inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #0 of 112: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Thu 21 Oct 04 11:03
    
Now joining us in the Inkwell is Farai Chideya.

Farai Chideya is a multi-media journalist who has worked in print,
television, and online. She hosts Your Call Radio
(http://www.yourcallradio.org) on San Francisco's KALW 91.7 FM, and runs
PopandPolitics.com, a journal of news and opinion for young Americans
(founded in 1995).  In 2003, Pop and Politics placed number seven in
PoliticsOnline.com's worldwide survey of 25 Who Are Changing the World of
Internet and Politics. Chideya has been a correspondent for ABC News,
anchored the prime time program "Pure Oxygen" on the Oxygen women's channel,
and contributed commentaries to CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and BET. In 1997 Newsweek
named her to its "Century Club" of 100 people to watch. She's published
three books: Don't Believe the Hype: Fighting Cultural Misinformation About
African Americans, The Color of Our Future (William Morrow, 1999), and
Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters (Soft Skull, 2004).  Trust,
which recently went into its second printing, illustrates why half of
Americans are cut out of the political system--and what we can do about it.

Leading the conversation is Lisa Goldman, who lives in New York, where she
works on projects at the intersection of music, international development,
and the Internet. This year, she worked with Quincy Jones to raise money for
children in conflict zones around the world. Since 2000, Lisa worked with
Youssou N’Dour, the celebrated African musician, and has participated as a
delegate to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on the basis of
their projects in Senegal.

During the bubble, Lisa was President and CEO of Construct, an engineering
and design firm in SF  that was sold to a special effects firm in NY in
1999. Before that, she co-founded and served as Director of The Interactive
Media Festival, an international competition, gallery and exhibition in Los
Angeles. Lisa graduated with honors in Fine Arts from Rice University, and
also studied at the Universite de Paris IV, Sorbonne.  She serves as a
director of ZeroOne, an Art-Technology Foundation, The Russian-American of
the Esalen Institute in Big Sur; and Youssou N’Dour’s Youth Network for
Development Foundation in Dakar.  She is not very political but likes
Farai’s book a lot.

Welcome, you two; the floor is yours!
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #1 of 112: gone daddy gone (lisago) Thu 21 Oct 04 12:17
    

So Farai:   I will be flying from London to NYC in the next several
hours and mostly offline.  In the meantime, I want to kick things off
by saying that I (a self-identified political independent raised in
Texas and San Francisco) couldn't stop reading your book.  

I have never seen political commentary presented in such readable and
compelling prose.  

In your introduction to "Trust" -- your new book which is already in
its 2nd printing -- you make mention of the fact that many of us are
brought to politics over our inherent distaste for politics by the
extreme conditions of this election.  

Why do you think so many people are alienated from politics in America
today?   Why are 1/2 of voters so "turned off by the trappings of
government" that we can't bear to particpate?  

<and now, i'll be offline until 3pm EST Oct 22nd -- but look forward
to the ensuring discussion>
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #2 of 112: Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Fri 22 Oct 04 16:43
    
Thanks Lisa! I appreciate the compliment.... one of the things I've
tried to do in the book is not use a string of political jargon to
describe what's going on in America and what kind of political system
we live in. I guess that's where I'd start--on this tour I've traveled
from Alaska to Florida, and very few Americans actually understand how
our democracy works; why it's faltering; and the fact that there are
other options open to us.

America doesn't have a lock on "democracy." Democracy is a concept;
government is reality.

We have one expression of democratic government; Ireland has another;
Germany has another; and South Africa, and so on and so on. But we have
some of the worst voter turnout among democracies. And it's not just
because Americans are stupid; it's because Americans are pissed off.

The non-voters I talked to are pissed off that:
--there's so little choice of truly different candidates
--some communities get pandered to (geographically, like swing states;
or demographically, like the Florida Cuban-American community, which
is of course in a swing state...). others get bupkis (sp?). the
Electoral College is one reason, but hardly the only one...
--the system is opaque (i.e., hard to track corruption and influence
peddling)
--our voting system can be hacked--either old-school style, stealing
ballots and voter intimidation; or literally, in the case of the new
e-voting machines

What I try to do in the book is unpack these many different problems;
find out how we got here; and find out where to go.

