause by challenging candidates, even those considered allies, is based in the notion that the burden of making change is on them. It isn’t. Too many Sanders supporters appear to be caught up in their feelings when a protester rubs them the wrong way. They ask, why are the protesters so rude, or annoying, or targeting the “wrong guy”?

In response, I ask simply: Since when are protest tactics designed to make the people whom they are targeting feel more comfortable and less annoyed? And since when is Sanders, or Carson, or any candidate exempt from being pushed? Just since Friday, we’ve passed the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, having seen both another young man killed by a cop and more violence in Ferguson. Yet we still have black conservatives like Carson letting the world believe that black activists trying to fix this are the true racial problem, and some white liberals telling them to ask for help more politely.

The Durability of Museveni’s Uganda

Over at the Monkey Cage, Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Erica Frantz have a post on how democratic institutions increase the durability of authoritarian regimes. It’s an interesting summary of their recent research, which finds that democratic institutions such as elections actually delay true democratization, allowing authoritarian regimes to remain in power longer under the guise of democracy.

While their findings are not exactly surprising to anybody who has worked in such a country, the extent to which they’ve investigated this issue has provided a really thorough survey of regimes:

From 1946 to 1989, the average authoritarian regime lasted 12 years. Since the end of the Cold War, this number has increased to 20 years…

The figure also shows that rising authoritarian durability has tracked closely with the spread of democratic institutions (elections, legislatures, and parties), suggesting authoritarian leaders have learned to leverage these institutions to enhance their staying power. From 1951 to 1989, an autocracy with multiple parties and a legislature lasted about six years longer in office than one without them (11 years versus five years, on average). Incorporating regular elections (at least once every six years) extended a regime’s life by another year (to 12 years). This power prolonging effect has become even more pronounced in the post-Cold War period. Dictatorships with multiple political parties and a legislature now last 14 years longer than those without (19 years versus five years, on average). Regularly holding elections further extends their tenures to 22 years.

Furthermore, they argue that democratic institutions aren’t just a part of semi-authoritarian states, but that it’s actually a means of keeping states authoritarian. The whole post is worth a read, and presumably the article is too (it’s gated, here). Now, pardon the case study:

Reading the post, I was reminded of Yoweri Museveni’s Uganda. When Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) took power in 1986, they established a no-party government with facets of direct democracy that appealed to peasants across south-central Uganda. Over the years, Museveni has navigated numerous changes to the government and continued to stay in power – part of that strategy has been increasing democratization of the government. (What follows is a real quick summary of a final paper I wrote for a class on political parties a couple of years ago).

The original direct-democracy model of the Resistance Council system sought to provide the people of Uganda with a more democratic and participatory form of government than what they experienced under Amin or Obote. This later became institutionalized as the “Movement” system – a nonpartisan (but in reality one-party) elected government – almost a decade after the NRM came to power.

As calls for multi-party democracy increased, Museveni chose to give in on this issue in 2002, but only in return for the repeal of presidential term limits, allowing the NRM to appear to be opening up the country to multipartyism while simultaneously giving Museveni power in what was supposed to be his last term in office. To make the transition smooth, dissenting voices were bought or dismissed, clearing the path for a new, more “democratic” Uganda. The NRM had complete power leading up to the 2006 elections, in which the opposition faced an uphill battle against a party that controlled the army, the police, the state coffers, and the media.

Museveni also gained support from patronage through a) the military and b) local government. The former he cultivated in the ongoing fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army, and the latter he capitalized on by overseeing the rapid decentralization of government in Uganda. Museveni took the 33 districts that existed when he came in power in 1986 and has since turned them into 111.

Decentralization used the rhetoric of democracy too, giving minority groups within districts the chance to successfully elect a person who truly represented them by giving them their own separate district. Or at least, that was the popular belief. New districts rarely fell along linguistic or ethnic lines, but they did create a whole new tiered system of local government offices that owed allegiance to Museveni.

