inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #76 of 142: from PATTY HORRIDGE (tnf) Tue 9 Nov 04 16:05
    


Patty Horridge writes:



Advertising, political or commercial, is an American staple. It’s not going
away. We must learn how to sift through all the bias. I’m watching PBS
Frontline’s “The Persuaders” tonight, to see how this “necessary evil” is
portrayed.

Glenn, what is an example of transparent ballots? And is exit polling all
that reliable?  
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #77 of 142: Ari Davidow (ari) Tue 9 Nov 04 17:07
    
Hmmm. Finally have the book and my notes at hand. Passing by the "very 
important spread - read again" stickies, I find myself on page 74 with the 
caustic note: "and I thought =I= was utopian". I think it was referring to 
issues that we're discussing now - there are three important points where 
you say that you are making your arguments to:
* indicate that the politics of deceit ... is present in the very 
structure of our political practices
* to demonstrate the dissociation of voters from political practices....
* to suggest that ... we must first reenter the public sphere as free 
individuals

which leads to the next sentence:

"If freedom and democracy are to survive, they will survive because we 
turned off our televisions and reengaged in a real public discussion."

I think that is what prompted my note to myself (that, and the suggestion, 
that follows, that the new internet-based activism is one way to reengage 
in real public discussion. I feel entirely cynical about the idea that a 
notable majority of people are going to turn off their televisions. Maybe 
I'm another snobby lefty (who watched more television during the recent 
world series than in the preceding several years combined), but I just 
don't think that is in the cards without some compelling reason beyond a 
need to reengage. We LIKE being entertained, even when we're watching the 
death of democracy, something that I don't find particularly entertaining.

Yet, I contrast my cynicism there with a statement on p. 133 about a study 
in the UK in 2001 in which the main empirical finding was that people who 
lived in a neighborhood where people were politically informed were more 
inclined to participate in a neighborhood. That reflects back on previous 
studies which seemed to indicate that watching television has a 
deleterious effect on the types of neighborhood interactions that include 
such discussion. 

So, really, how do we get there?

On page 142, in discussing the New Deal and local initiatives you suggest:
"Almost overnight people found others in their community with whom they 
could discuss politics. As their day-to-day fight against Depression-era 
poverty found allies among Democrats, many of the forces that discourage 
political involvement were overcome."

Although you immediately note that this was not a long-term change, I am 
struck by a recent reading of a novelization of James Michael Curley's 
last campaign, "The Last Hurrah". Curley was the last of the old time 
machine bosses in Boston, and was defeated as younger voters ignored 
retail politics in favor of, I guess, television. (It is worth noting that 
the real Curley carried a lot of corruption with him, and that Boston 
began to contend with what it meant to be in the 20th century - a very 
painful conversation - bussing included - only after Curley's defeat.)

Going back to Curley would not be good, but is that what you were 
considering when you wrote about local initiatives and the New Deal?

I'll stop here for now.
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #78 of 142: Glenn Smith (glennsmith) Tue 9 Nov 04 17:14
    
Patty, a staple as in, "Our minds have been stapled shut?" Or my lips
should be? A little humor never hurt. Anyway, I don't disagree about
the unlikelihood of political advertising disappearing. It shouldn't be
lost on anyone here that I've written, produced and placed millions of
dollars in political advertising. As I say in the book, we can't
unilaterally disarm.

There is a problem we've talked about here before. No amount of
knowledge or sophistication inhibits television advertising's
manipulative potential. It works on us even we know how it works. I
think it's worth examining whether it should be considered political
speech in the sensethat  this forum contains political speech.

I really meant transparent voting; everyone should know who they voted
for and every ballot should be open for examination. No black boxes.

Exit polling can be even more reliable than telephone polls because
interviewers are talking to respondents in person, because the
targeting can be so much more sophisticated, and because the sample
size can be so much larger.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want our elections decided by exit poll.
But when exit poll results deviate dramatically from vote totals --
precisely in areas one candidate needs to win a majority of the
electoral vote -- we should investigate.

People who call skepticism about the reliability of our election
process a "conspiracy theory" are putting their faith and fear of
conflict ahead of their reasoning. If someone's checkbook balance
deviated dramatically from what the bank said was on deposit, it would
not take a conspiracy theorist to want to know why, and to figure out
which was correct.