FYI, the intro to the book is here:

http://www.trustthebook.com/preface.html

And a section whether black voters will be Green (Party) voters... a
case study of third-party politics in evolution... is here:

http://www.alternet.org/election04/19825/

And I am here:
(my touring schedule)
which takes me to NC, GA, MD, MO and finally back to SF....
http://www.trustthebook.com/     (click events and appearances)
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #3 of 112: Jamais Cascio, WorldChanger (cascio) Fri 22 Oct 04 18:17
    
Farai, I found the chapter on whether black voters will be Green voters to
be particularly interesting. The meeting you describe in Oakland seemed to
emphasize the Green's anti-corporate and anti-powers-that-be positioning,
but didn't seem to fly the environmentalist flag. Was there much of a
discussion of environmental issues at that meeting? Is the environment at
all on the radar of people who feel disenfranchised by the current system?
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #4 of 112: Martha Soukup (soukup) Fri 22 Oct 04 22:10
    
This has reminded me to buy the book, which I keep forgetting to do.  So
that's good.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #5 of 112: Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Sat 23 Oct 04 14:08
    
Thanks Martha....

<cascio>, the Greens are still green, but fighting issues like
envirnonmental racism, which might  benefit from being called urban
industrial dumping--and its solutions. groups like
PacificEnvironment.org are working on the dumping of US toxics from
techology production in China. And groups in Richmond, East Palo Alto,
and other cities have local coalitions working on toxics dumping in
poor neighborhoods. So, yes, the environment is there, but it's not
"save the spotted owl." It's "save my neighborhood, my family, our
children."
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #6 of 112: gary (ggg) Sun 24 Oct 04 07:00
    
you've hit a nerve, <zimby>!  I've always said that the inordinate numbers
of nonvoters could just be apathy ... or volatility.  The issue is long
overdue for some serious discourse.  Judging from your pre face, you
approach it from the most political angle possible, the personal; "polis"
meaning place, where you stand.  Am off to City Lights to check out Trust.

Meanwhile, I hear that in Wyoming, voter registration ain't over: you can
just show up with a library card and you're in.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #7 of 112: Gail Williams (gail) Sun 24 Oct 04 09:30
    
Just a quick aside -- Nice interview up today in the Chronicle:
<http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/10/24/C
MGDV8VRT31.DTL>
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #8 of 112: Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Sun 24 Oct 04 19:43
    
Thanks.... 

I just had a great reading tonight along w/ author Miles Marshall
Lewis in Atlanta. His book is "Scars of the Soul"... a history of hip
hop from the perspective of someone who grew up in the S. Bronx, saw
the birth of hip hop, then became a music writer. Oddly enough, he ran
into a guy from his old neighborhood randomly on MARTA (the subway).

Anyway... tonight the reading was more like a study group... lots of
great politically active people in dialogue. One woman just turned 50
and this is the first time in 20 years she's going to vote. That alone
was worth the trip.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #9 of 112: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 24 Oct 04 20:25
    
#6: In Idaho you can show up on voting day with a photo ID and with
some sort of mail that shows both your name and address -- bank
statement, power bill, etc. -- and vote.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #10 of 112: It matters who your daddy is. (debbie) Mon 25 Oct 04 09:35
    

I'm about halfway through the book, and enjoying it. I'm one of those people
who has parents that have always voted and I have always voted. I was
stunned to find out one of my best friends isn't planning on voting. I do
feel like the democrats are not very inspiring - I sure saw a lot more young
energy around Dean. I think one huge problem is that the primary system is
so broken, that we don't get the candidate that most people want.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #11 of 112: It matters who your daddy is. (debbie) Mon 25 Oct 04 10:45
    

Big article in the NYT today above the fold front page about Gore and Kerry
in Florida searching for Black votes. Speaking in churches mostly.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #12 of 112: Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Tue 26 Oct 04 04:00
    
I have to get a hold of that one, tho probably only online.

Thanks for reading, Debbie.

