Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Alan L. Chamberlain (axon) Tue 26 Oct 04 21:06
>I'm sure you've heard all the arguments for voting I've certainly heard the oft-repeated argument that if you don't vote you don't get to complain. I disagree. I believe that if you vote, you assent to the outcome, howbeit fulsom, whereas if you abstain, you enjoy the right, not to say obligation, to dissent, since you never bought into the grisly shuck to begin with. I'm given to understand that some will fail to embrace this logic, unassailable as it so manifestly is. At the end of the day, I don't really believe that voting makes a hell of a lot of difference one way or the other. The State is a king hell configuration of career bureaucrats. They do as they see fit, net of what the elected policy professionals enact. The system is rife with checks and balances, and in the end, it does what any organism instinctively does; it self-preserves. I'm not particularly worried about the health of the republic; I'm more worried about the undeterrable fanatics who don't believe in democracy more than I worry about the apathetic beneficiaries thereof.
Alan L. Chamberlain (axon) Tue 26 Oct 04 21:09
Zimbaesque slippage. As for me, I <heart> your abbreviation; v. Churchillian!
Alan L. Chamberlain (axon) Tue 26 Oct 04 21:12
>how sucky political reporting is I don't think the reporting sucks. Check out The Note, for a daily dose of what's really going on on the ground. Bloggage similarly furnishes useful triangulation. Fact is; most folks can't be bothered. Happy to take the artful artifice that passes for political advertising; guilty on both sides, alas.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 26 Oct 04 21:29
The problem is that many limit their participation in governance to voting, or as some would say, the voting ritual, and when the vote's cast, they're done. I wouldn't make axon's argument that the vote is meaningless; rather, I would say that it carries little weight in and of itself. It means more if it's part of a broader civic engagement.
It matters who your daddy is. (debbie) Tue 26 Oct 04 22:44
I think everyone gets to complain! No, I was saying you should vote, because other people are voting, and lots of them are voting to approve various initiatives that are poorly thought out, and if you don't vote against them, then they will win. In a way, it seems like a lot of people not voting gives more power to the people who do vote.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 27 Oct 04 05:46
Well, that's why you have "get-out-the-vote" efforts by each party: they're hoping they can get more of their people to the polls, acknowledging that not every registered voter will vote and not every eligible voter will register. My argument is that, if you want to influence governance, you should know that your vote is important but not enough; you have to become engaged with the process and with others who have affinity... that's more in line with Christian's discussion, and when we scheduled Farai and Christian for the same slot, we realized that their books were sort of complementary.
It matters who your daddy is. (debbie) Wed 27 Oct 04 08:36
Just noticed you'll be at ACWLP on Nov 12, Farai. Could be a very interesting post election moment. Hope we know the results.
Lisa Goldman (lisago) Wed 27 Oct 04 09:41
it seems that along with the 'get out the vote' effort is a companion effort to scrutinize or intimidate voters at the polls. Farai, early on in your book show how Florida 2000 was squarely in a pattern of disenfranchising black voters since the end of Reconstruction. I guess the flipside of choosing not to vote is to try to vote and find that you're not permitted...
Christian Crumlish (xian) Wed 27 Oct 04 11:01
Yeah, the Republicans are sending out email to their faithful saying that "barring voter fraud" they are sure to win, which seems like a recipe for an excuse to hold the next president illegitimate if it's not their guy. Meanwhile, the Dems are claiming that a tide of new voters is being undercounted in the polls. Will we know who is right after Nov. 2? I hope so.
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 27 Oct 04 13:19
Farai, what is you take on this letter: http://www.salon.com/news/letters/2004/10/27/youngvoter/index.html Here's a particularly optimisitic snippit from it: > Kerry wins nationally in a blowout. Election night is >over as central time zone states finish reporting. Why? Because of blacks >and young'ns. Bush's people know this, as their strategy is to turn out >their base while suppressing our base ... fuckers. It cites the influence of the new Eminem song "Mosh" http://www.ifilm.com/viralvideo?ifilmid=2654122 What do you think?