Another mobilization of democratic ideals for authoritarian gains was the creation of reserved seats in Parliament for women. The Women MP seats helped Museveni harness the women’s rights movements and giving the appearance of a government that was more equitable (regarding gender, at least), but in reality women in the reserved Women MP seats had little power or even a clear mandate (their constituents often overlapped with other MPs’).

Whether its women’s seats in Parliament, the creation of new districts, or the opening up of government to opposition parties, Museveni’s regime in Uganda has been expert at using democratic institutions to remain in power.

(HT Kim Yi Dionne who linked me to (and I think edited) the Monkey Cage post).


References:

Carbone, Giovanni M. “Political Parties in a ‘No-Party Democracy:’ Hegemony and Opposition Under ‘Movement Democracy’ in Uganda.” Party Politics. Vol. 9, No. 4 (2003), p. 485-501.

Goetz, Anne Marie. “No Shortcuts to Power: Constraints on Women’s Political Effectiveness in Uganda.” The Journal of Modern African Studies. Vol. 40, No. 4 (December 2002), p. 549-575.

Green, Elliot. “Patronage, District Creation, and Reform in Uganda.” Studies in Comparative International Development. Vol. 45 (2010), p. 83-103.

Makara, Sabati, Lise Rakner, and Lars Svåsand. “Turnaround: The National Resistance Movement and the Reintroduction of a Multiparty System in Uganda.” International Political Science Review. Vol. 30, No. 2 (2009), p. 185-204.

Mamdani, Mahmood. “Uganda in Transition: Two Years of the NRA/NRM.” Third World Quarterly. Vol. 10, No. 3 (July 1988), p. 1155-1181.

Tripp, Aili Marie. “The Changing Face of Authoritarianism in Africa: The Case of Uganda.” Africa Today. Vol. 50, No. 3 (Spring 2004), p. 3-26.

Political Ephemera from Africa

Brief interlude from my thesis-writing to share a couple of links.

Sara Dorman, at the University of Edinburgh, has been collecting political ephemera in Africa for a long time. She recently started a Flickr page, The Material Culture of Politics in Africa, which might be worth a perusal. There are a lot of photos of ephemera from election season in a handful of countries.

Browsing the collection at this site, it reminded me of the African Political Ephemera and Realia Project over at the University of Oregon. The project includes everything from bags to mugs in addition to the usual posters, leaflets, and clothing items – all of it political. These databases are great collections of political material from across the continent.

Voting as a Right

There has been a lot of talk around what some would call liberals’ obligation to vote for Barack Obama this November, followed by a lot of critiques from a marginalized Left. Between his pension for drone strikes and his slow pace on gay rights and immigrant rights, on top of his utter failure to take any sort of stand for far-left ideals, I can see why a lot of people on the Left don’t want to cast that vote. While a vote for Obama can act as a vote against the Republican Party, just how much do we reward Democrats for being slightly less terrible than Republicans? I’m intrigued by this debate, but it’s not what this post is about.

Long ago the idea of voting as a privilege was cast off, with the franchise extended to a number of minority groups. But the remnants of that idea, the idea that only the elite are blessed with the vote, still remain. Many Americans have the opportunity to vote now, but that opportunity is limited in a host of ways, including voter ID laws and disinformation campaigns aimed at confusing voters. In a country where the vote takes place on a work day, with inflexible hours, and rigid rules regarding absentee voting and polling places, it is far easier for the privileged to vote.

It is this fact that leads many to feel obligated to vote, despite the weary mantra that our votes don’t count (and between the electoral college and big-donor-funded candidates, a lot of these votes don’t). That we have the opportunity to vote means that we need to use that opportunity. To be American is to vote.

But democracy doesn’t end with casting a ballot. That’s just where it begins. If your fed up with the two parties, then there’s a lot that you can do beyond just voting for the lesser evil. And in a first-passed-the-post system, I’m certainly not talking about voting for a third party. But if you can’t stomach voting for Obama, particularly if you live in a state not listed as a gradient on polling maps, I don’t care what you do. I hope you’ll still vote in your local and state elections, because that is where tons of liberal reform could actually happen (seriously, foster those ideas in your community). And I hope you go beyond the simple act of voting and decide to take on the act of organizing for change outside the electoral system. The fact of the matter is, voting is a right – and that’s all it is. To be American is to have the right to choose who you vote for – and to choose whether or not you want to vote at all.

