Glen Ford talks with Sam Husseini about polling, asking the right questions and third party candidates, here.
This week, the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced what polls it will utilize in excluding candidates from its debates.
The CPD says candidates like the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein must get 15 percent in polls conducted by “five national public opinion polling organizations” — ABC/Washington Post, CBS/New York Times, CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News, and NBC/Wall Street Journal.
They all ask “If the presidential election were being held today for whom would you vote?” or some minor variation of that.
Who you want or prefer and what you would do in the voting booth may be very different things. These “public opinion polls” don’t actually measure opinion — they are a non-opinion polls. They ask a false hypothetical regarding a future action.
Contact: Aimee Pohl, aimee.pohl at gmail.com
With astounding high negatives for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the VotePact voting strategy offers a meaningful alternative to millions of Americans.
Many Americans want to vote their conscience, but are held back for fear. Conservatives are told (Scott Walker) “A vote for anyone other than Donald Trump in November is a vote for Hillary Clinton.” And progressives are similarly told (Dan Savage) “If Donald Trump becomes president, the people who will suffer are not going to be pasty white Jill Stein and her pasty white supporters.”
But there is a solution to this: VotePact.org.
The core idea of VotePact is: Instead of voters cancelling out each other — one voting for Clinton and the other for Trump — they can both vote for the independent candidates of their choice. This way, they free up votes in pairs to go to the candidates the voters most want. And, because it’s in pairs, it avoids the risks that may come from voting for independent candidates.
This year, third party or independent candidates include Libertarian candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, presumptive Green Party candidate and Harvard-educated physician and activist Jill Stein and Constitution Party’s Darrell L. Castle, a former Marine officer who trained under Oliver North. They are expected to be on approximately 50, 47 and 25 state ballots respectively.
Obtaining increased numbers opens the door for independent candidates getting more federal matching funds as well as a place in the presidential debates.
VotePact.org founder Sam Husseini said today: “With some real dialogue and work, people can use VotePact to get out of the duopoly’s Trump-Clinton trap and adobe acrobat engage in genuinely strategic voting. Given the public’s hunger for something new and the unpredictable nature of the election so far, it seems shortsighted to discount the significance of independent candidates now.”
The dissent within the Democratic Party that Sen. Bernie Sanders has sparked needs somewhere to go.
It should go in a direction that doesn’t back Clinton — and doesn’t help Trump.
That seems like you can’t do both those things, but you can if you parse it through and do some real work.
That energy should not go to backing Hillary Clinton: We’ve been down that road before. Gov. Howard Dean was the ostensible “anti war” candidate in 2004, he got folded into the campaign of John Kerry, who was “for the war before he was against it.” Dean promised a movement in “Democracy for America” and it’s not delivered much so far as I can tell. It’s difficult to believe that Sanders, after his likely endorsement of Clinton, will be in much of position to meaningfully change policy in a Clinton administration. Note that even Sanders’ position on many issues, especially foreign policy, were at best weak tea. At best, realistically speaking, millions of Sanders supporters falling behind Clinton now will result in a hollowness and crumbs.
That energy should not go toward helping Trump: Some of Sanders’ backers have been rallying around “Bernie or Bust.” While I appreciate the sentiment, it needs to be more strategic than that. Many progressives and other supporters of Sanders correctly note that giving up on the electoral system, or voting third party when someone has a preference for Clinton over Trump, can be self defeating. Of course, if someone has equal distaste for Trump and Clinton, then one can simply vote for any independent candidate of their choice, but the reality is that many will feel compelled to vote for Clinton because they so fear and loath Trump — just as many will feel drawn to voting for Trump because of hatred toward Clinton.
How to resolve this?
What I suggest at VotePact.org for Sanders supporters to do now: Reach out to Republicans in your life. Make a pact: You vote for an independent party candidate, like the Greens (Jill Stein is the likely nominee) or a socialist candidate and your Republican friend, relative, co-worker, whatever, votes for some candidate other than Trump. They can vote for the Libertarian (they just launched their Gary Johnson – William Weld ticket, both former Republican governors) or the Constitution party. Read the rest of this entry »
Speaking of likely nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the writer Glenn Greenwald ended his appearance on the program “Democracy Now” this morning thus: “These are the two most unpopular presidential candidates ever to run, I think, in 30 years. They have the highest unfavorable ratings of any nominees in decades. The only thing they’re able to do to one another is try and be as toxic and nasty and destructive as possible, because everybody has already decided, more or less, that they’re so unlikable. And so, it’s going to be the opposite of an inspiring election. It’s just going to be two extremely unpopular people trying to destroy the other on both a personal level, backed by huge amounts of money and serving more or less the same interests.”