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Wed 27 Oct 04 22:38
Judging from my emails, Mosh is a total phenomenon. It's an AMAZING video.... I found it about a zillion times more compelling, as a sign of how hip hop is marketing voting, as the P Diddy "Vote or Die" t-shirts. (I was just speaking today at Washington University in St. Louis and the V-o-D shirts aren't selling.) That's because it has actual content, a critique of the current political environment, not just an empty call to vote. I think Kerry is going to win, based on some of the same reasoning as the letter writer. Not so confident about the landslide thing. Here's my reasoning. You have three basic types of registered voters: Dems/Repubz/third party-unaffiliated. Take third party-unaffiliated: Some won't vote. Some will vote for Nader or other independent/third-party candidates. Of those who vote for a major party candidate, they'll overwhelmingly vote for Kerry. And in this election, I think many more unaffiliated voters will choose Kerry than a third party candidate. Take Democrats: like, about zero will vote for Bush. okay, maybe a handful. those who think the party is not liberal enuf are still, by and large, voting for K those who like the party are voting for K those who think the party is not conservative enuf (for example, some Catholic democrats) are still, overwhelmingly, voting for K Take Republicans: there are some Republicans for Kerry but my sense is, from talking to folks around the country, there's actually a more significant number of Republicans who can't stomach voting for Bush, aren't willing to go all the way to Kerry--and just won't vote. these include some of the isolationist Pat Buchanan types; some Republicans who are turned off by the religious-right rhetoric; and some who are torn over issues like stem-cell research I just think when it comes down to it, Kerry has united his base with party outliers (like ABB progressives); Bush has actually split the Republican party. For example, take the Ron Suskin article in the Times magazine a week ago "Without a Doubt," that reads in part: Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ''if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.'' The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion. ''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . . ''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.' ===== Finally, I'm hosting a Nov 3 party in North Beach.... please come; RSVPs due by Friday http://www.evite.com/pages/invite/viewInvite.jsp?event=MZMEVJAFFPMKNKEFMOEH&un knownUser=true
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 28 Oct 04 05:55
>and just won't vote I was talking to a Democrat around here who'd looked at the statistics of the Republican primary here in March, and she said there was a significant dropoff between the number of votes for the local candidates and the number of votes for Bush.
Lisa Goldman (lisago) Thu 28 Oct 04 06:49
re: 36 -- That's an interesting and encouraging analysis. BTW, a new interview with Julian Bond in Salon underscores the conversation about disenfranchisement: "The two parties are much more aware, taking a lesson from 2000, that every vote counts, and the Democrats take the lesson to mean we need to get all our people to the polls, while the Republicans take the lesson to mean we have to keep as many people as we can away." http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/10/28/julian_bond/index.html
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 28 Oct 04 10:06
Yeah. I have been silently steaming for about 10 years that the right-wingers are so discliplined about calling the Democratic Party the "Democrat Party" and that this is staring to bleed into less partisan sectors. The implication is that democracy is unrelated to politics, or undeserved by the Dems. Over the last few weeks I have had the fantasy of renaming the GOP the "Anti-democratic Party." It's simply stunning to see the contrast around that issue -- the simple issue of democracy itself. The companion piece is that I'm still pissed at Gore's folks for not demanding a full state recount in Florida last time, and standing totally on that principle. Be Democratic and be democratic, both.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Thu 28 Oct 04 12:18
Florida law required requesting recounts in specific counties. Had Gore asked for an entire recount he'd have been savaged for going outside the law. It was a lose/lose. Fact is, the Republicans stole that election in advance. That's why I'm glad the law suits are already being filed in Florida now, before the voting.
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Thu 28 Oct 04 12:39
Well, my book includes Gore campaign manager Brazile's take on their legal tactics, which she disapproved of. A snip: Former Al Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile wont outright say the Vice President would have taken Americas top office in 2000 if only hed listened to her. She doesnt have to. Instead, she talks about the point where their relationshipan opposites-attract partnership of the passionate organizer and the cerebral politicianbroke down. My sister lives in Seminole County (Florida). She called me and said, `How many forms of ID do you need to vote? And thats when I broke. It was Election Day. Since dawn, Brazile had been on radio stations across America, listening to black callers complain of police roadblocks, problems with the voter rolls, and being asked, illegally, for more than one form of ID. (Her sister had to show three before she was allowed to vote.) This was not isolated to a specific state or a specific region, Brazile says. Black people were catching hell. When she went to the Vice President, says Brazile, I got froze out. Gore decided to pursue a legal strategy to fight the suspicious activity in Florida. Brazile wanted to get activists into play and focus on civil and voting rights. The Republican talking points were all about, `Stop the count. Declare victory. And ours were all about, heres why we gotta have the count. It was not based on the Voting Rights Act. It was all blah-de-blah. It was all bullshit.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Thu 28 Oct 04 12:40
I watched "Mosh" for the first time this morning. Then I watched it again. I confess I had tears in my eyes; I'm an easy get.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 28 Oct 04 13:10
I saw it for the second time today, and my tv wasn't staticing out so I could pay more attention. And yes, when all the thuggish youth went into a government building, and I was thinking, oh geez, just what we need, threats of violence, and then they are actually all in line to vote -- yes, I lost it too.
nape fest (zorca) Thu 28 Oct 04 14:40
farai, your popandpolitics.com site has been a valuable resource for years now. i'm wondering what changes you've seen within the youth community since you started the site and how much impact you see online discourse having this time around. the noise around the eminem video is certainly one marker. are there other efforts you see that might actually influence action?
Christian Crumlish (xian) Thu 28 Oct 04 15:11
I was surprised how the African-American voter suppression was swept under the rug in Gore's strategy, definitely. It was the beginning of feeling like I was splitting off into a separate reality not only from right-wingers but from the leaders of the Dem party.