Of course, if I was that person, I'd have to investigate if they
happened to agree. But that's another story.
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #79 of 142: Glenn Smith (glennsmith) Tue 9 Nov 04 17:34
    
# 77 >I feel entirely cynical about the idea that a notable majority
of people are going to turn off their televisions.

Ari, I don't expect everyone to wake up, turn off television and start
gabbing about politics. But it's still legitimate to recommend that
they do. If we simply reduce the reliance on TV ads for political
information -- we can have a dramatic impact.

This isn't difficult, certainly not a utopian dream. Those of us who
want to diminish the impact can read a little more, confirm what we've
learned with a few more people, and engage others in conversation about
our discoveries. All those we talk to will be getting information from
a source other than TV. You may not be as entertaining as this last
World Series, but you have important things to say. You and your
interlocutors can do both.

I wondered about how far to press the recommendation in the book. I
decided I should just write what I think, even if it is unrealistic.
The alternative is to detail the damaging effects, and then say, "Well,
there's nothing we can do about it."

Your second question, about my reference to ward politics, is also
well taken. Of course I don't recommend a return to the corruption of
that era, but I do want to return to the retail politics of that time.
Progressives should put together well-organized, year-round community-
and neighborhood-based programs to engage people in conversations about
their wants, needs, troubles, and successes, and provide understanding
if nothing more.

The goal is to boost citizens' self-confidence as citizens. This
happens when people have someone to talk to who responds in a
meaningful way. It's risky to talk out loud. We do it all the time, so
we forget that. But every word we utter to others is a plea, a plea for
understanding and recognition. If we think we can't or won't be
understood, we quit talking. When we quit talking politics, our
self-confidence shrinks, and we quit voting.
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #80 of 142: Drew Trott (druid) Tue 9 Nov 04 20:02
    
I am taking your point to heart. The way was prepared by my experience
last summer of hosting a couple of those MoveOn hosue parties. But
we're going to start building some kind of ongoing neighborhood thing
here, and I'm going to become more active in an existing community
group (Pacifica Peace People) as well as looking for other similar
opportunities to grow the face-to-face network.

I think this virtual community poses some interesting questions in
this context. On the one hand it's the smartest bunch of people I've
ever been around. But it's not primarily polis-oriented; quite the
opposite. Most of my face-to-face social interactions growing out of
this community are refreshingly *not* political (though the underlying
political consensus is I'm sure part of the unarticulated foundation of
affiliation).

To what extent can virtual communities replace neighborhood and
community groups in building the kind of political confidence that
seems pivotal in your conception of how we need to change?
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #81 of 142: David Kline (dkline) Tue 9 Nov 04 20:09
    
> If someone's checkbook balance deviated dramatically from what the bank
> said was on deposit, it would not take a conspiracy theorist to want to
> know why, and to figure out which was correct.

Yeah, except after years of confronting precisely this problem -- and
always discovering that the bank was right and I was wrong -- I've learned
to assume a less conspiratorial reason to explain why I am often broke.

Be that as it may, I am not normally subject to expecting radical change
to succeed or to putting my hopes on any kind of new technology. But I
can't help myself from imagining that some soccer Mom runs a blog about
her kids' league events, etc., and then uses it to orgqanize a hundred
other soccer Moms to go down to City Hall and protest the fact that the
city is about to cut funding for the Park & Rec leagues. It beats going
door to door, since most people don't answer their doors anymore.  As a
"collective organizer," blogs get past your front door and engage you.

I know, I'm grasping at straws. But it feels good to imagine it.
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #82 of 142: Glenn Smith (glennsmith) Tue 9 Nov 04 20:50
    
I don't think virtual communities can replace neighborhood and
community groups. But the internet can facilitate and enliven
face-to-face encounters.

That's what a meet-up is, or a house party. These meetings are people
coming together who have shared information on the web and have some
idea where one another are coming from (so the gatherings are from the
beginning more than a roomful of strangers).

Another drawback is the overwhelming number of people who haven't yet
reached out on the web -- because of the digital divide, economic
circumstances, time constraints, language difficulties, technophobia,
family demands etc. Political activism has to address this issue.
That's why many of us are talking about using the web specifically to
organize outreach to people without access to the web.

