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.

IndyKids and Political Compass

October 9th, 2008 by Sam

It’s remarkable that McCain and Obama agree on the Wall Street bailout, increasing the military, civil liberties restrictions (Patriot Act re-authorization, FISA), corporate trade deals, support for Israel, increased militarization of Afghanistan, threats (“all options on the table”) against Iran, against a single-payer health care system. On many of these issues, they are opposed by a majority of the U.S. public and most of the main independent and third party candidates. Yet, because most of the public is stuck in partisan boxes and the big media outlets have refused to cover non-establishment candidates, they remain in single digits. This of course is the problem VotePact solves.

It unfairly ignores Chuck Baldwin and has a number of flaws, but IndyKids still puts mainstream media to shame in breaking down some of the positions of various candidates, esp see their PDF newspaper, though the type is a little small. Reminds me of Jesus saying of children: “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Would be happy to link to other breakdowns of positions of various candidates.

Also, the Political Compass gives their assessment of the various 2008 presidential candidates along their two-dimensional axis. Some of their analysis is dubious in my view, but they make some worthwhile comments:

While Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader are depicted on the extreme left in an American context, they would simply be mainstream social democrats within the wider political landscape of Europe [to say nothing of the rest of the planet]. Similarly, Obama is popularly perceived as a leftist in the United States while elsewhere in the west his record is that of a moderate conservative. For example, in the case of the death penalty he is not an uncompromising abolitionist, while mainstream conservatives in all other western democracies are deeply opposed to capital punishment. The Democratic party’s presidential candidate also reneged on his commitment to oppose the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He sided with the ultra conservative bloc in the Supreme Court against the Washington DC handgun ban and for capital punishment in child rape cases. He supports President Bush’s faith-based initiatives and is reported in Fortune to have said that NAFTA isn’t so bad.

It’s not at all transparent how Political Compass determined the placement of the candidates on their chart. They list Baldwin and Barr as surprisingly close to McCain. It’s not clear if they are taking stated positions of politicians at face value — Biden says he’s against the Iraq war, but voted for it and voted for funding it, for example, Barr somewhat similarly states positions today very different than what he has voted for — or if they are extracting stances based on the candidate’s record.

GRITtv Covers VotePact

October 2nd, 2008 by Sam

See today’s GRITtv segment on voting issues including VotePact.