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How Obama and Trump Imprison Voters — and How To Break Out

April 29th, 2011 by Sam

A group of demonstrators recently got into an Obama fundraiser to protest the imprisonment of Bradley Manning, the alleged source of the WikiLeaks cables.

They sang a song to Obama. Part of it went: “We’ll vote for you in 2012, yes that’s true / Look at the Republicans — what else can we do?”

Manning is not the only one who is in prison.

These protesters have confined themselves. Or rather, they have allowed the political establishment to imprison them. They are attempting to pressure Obama, while saying outright — as they are giving him money — that they don’t think they have any other choice but to back him.

Not exactly negotiating from a position of strength.

And some have mocked them. But, really, what is their choice? How can they emancipate themselves?

Look at what is happening on the Republican side. Donald Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year: “Ron Paul cannot get elected.” This statement tries to undermine and dismiss Paul’s candidacy. Trump’s vision of democracy is apparently one where the result is known before the election.

The Democratic establishment has relentlessly penned in Principled Progressives while the Republican establishment has continuously made captives out of Conscientious Conservatives.

And these establishments have succeeded time and time again.

This is particularly tragic because most Principled Progressives and Conscientious Conservatives agree on so much, though it might not seem that way because establishment politicians (and corporate media) dwell on the differences between each other, which are frequently trivial. Consider:

Foreign policy: Cutting the military budget, ending the U.S.’s wars, dismantling the network of military bases around the globe, stopping support for tyrannical governments like Saudi Arabia, ending support of Israel’s aggressions and occupations.

Economy: Stopping the Wall Street bailouts, ending the Federal Reserve, curtailing runaway corporate power and corporate welfare, ending trade deals like NAFTA that obliterate jobs in the U.S. while impoverishing many in other countries, challenging the IMF and WTO.

Freedom Agenda: Ending the so-called “Patriot” Act, stopping government use of secret “evidence” to prosecute individuals, insisting on accountability for torture and illegal detentions and renditions, stopping government spying on citizens, ending the drug war and the mass imprisonment that causes, and challenging the media establishment while enhancing solutions like local low power radio and net neutrality.

Oh yeah, and supporting WikiLeaks and whilstleblowers like Bradley Manning.

But Big Media keep telling progressives they’re supposed to hate “The Tea Party” — as if there were no difference between Sarah Palin and Ron Paul. And the establishment and corporate media have kept conservatives from seeing the insights of authentic progressives, people like Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and Mike Gravel — demonizing or marginalizing them in a plethora of ways.

So yes, singing protesters: Look good and hard at the Republicans and realize, that on virtually all the issues above, it’s the Principled Progressives and Conscientious Conservatives together on one side and the Establishment Center – Obama, the Bushs, the Clintons, Palin, Dick Cheney, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Donald Trump, Mitt Romney — on the other.

What we have is close to a classic prisoner’s dilemma: If Conscientious Conservatives and Principled Progressives can find ways to dialogue and cooperate, they might develop strategies to win on all those issues listed above and then some. If they don’t, they will likely continue to be shut out and locked down, forever in bondage to the corporate establishment.

Who you’ve been lead to believe is your enemy — your political opposite number — is actually your ticket to political emancipation.

What we need is the meaningful emergence of a New Center based on principle and conscience. Will there be disagreements? Yes, but with work, they will be honest ones, not endless political hackery.

Manning may be in jail, but in a deeper sense, he’s free. He acted on his conscience. We all need to free ourselves — and our votes — from of the partisan boxes the establishment keeps confining us to.

Sam Husseini is founder of VotePact.org, which advocates that would-be Democrat and would-be Republican voters pair up and vote for candidates they actually agree with. His personal blog is at husseini.posterous.com.

Ron Paul and Ralph Nader Interviewed by Napolitano

April 26th, 2011 by Sam

From January 19, 2011

Watching the Nader-Baldwin Debate

October 23rd, 2008 by Sam

McKinney states that the debate was basically run unilaterally by the Nader campaign, she will be on C-Span’s “Washington Journal” Friday at 9 am ET.

Moderator Chris Hedges claimed that Chomsky will be voting for Obama, but what he read I don’t think backed that up. In his interview with The Real News, which I think Hedges based his comments on, Chomsky seemed to advise people “in swing states” to vote for Obama. Chomsky lives in Massachusetts — McKinney probably has a better chance of winning there than McCain … So far the debate feels like a “parallel news conference”. … It is a great failure of the candidates in my view that they hardly ever talk about VotePact as a solution to the voters’ dilemma, as in the beginning of this debate. …

Hedges is certainly raising alot of the crucial issues: Read the rest of this entry »

Debate

October 23rd, 2008 by Sam

Third Party Ticket is organizing a debate tonight with Nader and Baldwin. Their web page also features a forum with Cynthia McKinney.