I often look to the example of Eastern Europe in 1980s.  They used fax
machines much like we use the web. They were even able to connect by
fax with supporters outside the Eastern Bloc. Faxes had the benefit of
being impenetrable to the secret police. They could monitor phone
calls, but not faxes. Dissident action was not limited to faxes, it was
just assisted by them.

There's also just the incredible amount of information available on
the web. For instance, I just paused and googled to see if I could find
stuff about faxes and the Velvet Revolution. There's plenty there. Try
it. Sure, sources have to be checked and verified, there's more coal
than diamond. But there's no DeBeers monopoly on web information gems.
By the way, I just double-checked the spelling of DeBeers on the web.

This is no minor thing. One is able to plug into international sources
of ideas, engage in debate, test theories, retest them, get feedback,
connect with others. All at very little transaction cost. This was all
unthinkable a few years ago. There are countless numbers of books on
all this, I know. Many of them hyped it. A few others denigrated it. As
with most things human, the truth is found in the middle way.

And the web can build confidence among the already politically active.
I'm at no risk of withdrawing from the political sphere, but the
valuable information I get and the and high social exchange benefit of
this experience in the Well is of as much importance to me as the
community center greeting to a new neighbor. We can't discount that.
Just because I speak about others needing to have their self-confidence
raised doesn't mean that I or any other political activist doesn't
need the same. It's a human thing.
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #83 of 142: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 9 Nov 04 22:09
    
Man, I agree. I could've used a boost just a few days ago. :)

I haven't had much opportunity to post, Glenn, but I did want to comment
on a couple of things. One is the idea the discussion of the problematic
influence of television and media on mainstream perception. A decade ago 
there was a strain of media criticism that sought to variously either 
subvert media or create contexts for understanding how media can 
manipulate our hearts and heads. I don't see those discussions so much 
anymore, but I'm thinking that, if we accept that Mr. Jones is going to 
want his daily twelve ours before the telly, we should try to find ways 
to boost his media literacy and perhaps use a little subversive action to 
point to the maniputations where they occur...i.e. detournement, the sort 
of thing that rtmark has done for years.

Regarding the digital divide, I think a first step is to acknowledge that 
the Internet is sufficiently crucial to our participation in political 
process that every baby should be issued a wireless laptop and an IP 
address at birth. Okay, a joke, but I'm serious: we know that the 
Internet has become an operating system, a platform on which many social 
and political applications will be deployed, and without access to the 
Internet a citizen's access to the opportunity to participate fully in 
political process will be minimal. We talk about various populations that 
are "underserved," and over the years a community network movement has 
evolved to provide access and the training without which access is 
meaningless. How do we support these efforts? How do we ensure broad 
participation? And how do we address those who would say we should not 
empower those citizens, because it's better to be governed by an elite?
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #84 of 142: Ari Davidow (ari) Wed 10 Nov 04 05:38
    
You know, <jonl>'s last point, and your comments, Glenn, bring me back to
an idea I raised a couple of months ago with regard to a place for jobless 
folks to gather, that was a bit more than a coffeehouse in that there was 
both internet access and there were also meeting rooms - place where 
people who were out of work could meet. My local library actually offers 
those things, and in fact, when our youngest was in high school, their 
annual community program in support of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, etc. was 
always held at a library meeting room.

I'm wondering if libraries, schools, community centers provide secular 
places to gather, and if so, how to turn them into places that are 
actively used for meeting in this sense (the library is there, but unless 
you are going to a specific program, you wouldn't go there in the expectation 
of political discourse, or in the expectation of meeting your usual community 
discoursants).

Our oldest also says that he is becoming involved with Howard Dean's 
organization, which I consider an excellent sign in a person who has never 
done anything more active than voting, or having membership in his high 
school glbt etc org.
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #85 of 142: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Wed 10 Nov 04 05:53
    
When I was doing Meetup for Howard Dean in Boise, it was very
difficult to find places to meet. Most places charged. The Boise
library has two conference rooms but they booked up fast. Eventually we
hooked up with the BSU Democrats and then got to meet on campus.
Before that we met at a coffeehouse but that was non optimal.
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #86 of 142: Glenn Smith (glennsmith) Wed 10 Nov 04 18:27
    
#81  David, you're not grasping at straws. Fiber optic cable, maybe.
But not straws. The scenario you imagine is not fantasy. I think it's
already happening.

