How Media and Pollsters Pundify the Public and Marginalize Actual Ideas

January 9th, 2012 by Sam

As so many follow “the opinion polls” in New Hampshire, keep this in mind: They don’t measure opinion. The tracking question being continuously asked is some minor variant of “If the election were held today, for whom would you vote?” This false hypothetical of a question compels voters to pick the candidate who they think is the strategic choice to beat President Obama, not the one they most want to be president.

The question as framed doubles down on the restrictions our electoral system imposes on citizens rather than freeing them from them. That is, the primary voters could want a candidate but we might not know it since they are not asked who they actually want for president, only who they would vote for in the primary; but they are not voting with who the necessarily want, but who they think — think — will beat Obama.

The process during the primaries is largely focused around the voters of one of the establishment party being guided by the media to back a candidate who ostensibly has the best chance of beating the candidate of the other establishment party. A recent Zogby poll found that nearly 50 percent of Republican New Hampshire primary voters would rather vote for someone who “shares some views but can beat Obama” as opposed to only 40 percent of those who would vote for someone who more more strongly “shares views [but] not strong vs. Obama.”

But who is to say who would be a stronger candidate? Mitt Romney is frequently described as the Republican who would be most formidable to Obama in a general election and Ron Paul is frequently dismissed as unelectable, but Paul is probably the Republican best positioned to reach out to independents and Democrats.

Consider what a farcical exercise it was the last time we went through a primarily process with a sitting U.S. president on the other side of the two-party duopoly:

In 2004, Democratic voters were told over and over by the media that candidates like Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean were unelectable. This despite the fact that Kucinich consistently got the greatest applause in Democratic debates (when he wasn’t excluded from them); but he got preciously few votes because he was deemed to be “unelectable” — presumably because most every independent and Republican voter was a fire breathing pro-war corporatist. Endlessly played video of “The Dean Scream” effectively ended his candidacy. The media conventional wisdom was the John Kerry was somehow “electable” — because he had “experience” — never mind that part of that experience included voting for granting George W. Bush authorization to attack Iraq. So the Democratic Party ended up with a candidate who wound up saying it was “for the war before he was against it” and other inspiring statements.

And the drive to have someone who is “electable” often trumps everything else. So actual ideas about war, the economy, jobs, society, families and whose policies people actually agree with all get sidelined. The endless horse race coverage not only eats up media time, it eats up viewers’ brains — turning citizens into pundits.

James Zobgy at a news conference last week wondered if we were not actually seeing with the success of Ron Paul in Iowa the “birth of a third party” — especially since Paul had such success with young people who would likely not back any other Republican candidate (with the exception of Gary Johnson, who has been totally marginalized) and that so many of these young people were jaded with Obama.

The compulsion to vote for electability rather than actual belief in the ideas being expressed by a candidate in the primary season does not end as we enter the general election. Rather, it morphs into something perhaps even more insidious: lesser-evilism. Millions and millions vote in election after election for the Democratic candidate not because they affirmatively agree with them, but because they are driven by fear of the Republican. And millions more do the exact same thing in the opposite direction. They all cancel out each others votes. Many of these people would find they actually agree with third party and independent candidates from the Green, Socialist, Libertarian or Constitution Parties. But most of them don’t even consider voting for them because they feel an over riding compulsion to stop the other major party at all cost, driven by a heard and brain-freezing fear. Add to the tragic farce that many of these people know each other, but effectively nullify their friends votes because they hate the candidate their friend is settling upon.

And similarly, the polls during the general election extenuate the problem rather than alleviating it. It’s even conceivable that there could be a third party or independent candidate in a general election who would have majority support and we may not even know it, since everyone focuses around the question “if the election were held today, which of the candidates would you vote for” and the public — unaware that an anti-establishment candidate — someone who is opposed to the wars and Wall Street bailouts and corporate influence that the establishments of both major political parties have embraced and occasionally deride each other for — could have majority support.

A simple suggestion for a test as to who people actually want: “The following candidates are all tied for the presidency. You have the deciding vote. Who would you cast that deciding vote for?” Such a question would get to who people actually want, like and perhaps even love, rather than grinding the public through a process of guessing and spinning and polling and pundifying as to who is in the best position to beat a candidate you presumably hate.

Talking about Ron Paul, VotePact and Progressive Voting Strategies

January 9th, 2012 by Sam

Here’s a recent interview on KPFK with Sonali Kolhatkar.

Turning Holiday Awkwardness into Political Rebirth

December 23rd, 2011 by Sam

Holidays can be awkward for a lot of reasons. One is that many spend time with people they seem to fundamentally disagree with politically. Progressives have Republican voting relatives who are at family gatherings, conservatives see people who vote for the Democratic Party and holiday events.

One approach commonly followed is to simply avoid talking about politics and other issues you might disagree about. I don’t think that approach helps lead to a better place. Speaking gingerly of such issues is little better.

Here’s a another approach: Form an alliance on the issues you do agree on.

Much of the grassroots who vote for both the Democratic Party and who vote for the Republican Party actually agree on alot of things. For example, the Wall Street bailouts. That’s something both the Occupy movement and the grassroots of the Tea Party movement have in common.

And there’s more: More authentic conservatives, like those who are excited about Ron Paul, are for cutting the military budget — they want a Republic, not and Empire. They are against all the clamping down on civil liberties that both the establishment of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are for. They are against corporate trade deals the hurt workers in the US and lead to slave-like conditions for workers in third world countries. And on all these issues, they agree with many of the most authentic progressives.

The media keep trying to pen people in — taking about the latest machinations between the Obama administration and the Republican establishment in Congress. And if that’s what dictates the topics of discussion, it produces far more heat than light.

But if you focus on the issues where the grassroots are in significant agreement — sometimes for different reasons of course — then substantial progress can be made.

The progress might not just result in good talks — it could result in a revolution.

If you had principled progressives and conscientious conservatives join together — pairing up — to vote for an independent or third party candidacy that would siphon votes off in twos, that would erode the two establishment parties and give rise to an anti-establishment new candidacy.

So let the real talks begin, let’s not worry about the talks of the establishment figures, let the grassroots talk and lovingly recognize what truth they can in people they are told they have nothing in common with.

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, 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

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 »


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.