I had a great time giving a talk in my hometown of Baltimore. I made a
half-joking suggestion:

half of African-Americans should register as republicans

then, in the primaries, vote for the least radical-right Republican
candidate

then, vote for the best of the candidates--dollars to donuts the
Democrat, but you never know--in the general election

I think that cross-party registration, in our far-right climate, could
actually have a profound effect....

anyway, it'll make a good article if not a good political play.

also the issue of moved polling places is heating up... some people
will be lost on election day. 
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #13 of 112: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Tue 26 Oct 04 05:15
    
That's actually why open primaries aren't allowed, because people from
the opposing parties were using them to game the system in that way.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #14 of 112: Lisa Goldman (lisago) Tue 26 Oct 04 07:25
    
Farai, you talk in the book about Hip Hop Generation Activism.   What
kind of impact are you seeing from things like the Vote or Die campaign
and the new Eminem video?   Will there be a surge in voting from all
this?
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #15 of 112: Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Tue 26 Oct 04 07:54
    
Yeah, true, Sharon, but considering all the ways to game the system,
maybe it's time to fight fire w/ fire. I think that's a big difference
between left and right... people on the left often do what's right;
people on the right often do what they gotta do to win.

Lisa, just had an AMAZING conversation today w/ kids at my old high
school, Western, which is having its 160th anniversary as an all-girls'
public school. I read a passage on hip hop activism--Russell's Hip Hop
Summit Action Network; P Diddy's Citizen Change, with its Vote or Die
campaign--and asked if they thought it was working. Some of them
thought it was all a publicity play, but that it was working despite
any underlying self-serving intentions. One girl made a comment about
how the "die" was too melodramatic to take seriously; another responded
that "die" was literal... if, for example, Bush defunded healthcare,
people would die; and yet a third said "die" could be metaphoricall...
the death of civil liberties and rights.

Very cool stuff.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #16 of 112: Christian Crumlish (xian) Tue 26 Oct 04 09:03
    
Sharon, you say "That's actually why open primaries aren't allowed,
because people from the opposing parties were using them to game the
system in that way," but is that true? I doubt the ability of voters to
coordinate and game the system effectively. I know that the parties
here in California sued to overturn the open primary initiative, but
don't some other states still have open primaries?

I've also at times thought it would be worth having progressives join
the Republicans to get them back in touch with their Lincoln / TR /
Lindsay soul.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #17 of 112: Jamais Cascio, WorldChanger (cascio) Tue 26 Oct 04 10:19
    
While the "gaming the system" threat from open primaries in California was
probably more smoke than fire (that is, I don't recall any primary outcomes
that differed significantly from pre-primary polling of party members), I do
know that "messing with the other guy" was a common suggestion here in
primary elections where one party had a shoo-in candidate (typically an
incumbent).

Christian, I found the book pretty interesting, a nice recap of what I had seen
and encountered over the past decade+ of being online. I do wonder, though,
whether the enthusiasm around online citizenship tools reflects a real desire
for action or a desire for novelty. Reading and commenting in blogs, for
example, is new and different for most people.  It's also very easy, something
that can readily be done in between meetings in the office. I suppose what I'm 
wondering can best be summed up as whether blogging (etc.) means change or just 
*talking* about change.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #18 of 112: Christian Crumlish (xian) Tue 26 Oct 04 10:43
    
shall i answer that over in my own interview?

i'd like to know Farai's take on it too.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #19 of 112: Jamais Cascio, WorldChanger (cascio) Tue 26 Oct 04 11:48
    
whoops, yes. sorry. But I'd be interested in Farai's view, too, of course.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #20 of 112: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Tue 26 Oct 04 12:50
    
I don't believe that any states have open primaries. I believe they
were all declared unconstitutional, and that some states (Washington
springs to mind) are looking for other options.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #21 of 112: Alan L. Chamberlain (axon) Tue 26 Oct 04 15:45
    

I was one of the missing voters for most of what it pleases me to call
my adult life; 30+ years and counting.  I only recently decided to
begin participating in the franchise, and so far I'm still fairly
skeptical about the whole enterprise.

I cautiously registered mostly to vote in local, county, and some
state races.  I can't say that it's been particularly rewarding to do
so, but I'm planning on voting November 2, and have spent a great deal
of time with the voter guide, figuring out my choices, and filling out
the sample ballot to speed the process on election day.

But many of my reasons for not voting all these years remain valid. 
They fall into three categories.  I have no idea if the other
99,999,999 non-voters raise these objections, but I'll list them for
example, anyway.

First, the assumption that the people at large have the expertise,
knowledge, and command of the issues necessary to make good decisions
about policy seems altogether misguided.  That is why, after all, we
have a representative government, with actual policy made by
politicians and administered by career civil servants.  One of my
reasons for deciding to register is so I can vote against every single
initiative proposed on general principle (with the exception of
initiatives mounted to overturn previous initiatives, like the
3-strikes thing on the California ballot).  But to extend that, I'm not
persuaded that the typical citizen knows enough about the issues or
the candidates to make an informed choice.

