Debates: Another Level of Bipartisan Control

September 26th, 2016 by Sam

From accuracy.org:

— “Televised Joint Appearances”: In 1985, the national chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties, Paul Kirk and Frank Fahrenkopf, signed a remarkable agreement that referred to future debates as “nationally televised joint appearances conducted between the presidential and vice-presidential nominees of the two major political parties … It is our conclusion that future joint appearances should be principally and jointly sponsored and conducted by the Republican and Democratic Committees.”

— “Exclude Third-Party Candidates”: In February 1987, Democratic Party chair Kirk and GOP chair Fahrenkopf together issued a press release and held a D.C. news conference to announce the formation of the Commission on Presidential Debates (“Commission on Joint Appearances” apparently didn’t sound right) — with themselves as co-chairs. The press release called the new group “bipartisan.” According to the New York Times, Fahrenkopf indicated at the news conference that the CPD was “not likely to look with favor on including third-party candidates in the debates.” The Times reported: “Mr. Kirk was less equivocal, saying he personally believed the panel should exclude third party candidates from the debates.” The newspaper quoted Kirk: “As a party chairman, it’s my responsibility to strengthen the two-party system.”

Nader Outlines VotePact as Strategy for So-Called “Swing States”

September 19th, 2016 by Sam

Today on the program “Democracy Now,” host Amy Goodman asked former presidential candidate Ralph Nader about “swing state strategy” for the election. It’s an ambiguous question and we were delighted to hear Nader respond by outlining the VotePact strategy, though he didn’t actually mention VotePact:

Let’s say you’re in a swing state, and you think that the least worst candidate is Hillary. What you do is you go with a Trump voter who thinks the Trump vote is the least [worst], and you trade off. You say, “Look, you won’t vote for Trump, and I won’t vote for Hillary. Let’s make a deal, and then we’ll vote for whoever we want to in terms of our conscience, third party or whatever.” There are already computerized systems for this underway you can actually join and network, and that will get rid of that.

As I’ve noted before, it’s a great shame that Nader didn’t see fit to apply the VotePact strategy in a serious way on any of the several occasions when he ran for president. Nor are any of the candidates genuinely applying it this time.

The Stark Difference Between VotePact and Vote Swapping

September 17th, 2016 by Sam

Arun Gupta—one of the most sophisticated analysts and activists around today—tweeted at me on Friday about a New York Times oped: “Anti-Trump Republicans: Don’t Waste Your Vote. Trade It.” Wrote Arun: “Imitation of @votepact is the sincerest form of flattery. @samhusseini“.

It says a lot about how terribly understood VotePact is that someone as plugged in as Arun would confuse it vote swapping, which is what’s outlined in the Times piece.

As I’ve written at VotePact.org/about: ‘This is not “vote swapping”—in which voters in so-called “swing” states who want to vote for third parties “swap” votes with committed Democrats and Republicans in so-called “safe” states. This was outlined by VotePair.org and VoteTrader.org, both now defunct. Unlike “swapping,” VotePact is not an attempt to “minimize the damage” of a third party run—it is designed to actually shake up the political spectrum, create a realignment and open the door to actual victory for independents or emerging parties. Also, VotePact does not result in people voting for candidates they don’t want—it frees people to vote for candidates they do want, but are held back by fear because of the limitations of the voting system. While the Electoral College is central to “vote swapping,” it is not at all central to VotePact, though VotePact does work best if the two voters are in the same state.’

And all that still stands.

Read the rest of this entry »

Andrew Stewart Makes a VotePact

September 15th, 2016 by Sam

Listen in as Andrew Stewart takes one vote away from each Trump and Clinton:

It’s also at Internet Archive page and Podcast page on Media Coop: Beginning is intro. At 1 minute mark, there’s an interview with Sam Husseini, founder of VotePact. At 10:45, there’s a dialogue and negotiation that forms a VotePact: A traditional Democratic voter and a traditional Republican voter both agree to vote for other candidates instead — in this case, one for Jill Stein and one for Gary Johnson. At around 17:45, Andrew gives a great summary:

“And there you have it, for those of you who are on the progressive end of the spectrum, I have just effectively taken away a vote from Donald Trump. And for those of you who loathe the Clintons more than anything else, she has also just lost a voter. Now the choice is in your hands. Go out and talk to people close to you who are disenchanted with their traditional political party. Engage in these sorts of conversations, and begin to take votes, two at a time, away from the duopoly. It might surprise you to learn that, despite their candidates being extremely problematic, their voters are a lot like you. When you build a votepact, consider publicizing it; mail in letters to the editor to your local newspaper explaining your decisions, tell people on social media in pairs about it, and be sure to use the hashtag #votepact to build awareness in those forums. Thank you for listening today.”

 

VotePact: Do It Yourself Voting Reform

September 13th, 2016 by Sam

FairVote just interviewed Sam Husseini about VotePact:

Question: You’ve called your VotePact.org project do-it-yourself ranked choice voting (RCV). What do you mean?