Global Online Poll: Ron Paul Beats Barack Obama

October 23rd, 2008 by Sam

After the the BBC allegedly did a “global poll” which only listed Obama and McCain (I guess ballot access restrictions are even more stringent in Canada), I wrote the piece “If Everyone in the World Could Vote, Obama Would Win. Right?” which argued that — despite the lack of media coverage — third party and independent candidates might beat the establishment candidates. Well, someone actually did something similar that I hadn’t seen until now. The page doesn’t list the current non-establishment candidates, but it does list the candidates who ran in the primaries. Ron Paul got more votes than all the other candidates combined, over 68,000. Obama got 23,000. Kucinich was in third with 9,000.

Slogans for VotePact

October 23rd, 2008 by Sam

(1 unsatisfied Democrat) * (1 unsatisfied Republican) –VotePact–> (2 happy independents)

“VotePact: The Next Phase of the R3VOLution”

“VotePact, it‘s like getting your vote and eating it too.”

“Freeing the Public, Two at a Time”

“Don’t cancel your vote with your friend’s — double your votes together.”

Video Your VotePact

October 17th, 2008 by Sam

You would vote for Obama. Your neighbor would vote for McCain. You would cancel each other out. Instead, you decide to team up and magnify your votes by both voting for other candidates. Now, video it. YouTube is teaming up with PBS, encouraging people to “Video Your Vote”. I can’t say I embrace the politics of either, but I’ll link to any videos (or articles) along these lines.

Addendum on the “Blind Taste Test”

October 17th, 2008 by Sam

Back in December 2007, Matt Waterman, who set up one of the blind taste test web pages for the primaries told me:

Five months after launch we’ve had over 200,000 people use the tool to find out how well candidates’ views match up against their own. Records from the submissions have shown the most common top match-up to be, by a wide margin, Dennis Kucinich, with Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Mike Gravel as the distant runners-up. The data that have been collected are far from scientific, but do seem to demonstrate a large disconnect between where people stand on the issues and who conventional polls have indicated they plan to vote for. I would be interested to see the results if pollsters asked questions like these ['blind taste tests']. People may not know where the candidates actually stand on many of these issues, or perhaps they’re making their decisions based on only a few key political issues. It’s also likely that people simply don’t see some candidates as being electable.

This severely undermines the argument, put forward by many detractors, that third party runs are somehow dubious because “we heard from Kucinich and Ron Paul in the primaries.”

Also, thanks to Philip Meyer, Knight chair in journalism at the University of North Carolina for pointing me in good direction about the “spiral of silence.”

The Spiral of Silence, the Pundification of the Populous and the Blind Taste Test

October 16th, 2008 by Sam

Several decades ago, the German pollster Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann (who worked for a time at a pro-Nazi paper) put forward the notion of the Spiral of Silence, in part to explain why people in Germany went along with the Nazis:

Observations made in one context spread to another and encouraged people either to proclaim their views or to swallow them and keep quiet until, in a spiraling process, the one view dominated the public scene and the other disappeared from public awareness as its adherents became mute. This is the process that can be call a “spiral of silence.” [book on google books]

I think we see a related phenomenon in our society. There’s the image of choice (McCain/Obama), but anything beyond that is rendered null and void. One of the main mechanisms for this is what I call the pundification of the populous. Most citizens no longer are. They are wannabe pundits, they have become pundified. The want to talk about who’s up, who’s down, who is “electable,” who “won the debate last night,” etc. Almost anything other than what their deepest beliefs are, what they want the world to look like in their heart.

One tool to get people to get grounded back to their own belief systems is “blind taste test” polling. This method of “polling” asks people what they think about various issues and then tells them what candidates are closest to them. This approach is taken by GlassBooth.org. (Note that this page excludes Baldwin and other candidates; also, it is rather counter-intuitive in how it is set up for my taste. If someone builds a better one, I’d be happy to link. Note past efforts include Matt Waterman’s very analytical one for the 2008 primary race. USA Today had one that was quite good and visually appealing, but took it down. Here’s a picture of what it looked like. They now have one that is pathetically restricted to Obama and McCain.)

Open Debates?

October 16th, 2008 by Sam

It’s all rather late in the game — what isn’t? — but Third Party Ticket is organizing a more inclusive debate, for Sunday October 19th, 2008 from 7pm to 9pm ET. The group has invited Chuck Baldwin, Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader, Barack Obama and John McCain. For a taste, see Democracy Now’s simulated Obama-McCain-Nader-McKinney debate from this morning.