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Thu 28 Oct 04 17:08
<xian>, yeah, the Dems have been pretty damned hard-headed about responding to, essentially, the post-Civil Rights Act, post-Dixiecrat political polarity. I'm typing while on a Cincinnati radio show, a black talk radio program. The ads are AMAZING. There's a ton of Kerry ads, plus one from something called America's PAC that said: when the Democrats critize Republicans, "remember who's talking...the losers.... Without black Republicans, our community would be absent from the corridors of power." Crafty... and more than a grain of truth, despite the fact that most black Repubz don't do much for the black community. <zorca>, what I've seen is, if I can put it this way, the maturing of youth. hip hop, for example, has existed as an idiom for 30 years. you have a whole generation of people raised on cut-and-mix culture, the quick-cut audiovisual processing of information. em's video, the daily show, and p diddy's marketing all apply theories of meta-culture--the idea that we've passed the stage where we can look at a screen filled with a man in a studio and not think "there's a man in a studio." Most TV execs have not reacted well to the piercing of the veil... Reality TV is a poor excuse of a reaction, but I think some of the better aspects of that--the fact that you identify with a larger personal narrative--can be incorporated into smart news and culture coverage. MTV, where I used to work, has various pros and cons, but it really understands that most people do not see a hard distinction between news and entertainment the way purists do, and that people expect not to have to fight sighs of boredom as they watch the news; that they want narrative, and, no, the back and forth on McLaughlin is not enough; that they want to understand more about the story of the nation. Eminem's video is so powerful, in part, because it depicts a coherent (if, literally, cartoonish) narrative about political empowerment. That's something a lot of news doesn't do.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Thu 28 Oct 04 18:09
Once politicians got into the entertainment kitchen, they stopped having the right to complain about someone else using their star power (whether it's the Governator or P. Diddy) to become a player. I'm most interested in your sense that the latest generations are media-creation literate, because I remember when De La Soul came around that I was listening to Negativland at the same time, and I remember thinking that both were suburban kid who decided to "talk back" to the incoming streams of media, whether tv, movies, their parents' records, the radio, what-have-you. I think you stop feeling bombarded with that kind of thing when you can turn it around and put it in your own frame, but I think we have a wide variety of media literacy, and creative literacy still to deal with in this country. I think my parents will never fully get TV just as I will probably never fully get the Internet, but I'm watching younger people for clues.
Lisa Goldman (lisago) Fri 29 Oct 04 10:13
The news itself often seems so partisan that it is increasingly difficult to watch -- leading to the huge success with younger viewers of programs like the Daily Show, which feed the audience's sense of media literacy by skewering the media along with the news. This week's "South Park" episode - with it's central realization that " all elections come down a choice between a giant douche and a turd sandwich" -- really captured the spirit of alienation from politics that Farai discusses. Their send-up of electoral polarity, and especially the P. Diddy's 'vote or die' music video segment was pretty funny - and a brief relief given the tension of the very real polarity that divides the country. Farai, you talk about the red/blue polarity in your book -- and i was especially struck by your insight that "the best way to tell a red state from a blue state is not its location in the country but how much federal tax residents pay vs. how much they get back from the federal gov't. .... Blue staters pay more taxes to the federal government than their states get back in return." Why do you think it works out that way?
from JOHN ADAMS (tnf) Fri 29 Oct 04 11:53
John Adams writes: There are still open primaries in Louisiana--it's likely to be a factor this year, as the Senate race there will be the last decided (unless someone gets a flat-out majority Tuesday). All the best, John A
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Fri 29 Oct 04 14:16
Interesting John... do you live in LA? What's the mood on the ground there? I'd love to hear from anyone who's reading this on the WELL or off about what's going on in their region. Lisa, I hope the S. Park episode airs again for the pleasure of my TiVo. If not, I'll have to find someone who taped it. Re: Red/Blue and tax $$$$.... the blue states are chumps!!!!! No, seriously. both the red and blue states are very deluded, in different ways, about what role they play in supporting and benefitting from the federal gov't and what they should get in return. The Red-staters play the role of rugged individualists, but suck from the federal teat; I think some of the Blue-staters believe, if they personally/individually are giving more taxes than they receive in benefits, that some of this money would come back to poorer neighborhoods in their areas. A lot of blue states are ones with big urban centers, and the Reagan-era divestment of resources in urban areas has hurt those cities and the states around them, but no major initiative of federal urban re-investment is forthcoming. As a Blue stater, part of me says, "Fuck the Red States. If they're going to argue for smaller government, let them live by their words." But I know that not only is that mean; it's impractical, detrimental to the health of those states, and in the current political climate of total Republican control of Congress, impossible. I do think the Blue states need to make a better and more agressive case for reinvestment of Federal resources where they're needed in those states, especially in things like urban schools and transportation infrastructure.
Members: Enter the conference to participate