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Old 07-22-2019, 02:42 PM
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Is it unethical to work to promote voter turnout in anoher state?


I've never been motivated to volunteer in a political context, but I feel like I have to in 2020. Voting and donating aren't enough.

I live in Illinois, but literally minutes from the Wisconsin line. It's occurred to me that, instead of volunteering in my safely blue district and state, I can work with Wisconsin organizations to promote voter registration and turnout and help the Dem presidential candidate win a crucial swing state.

Friends with whom I've shared this idea, however, say it's unethical to live in one state and work to affect political outcomes in another.

What sayeth the Dope?
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Old 07-22-2019, 02:47 PM
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Voter turnout, anywhere, is a good thing. Working to increase voter turnout, anywhere, is a good deed. Choosing what good deeds to spend your limited time and energy on is just good sense.
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Old 07-22-2019, 02:50 PM
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Not unethical. More power to you!
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Old 07-22-2019, 03:30 PM
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In all seriousness, what is the argument for it being unethical? I can't fathom how it's unethical.

That's like saying promoting women's rights in Saudi Arabia is unethical. Or promoting freedom of the press on Myanmar is unethical.

I 'guess' some people may claim that you need to place your home first. But your home isn't the issue. Your home has voters, the nearby states need voters.
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Old 07-22-2019, 03:43 PM
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I donít see why that would be unethical.

I live in New York City. I have friends that volunteered for Hillary Clinton. They went door to door in New Jersey, encouraging voter registration as well as promoting their candidates. NJ was much less of a sure thing so there was more value in working there.
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Old 07-22-2019, 03:44 PM
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In all seriousness, what is the argument for it being unethical? I can't fathom how it's unethical.

That's like saying promoting women's rights in Saudi Arabia is unethical. Or promoting freedom of the press on Myanmar is unethical.

I 'guess' some people may claim that you need to place your home first. But your home isn't the issue. Your home has voters, the nearby states need voters.
Their argument is that it's messing around in someone else's business -- that it's up to Wisconsin Democrats to win Wisconsin, and we Illinoisans should keep our noses out of it. One friend asked, "Wouldn't you be pissed if a bunch of Indiana Republicans came around here campaigning for R candidates?"
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Old 07-22-2019, 03:53 PM
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That still isn't a good argument. For one thing we are all Americans so I don't know why that'd be bad.

I live in Indiana. The only reason my state went blue in 2008 was because a bunch of Obama volunteers from Illinois came over here and helped. We were grateful for the help, it turned Indiana blue for the first time in decades.

Also that's like saying it wrong for western Europe and North American to try to stop human rights abuses in the middle east.
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Old 07-22-2019, 03:54 PM
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Two different things. Are you going there to promote voter registration and turnout?
Or are you going there to promote the Democratic candidate?
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Old 07-22-2019, 03:59 PM
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Their argument is that it's messing around in someone else's business -- that it's up to Wisconsin Democrats to win Wisconsin, and we Illinoisans should keep our noses out of it. One friend asked, "Wouldn't you be pissed if a bunch of Indiana Republicans came around here campaigning for R candidates?"
This argument makes some sense when you are talking strictly about a local issue that can't reasonably have an impact on you. "Should they add a streetlight at 4th and Main in Kenosha?" Well unless you visit Kenosha and drive through that intersection, really not your business.

But when you are talking about potentially influencing who will be president of the U.S., or the makeup of the U.S. House and Senate, it absolutely is your business, and the outcome will have a direct impact on you.
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Old 07-22-2019, 04:03 PM
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Their argument is that it's messing around in someone else's business -- that it's up to Wisconsin Democrats to win Wisconsin, and we Illinoisans should keep our noses out of it. One friend asked, "Wouldn't you be pissed if a bunch of Indiana Republicans came around here campaigning for R candidates?"
I suppose that argument might hold water if you're talking about issues that are theoretically strictly state issues. For example, suppose your neighboring state legislature was getting ready to vote on expanding casino gambling options. Maybe you have concerns about how their passing of such a measure could cause tax revenue and consumer spending to flee from your home state and over the border. Maybe you like the idea of a casino and want to support the idea. If your home state can't get around to passing the appropriate legislation, more power to you neighbors.

