|The Bewildered Herd|
"The public must be put in its place, so that each of us may live free of the trampling and
roar of a bewildered herd."
- Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion, 1922
Thursday, October 28, 2004
The Bewildered Herd
"The public must be put in its place, so that each of us may live free of the trampling and roar of a bewildered herd." So said the "Dean of American Journalists," Walter Lippmann in his 1922 tome Public Opinion. I say, fuck him. As a member of the herd, I don't think my place is any different than his and what he's saying is a perversion of democratic principles in favor or an oligarchy where elite power controls a government rather than the people. This is exactly the situation we as Americans find ourselves in today because of elitists like Lippmann and many others. This is my very little attempt to confront the propaganda in our society and expose its all too public secrets. Public because our media is part of this elite system and looks after their interests, which not coincidently are their own as well, in distorting, omitting and misleading the public they're supposed to inform. It's not a conspiracy per se, simply the way our society currently operates.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Voting - It's the Least You Can Do
Laura, a friend of my wife who is active in the Democratic political scene out in Minnesota, recently described two problems she sees with our political system: liberals not getting involved in a meaningful way and our plurality voting system. I thought it summed up the issues pretty well and thought I'd share.
To start with - QUIT THINKING THAT VOTING IS THE END-ALL-BE-ALL OF CIVIC PARTICIPATION!! Voting is where you start, not where you end. Knocked on doors this election? Ever called your state legislator to tell them how much things suck at you kids' school or about your neighbor who can't get health care? How about writing a letter to the editor to say why you think our tax system is fucked up? And then enocuraging your friends to do the same. THAT is how you make a difference - you lobby for it. The other side does that. I've seen politicians votes change on a bill because I talked 3 people into calling to talk to them about it. If your answer to the above questions is 'no', than I honestly think you have barely any more right to bitch than the person who didn't vote at all. Again, voting is a minimum.Thanks, Laura!
But how do we get even more voices heard - those that will never be represented by a mainstream liberal party like the Democrats even in our best-case scenario. Short of converting to a parliamentary system with proportional representation, the answer is instant run-off voting.
Instant runoff voting allows for better voter choice and wider voter participation by accommodating multiple candidates in single seat races and assuring that a "spoiler"-effect will not result in undemocratic outcomes. Instant runoff voting allows all voters to vote for their favorite candidate without fear of helping elect their least favorite candidate, and it ensures that the winner enjoys true support from a majority of the voters. Plurality voting, used in most American elections, does not meet these basic requirements for a fair election system that promotes wide participation, and traditional runoff elections are costly to the taxpayer and often suffer from low voter turnout.
Instant runoff voting is a winner-take-all system that ensures that a winning candidate will receive a majority of votes rather than a simple plurality. In plurality voting -- as used in most U.S. elections -- candidates can win with less than a majority when there are more than two candidates running for the office. In contrast, IRV elects a majority candidate while still allowing voters to support a candidate who is not a front-runner. IRV is a sensible method in single winner elections.
As long as our system breaks it down to a simple winner and loser, a vote for a minor party candidate is, by definition, a wasted vote. This would encourage people to take a longer look at minor parties and encourage more coalition building between different interests.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
My E-Mail to Ralph Nader
I sent the following letter to Ralph Nader this morning via e-mail. I realize it will make no difference but it felt good to at least try.
Dear Mr. Nader,
I have been a supporter of you and in fact voted for you in 2000. And I very much believe in your overall message that the corporatization of America needs to be stopped. Also, in years past I agreed that the Democratic and Republican choices were two sides of the same coin and that it made little difference which candidate won since they would both serve corporate interests. This year, however, is different. This year there is a chasm of a difference between the centrist Kerry and the so-far-to-the-right-it's-scary Bush that I believe your candidacy is actually hurting the country you claim to love. For you to not throw your support toward Kerry makes me downright angry. There are Republican volunteers (with republican money) who have been helping you get on the ballot in many states. Everybody seems to know why they're doing that except you. I'm sure I feel just as disenfranchised as many of your supporters but the importance of removing Bush and, more importantly, his neo-con overlords (who are in thrall to the corporate powers you claim to oppose) cannot be overstated. You must come out publicly NOW and ask your supporters to vote for John Kerry. Otherwise, the freedom to oppose our government may no longer exist (thanks to proposed strengthening of the mis-named patriot act) and your effectiveness in fighting corporate power will become seditious. We have to fight the battles we can win right now or we will not be able to fight the battles that need fighting later. I urge you to help John Kerry defeat George W. Bush and get this country back to a place where your message can make a difference.
Monday, October 18, 2004
I Love Jon Stewart
A few days ago on CNN's Crossfire, Jon Stewart said many of the things I've longed to hear said to the nation's mainstream faux journalists. He called them hacks, theatre, and asked them to stop hurting America. It was absolutely beautiful. You can read the full transcript or watch the
video. I highly recommend it.