Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Fri 29 Oct 04 14:32
You know about hte article a few months back noting how red states get money from the system and blue states pay into it?
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Fri 29 Oct 04 15:30
Yes... I write a bit about it in the book. Here's another snip: ===== 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 versus how much they get back from the federal government. People in the Red states tend to believe in smaller government; people in the Blue states tend to support (prudent) government spending. You would think, then, that Red Staters are pissed because they pay more than their share of taxes to the federal government. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Blue Staters pay more taxes to the federal government than their states get back in return. As one person on the conservative Free Republic website put it, decrying the Blue States, We have those who work vs lazy slobs. We have morality vs immmorality. Representative republic vs tyrantical communism. Given that the Red Staters are sucking up federal dollars, who exactly is immoral? Rural farm subsidies and pork barrel public work projects give the Red States a distinct fiscal advantage. But the myth that the Blue States are takers and the Red States are givers is one of the most pernicious and persistent in politics. By playing the taker card, conservative politicians have been able to cut back on popular programs including preschoolers Head Start. The programs that serve Red Staters are rarely subjected to such scrutiny. The Blue States either have a bad political strategy or extremely bad P.R. Or perhaps its that the Blue Staters are perceived as other, and the Red Staters are perceived as we. Blue States are more urban and have a higher concentration of immigrants and people of color. Red States tend to be more rural, more white, and less first-generation immigrant. The fight over Red and Blue states, in this sense, is not just about taxes or ideology. Its about who is perceived as a real American. A 2004 OLeary/Zogby poll on American values described the Red and Blue State divide this way: the Blue States have fewer Republicans, 55-69 year olds (the most conservative age cohort), rural dwellers, conservatives, Born-Again Christians, daily or weekly attendees at a place of worship, local sports fans, gun owners, investors, military veterans, and married voters. All of these differences portend a harder sell for Republican candidates. On the other hand, the Red States, have fewer younger voters, single voters, college graduates, liberals, Catholics and Jews, union members, and non-prayers. In short, the two regions think and vote differently because they are different.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Fri 29 Oct 04 16:14
>Republicans, 55-69 year olds (the most conservative age cohort), >rural dwellers, conservatives, Born-Again Christians, daily or weekly >attendees at a place of worship, local sports fans, gun owners, >investors, military veterans, and married voters. You just described my neighbors. :-)
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 29 Oct 04 16:54
I wouldn't fit those colors too tightly to those states: e.g. Texas may be leaning toward Kerry, something none of us thought possible a month ago.
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Fri 29 Oct 04 17:17
do tell more <jonl>.... sharon, are people worked up about the election; or don't talk politics (for fear of aggravating each other, or because most agree on all the issue)?
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Fri 29 Oct 04 17:35
It doesn't come up much, actually. Everyone knows I'm a Democrat and people think it's cute. In the Grange, for example, there's one other Democrat and he and I chat occasionally but otherwise we don't talk politics per se much. The thing is, here in particular, it's true what they say 'all politics is local politics.' There's a lot more focus on races like the legislature and the sheriff and so on, because they actually affect our lives, show up to debates, etc. I mean, I'm probably going to vote for the Republican for sheriff because, for one thing, he showed up to an event and I got a chance to meet him and hear from him, and I was impressed by what I heard. Of course, I also hang out with a bunch of Democrats, and we're certainly worked up and talk about it a lot. But day to day, no. The one time I can remember something political coming up and it being a big deal to people was when we were talking about the ninth circuit's decision to remove 'under God' from the Pledge, and people were horrified that I agreed. On the other hand, I talked to a reporter today who said he'd talked to a 55-year-old woman who was voting for the first time in her life, and she was weeping as she told him about it. I drive around with Kerry and Dean bumper stickers, and I have a Kerry sign in my window, and I've never once been harassed. When I worked the Democrat booth at the state fair, we had about three people, in two hours, walk by and say something nasty to us in passing, but in large part people were polite, even Republicans (including our senator Mike Crapo, who introduced himself to everyone in the booth and shook hands). I did doorknocking two weeks ago for the county commissioner, and I had some people tell me they only voted Republican, and others tell me they only voted Democrat, but everyone was polite about it. Maybe it's because we don't have much in the way of rallies. Kerry only comes here for vacation. Bush hasn't been here. There isn't anything to stir up the populace. Or maybe it's the 'armed society is a polite society' -- Idaho has one of the highest ratios of gun ownership and concealed carries of any state. :-) Plus, it's hunting season. :-) The paper runs a hell of a lot of letters to the editor, though.
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Sat 30 Oct 04 08:30
Sounds very calm compared to a lot of other places I've been, where people are wound tight and not very nice when talking to each other. By the way, I'll be doing a reading at Cody's on Telegraph, Berkeley, at 7pm tonight. It's a Saturday. It's Halloween weekend. I don't expect much of a crowd, but that often makes for a good discussion. And then I'm going to go out and party... where's my costume????