No matter how you feel about your neighbor's proposed gambling legislation, there are going to be some residents of your neighboring state that wouldn't take kindly to your involvement in what they see as their business.
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Old 07-22-2019, 04:07 PM
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Two different things. Are you going there to promote voter registration and turnout?
Or are you going there to promote the Democratic candidate?
Good question, and I haven't explored it in detail. Promoting turnout is a de facto way of boosting the Democratic nominee's chances, of course.

Why, do you think it makes a difference?
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Old 07-22-2019, 06:27 PM
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Good question, and I haven't explored it in detail. Promoting turnout is a de facto way of boosting the Democratic nominee's chances, of course.

Why, do you think it makes a difference?
Promoting registration and turnout is a non-partisan activity and should be encouraged by all parties. The opposite of encouraging it would be discouraging it and I find that to be the unethical behavior.

Promoting a specific nominee is a partisan activity and wether itís ethical or not I could see supporters of the opposing party not that thrilled about it and I probably wouldnít be either.
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Old 07-22-2019, 06:37 PM
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... One friend asked, "Wouldn't you be pissed if a bunch of Indiana Republicans came around here campaigning for R candidates?"
That happens to me regularly at work. (Not hard core campaigning, more like the attempted spread of MAGA!) In Illinois, not far from the "Illiana" line. I ask those concerned Hoosiers why they don't express more gratitude to the State that provides them with a job. (And they walk away muttering under their breath about taxes.)

Last edited by bobot; 07-22-2019 at 06:39 PM.
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:44 PM
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This argument makes some sense when you are talking strictly about a local issue that can't reasonably have an impact on you. "Should they add a streetlight at 4th and Main in Kenosha?" Well unless you visit Kenosha and drive through that intersection, really not your business.

But when you are talking about potentially influencing who will be president of the U.S., or the makeup of the U.S. House and Senate, it absolutely is your business, and the outcome will have a direct impact on you.
Yeah, kinda... don't forget our good friend the Electoral College. The election in this case is a local one. Voters aren't voting for president, they are choosing Presidential Electors to represent Wisconsin in the EC.

That being said, I struggle to find an ethical issue with folks campaigning or otherwise helping out with political races outside their own state/city/county/etc. The biggest reason is the First Amendment. E.g. an Illinois citizen might be concerned about traffic safety in general and a friend in Kenosha asks for her help in pushing for a new traffic light (yeah, I switched hypotheticals. Sorry).

It's like a person joining a protest in another locality. Free speech.
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:48 PM
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Promoting a specific nominee is a partisan activity and wether itís ethical or not I could see supporters of the opposing party not that thrilled about it and I probably wouldnít be either.
My region of the country has more than its share of civil rights heroes, but they won their gains with the help of Northerners who came down, on at least two memorable occasions, to help cement the rights of Southerners. I'm pretty happy when out-of-staters come lend a hand in the fight for civil rights.
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Old 07-23-2019, 08:14 AM
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Just wanted to thank everyone for their responses. Based on your advice, I'm going to follow my gut and volunteer in Wisconsin to promote turnout -- and do whatever else is takes to win the state for the Dem presidential candidate.

Hope they can put up with this Bears fan in Packer country!
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Old 07-23-2019, 08:37 AM
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Voter turnout, anywhere, is a good thing. Working to increase voter turnout, anywhere, is a good deed.
Seconded.

Also, the notion that it's wrong to work to affect political outcomes in another state - well, it would be swell if the Koch Brothers stuck to Kansas politics, and Sheldon Adelson was content with being a kingmaker in Nevada. But it ain't happening, so we folks who can't set up entire organizations to mess with political outcomes in states across the country have every right to do what little we can.

Also, our system is set up so that, at least in the Presidential election, the only states that matter are the 10-15 states within shouting distance of being winnable by either party. I live in Maryland, which went Democratic by >700,000 votes in 2016, and there's no reason for the GOP to even bother spending time in Maryland: if they could close that gap by 200K votes, it would mean nothing. Same would be true for the Dems in Tennessee, which went for Trump by >650K votes in 2016.

Yet we all are stuck with whoever wins the election. So there's nothing unethical about our doing things that will in some small way affect the outcome that affects us as much as it does.
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Old 07-23-2019, 08:47 AM
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Just as a data point:

I live in New York and have spent time campaigning for candidates here at home. But I've spent more time canvassing in Pennsylvania, mostly but not exclusively in presidential races. I figure it's been a couple of weeks, all in all, over the last fifteen years or so. I've also campaigned in Massachusetts, and once in Illinois (I was visiting and got roped into helping a local candidate). No one has ever suggested to me that I am doing something unethical, and in fact various campaigns have encouraged me to come cross state lines and help out. I'm a little surprised that anyone would see it as an ethical lapse.