Sam Husseini: Both attempt to solve the same problem. Take this election. There are lots of people who would want to vote for Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein or Libertarian Party nominee Gov. Gary Johnson or other candidates, but are not currently planning on doing so. They are set to vote for Donald Trump or Sec. Hillary Clinton because they fear or hate the other.

Q: And this election is sort of an extreme in this respect since Clinton and Trump both have very high negatives.

SH: It’s through the roof. Suffolk University/USA Today found Trump at 61 percent untrustworthy and Clinton 59 percent untrustworthy. Much of the media system is built around this, Fox and MSNBC work constantly to keep the fear and hatred going, to keep the voters the reservations.

Q: And RCV addresses this problem of course by allowing people to rank the candidates 1-2-3-4. So someone could vote Stein, Johnson, Clinton, Trump — or whatever they want.

SH: Right. And what VotePact does is get people to pair up. One person who has Clinton as their lesser evil pairs up with someone who has Trump as theirs. So, instead of both cancelling each other out, one self-loathingly voting for Trump and the other for Clinton, they both vote for other candidates — Johnson, Stein or any other candidate that are their actual favorites. So you’re kind of simulating RCV. [See full interview at FairVote.org.]

FAIR: Media “Opinion” Polls Replicate Bind Voter Already In

September 13th, 2016 by Sam

Janine Jackson at the media watch group FAIR recently noted:

Just recently, the Commission announced that the threshold for inclusion is based on public opinion—that’s to say, public opinion polls. Candidates must get 15 percent in polls conducted by five national organizations the group names. But there again, as journalist and activist Sam Husseini pointed out, the polls themselves have a way of tamping down interest in independent and third-party candidates.

The question they ask is generally a variant of “if the election were held today, for whom would you vote?”—which is subtly, but importantly,  different from asking people open-endedly who they want to be president. As it is, these polls sort of replicate the bind the voter is already in—especially at a time when record high numbers of people call themselves “independents,” and in a race in which many voters’ main reason for supporting one major party candidate is that they are not the other.

Ideas for VotePact: Town Hall Meetings, Dual Videos and more….

September 3rd, 2016 by Sam

Over at caucus99percent, CantStoptheSignal suggests activists with different takes on Bernie Sanders and “Our Revolution” put aside their differences and focus on helping VotePact for the rest of the election season:

This is a magnificent idea, even if it fails to dislodge Hillary Clinton from the throat of the country, where we’re currently choking on her. It brings the people together. It reaffirms bonds of trust across political lines, and in particular reaffirms the fact that we trust each other–the people we know–a hell of a lot more than we trust any of those bastards who are providing us with our current political “choices.” It creates the basis of a movement against the system that produced these rotten choices in the first place. And who knows where a movement like that could go?

So I propose we spread this idea far and wide. My thoughts so far:

1) Town hall-style meetings between us and Republicans who are sick of their own party’s BS and the corruption of the country, as much as we are. … Read the rest of this entry »

Trump Going to Mexico is not the Real Irony. NAFTA Is.

August 31st, 2016 by Sam

Many are shocked that Donald Trump announced he is going to Mexico today. That misses the real ironies here: NAFTA — and how this should be a boon to the Green Party.

First the obvious stuff: Donald Trump is playing to xenophobic sentiments. His “solutions” are in large part twisted or beside the point, for example, U.S. government has largely already built the wall.

One real irony is that Trump is appealing for votes based on trade issues. His criticism of NAFTA rightly resonates with many in the U.S. Lots of workers have lost out because of NAFTA and other so-called “trade deals.” These deals are actually largely investment protection agreements that help the huge corporations and the wealthy in the U.S., Mexico and other countries. That’s people like Trump and people and corporations like those who fund Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, these secretive deals often rook regular folks wherever they live. [Full piece]

Letter in Washington Post: “VotePact Offers Voters a Sensible Alternative”

August 29th, 2016 by Sam

The Washington Post just published this letter about VotePact:

In his Aug. 24 op-ed about Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, “2016’s Ralph Nader,” Dana Milbank described VotePact.org as a group that backs third-party candidates. This simplification was a way of mentioning VotePact without noting the problem VotePact solves — a problem that pundits use to effectively restrict voter choice.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump both have record-high unfavorability ratings among the public. There is a deep hunger for another viable choice, but this is hindered because many voters feel compelled to vote for Ms. Clinton or Mr. Trump simply because they fear or hate the other.

In the face of many obstacles, we suggest a solution for people stuck in fear: Pair up with someone you know and trust from the other side of the two-party divide. That is, instead of you and a friend canceling out each other’s votes, one self-loathingly voting for Ms. Clinton and the other for Mr. Trump, you vote for the third-party candidates you prefer. You both get to vote your preference without helping the candidate you most dislike.

Sam Husseini, Riverdale
The writer is founder of VotePact.org.

How Disenchanted Democrats and Republicans Together Can Break the Two Party Duopoly

August 25th, 2016 by Sam


From The Real News: “How Disenchanted Democrats and Republicans Together Can Break the Two Party Duopoly”