Now, I could quibble with parts of that (I think there’s a limit to how nasty they can or will be towards each other in some ways given that they represent, as Greenwald rightly states, more or less the same interests), but on balance, I think that’s a fair summary of the situation.
Unfortunately, Greenwald then in a subtle but critical way goes off track: “I think the two parties and the establishment leaders in Washington, and the people who support and run that whole system, have gotten exactly the election that they deserve. Unfortunately, Americans are going to have to suffer along with them.”
I think Greenwald is wrong on both these points and I think it’s central to how one views politics. Perhaps upon reflection Greenwald — who speaks in a rapid, engaging style — will agree.
First off, the people who support and run the whole system are not getting the election they “deserve”. They’re getting the election they largely wanted. One “choice” — despite some anti-establishment rhetoric — is a billionaire who indicates that he’s a xenophobic misogynist who at times doesn’t want a minimum wage at all. The other, by all serious indications, is the leading pro-war corporate elitist. That seems to be a no lose proposition to the establishment. The public would seem to be trapped in this system because so many people find each of them so repulsive.
But that’s exactly the more critical problem with Greenwald’s statement. The general public does not “have to suffer along with them.” The general public can and should organize themselves in response to these choices given. If people feel equally repelled by both, then there has never been a better time to boldly vote for a third party candidate: Green, Libertarian, etc.
If a voter finds either Trump or Clinton to be a “lesser evil” — then the voter can team up with their political “mirror image” and both, as a pair, vote for the third party candidates of their choice. That’s what I suggest at VotePact.org. This way, a “disenchanted Democrat” and “disenchanted Republican” who know and trust each other can break out of their partisan boxes and siphon off votes in pairs. They wouldn’t change the balance between Clinton and Trump, but they would build up other emerging parties and candidates.
Much of the discussion on the program Greenwald was on was about the pacifist priest Daniel Berrigan, who recently died. Despite his religious orientation, which might lead to some acceptance of suffering (Berrigan once commented if you want to follow Jesus, you should “look good on wood”), I would hope Berrigan would not be one to embrace “suffering” two bad choices needlessly. I’d think that Berrigan would want to find a way to bridge the two party divide — which is supported by little more than fear and hate — and have people who may disagree come together against such bondage with understanding.
There’s a solution to the predicament most of the U.S. will be facing between now and November: Liberals, progressives and others disenchanted with the likely Democratic nominee and conservatives disenchanted with the likely Republican nominee can to pair up and each vote for the candidates they more genuinely want.
Supporters of Bernie Sanders and others need to be looking for a path to meaningful social and political change in the likely event that he does not win the Democratic Party nomination.
I believe that my proposal — VotePact.org — whereby “disenchanted Democrats” and “disenchanted Republicans” pair up and both vote for the third party or independent candidates of their choice is the best strategy for them.
Simply backing Hillary Clinton — no matter how hard you hold your nose — will not do: Voting for Clinton solidifies the notion that no matter how regressive a figure the Democratic Party nominates, progressives and others will vote for them. This mindset turns voters into serfs. While Clinton stresses what she allegedly has in common with Sanders supporters, her current rhetoric to the contrary, she is entrenched with the establishment in her ties to Wall Street, corporate power and hawkish U.S. foreign policy. There is every indication that a Clinton presidency would be a major boost to corporate and Wall Street control over the U.S. and the world — as well as a major boost to perpetual U.S. wars into the coming decades with quite certain devastating results. Voters need to have “somewhere to go” or they will continue to be a plaything of the elites.
Simply voting third party can backfire: Third party candidates have not forthrightly dealt with the real threat that their candidacies, given the way our election system is structured, may in effect help the establishment candidate a voter least likes. That is, if a present day Sanders supporters votes for Green candidate Jill Stein in the general election while they prefer Clinton to the Republican nominee, they could in effect be helping that Republican nominee, the dreaded “spoiler” problem.