Secondly, the process whereby candidates garner votes is cynical in
the extreme.  Both sides use scare tactics, promises of sugartit
programs, and pander to the unelightened short-term self-interest of
the voters,  It seems to me that the decision of whom to vote for
should not be driven by what is best for *me*, but what is best for the
nation (or state, etc.).  It used to be a feature of civic
responsibility that we could all be counted on to sacrifice if
necessary for the public good.   That seems an artifact of another
time, now.

Thirdly, and this is perhaps a bit complicated, but the old adage
"power corrupts" bears consideration.  I think some people are indeed
called to public service for good and selfless reasons.  I also think
that by the time anyone gets to the point in the process that they can
be considered a promising candidate for major office, they've already
crossed so many ethical boundaries and made so many expedient
compromises that whatever convictions may have attracted them to office
are now effectively situationally negotiable.  Part of why I didn't
want to vote was that I didn't want to contribute to the corruption of
an otherwise sound character.

But I'm over it.

Pragmatically, I vote in local elections because they *are* often
decided by a handful of votes, and knowing my neighbors as I do, any
counterpoise I can contribute to the provincial momentum of local
politics can only be for the best.  I vote against initiatives every
chance I can get, because I think ballot-box policy is *always*
lamentably misguided.  I won't bother casting a vote in the
presidential election because the thought of consenting to either
candidate turns my stomach, and besides Kerry has California wrapped up
anyway.

Sorry for the long post, but I thought perhaps the rationale from one
such chronic abstainer might be useful. Carry on.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #22 of 112: It matters who your daddy is. (debbie) Tue 26 Oct 04 15:50
    

If Kerry didn't have CA wrapped up would you vote for him?

Anyway, I think it is good that you are voting.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #23 of 112: Alan L. Chamberlain (axon) Tue 26 Oct 04 16:13
    

>If Kerry didn't have CA wrapped up would you vote for him?

Not even at gunpoint.  My only point was that it is irrelevant whether
I vote in the presidential race since CA is decided.  Even if it were
evenly split, though, I can only vote for people whose judgment is
sound and whose character I have confidence in, and no on on the ballot
qualifies, alas.  I did vote for Edwards in the primary (I'm
registered as Decline To State, so I can vote in either -- but not both
-- party primary) even though Kerry had the nomination sewn up,
because I think he's still fairly uncorrupted, and despite disagreeing
with him on a variety of issues, his rationale for them seems sound.

As it is, it's going to be difficult to vote for four candidates for
the four city council seats open...

>I think it is good that you are voting

Thanks.  I wish I did.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #24 of 112: It matters who your daddy is. (debbie) Tue 26 Oct 04 16:46
    

I'm sure you've heard all the arguments for voting, but I just feel if you
don't vote you give more say to the people who are voting, my vote counts
for more, in a way. It isn't like boycotting something that people want you
to buy.
  
inkwell.vue.227 : Farai Chideya: "Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters"
permalink #25 of 112: Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Tue 26 Oct 04 21:03
    
Dammit! Just lost a long post due to sketchy hotel broadband.

Anyway, Debbie, are you saying that one shouldn't vote per <axon>'s
#1:

"First, the assumption that the people at large have the expertise,
knowledge, and command of the issues necessary to make good decisions
about policy seems altogether misguided.  That is why, after all, we
have a representative government, with actual policy made by
politicians and administered by career civil servants.  One of my
reasons for deciding to register is so I can vote against every single
initiative proposed on general principle (with the exception of
initiatives mounted to overturn previous initiatives, like the
3-strikes thing on the California ballot).  But to extend that, I'm
not
persuaded that the typical citizen knows enough about the issues or
the candidates to make an informed choice."

Or that one should, if one feels folks are making poor decisions? 

A lot of young voters have been timid about voting b/c of lack of
knowledge or confidence. I push more knowledge, not less engagement.

But <axon>, your point re: the decisionmaking ability of the populace
is v. true in some ways, but also v. tied to how sucky political
reporting is... how obscure and onanistic

Meanwhile, I <heart> Huckabees is a good dose of perspective, in a
very tweaked package, for this election.
  

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