We have the right to vote for whomever we want, and that right should matter. Voting should play a role in choosing effective leaders, and it should serve as a voice for what we want to see in our government. To that end, choosing not to vote isn’t surrendering that voice – it’s shouting something entirely different. It’s a protest of a rigged system, and it’s a protest of a party that isn’t listening.

Voting Rights for Everyone!

This afternoon I, presumably like a lot of people, raised an eyebrow when I read that officials were estimating a 119% voter turnout in today’s Wisconsin recall election. My mind first jumped to Tammany Hall and ballot stuffing, and I remembered a clip in Gangs of New York in which the Irish were getting haircuts by Mad-Eye Moody between votes. It turns out that such a high turnout number is actually possible in Wisconsin because the state allows same-day voter registration, something I didn’t even know existed. Election Day Registration, it turns out, is an option (in some form or another) in eight states and Washington, DC. This is hugely awesome, and I wish more states did this.

Arizona, like a lot of states, has some restrictions on voter registration. In the Copper State, on top of registering 30 days before elections, on election day you will also need one ID with your name, address, and photo or two forms of ID with your name and address. And a hope that you don’t accidentally go to the wrong polling station or you don’t have an early ballot sitting at home somewhere. Add on the misinformation floating around out there, and even registered voters can face obstacles to voting. Allowing same-day registration helps make it easier for people moving to still vote in their new districts, especially since students often move right around primary season in many states. I think the more people that can vote, regardless of who they’re voting for, the better.

That’s why I’m a huge supporter of #16toVote, or really any age to vote. I figure we’re all affected by government, we should have the ability to choose them. Lowering the age to 16 gives voting rights to people who often work, go to school, drive, and do a number of other things that are directly affected by the government. Plus, voting’s awesome. If you want to vote, you should be able to, regardless of your age. Or your citizenship.

In the United Kingdom, you don’t have to be a citizen to vote. Citizens of Commonwealth countries and Ireland can vote in all elections, and citizens of European Union countries can vote in local and regional elections. Immigrants live under the same laws as all of us – even undocumented immigrants drive on our roads and pay the same sales tax. Shouldn’t they have the right to vote? After all, taxation without representation is what our democracy was founded on. Plus, some states used to allow alien suffrage less than a century ago.

I guess the best decision would be to abolish voter registrations. North Dakota hasn’t had voter registration since 1951. That’s better than denying residents the vote because of some technicality involving school or poll stations or identification. I don’t know what methods they have of restricting by age or citizenship, but I’m sure they exist. If suffrage has spread from white, male, landowners over 20 to include women, people of color, and 18-year-olds, I figure it’s not outlandish to ask for a youth vote or for immigrant rights. Even if it might take a while.

What’s Happening in Uganda Tomorrow?

On Friday, Uganda will be holding presidential elections.  Even eight months ago when I was in Uganda it was big news.  So, what’s going on in Uganda?

Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda for over twenty years and leader of the National Resistance Movement, will be running for re-election yet again.  He is running against a slate of opposition figures, chief among them Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change.  But what’s important about this election?

Despite having won every election since seizing power, Museveni’s victory margin has been diminishing.  In the last election he only won with 59% to Besigye’s 37%.  With notable corruption and a diminishing economy in addition to failure to secure the north and west against rebellions, Museveni faces the possibility of winning only a plurality in tomorrow’s election.  According to Ugandan law, if there is no clear majority than the front-runners compete in a run-off election.  If this is the case, it is likely that the less viable opposition figures such as Norbert Mao and others would throw their support behind Besigye, ushering him into the presidency.