There's a generational piece to all this that will only get better.
Tomorrow's soccer moms will have grown up with IM, blogs, etc. These
kinds of initiatives will just come naturally to those who have grown
up on line.

# 83  Jon, you raise some serious issues. Let me take your last
question first. How do we address those who don't want to close the
digital divide BECAUSE it is empowering and they believe in elite
democracy.

Economics may close the gap for us. But then, since the gap between
the rich and poor is growing larger, those who need most to be
empowered and involved will have less to spend, and so businesses will
be less motivated to extend internet purchasing tools to them.

I'm reminded, though, that globlization's first wave was the
introduction of television. We've all heard the stories about how the
impoverished living in near-famine conditions were given television
sets. It's never too early to carve up a potential market into shares.
And as I said just above, the generation coming of age today and those
that come after them are going to want access to the digital world. So
there's a good bit of pressure to close the divide.

Wireless may help too. And the ubiquity of cell phones and their
internet links.

Your suggestions about dealing with television's influence on the
political sphere are provocative. For those unfamiliar with
detournement, it's Guy Debord's process of turning elements of a
medium, art piece or work of literature against the piece and/or the
tradition in which it's based.

The Daily Show comes close to this sometime, but any Situationists out
there (they love this stuff) will denounce me immediately for saying
that. They have something much more radical than Jon Stewart in mind.

Detournement is understood as a political action because it undermines
dominant language games of power. The idea is to do more than just
negate the traditions, which movements like Surrealism do. Debord
wanted to negate the negations. I guess Jon Stewart really falls in the
first category. But the reason he fails to approach "negating the
negation" is he stops at irony and satire. My fear is that the
telesphere is closed to intervention, especially interventions
significant enough to drive people out of it.

So I'm not sure how we would go about accomplishing that. But it would
be fun to try.

What I've suggested is more simple-minded: we just begin to circulate
political information through alternative media,  getting the
information to people any way we can. This way the influence of
political ads is diminished. If a person today gets 75 percent of her
information from ads, and we talk to her, coax her to a meeting or two,
convince her to move around in the web, we're going to reduce that to
60 percent or 50 percent.

In #84 Ari brings up the important issue of finding space for public
gatherings. The town square is gone, and there are few places for
people to gather comfortably for political meetings.

The right to assemble remains in place, but the assembly hall has
disappeared.

Libraries are one good idea. A friend of mine, a librarian, has
suggested using libraries across the globe to hold conversations on the
future of democracy. It's an intriguing idea. Most movements wind up
using particular kinds of places:  coffee shops, bars, pubs, book
stores. I think we need to use all kinds of places.

We need physical centers of gravity. The internet isn't a substitute.
There's too much emotional interaction necessary to creative, effective
communal actions. So we need places where people can meet face to
face.


 
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #87 of 142: Glenn Smith (glennsmith) Wed 10 Nov 04 21:15
    
Creative Democracy

I was talking a moment ago with my 18-year-old daughter about her new
interest in politics and the ideas that inform politics, and I came
across the following quote from John Dewey, written in the essay of the
title above, in 1939. It seems to hit on many of the things we are
talking about, so I thought I would toss it in the Well, like a penny.
With a wish.

"When I think of the conditions under which men and women are living
in many foreign countries today, fear of espionage, with danger hanging
over the meeting of friends for friendly conversation in private
gatherings, I am inclined to believe that the heart and final guarantee
of democracy is in free gatherings of neighbors on the street corner
to discuss back and forth what is read in uncensored news of the day,
and in gatherings of friends in the living rooms of houses and
apartments to converse freely with one another. Intolerance, abuse,
calling of names because of differences of opinion about religion or
politics or business, as well as because of differences of race, color,
wealth or degree of culture are treason to the democratic way of life.
For everything which bars freedom and fullness of communication sets
up barriers that divide human beings into sets and cliques, into
antagonistic sects and factions, and thereby undermines the democratic
way of life. Merely legal guarantees of the civil liberties of free
belief, free expression, free assembly are of little avail if in daily
life freedom of communication, the give and take of ideas, facts,
experiences, is choked by mutual suspicion, by abuse, by fear and
hatred. These things destroy the essential condition of the democratic
way of living even more effectually than open coercion which-as the
example of totalitarian states proves-is effective only when it
succeeds in breeding hate, suspicion, intolerance in the minds of
individual human beings."
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #88 of 142: Drew Trott (druid) Wed 10 Nov 04 21:33
    