Vote or whine (divinea) Sat 30 Oct 04 11:30
Farai, I'm just catching up here, and flogging to finish the book this weekend. What a marvelous thing you've done with it! I'm going to go back a bit here, and ask about the comments on P. Diddy's Vote or Die initiative. I notice that none of the people you cite mentioned the war as a literal "vote or die" issue, and yet it seems likely that, once again, minority and poor kids will end up overrepresented in the military in that event- without even talking about the disenfranchisement that leads to military enlistments in an all-volunteer environment. Is it your sense that this message is getting across? Another interesting observation I made, after talking recently with a handful of my former students, all in their twenties now, is that while none of them seemed to have much awareness of what's going on in Iraq, every one of them had something to say on the subject of how black folks got screwed in Florida last time around. The unfortunate outcome seems to be that they feel more hopeless, not more determined to make their votes count.
Earl Crabb (esoft) Sat 30 Oct 04 20:13
> By the way, I'll be doing a reading at Cody's on Telegraph, Berkeley, > at 7pm tonight. It's a Saturday. It's Halloween weekend. I don't expect > much of a crowd, got there...Cody's didn't have anyone scheduled, the room was empty...
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Sun 31 Oct 04 17:34
Well, I owe you a beer. Turns out that the scheduled event wasn't... scheduled. Here's what I think happened: my publisher told me about the event; I said, "it's a Saturday of Halloween, who's gonna come?" He said, "folks will." But then they decided not to. But nobody told me. It's only one of the humiliations of being a mid-list author... I did show up, and they were like, um, what???? So, here's a for-real reading, followed by a for-real party... Please come to either or both, and I will grab you a brew: Wednesday Nov. 3 (this wed.) 7pm reading North Beach branch, San Francisco Public Library (http://sfpl.lib.ca.us/librarylocations/branches/northbeach.htm) 2000 Mason St. Followed by Post-Election Party (starts at 8:30pm) DragonBar 473 Broadway Street San Francisco, CA. 94117 415.834.9383
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Sun 31 Oct 04 18:18
Re: Vote or Die and military... yes. Rock the Vote is making hay about the draft issue, which has gotten some attention in debates and through media. A statement from them: http://www.rockthevote.com/draft/ And a statement from my friend Susan, who has her own ideas about the election: "The Green Bay Packers beat the Washington Redskins at the Redskins last home game before the election. As history goes, this mean that John Kerry (the challenger, i.e. The Packers) will win the presidential election--If the Redskins (the incumbent) had won, we would have 4 more years of W. Here's the creepy part of the game. The Redskins lost due to a questionable call that resulted in a touchdown being reversed--in other words, they lost due to controversy........eeeeeerrrrrie! Happy Halloween!"
Jim Klopfenstein (klopfens) Mon 1 Nov 04 14:21
Farai, I caught the video of your recent DC (?) talk on C-SPAN 2 on Saturday. I thought you were a really impressive (and persuasive) speaker, and it was a great alternative to the poll coverage and bickering on the news channels all weekend. The crowd at Cody's don't know what they missed.
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Mon 1 Nov 04 15:52
Hah! Thanks... Yes, that was from the DC date of my book tour a week or so ago. Bookstore events are weird because generally it's a fairly small crowd, but a small crowd of smart people, and when there are cameras you have to play to the cameras and the crowd. I got a super-nice email from one viewer... I think in a way I am "off message" because instead of talking as much about Kerry v. Bush, I am speaking, in this book, about systemic reform to our voting system. With this book, we're actually going to put out a new edition after the election with an analysis of the 2004 elex. So I think in January or so, when that book/edition comes out, it'll get a lot of traction.
It matters who your daddy is. (debbie) Mon 1 Nov 04 16:03
Have you enjoyed working with this publisher?
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Mon 1 Nov 04 16:17
In the end, yes. It's my third book; first time with an indy publisher. Some things (like doing the cover art) were a huge pain in the ass; and I got paid nearly nothing; but my books tend to have a long academic afterlife so I know (or think) the checks will keep coming in. Doing a book with an indy publisher, in this case Soft Skull Press (http://www.softskull.com), was the only way for me to get this out in time for the election. I woke up one day, was like: hmm, it's almost election time. Better do a book. Big publishers take at least a year to turn around a book, unless it's some celebrity one-off. And Soft Skull does a lot of great books, mix of nonfiction and fiction weighted towards the latter. Based in Brooklyn, as is Akashic Books, another fine indy imprint that does a mix, but weighted towards fiction.