That said, Museveni is consolidating control.  In both 2001 and 2006 the Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that the elections were flawed with corruption and vote-rigging, but both upheld the election returns for various reasons.  This election season there have already been rumors that the NRM has been buying votes in certain regions.  There are even cases of Museveni personally handing out envelopes of money to prospective voters and of Parliament receiving funds that slant towards NRM victory.  This in addition to a possible repeat of Museveni’s announcements a couple of years ago that any districts that did not vote for him would risk not receiving national funds for programs.

It looks like Museveni is setting up the elections in his favor.  Regardless, there may be some room for the opposition to sneak a victory.  But, even if that happens, he may not relinquish power.  Besigye has been exiled before and accused of treason, a strong run against the President could result in similar consequences.  With the vote taking place tomorrow, I’ll be keeping my eyes on how things unfold.

Election Reactions

The numbers are rolling in – and things are looking remarkably like the polls predicted.  I’m still watching the news hoping some races will get narrower, but let’s be honest.  A lot of people I liked took hits today.  Some people I dislike took hits today.  Some milestones were made.  Some things failed.  Biggest news is definitely the insane gains the GOP made in the House – I’m hearing it was the biggest gain since the 1940s.  Let’s break it down in the rough view of an Arizona college student on the rest of the country.

Progressives took a hit.

Russ Feingold lost after a good 18 years in Congress.  I have been a fan of Feingold’s for a while, and I support a lot of the things he did.  With him gone there are a dwindling number of champions for the issue of the LRA in east-central Africa.  And that’s ignoring his opposition to the PATRIOT Act, the Iraq war, and pork barrel spending and his support for campaign finance reform and healthcare.  Jack Conway lost to Rand Paul in Kentucky’s Senate race.  I guess this was kind of expected, but I still would have liked to see some new progressives get into the upper chamber.  People like Grayson and Sestak, to whom I paid less attention, also ended up losing.

Blue Dogs took a bigger hit.

It’s also worth nothing that more than half of the moderate Democrat Blue Dog Coalition is gone, which leaves the Progressive Caucus with an advantage within the party. But this makes bipartisanship a little harder to imagine.

Corporate Candidates took a hit too.

Linda McMahon, Meg Whitman, and Carly Fiorina all seem to have lost.  The businesswomen from WWE, eBay, and Hewlett-Packard spent a combined $230 million of their own money in addition to donations and party contributions.  I guess money isn’t all you need to win a campaign?

The House Switched

The House, as widely expected, is red.  I’ve heard from 56 to 70 House seats switching to the GOP, but I don’t know what the final count is.  Regardless, it’s a massive sweep bigger than 1994’s rout against Clinton.  But, looking at how Clinton was able to point the finger at Gingrich’s House in 1996, I’m hopeful that the new House and Obama will find some kind of way to cooperate.  I’m also hoping the two houses, with Democrats holding onto the Senate, find a way to work together.  I’m also hoping that this lame duck session of Congress will see some steps forward like passage of the DREAM Act.  I guess we’ll see!

Problems at the Polls

In Virginia, someone broke into Tom Pariello’s office and mixed up door hangers meant for distribution – resulting in people being directed to the wrong polling location – he lost by a fairly slim margin.  There were cases in Iowa and Michigan in which students were told their residency was questionable and denied the right to vote (or were forced to submit provisional ballots).  And activists at a predominantly black college polling location in South Carolina harassed voters and tried to discourage voting.  These kinds of issues make me sad because it’s pretty clear that they were not denied for any legitimate reason – and in the cases of sabotage and harassment, well that’s always inexcusable.

“Firsts” and “Lasts”

While they are not likely to hold many similar views to me because of my assumptions based on their party affiliation, there have been a few significant steps today.  Oklahoma elected its first female governor.  Alabama elected its first black, female representative to Congress.  The GOP is sending its first black Representative from the South.  New Mexico elected the first female Hispanic governor.  However – once again the U.S. Senate will have absolutely no black people.  I guess this isn’t surprising since there have been six total, two of which from the Reconstruction Era and one of which was appointed for a year.

Misc.