(For the record, I do try to blend in; I bought myself a Phillies t-shirt once while going door-to-door in Philadelphia. It seemed to help.)

I hope you will go to Wisconsin! And I do plan to go back to Pennsylvania. Maybe between the two of us...
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Old 07-23-2019, 09:43 AM
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Their argument is that it's messing around in someone else's business -- that it's up to Wisconsin Democrats to win Wisconsin, and we Illinoisans should keep our noses out of it. One friend asked, "Wouldn't you be pissed if a bunch of Indiana Republicans came around here campaigning for R candidates?"
They already do. Last election a bunch of the surrounding R Governors put out an ad "thanking" the Democratic Illinois Speaker for supposedly driving businesses to their states.
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Old 07-23-2019, 09:46 AM
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The will of the people exercised through the voting process is the heart of a true democracy. How can promoting voter turnout be unethical? I just can't see it.
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Old 07-23-2019, 11:45 AM
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From Letter From A Birmingham Jail:

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I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
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Old 07-23-2019, 11:48 AM
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Another Marylander here, and one who has emailed the Democratic Party of York Pa. offering help for the '20 election. Helping out when a ridiculous system works against you is the right thing to do, not the immoral one.
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Old 07-23-2019, 11:54 AM
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From Letter From A Birmingham Jail:
Due respect to Dr. King, but it's not as if I'm going to Wisconsin to protest or help overcome some vast injustice being perpetrated against Wisconsinites. (Yes, you could argue that the voters whose turnout I'm hoping to encourage are having their right to vote impeded by the GOP policies I'm hoping to thwart, but that's still a far cry from Jim Crow.) My motives are purely political -- I want to enable higher turnout in a state we need to win to defeat Trump.

That said, your point and others' have helped me get over my reservations. I'm doing this.
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Old 07-23-2019, 12:00 PM
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Due respect to Dr. King, but it's not as if I'm going to Wisconsin to protest or help overcome some vast injustice being perpetrated against Wisconsinites. (Yes, you could argue that the voters whose turnout I'm hoping to encourage are having their right to vote impeded by the GOP policies I'm hoping to thwart, but that's still a far cry from Jim Crow.) My motives are purely political -- I want to enable higher turnout in a state we need to win to defeat Trump.

That said, your point and others' have helped me get over my reservations. I'm doing this.
I think the same argument applies: you want what you think is best for the country, and we are one nation. The notion that Wisconsin's problems are their own and no business of yours is irrelevant.

Plus, you've been invited by some of the locals.
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Old 07-23-2019, 12:02 PM
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Not only have I campaigned in other states, I’ve volunteered in the UK to stop Brexit.

I would talk to some of the other volunteers to find out if there are any hot button local issues that you might need to be aware of if you’re going door to door. If you’re just staffing a table for voter registration, just learn a few basics about voting in Wisconsin so that you can answer simple questions.

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Old 07-23-2019, 12:18 PM
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Plus, you've been invited by some of the locals.
Not yet -- I still have to reach out.

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I would talk to some of the other volunteers to find out if there are any hot button local issues that you might need to be aware of if youíre going door to door. If youíre just staffing a table for voter registration, just learn a few basics about voting in Wisconsin so that you can answer simple questions.
Excellent advice -- thanks!
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Old 07-23-2019, 01:21 PM
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It's about as "unethical" as donating money to a political party that might end up spending it in another state.

In fact, it's quite common for a campaign to get outside support - for example, when a particular incumbent is being targeted for some reason.
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Old 07-23-2019, 09:48 PM
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Not only have I campaigned in other states, Iíve volunteered in the UK to stop Brexit.

I would talk to some of the other volunteers to find out if there are any hot button local issues that you might need to be aware of if youíre going door to door. If youíre just staffing a table for voter registration, just learn a few basics about voting in Wisconsin so that you can answer simple questions.
I'm really not trying to hijack the thread. Really I'm not, so I hope everyone can take this for the thought exercise it is.