Great quote, but it points to our immediate problem: when one party
goes nuclear, so to speak, by deliberately cultivating mutual
suspicion, abuse, and fear, how does one avoid the powerful temptation
to respond in kind, and instead find some other, more constructive and
mutually ennobling way to respond?
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #89 of 142: Glenn Smith (glennsmith) Wed 10 Nov 04 22:30
    
We should make an enemy of the very strategies and institutions that
block the free, honest flow of information. This is what my Czech role
models did by living in truth. Havel issued a similar warning (40 years
after Dewey) that Western democracies were drifting into a
demoralized, totalitarian fog.

Still, I admit to concern on the issue you mention.

Maybe it would help if we separated what need to be cultural
interventions from campaign strategies. We have to do both, I know, and
they have to be morally consistent.

The other side knows what they're doing. They are aided and abetted by
much in our culture that depends upon division and alienation. If I
didn't think your teeth were whiter than mine I wouldn't buy so much
toothpaste. So I'm shown how white your teeth are and made to feel
apart. This has grown into a habit.

Anyway, I mention that just to make the point that the anti-democratic
forces extend beyond the immediate strategies of proto-fascist
campaign advisors.

I think there's a great deal to explore here. Among other things, I
believe we should look at the possibility, as Democrats, of making it
clear our core "value" is the preservation of democracy itself. We have
drifted from that, failing to listen to Dewey's warning about an
over-dependence on "legal guarantees." We make contractualist, rights
based arguments, overlooking the debilitations of daily human
interactions in our common life together. In other words, we talk
almost exclusively about the legal guarantees, acting as though if we
just get enough legal guarantees drawn up then all of us will get along
together famously.

So we appear wonkish and legalistic, and the other side talks,
cunningly, about how we are supposed to live together. They're really
talking about how "we" must come together to fight a "them."

What scares me though, is that Bush, like a feudal prince, has
captured the social rituals of NASCAR dads and pit crew moms. Rituals
evolved in part to help groups cope with lies. So rituals are
performative, meaning what they enact cannot be false. When the
preacher says, "I pronounce you man and wife," the couple is man and
wife. The trouble is, lies can become invisible to such a group.
Because Bush is "one of them," he cannot lie.

That makes our job all the harder. It won't -- it didn't -- help to
call Bush a liar. It just didn't matter to his supporters.

George Lakoff says this breaks down when the in-group can no longer
ignore the shame brought on by the lies of its authority figures.
History teaches that this often takes cataclysm.

Your question becomes, how do we shame them while protecting against
divisiveness.



  
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #90 of 142: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 11 Nov 04 05:56
    
What strategies would you suggest to those who want to make effective 
challenges to the Bush administration ethos over the next four years?
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #91 of 142: from PATTY HORRIDGE (tnf) Thu 11 Nov 04 09:50
    



Patty Horridge writes:

> how does one avoid the powerful temptation to respond in kind, and instead
> find some other, more constructive and mutually ennobling way to respond?

I can relate personally to what Drew is saying. At a social gathering, my
childhood friend was shocked to find that I would not be voting the same way
she was. It rocked her system and she went on the attack. I on the other hand
found my tongue tied. I was surprised at her hostility and it intimidated me.
So when I got home I sent her an email describing how I had come to think as
I did. It opened up a civil dialogue and we have been able to talk and share
opinions without rancor ever since. I know this is what you envision, Glenn,
and reading your book gave me the courage not to stuff my feelings and
opinions.  
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #92 of 142: Glenn Smith (glennsmith) Thu 11 Nov 04 10:27
    
# 90 <What strategies would you suggest to those who want to make
effective 
challenges to the Bush administration ethos over the next four years?

We need to start by coming to some shared understanding of our own
ethics. For me, this is simple:  Freedom is just another word for
responsibility, responsibility to others and to myself. Government
should promote the greatest possible freedom for the greatest number.