Oklahoma banned Sharia law…… which is weird.  And Washington voted down the millionaire tax, which kinda sucks.  And Rhode Island voted to keep the official name “the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” – I’m pretty indifferent about that one.  Oh, and the House will not have any Nazi reenactments, nor will the Senate have witches.  That’s all for now.  As I digest my own local elections (and mull over why people elected businessmen to the Arizona Water Conservation Board), I’ll do another post – Arizona edition.  To all of you that voted, thanks for doing your civic duty!  Even if I disagree with the way you voted, I love to see a good turnout.  I hope to see you all in two years, rocking that booth!

Voting

Tomorrow will probably be the biggest election day I have seen.  Definitely the most important in my short voting life.  Last week I mailed in my ballot – complete with 11 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and 1 Libertarian and with 6 “no” votes and 4 “yes” votes in propositions.  Now, I’m sitting back and waiting for the ridiculous attack ads to fade out for what I’d like to be 18 to 20 months but in reality is probably maybe a year.  I’m also going to be sitting down and slowly watching a lot of people I like probably not return to office and a lot of people I don’t like get in.  This afternoon Kentucky will close its polls and the projections and numbers will begin to fly.

Even two years ago I knew that 2010 would be a loss for the Democratic Party.  In modern American history the new President’s party has only gained seats in the following midterm elections twice: in 1934 and 2002.  Even though we are in a recession and still fighting in two wars (who are we kidding, Operation Iraqi Freedom?) I don’t think gaining seats was ever really on the table for the Dems this year.  Not that I’m 100% happy with how they’ve been acting either.

The Democrats, with their supermajority in both houses of Congress, didn’t pull off nearly as much as I would’ve liked to see in the past two years.  I might be guaranteed health care, the SEC might be drafting a report on conflict minerals legislation, and Pell Grants might have been expanded.  But the DREAM Act hasn’t been passed and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is still very much in effect. I don’t have a public option for my health insurance and Race to the Top is no better than No Child Left Behind.  Clean energy legislation never showed up and we just released the moratorium on offshore drilling.  Now, I didn’t expect to see all of these things – but a couple would have been nice.

In Arizona, Democrats seem to be on the run.  Personally, I don’t think it’ll be the near complete rout that some are predicting.  Currently, my governor doesn’t know how to debate or answer questions. And the last county attorney to get elected is off his rocker.  So I think some people, even if they’re not happy with Democrats in Washington, might still keep a few shades of blue in Phoenix.  Point is, I hope my least favorite political party doesn’t sweep my state.  If xenophobic obstructionist birthers get too much power I’ll be a bit worried.

Regardless of what you think, I’d like to make one request: go vote! Whether you want to stand beside me or try to counter my vote – get those ballots in!

Arizona Votes

Arizona is the product of the progressive era.  As a result of the bipartisan wave of people asking for a more democratic democracy, Arizona’s constitution has all sorts of “by the people” parts to it.  The initiative, referendum, and recall are all pretty basic parts of Arizona’s law.  The initiative is the ability of people to petition for amendments and the referendum is the ability for legislators to bring up proposals that voters must approve.  As for recall, Arizona was actually denied statehood until the territory took the ability to vote to recall judges out of the constitution – but in the state’s first election it was reinstated.

Every election we have a plethora of propositions brought up by initiative or by referendum.  I know last election I talked a bit about the fun ones (like the idea of counting every missing vote as a no-vote for finance-related propositions) and the bad ones (defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman).  This year we’ve got the expected “hands off our healthcare” proposition.  But we also have an effort to make the right to hunt part of our constitution – right up there with speech and bearing arms; there’s also putting an end to affirmative action and stopping early childhood development and health programs.  I’m not usually a fan of most propositions, and this election cycle isn’t any different, it seems.

I’m not sure if other states are like Arizona.  I know most don’t have the ability to vote appointed judges out of office.  I’m assuming most people in other states don’t vote every four years for the office of State Mine Inspector (I have heard there are up to 120,000 abandoned mines in Arizona).  Do you all have the option to vote for school boards?  How about justices of the peace? What’s weird about your state’s political process?