So, the idea is that someone from IL can go to WI and attempt to influence an election and an American can volunteer to stop Brexit in the UK and that is fine. Then why are we outraged if the Russians attempt to influence our election?
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Old 07-23-2019, 10:57 PM
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Then why are we outraged if the Russians attempt to influence our election?
Because the Russians are doing so a). from a position of secrecy and using false fronts, b.) using lies and innuendo as core tools( though hardly the only ones ), c.) cynically and generally with malign intent, attempting to sow maximum chaos to strengthen their geopolitical position. It is in effect a subtle bit of cold warfare being waged at a government's directive. I don't exactly blame the Russians for it - like espionage in general it is something most major powers have played with to one extent or another. But like espionage in general, it is also something all nations should be seeking to guard against.

I'd think the difference between that and some individual openly campaigning for some cause they honestly believe in would be reasonably clear. Particularly if that cause happens to be a national election.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 07-23-2019 at 10:59 PM.
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Old 07-23-2019, 11:19 PM
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Because the Russians are doing so a). from a position of secrecy and using false fronts, b.) using lies and innuendo as core tools( though hardly the only ones ), c.) cynically and generally with malign intent, attempting to sow maximum chaos to strengthen their geopolitical position. It is in effect a subtle bit of cold warfare being waged at a government's directive. I don't exactly blame the Russians for it - like espionage in general it is something most major powers have played with to one extent or another. But like espionage in general, it is also something all nations should be seeking to guard against.

I'd think the difference between that and some individual openly campaigning for some cause they honestly believe in would be reasonably clear. Particularly if that cause happens to be a national election.
Let's say that individual's motives are not pure. As mentioned upthread, say we have legal casino gambling in my state and the neighboring state is having a ballot initiative there to legalize it. I know that my state will lose revenue if the bill passes. I want that state money, and have no problem with casino gambling; I even hit the casinos and have a VIP membership with comps and perks.

Instead of arguing against it for that reason, I go to the other state, pass out leaflets, put up a website which attempts to convince people that casino gambling is evil, will cause gambling addiction and people dropping their rent money at the casino. I also have targeted advertising: I hit the church groups with the argument about how sinful gambling is, the law enforcement community about the increase in crime, and the domestic violence groups and say that men come home after a big loss at the casino and beat their wives.

Is that wrong and/or should it be illegal?
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Old 07-24-2019, 07:51 AM
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I'm really not trying to hijack the thread. Really I'm not, so I hope everyone can take this for the thought exercise it is.

So, the idea is that someone from IL can go to WI and attempt to influence an election and an American can volunteer to stop Brexit in the UK and that is fine. Then why are we outraged if the Russians attempt to influence our election?
Someone from IL is living with, and if a voting age citizen responsible for, the same Federal government as is anyone living in WI. So if we're talking about a Federal level election, and/or about voting registration in general, all such people are all part of the same system and all entitled to try to influence it.

Someone from the USA IMO has no business campaigning about a European election in the UK. US citizens have no business campaigning in an election in Russia and vice versa. And nobody, in any election, even one in their own district, ought to be campaigning by covert means, including pretending to be somebody else altogether and/or fabricating material and/or hacking voting machines or otherwise interfering in the voting process itself.

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Let's say that individual's motives are not pure. As mentioned upthread, say we have legal casino gambling in my state and the neighboring state is having a ballot initiative there to legalize it. I know that my state will lose revenue if the bill passes. I want that state money, and have no problem with casino gambling; I even hit the casinos and have a VIP membership with comps and perks.

Instead of arguing against it for that reason, I go to the other state, pass out leaflets, put up a website which attempts to convince people that casino gambling is evil, will cause gambling addiction and people dropping their rent money at the casino. I also have targeted advertising: I hit the church groups with the argument about how sinful gambling is, the law enforcement community about the increase in crime, and the domestic violence groups and say that men come home after a big loss at the casino and beat their wives.

Is that wrong and/or should it be illegal?
I think it's wrong, though I don't think it's practical to make it illegal. It can and depending on what's being done sometimes is illegal to not disclose direct interest in the home state's casinos, but determining the motives of somebody whose interest is indirect isn't within the law's capabilities.

It's also a different issue because whether people want to have casinos in x state and not y state is far more a state-by-state issue, even if it has some indirect impact on the other state, than is the overall results of a federal election.