It matters who your daddy is. (debbie) Mon 1 Nov 04 16:27
I think they publish some great things - I was at a book event for one of their books recently and sadly the actual books didn't make it there in time for the event.
Michael E. Marotta (mercury) Mon 1 Nov 04 17:30
I am voting this time. I used to be a very regular voter, and I was raised that way, but drifted. I am not concerned or worried or energized. I am just voting because it is my right to do so, and it is an important right to exercise. Ultimately, it does not matter much who is President. Voting matters most in local elections. National elections are pre-determined by conflict resolutions far away from the polling booths. Bush was chosen president sometime during the Clinton administration. Gore caved on election night because he long ago knew that he was not supposed to win. The reason I was raised to vote is that in 1948 everyone thought Dewey was going to win. When Truman got elected, we learned our lesson, or so I was told as a child. Our guest wrote: "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 ..." Would you suggest that half the Hmoung in Chicago should register as Democrats and vote for conservatives? How about the Ukrainians in Cleveland, how should they vote? This parceling of people into ethnic blocs is racist thinking. If suggested by a conservative, it would be identified as as such, and rightfully so. Never seeing individuals but only perceiving blocs of races, classes, incomes, houses, cars, occupations, politcal parties, etc., is a deep epistimological problem. When conservative do it, they are excoriated for sticking people in boxes with labels, and the criticism is valid. However, if you preface your mental shortcuts with a nod to the Green Party, you can be excused almost anything.
It matters who your daddy is. (debbie) Mon 1 Nov 04 18:09
Looks like you'll be at the north beach library zimby - 3 NOVEMBER, WEDNESDAY *Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters - Award winning journalist Farai Chideya will read and discuss her new book. Trust argues that American political culture now lacks the moral, legal and psychological framework for debating complex issues in a pluralistic society where each issue consists only of two opposing angles. The book concludes with an offer to rid ourselves of such black and white thinking with a hope that we can build a democracy that reflects our lives. North Beach Branch Library, 7:00 p.m. 2000 Mason Street (at Columbus) Could be a victory party!
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Mon 1 Nov 04 18:29
I hope so, Debbie. And <mercury>, I wrote the thing abt blacks registering republican. Yes, identifying people by racial blocs is reductionist in some ways--but race (as class; as regionality; gender; and age) can be useful in describing how and why people vote and don't vote. Basically, African-Americans vote 80 to 90 plus percent for the Democratic presidential candidate, meaning there's little contest for the black vote between the two parties. There are a few, very vocal, black Republicans. Younger African-Americans are fed up with being, as they see it, taken for granted by the Democratic party; but the Republican voter suppression and record on economic and civil liberties issues keeps most young African-Americans from even thinking about voting Republican. It's a catch-22 that no one's figured out yet. I was saying, only half in jest, that black folks should register Republican to vote in the primaries where they could have more impact.
Uncle Jax (jax) Mon 1 Nov 04 18:37
Headline in last week's _The Onion_: "Republicans urge minorities to get out and vote Nov. 3" :-)
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Mon 1 Nov 04 18:40
hah! Sadly, there are so many dirty tricks going on it's crazy. One of them was a person who went through a Latino neighborhood taking "votes"... and saying "you voted with me; you don't have to go on Tuesday." Admittedly, no one should be fooled by this, but there are a lot of people who have an almost total ignorance of the system.
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Tue 2 Nov 04 06:19
By the way, today, wearing another one of my hats, I am conducting a big fat Blog experiment. Please participate! This email just went out to a mix of political observers, writers, artists, etc: Greetings: One of the clear winners in this election--the only clear winner, for now--is technology. Election 2004 saw the rise of the blogger; the increasing use of email organizing for voter registration, education and mobilization; and the proliferation of animation, graphics, and humor distributed online. Now it's your chance to have your say. PopandPolitics.com has launched a live, interactive, real-time forum for telling the story of election 2004. Check it out here: http://pandpelex.blogspot.com/ The whole point is your participation. You can email in your personal story or observations from going to the polls; mobilizing voters; or monitoring the election. (And if you're one of those people with a web-enabled PDA, you can do it from anywhere.) Some of you may have received invitations to join the blog via Blogger... email is easier! But the email-to-blog function was down, now fixed just in time for the big day. =========== Here's How You Email-to-Blog: email the blog at: firstname.lastname@example.org your header will be the header for the post your email body text will be the text of the post It's that simple! ========== some notes: 1) we want to know who you are! the technology isn't going to automatically ID you. So at the bottom of your email give us an ID, like: Farai Chideya, Berkeley, California or Farai, Berkeley, California or A California Voter Hoping for the Best 2) if you have an automatically-generated ID tag or other gunk at the bottom of your email, you can delete that stuff, or put #end at the end of your text, so the other material doesn't post 3) this experiment is only as good as the folks participating, so please lay off the ad-hominem attacks, profanity, blah blah blah. we're all grown-ups. (well, actually, it would be cool if kids posted too....) 4) you can also comment on other people's posts. just go to the site (http://pandpelex.blogspot.com/) and look at the bottom of the posts. You'll see how many comments each item has, and by clicking on the comment line, you can make a comment yourself. making a comment keeps similar thoughts together in a flow, rather than scattering them throughout the blog. 5) feel free to distribute this email widely. we want to hear from people around the country--especially in battleground states--and around the world. Be well, Farai, Jean, and PopandPolitics.com http://www.PopandPolitics.com
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 2 Nov 04 08:26
Good luck with your blog experiment, Farai. In a way, that sort of feeds into the kinds of questions that I've been pondering, since your blog experiment is sort of a voting process. As you wrote, "Now it's your chance to have your say." It seems a given that blogs are a powerful tool of expression. What other models for voting and democracy exist in the United States? What strong models exist outside the US? Which models work the best, and how can we take them from theory into practice?