One thing that falls out of that view is the opposition to Big
Government. Liberals fell into the big government trap after the
Depression. Necessary steps were taken by FDR, but we institutionalized
them. Now that Republicans are in charge of Big Government we can see
its anti-democratic tendency for just that. Like a South American
tyranny, the elite figure out how to keep government big and make the
benefits flow to themselves (Haliburton).

Ever wonder, by the way, how we could have gone through 30 years or
more of a "deregulation" mania and yet government still gets bigger? We
need regulation to protect the environment, to guard against corporate
greed, to guard civil liberties. What we need is a very smart, agile
guard dog with razor sharp teeth -- meaning enforcement power. We don't
need a guard cow.

I think once we come to an understanding that one's freedom is
absolutely dependent on the freedom of others, many other ethical
entailments can be drawn.

We also need to focus on organization and contact with others. It's
extraordinarly important that we voice our beliefs and concerns in
conversation with others. We need to build the infrasture to help get
this done. It's not enough for me to say, "Go out and talk to more
people." So I am working to establish just such organizations (and
support existing ones) at the local and national levels. We all need to
identify existing groups, become a part of them, and get others to
come with us.

# 91 more constructive and mutually ennobling way to respond?

The key, I think, is to search for the underlying value or belief that
is driving the opinions of those who might disagree with us.

Believe it or not, it's much easier to get and keep a conversation
going when we reach, even temporarily, this deeper level.

For instance, a conversation partner may say, "I think the Democrats
will just raise taxes and give all my money to the less deserving, to
people not willing to work hard."

What, we could ask in return, makes a person less deserving? Probe and
question, get them to specify. Accident of birth? Laziness? Do they
really believe in their hearts that everyone has an equal opportunity,
that we enter the world to a blank slate?

It wouldn't hurt to point out that Jesus told us to care for one
another, that the meek will inherit the earth. We don't need to say
this with a "gotcha" smugness, but in a spirit of reaching a common
ground for the conversation.

I have to admit with Drew that this approach is not going to work at
the macro level, meaning the back-and-forth of a political campaign.
We've got a long way to go at that level.
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #93 of 142: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Fri 12 Nov 04 04:34
    
Patty Horridge, once more:


Everyone I talk to says they are relieved that the election is finally over
so they can get on with their lives. I voted early for this very reason. I
was so fed up with the spin. This is a sad state of affairs. Glenn, you
mention several sources of independent journalism in your book and that
there is a "proliferation of new voices and opinions." I don't think the
general public is aware of these sources. How does one determine if a source
is truly independent? Even a journalist has a right to earn a decent living.
Is this possible in the independent market? The better reporters will be
sought after by the conglomerate organizations that are known to have their
biases and big bucks.



 Then there is the problem of wanting to be affirmed in our own beliefs. We
gravitate to that with which we agree because it fits our paradigm. Your
last posting speaks to this: "Why would I want my tax dollars to support
someone unwilling to do their fair share?" Would these people, who are so
sure of where they stand, want to avail themselves of an independent news
source?
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #94 of 142: Drew Trott (druid) Fri 12 Nov 04 08:09
    
There are so many fascinating ideas in #89 that I haven't been able to
decide which one to focus on first. One of them is your observation
about the anti-democratic effects of non-political advertising. It has
long seemed to me that commercial advertising has another pernicious
effect: It conditions us to being lied to, and at some level ties into
the toxic relativism that has been embraced by the right (in part under
the pseudo-academic fig leaf of "post-modernism"). I keep hoping that
as kids grow up steeped ever more thoroughly in this mileu they will
somehow become more savvy and better armed against it, but the signs on
that point are at best equivocal.

Then on the subject of communicating with Red voters: My fiancee, who
harbors far less rancor than I do in general, had a wonderful
conversation with the Red neighbor across the street, who had come over
to engage in some thinly disguised gloating about the election. Jen
said that we would all have to work harder now to see that people are
taken care of; the neighbor said she did her work through church; Jen
said not everybody who needs help would come to her church; the
neighbor said, "We think charity begins at home"; and Jen said, "See
that's it. I think of the whole world as my home."

A lot depends on the tone, and Jen's tone was even and friendly and
respectful. Unfortunately, I lack the skill to think of those kinds of
formulations, which really depend on highlighting our own values; my
natural inclination is to attack "their" values for their obvious (to
me) incoherence.

