Tuesday, September 26, 2006

District 21 Newsletter (Waikiki-Kapahulu)

Understanding the Numbers of the Politically “Perfect Storm”

Looking over the primary numbers for the last three elections in Hawaii (Oahu), the thing that stands out, is that the percentage of the vote a candidate receives is the most telling significance -- more than just the gross number of votes, which can be very deceptive and misleading. Inversely, it turns out that the percentage of blank votes is a fairly reliable indicator of a candidates “power” (effectiveness) rating. These numbers act as a “poll” in themselves -- whatever the sample size eventually turns out to be.

In this year’s primary, the distortion caused by the Akaka-Case vote, caused one person who ran for governor in 2002 as a non-partisan candidate (Van Tanabe), to increase his vote total by 250 times (from 44 to 10,865!) -- simply by running in the Democratic primary, although his percentage was 6.6%, or a power rating of 6.6.

The Akaka-Case had a .6! blank vote for a power rating of 99.4, (which is an unprecedented universal participation that might be likened to a once in 100 year storm). At these extremes, the numbers are logarithmic -- like the Richter scale in which an earthquake of 9 is ten times more powerful than one of 8.The single greatest percentage of votes was 95.9% by Linda Lingle, followed by Cynthia Thielen’s “uncontested” 84.9%. (Actually, Mark Moses had a higher 88% -- but I’m choosing some individuals for better illustrative purposes).

Not all uncontested incumbents score that high; some uncontested incumbents barely exceed 75%, but that seems to be the golden mean which indicates a successful politician -- with a standard deviation of 5 points, in either direction representing the norm. Under 70%, one is not likely to be successful, while over 80%, one almost certainly is.

The gross numbers are much less indicative of this true “success,” or many virtual unknowns, would be more popular than Governor Lingle. The power rating seems to hold true whether one is in a contested primary or not, with the percentages of all the candidates, added to the percentage of the winning candidate. After those figures are calculated for their respective major parties, one can fairly effectively handicap the race by comparing the power rating of the two candidates -- with an above 80% having a clear advantage over one below 70%, which is a double digit difference. A differential less than that would be a fairly competitive race.

Probably the most dramatic of this apparent distortion from the recent primary and how they are adjusted using this model, is the race in Senate District 25, in which strong favorite Fred Hemmings with 84%, seems to trail a virtual unknown 1,667 to 5,197, but who has only 48.6% of the Democratic vote. That is to note, that this candidate, despite seeming to trounce a very popular incumbent, actually received less than half of the votes cast in the Democratic primary. The 84%-49% differential is more meaningful than the 5,197-1,667 -- because the general election merely expands the population sample of the previously constricted “poll.”

Likewise, the Democratic gubernatorial ballot was 78% voted for candidates, while the Republican, was 98.3% -- 95.9% for Governor Lingle. That’s the only way to make real sense of the aberration of this year’s primary results of unprecedented proportions -- thus allaying the great trepidation of the Lingle campaign that their greatest enemy is from complacency and overconfidence. The primary, inadvertently, took care of that -- for all Republicans.

It is now the Democratic challenger, who must bear that uncertainty of unjustified confidence -- by who knows what magnitude? Meeting the challenge of failure is the first step for everyone; the next is handling the challenge of success, that many are wholly unprepared for -- when success is unexpectedly, undeservedly and illusorily thrust into their laps.

That’s the kind of distortion that occurs when all the choices are not allowed -- but one is first limited and then given a “choice” -- as in a primary election. Many polls and surveys are also this kind of distortion -- that instead of really finding out what people think, they’re really telling people what to think -- as though they were exercising their own freedom of expression and choice, coming up with these ideas themselves -- instead of being carefully corralled on the correct way to think.

All our options are “managed” in this way: either we’re for “their” solution, or we’re for total chaos -- and doing nothing about it. Either we’re for “public education,” or we’re for total ignorance -- and there is nothing else, no other possibilities and solutions but “theirs.” One is even more than likely to call oneself a “liberal,” while demanding conformity and obedience to this totalitarianism. We just get used to it -- they hope.

Formerly, we had nothing to compare it with -- because this was “the most isolated spot in the world,” which hasn’t been true for quite some time now. But many seem to want to regain that isolation -- and go back in time, as though that were possible. Time only allows us to move forward; going backwards only cuts us off from living in the present moment -- until finally, one is cut off totally from the present into the darkness of only memories and knowledge of the past -- which is mainly wishful-thinking of what it was.

That is the greatest problem of life -- living in the past or in the imaginary future, while paying no attention to the present -- which is actionable reality. And that is how life passes one by -- wasting all our opportunities, despite all our efforts. We commonly see it as the grandiose great project that promises to solve all our problems -- if only we’d drink the Kool-ade. That distracts us from the everyday present -- of tending to the potholes and maintaining and optimizing what we already have -- which is nearly always, the most effective strategy one can adopt.

Bob Kessler, Chair of District 23, seems to be regaining his fighting form and spirit enough to convene the next regular meeting of Districts 21, 22, 23 on this coming fourth Wednesday, September 27, 6 pm at the Hawaii Republican Headquarters. Despite everybody’s “busy” schedules, I think it is worthwhile just to meet with others for no specific purpose but to discuss the many things we never talk about otherwise. I always learn something -- whatever it is, and I think that is the most important thing -- to just be learning about everything, and nothing in particular. Otherwise, all we ever see and hear are the various agendas special interests have for seeming totally and spontaneously the will of the people.

I know we are taught not to waste time like that -- to have an attentive, innocent, quiet, idle mind. But I think only in that state, that grace (the truth) enters -- and one sees all that was not possible to see before -- under so much coercion, pressure, intimidation, deceptions and manipulations -- that we have gotten too used to as the public dialogue and forums. I think meeting people on the campaign trail coming from many different perspectives, predisposes the mind in this way to accept come what may.

I think “running for office,” as just being exposed to life one ordinarily wouldn’t be -- as probably an experience those who can, should avail themselves of. Many will find their true calling here while many others will benefit from as much diverse experiences that allows them to develop the great perspective and insights that is universal to all activities. One never knows which it is until one actually finds out -- and surely, that is what life is really all about, finding out. In that process, life happens.

I think one of the great failures of any culture is that of people with preconceived notions of who they are -- indoctrinated into them as young experiences in life, even by well-intentioned, well-educated people because of their own biases about knowing the One Truth they were instructed never to question -- under penalty of being banished from “paradise.” Invariably, it is the commandment not to challenge authority or seniority. But those who do, discover new worlds -- and not those who merely go along to get along, fearing to think for themselves, playing a safe game, living in quiet desperation.

Also, I wanted to remind people I have my signature video Understanding Conditioning showing on Olelo Channel 52 on Thursday, September 28, 10 am -- for those who would like to be in shape without spending much time and thought on it. As one who was brought up to be one of the foremost student/teachers on these things, I thought that real successful conditioning needed to reach this level of effortlessness and inobtrusiveness to really be the unqualified benefit in one’s life -- or it becomes another problem in itself.