This is a real problem and VotePact solves this problem because it does not change the balance between the establishment Democratic and Republican candidates — it in effect siphons off votes in pairs. This way, two friends don’t cancel out each others votes — one voting Republican and one voting Democrat. Instead, they build up independent candidates and send a real signal to the establishment by both voting for candidates that more closely reflect their beliefs — if done enough, it upends the political order. This requires work, the present day Sanders supporters will have to work with a would-be Republican voter they know and trust. But now is the time to do that. They can use their critique of Clinton to do that, instead of going down a path that may lead them to becoming a defacto Clinton apologist.
Not using VotePact could lead to further schisms, polarization and marginalization: That is, if progressives don’t adopt VotePact, there will be greater animosity between them and Clinton supporters, potentially further marginalizing them. If more progressives do adopt VotePact, it could be a path toward millions of people who had never considered voting for third party candidates to do so. That is, as VotePact pair ups happen, they become more likely to spread. If Green and other third party candidates on the other hand continue to follow their past models, they will likely remain in low single digits (though given the nature of this election, a third party candidate could take off). This despite the fact that many people who are not considering voting for them actually agree with them on the issues. In fact, many people who agree with them strongly on some issues end up becoming their greatest opponents, because they view them as a threat to a Republican becoming president.
There is a great imperative to use elections creatively: Whoever the Republican nominee is, there will likely be mass discontent on the Republican side. Would-be Republican voters will be searching for an alternative to being surfs themselves. The political establishment is banking on keeping voters locked into the two parties. They do this by feeding off of fear and hate. Progressives are endlessly told to hate the Republicans and conservatives and constantly told to hate Democrats. The negatives of Clinton and any likely Republican nominee show that people are going to be trapped into voting against candidates, not for them.
In this context, it is critical for Sanders supporters and other progressives and leftists to reach out to would be Republican voters they know — in their family, workplace, school, etc. VotePact is not just a voting strategy, it’s a method of political outreach — to the people you might disagree with most. Such political outreach, if the U.S. is going to genuinely become a better country, can be revolutionary in the most personal sense and is desperately needed. This leads to the would-be Democratic voter and would-be Republican voter together actually voting for third party or independent candidates they can meaningfully identify with.
VotePact helps movements: Many say there’s too much emphasis on elections. Fine. The objective condition is that the presidential election is happening and the mass of the public is engaged in that at some level. This is obviously not to say other forms of activism stop, but rather: Instead of cursing how the election is a distraction, how do we use it to reach people with a serious critique of establishment politics? How to we build towards a politics that can seriously challenge elites and their oligarchical instruments of economic repression and continuous wars? How do we get past an establishment with Clinton posing as progressive and then colluding with establishment Republicans against the interests of the majority? Part of the answer is we talk to would-be Republican voters in our lives — including the possibility of both dealing a blow to establishment politics by using VotePact.org.
Andrew Stewart interviewed me about the election and how to people can make a much more meaningful impact by using VotePact. He writes about how he — from the left — can join with someone from the right to unite against the establishment that seeks to divide them:
Take as example myself and Pat Ford over at The Coalition Radio Show. We are basically on the same page with every imaginable social issue (LGBTQQI rights, abortion, sex workers, drug decriminalization) but have a respectful disagreement on economic issues, Pat is a Libertarian and I am a Socialist/Communist of the unaffiliated variety. Even if we disagree on those issues, which have a great level of difference, we both loathe the Democrats and the Republicans in this state and the wider nation. So we both have said we want to form a Vote Pact. I am going to vote for my Green Party candidate and Pat will vote for his Libertarian Party candidate. This is not to say that either of our votes are going to push our third party candidates to victory this year. But the loss of votes for the duopoly is far more threatening in the long run than trying to reform the Democrats and Republicans from within, a strategy that has failed again and again for literally decades.
Please read his writing and listen to our discussion here.
Talking about VotePact.org with Tyrel Ventura and Tabetha Wallace on RT’s “Watching the Hawks” — Feb 25. Great interview — would have loved to learn more from Tyrel about the dynamics around his dad’s — Jesse Ventura’s — success at breaking out of the two party system.
