“No Response” means “Low Efficacy”?

If a legislator holds preferences for one group of voters and ignore others (i.e., a Democrat or Republican only affiliate with people in their own party); then do legislators ignore constituents from the other party? Like, if I emailed my representative on an issue and I requested a response, would a Democrat respond to me since I openly prefer the Republican Party (though not many of their policy stances of late)? What if they ignored me?

I have been ignored by legislators from both parties in hand written and email inquiries in the past decade. Having worked as an intern in Lansing (1999), I know that some offices send priority letters / emails to the legislator, most are responded to by one specific legislative assistant (LA) and some emails may be given to the intern to take care of for educational experiences. But really, every time I “never got a reply” I felt anomie, or at least I was feeling a lot less efficacious. Why vote in a system that is unresponsive to my needs?

Considering the fact that the political science research is finding much higher authoritarianism in the Republican Party than the Democratic Party (e.g., Hetherington and Weiler) since 2000… Would Republicans, if emailed a letter about voter ID for the upcoming election, be statistically more likely to respond to “Jacob Wellington” than “Jesus Sanchez”?

Matthew Mendez and Christian Grose of University of Southern California provide our first glance (MPSA 2014). In “Revealing Discriminatory Intent by Legislators? Voter Identification Laws and Responsiveness Bias to Latino and Anglo Constituents,” they ask “Are legislators who support voter i.d. less responsive to Latino constituents?” They “theorize that responsiveness bias by legislators is conditioned by legislators’ policy preferences. A field experiment in 28 legislative chambers is conducted” and they find that Republicans are less likely to respond to the Latino constituents over the WASP sounding constituent, and there is little difference on the Democratic side.

What does this mean? It means that there is soon coming a consensus that some portion of the Republican Party is authoritarian and not liberal or republican. This is important.

Since the 1950s, political scientists have called both American political parties “liberal” parties (Ware) in a “liberal society” (Hartz, McKloskey and Zaller). Didn’t you know, the American voter affiliates with the liberal continuum (Converse). Now in the 21st century, we are seeing that there are “multiple traditions” in the American society.

“Traditional Liberals” (Nozick) are all about equal opportunity in capitalism, regardless of everything–especially national origin; and progressive liberals openly support “Rights.” Simply, the evidence suggests that there are authoritarians, by definition, in the Republican Party. What is so interesting is that the “libertarians” who are ideologically promoting uncorrupted liberty are in an open fight against authoritarians via the Tea Party (Williamson and Skocpol; Parker and Barreto).

Mendez and Grose’s findings suggest that (1) the professionalization of local government still needs some improvement, because questions should be answered as a matter of democracy; and (2) that Republicans are less likely to reach out to Latino constituents than Anglo constituents. What’s the next chapter?

Focus on efficacy. As an “experienced” hypothesis, constituents who receive “no reply” should hold less efficacy than voters who always get a reply. Adam Dynes extreme asymmetry (I’d call it the “blowback threshold” if I had enough evidence) could help develop your answer. Or in general, you could bridge rational choice through “efficacy.”

I would focus on “R=PB + D – C” for chapter 2.

The outcome desired is the public good. R stands for Reward. P depicts the probability the vote will make in deciding a tie. B stands for the differential benefit one gets from choosing the more preferred candidate. D it for Duty! C stands for the costs of voting, including; time and effort to register and the costs of decision making.

As I see it, Latino voters had some “D” but that “D” was undercut–swiped at–by the lack of a reply from the legislator. You find evidence for where D is for voters so that we can solve the equation more accurately. To further develop this, I suggest Aldrich and Grynaviski in the introduction, followed by a short lit. review on efficacy.

I would (1) obtain the list of primary voters from states which gave you various results, (2) survey all types of voters based on their names (and ask them for their actual identity) on national issues and (3) specifically ask them if they have emailed or snail mailed their representatives; and (3b) if so, did they get a response and (3c) if yes, does that make them more likely to vote and connected in political life, and (3d) if not, does that make them less likely to vote and less connected to political life…

In my dissertation, I seek to find authoritarian, liberal, and/or republican response to 9/11 and the Patriot Act. I do find evidence of all three–with special attention paid to the republican response. So it seems, in your efficacy survey–you should ask a question to see if the respondent prefers authoritarianism, liberalism, or republicanism.

With respect to the Patriot Act, my qualitative dissertation produced an important finding. The data suggests, very clearly regarding the Patriot Act, that:

Authoritarians: People fear a terrorist attack and the government should protect the people by all means necessary. When someone is labeled by the government as an “enemy combatant,” civil liberties may be violated. If the people obey the law, then they have little to fear.

Liberals: In combating terrorism, the national government should not violate civil liberties of any person. The government definitely should monitor all information to find terrorists, like finding needles in the haystack. The government should not negatively affect the haystack.

Republicans: In combating terrorism, the people and the governments should vigorously promote civil liberties for all people, and the government definitely should not create a total surveillance system.

Obviously, we need a battery of questions to really help separate the people’s ideological preferences, but one or two questions in your survey might help to achieve that end game while helping you see if one faction is weakening American democracy on purpose.

Hypothesis: (1) Constituents who get a “no response” will be hold a lower level of efficacy compared to constituents who “always get a response.”

Finding: What is the state of American democracy?

**Comments section at bottom of page.




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