To take that further, I don't think people should go campaign for local issues unless they live in or have direct interests in the locality; partly because I doubt they're going to understand the issues properly, partly because they're not the ones who are going to have to live with the results.
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Old 07-24-2019, 08:03 AM
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So, the idea is that someone from IL can go to WI and attempt to influence an election and an American can volunteer to stop Brexit in the UK and that is fine. Then why are we outraged if the Russians attempt to influence our election?
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Originally Posted by Tamerlane View Post
Because the Russians are doing so a). from a position of secrecy and using false fronts, b.) using lies and innuendo as core tools( though hardly the only ones ), c.) cynically and generally with malign intent, attempting to sow maximum chaos to strengthen their geopolitical position. It is in effect a subtle bit of cold warfare being waged at a government's directive. I don't exactly blame the Russians for it - like espionage in general it is something most major powers have played with to one extent or another. But like espionage in general, it is also something all nations should be seeking to guard against.
Plus, at least half the outrage is about Trump's team meeting with, encouraging and all-but-criminally-colluding with the Russians.

If I were meeting illegally with Wisconsin Democrats to undermine Wisconsin elections with lies and innuendo spread through social media bots, Wisconsinites would be right to be outraged.
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Old 07-24-2019, 10:03 AM
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While I think that Brexit was, is, and will remain a phenomenally stupid idea, I personally would draw a line at personally campaigning against it. That's an issue that really will have minimal impact on me, and it's the Brits' mistake to make.

But the senators, representatives, and president that Wisconsans elect will enact laws and policies that will effect me as well as them, so that absolutely is my business.
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Old 07-25-2019, 07:23 AM
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Question: is there anything preventing the OP from donating money to candidates in Wisconsin? Is that legal in the States, for a citizen of one state to donate to a citizen in another?

If there's no legal bar to a US citizen donating money to a candidate in another state, what's the problem with donating time?
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Old 07-25-2019, 08:43 AM
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Question: is there anything preventing the OP from donating money to candidates in Wisconsin? Is that legal in the States, for a citizen of one state to donate to a citizen in another?

If there's no legal bar to a US citizen donating money to a candidate in another state, what's the problem with donating time?
US citizens may contribute to a candidate or referendum in another state.

I should clarify that my anti-Brexit campaigning was simply volunteering on an anti-Brexit march.
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Old 07-25-2019, 01:23 PM
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So, the idea is that someone from IL can go to WI and attempt to influence an election and an American can volunteer to stop Brexit in the UK and that is fine. Then why are we outraged if the Russians attempt to influence our election?
We are outraged because the influence doesn't appear to be from individual Russian citizens who happened to have strong feelings about Trump or Clinton, but from an organized campaign directed from the Kremlin. It is not "Russians" but "the Russian government"; the equivalent would be if the State of Illinois funded and directed a campaign to influence Wisconsin elections, which is not at all what OP is discussing.
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Old 07-25-2019, 01:56 PM
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Then why are we outraged if the Russians attempt to influence our election?
I'm not outraged that the Russians attempt to influence our election. Foreign meddling attempts, though illegal, are normal and expected.

I am outraged at US citizens who tolerate and encourage these hostile actions when it benefits their partisan interests. I am especially outraged at a President, and his campaigners, who seem to know Russia is breaking the law on their behalf, but won't use their powers of office to even denounce lawbreaking that helps their political fortunes.

That's what the outrage is about; let's stay clear on that.

Last edited by HMS Irruncible; 07-25-2019 at 01:56 PM.
  #38  
Old 07-25-2019, 02:30 PM
HMS Irruncible is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Is that wrong and/or should it be illegal?
Wrong from a point of personal honesty. But we allow people to lie all day about why they support a political position. My God, there would be no politicians or political discussion if there were a way to make people magically be honest about their motivations.

I just can't get worked up over a Wisconsin/Illinois crossover because:
  • Federal candidates will be on both states' ballots, thus each state has overlapping interests in who governs them.
  • The geographic proximity alone justifies an interest in a neighboring state. I may or may not want a brothel opening up right over the state line.
  • Wisconsinites and Illinoisians have differing interests, but they are members of the same country. They aren't geopolitical rivals. Certainly they aren't trying to steal territory or wipe each other off the map.

Frankly, if you feel like US vs. Russia conflicts are no more serious than Wisconsin vs. Illinois, it reveals something disturbing about either your allegiance, motivations, or your understanding of current events.
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