Tabetha Wallace: Gridlock is the name of the game in Washington and I don’t mean traffic. I mean congress. And if you’re a concerned citizen you may not take notice anymore. That’s because the process of moving through effective legislation didn’t come to a sudden screeching halt or a stumble with a deafening thud. Congress has been deadlocked for a decade or more, which for some people constitutes their entire young adult life. Enter from stage left and stage right the candidates for the Republican and Democratic parties and the race to the White House 2016. The GOP has been trying to push establishment candidates like Rubio and Bush but Cruz and of course Trump are dominating. The Dems thought that Hillary was a lock and then came Bernie with a successful message of social justice and an aggressive stance against Wall Street. The establishment just can’t seem to get it’s sway this time. But will that really matter in the end? Let’s say Hillary gets through against one of the GOP candidates. Are hardcore Republicans really going to vote for Hillary? Even if their only option is Trump? And will Bernie supporters really lead the fold to vote for a Trump, a Cruz or a Rubio? No, probably not. And thus: voter deadlock. So it there a solution? Well our next guest Sam Husseini seems to think so. His new organization VotePact has come up with an interesting strategy for Democrats or Republicans to team up and take votes away from the establishment by supporting third parties in pairs.
Tyrel: Yeah so you know, we were just talking about the gridlock in our democracy. We see it in congress, we see it all over, even on the local level. You see this right-left gridlock. You know? What is the reason behind this and is there any reason to suspect that we are going to be able to move beyond this gridlock in congress, senate with this system of democracy and the way we vote as it is today?
Sam: It’s not a total gridlock you know, the establishment Democrats and establishment Republicans collude on a bunch of issues. They are trying to get their trade bills through, keep their wars going so on and so forth. So when it suits them they can (laughter).. But you’re right that by and large there are people that are basically boxed in to both parties. People leftist, you know, feel they have to keep voting for the Democrats no matter how establishment they become no matter how corporate they become no matter how corrupt they become. same thing on the other side, bunch of libertarians other folks who want to see another way out but can’t. You can vote for a third party but then you’re quote-unquote throwing your vote away. You’re afraid of doing that because you’re afraid you’ll help the guys you hate most.
Sam: So you become a prisoner. You gotta keep voting for the Republicans you gotta keep voting for the Democrats no matter if they stop listening to. Solution to VotePact. Team up. Find somebody in your life, ideally. Your brother, your wife, your brother-in-law who annoys you over the Thanksgiving day table. But you trust them as a person, you trust them with your kids they take care of your kids, whatever. Your debate partner, your coworker, whatever — and say ‘Okay we’re both going to use our personal bond to vote for the third parties that we most want.’ Now it can end up that they vote, you know, one votes for the Socialist or the Green and the other votes for Libertarian or Constitution party. That’s all well and good. But this could, conceivably be a path for literal electoral victory. If you can get a ticket that appeals to what I call ‘radical center.’
Tyrel: Radical center, interesting term.
Tabetha: I like ‘radical center’ that seems like a good place to be, actually.
Sam: Against the Wall Street bailouts, corporate trade deals, for civil liberties —
Tyrel: Most of America I think if you look at the polls and stuff, most people are fiscally conservative, socially liberal. Generally by and large they are kind of in that middle area. We can pull ideas from …
Tabetha: Yeah, more people now as they are looking, the center is a little further left than it was
Sam: Certainly among young people
Tabetha: Yes, which is the biggest chunk of the voting block which they finally figured out which I’m very, very glad. I’m very glad that my slightly younger brothers and sisters have gone ‘Oh wait a minute, there’s a lot of us and we don’t like this and we can do something about it’ and that’s really powerful. But I wonder if part of what you’re seeing is this gridlock in democracy and part of the pushback against it, the fall out that we’re seeing … the two party system is from the gridlock in Congress. Is it just that or I mean is that the main thing because it seems to me watching years of our legislative body just sit there and do nothing has had such an impact on us.
Sam: The repetition in terms of gridlock does two things it makes people fed up with the establishment as a whole but in a way by focusing in a few narrow issues it compels people to be more on their side digging in their heels and hating the other side more. So you see, focusing on issues likes refugees or immigration where there is a difference in left and right. What I think is really interesting about those issues is that they are in a way symptomatic of other issues. Refugees from Syria wouldn’t be coming over getting out of there in desperation if there weren’t a perpetual war policy. Immigration is largely a result of drug war and corporate trade policy. Now all those deeper issues are things that the left and the right, the principal left and right as we would call them, agree on. But they end up bickering over the symptomatic issues of refugees and immigration. Now those are real issues I’m not diminishing them but they are in effect a result of other things.