Maybe part of what we need to do is share these kinds of stories in
hopes that we can learn these skills from each other.
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #95 of 142: David Kline (dkline) Fri 12 Nov 04 09:31
    
We get better results when we start from a point of unity in these
discussions. And there's much that we can unite around with red-staters.

Simply having the attitude that we can truly learn something from everyone
makes a big difference in whether or not we can influence someone's views.
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #96 of 142: Glenn Smith (glennsmith) Fri 12 Nov 04 11:06
    
# 93  Your question, Patty, deserves books of its own. I might
recommend Robert McChesney, or Todd Gitlin. I think of the growth of
independent news sources as the proliferation of voices. Some are more
honest than others, some are more careful than others, all should be
treated critically by each of us. One of the problems with the
consolidation of media is its demand that we suspend our disbelief.
Figures in the mass media want to be "voices of authority" beyond
question. No one deserves that status.

It's interesting to note that major cultural renewals are almost
always accompanied by a relaxing of the rules about who gets listed to
and who listens. This was true in the 1930s after the introduction of
radio. It was true in the 1960s with FM radio, independent publishers
and record labels, smaller UHF TV, the birth of cable, etc. It's true
now with the internet.

And you're right, it's difficult to open or change the mind of a true
believer. That's why we have "de-programmers" for cultists. To a
certain extent, de-programming should be part of everyone's daily
routine. That's what my idea of freedom is all about.

This is way beyond my limited knowledge, but I think I'm right when I
say one de-programming technique is to take the client deeper into his
or her values, often by imagining again a more free and innocent
pre-cult time. It tracks what we have talked about with regard to
connecting to a conversation partner's values, what lies beneath
opinion.
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #97 of 142: Glenn Smith (glennsmith) Fri 12 Nov 04 11:16
    
# 94 Drew, Jen's conversation is a poignant example of taking a
political conversation into a moral place in which both sides feel
comfortable. I completely agree that we need to share these kinds of
stories. I think that ought to be seriously considered as a topic by
the Well.

Role-playing also has a place, although I've done that different
training settings and it works better when there's a specific goal in
mind. For instance, "media training" candidates for interviews with
reporters. Role-playing works. It's not as effective in uncovering new,
emphasis on new, ways of engaging in conversations with unpredictable
outcomes.

Throughout the closing months of the campaign, in conversations with
people from all walks of life, I have had some form question more than
any other question:  How can I talk to my (friend, neighbor, co-worker,
father, mother, son, daughter) who strongly disagrees with my point of
view, intimidates me with their vehemence, and won't listen to reason?
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #98 of 142: Glenn Smith (glennsmith) Fri 12 Nov 04 11:22
    
I think I may have mistaken the identity of the author of old # 93.
Let that be a lesson, poor attention does not make for good
communication. Don't call bumbaugh Patty. It was the butter thing that
through me off.
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #99 of 142: from KATHLEEN SIMON (tnf) Fri 12 Nov 04 15:40
    



Kathleen Simon writes:



Make Global Warming, toxins in our food chain, and paper trail voting the
main issues:
Every single week hammer an environmental issue and offer a solution, like
California did during their energy crisis.  Get your consistent talking
points from here: Energy Quest
http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/saving_energy/index.html


Deliver the facts, the problems (electricity waste makes carbon) and a
concrete solution people can do immediately, like turn off the lights. Be
upbeat, like a Mary Kay sales associate.  No one wants to be called wasteful
or stupid.  Big sales pitch. Tell people how much money they can save.
SAvings can be applied to buying local organic food from a co op like Local
Harvest or a store, such as Whole Foods.

If you have concrete citizen participation we will appear as the party taking
responsibility and action rather than being talking heads rambling on TV.
  
inkwell.vue.229 : Glenn Smith, _Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction_
permalink #100 of 142: from PATTY HORRIDGE (tnf) Fri 12 Nov 04 15:46
    


Patty Horridge writes:



Glenn, you identified #93 correctly. I was confused by the butter thing as
well. Thanks for the recommendations and the reminder that no one deserves
elevated status.

I’m also beginning to understand that everyone believes they are the voice of
reason, as hard as that is to deal with! Reasonable people acknowledge that.
Kerry and McCain get along quite well. What is really fascinating is when one
examines his/her own viewpoints, at that deeper level, it’s amazing how
similar values really are.
  

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