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Tue 2 Nov 04 15:17
Well, the blog experiment is going well in general, but the email-to-blog function is sucking bigtime today. Still, we've got some great firsthand accounts: http://pandpelex.blogspot.com. Thanks Cynthia... I do think the issue, at least after November 2, is systemic change and not just "regime change." "Regime change"--successful or no--leaves the system intact. And it's our very system that is discouraging voters. Think about the neighborhood you live in. Suppose you said, "I want to invent a system where we've got a 50-50 split in neighborhood leadership. We'll call half of you Team Blue, and the other half Team Red. You're supposed to work together, but really you'll hate each other. And if you don't join one of the teams, you have no decisionmaking power." People would scratch their heads and say, "Why?" Why would you have a system like that? Well, now we need to ask why we have this system. The answer isn't "well, this is just the way it is.".... there have been more successful third parties, and the two major parties have squashed them (see below.) In my little example, you wouldn't just get a Team Blue and a Team Red. You'd have plenty of people who wanted to be on Team Purple or Team Orange, and were pissed off they couldn't create their own teams. If you insisted on having just Team Blue and Red, many of those people would then probably sulk away In its election-day missive, MoveOn has this to say about one of the US systems that works, fusion voting (which I cover extensively in the book... including how most states banned fusion voting a century ago to block third party involvement): "P.S. When you vote here in New York, youll see John Kerry and John Edwards names on the ballot twice. First, theyll be listed on the Democratic Party line. Then, on Row E, theyll be listed on the Working Families Party line. Heres what the Working Families Party is about: The Working Families Party is New York's only progressive third party. It's not a "spoiler" party; it rejects what Ralph Nader is doing. What the WFP usually does is to "cross-endorse" good Democrats, and then work to hold those Democrats accountable on progressive issues like health care, jobs, the Iraq debacle and the environment. For example, the WFP recently led the successful fight to raise the minimum wage for New Yorkers. Under New York's unique system of "fusion" voting, more than one party can nominate the same candidate for office. The votes on each party line are tallied separately, but then added together to determine who wins. That means that unlike voters in other states, voters for New York effectively get two votes for President - one for the candidate and one for the party. This year, John Kerry is the candidate of both the Democratic and Working Families parties. So Kerry supporters can vote for him on either line. In other words, a Kerry vote on the WFP line *counts just the same* as a Kerry vote on the Democratic line youre not taking any votes away from Kerry by voting on Row E. To learn more about New York's Working Families Party, visit: http://www.workingfamiliesparty.org/"
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Wed 3 Nov 04 15:40
I was just browsing through an inkwell topic about a great book I've read (and had the author on the radio): "Is that a Politician in Your Pocket?" by Micah Sifry and Nancy Watzman. Sifry said in Inkwell: "The basic idea is this: we need a paradigm shift in how we approach campaign finance reform. Instead of focusing most of our energy on trying to regulate how private money gets raised and spent (a process that can never be perfected, and perhaps shouldn't be), we should think about how to free candidates from their dependence on private money in the first place." I'd argue there's a similar dynamic with the two-party system, We need to re-think our relationship to the two party system that runs nearly all of America. Instead of thinking "this is just the way it is," or talking about running third-party candidates, we need to dismantle the system from within until it screams for mercy and begs for third-party participation. Unfortunately, I can only come up with two ways that's likely to happen: 1) a bottom-up takeover, a la the right 30 years ago. school boards, rent boards, dogcatcher. put people in positions where they affect day-to-day policy, and funnel those people upward. 2) charismatic leadership. I'm not a big fan of it--it's unreliable. But politics is a people profession; we need individuals with strong values and ideas and charisma who will run and fight to win
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