Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Edwards South Carolina Closer

The general narrative here is very solid, even mildly inspirational, but all the citations of movie trailer conventions, including the Trailer Guy (or his clone) voice over feels a bit more obtrusively manipulative even than usual and almost nudges the piece into parody territory somehow. But perhaps that's just me. I wonder... do you all think this is an effective ad?


Greg in Portland said...

I think it was actually intended as a bit of a movie trailer spoof. Perhaps it does shade over into self parody a bit. Personally I would prefer a more to the point ad. I think Edwards could achieve high shock value by just stating his beliefs openly and letting them sink in. Think of the kind of commercials FDR would run today. Basically a kind of "cut the bullshit" straight talk approach. This movie trailer thing is a gimmick.

Greg in Portland said...

Yesterday's Ted Rall was pretty on point about this. In fact he's still doing the topic today. Actually Edwards' critique of Obama and Hillary (posted here a few days ago) was pretty surprising. He really cut those two windbags down and moved the debate back to substantive issues. That's what I meant by a "cut the bullshit" ad. I know he's got it in him.

Jackie said...

I agree with what Greg said regarding it being a spoof, though I'm not sure what he meant by 'self parody'. I feel like this kind of thing really appeals to the 'popular' voters, i.e. people who haven't read a book in ten years, but who know the movie trailer format as intimately as they do their kitchen.

I am actually somewhat surprised with how much you (Dale) tolerate the superficiality of the campaigns. I can't really stand to watch any of the candidates unless they are talking about genuine issues (I really feel you about Obama's 'america united' gimmick that was almost exactly the same as Huckabee's). Their speeches and advertisements always seem so... sugary.

I would expect you (Dale) to be completely away from the two-party political system and support a 3rd or even 4th party. Perhaps you could give some insight into this.

Dale Carrico said...

I would expect you (Dale) to be completely away from the two-party political system and support a 3rd or even 4th party.

The two party system exists, my distaste for it provides no means "to be completely away from" it.

If you are appalled at the anti-democratizing effects of the US party duopoly (which functions too often as a corporate-militarist monopoly), the thing to do is to become an advocate for instant runoff voting, national popular vote, and public financing of presidential campaigns.

Instant Runoff systems eliminate the "spoiler" effect and empower people to vote first for whomever they truly prefer without "electability" concerns entering their calculations, very much to the benefit of third party, issue oriented, and more radical candidates -- and hence to the benefit of our domesticated political discourse. I advocated IRV in Oakland, then voted for it, then got it. The IRV movement is seeking to implement this feature locally in the hopes that local use will educate and familiarize people about using a marginally more complicated system, the better to demand it nationally next.

National Popular Vote is a reform of the conservative Electoral College that does not require a constitutional amendment, in which states agree on their own to apportion their electoral votes in a way that reflects the actual popular vote, once enough states agree to do this to ensure that this shift marginalizes none of them nationally. Many states have already agreed to this and the number is rising. This is a real, serious, highly organized movement for electoral reform.

Public financing is of course a long battle -- many mainstream candidates now advocate it and its prospects were never better, though the forces arrayed against it are formidable.

Common Cause is a good place to look for basic information about such proposals. I strongly recommend that people become involved in such activism and organizing efforts to improve and enrich American democracy.

In my view, supporting third party *candidacies* in an institutional environment that radically marginalizes them is an arrant absurdity. It is more democratizing for a person of the left to join with the progressive forces in the Democratic party and force that party leftward than to create a more progressive third party ab initio, once that will have fewer actual progressives in it than the Democratic party already does for years to come, and which faces insitutional barriers to effectiveness that no amount of doctrinal purity can overcome.

Ralph Nader should have engaged in a national campaign for IRV, national popular vote, and public financing of elections (same day registration would also be profoundly democratizing -- certainly better than the relentless Republican intelligence devoted to disenfranchisement) rather than running as a Third Party candidate -- even if his primary goal was to highlight the need for viable third parties in the present debased corporate-military duopoly system he so eloquently and rightly decries.

Third Party campaigns damage actually existing third parties and will continue to do so wherever institutional barriers marginalize them. This is not resignation to the prevailing order but a demand for more realistic and less superficial interventions to build a pathway to a more democratic order.

Greg in Portland said...

You only left out one thing Dale. Get rid of all the fucking voting machines! And either make election day a holiday or do what we do here in Oregon. All voting by paper ballot by mail so there's no "election day". Admittedly this disenfranchises the homeless since they can't get their ballots.

Dale Carrico said...

Get rid of all the fucking voting machines!

But of course.

Perfect example, by the way, of the reactionary politics of techno-utopianism and corporate-militarist futurology: fetishized "high-tech" solution proposed to a non-problem makes some rich people richer while disenfranchizing millions. Classic retro-futurism.

Greg in Portland said...

I wish I could cite a reference for this but a long time ago I read a book about the Vietnam war that had quotes from lots of people, some in the military. One army guy said something like "this whole fucking war is an 18 million dollar solution to a $2 problem". Though I don't share his proto-fascist politics that's how I feel about voting machines.