Tyrel: You gotta take a step back and look bigger and say what is the bigger policy we need to be looking at? That seems to get like as you said the earlier – that sails through – bigger policy that effects that trickle down of things like immigration and things like that sails through without a problem.
Tabetha Wallace- Emotional issues. People seem to have gotten very emotional. Millennial are always accused of being too emotional. Like have you seen Capitol Hill? It’s temper tantrums and crying and even without John Boehner it’s temper tantrums and everything’s very like ‘they don’t want to talk to me, oh what’s going on?.’
Tyrel: What’s interesting is that you talked about kind of corralling the disenfranchised voters saying hey go to your family member or your friend say how do we vote for a third party or something like that you know. Will that strategy work and with I mean do you believe you can create this powerful enough voting block to break the two party system.
Sam: I think it can. People have to work it out and dialogue it out and really be serious about it. They have to trust the person that they’re dealing with. And in a way, we have the politics of hatred. MSNBC is telling all the Democrats hate the Republicans and Fox does the other way around. So this is building a bridge so that people can talk to each other and get stuff on the table. And you see, I mean, even in this election it’s Sander and Trump and they agree on some stuff. In past elections it was Kucinich and Ron Paul. They agreed on stuff. I mean imagine if you had a ticket of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich saying we are gonna run on the stuff that we agree on and that’s what we’re gonna implement. And don’t talk too much about the other stuff that we don’t agree on. But that’s a hell of a lot. That’s a hell of a lot.
Tyrel: Other people could get behind that if we didn’t have that kind of left-right paradigmers. My dad called it, when he was running and he was in office he always it’s like professional wrestling. On T.V. they fight with each other but behind the scenes they all get in favor of some people and are all hand-in-hand.
Tabetha: Of course.
Tyrel: Yeah it’s pretty interesting stuff. Especially when you get to third parties.
Tabetha: Yeah. And I think part of the thing about third parties that is so interesting is that you’re organization is trying to sway voters away from democrats and Republicans ultimately or the two big —
Sam: Well to at least, you know, not be prisoners. To vote their actual preferences instead of feeling like they have in effect been browbeaten into putting aside all their hopes, desires, their dreams because ‘I just gotta vote against the other guys I don’t want.’
Tabetha: Right. So let me ask you a question because I think what I’ve seen and what you’ve seen in your personal experience is that the problem isn’t necessarily the party problem and getting a third candidate it’s that the media obsess over those two things and what happens is when you have a third party candidate, someone like you know Jill Stein, the green party Gary Johnson of the libertarian party, ugh some Ventura guy might have ran a while ago. (Laughter) When you have those people they are not included in the polls. They’re not included in the conversation and they’re just left out. So how do you make that next step when the media has such a Trump-esque wall in front of you to keep you from even knowing about them?
Sam: The media is an absolute wall but I put a little bit of responsibility on the third parties themselves. They don’t have a strategy for breaking out of that saying they want to get into the debates. And then they have their alternative debates and they end up agreeing on a lot of stuff on their own. So I’m saying.. A lot of policy issues. Why not join together? But part of the strategy would be getting endorsements in pairs. So you imagine a ticket like this getting endorsements of the old union official and a small business man coming together. Over and over again people coming together in pairs to this campaign. The strategy implies a media strategy that I think would generate serious news stories.
Tyrel: I wanna bring up one thing, this is interesting we are talking about voting and all that. Look the electoral college in today’s day and age, is I believe, pretty unfair and out of date. Especially for third parties because if you look at like DC. Put it in a two-party perspective. DC primarily votes, has three electoral votes, primarily votes Democrat every time. So if you have a Republican in DC generally your vote is kinda of just disappears every presidential election because of the electoral college. How do we? Is it time to drop the electoral college and do a legit popular vote or develop a new system so that way people in red and blue states or states that predominantly go red or blue. Well we have about a minute lets try to sum that up.
Tabetha: So fixing it on a structural level.
Sam: Sure, there are all types of structural proposals that should happen. The electoral college, instill run-off voting, proportional representation all kinds of things. But you’re in effect asking the political establishment to please dismember itself.
Sam: And they’re not going to do that. And the beauty of VotePact is saying we don’t need anything else. We can come together as people and using the votes that we have to implode the system as it is. So it doesn’t require their cooperation.
Tabetha: I get it. Thank you so much, thank you.
Tyrel: I like that, come together and change the system Sam Husseini thank you very much for joining us and educating us.
Sam: My pleasure.