The Anatomy of a Viable Candidate

Getting past the ‘Viability’ Marketing Scam & ‘Wasting Vote’ Misconception

candDuring the last two years I have been engaging in a certain ritual each time I get together with friends or acquaintances. Usually this is how it goes: we chat about how much ‘worse’ things have gotten since Obama became president, on issues from expansion of our imperialistic wars to illegal domestic spying to fiasco-ridden bailouts to the continuation of torture and assassination programs… At some point during these intense discussions I lean over the table, look directly in my companion’s eyes and say the following: ‘Come on, admit it, and admit it loud and clear, with no ifs or buts. Say it; say I wasted my vote.’ The reaction is usually something like this: ‘I really had hopes for this guy,’ or ‘considering the other evil I didn’t have much of a choice,’ or something along these lines. But as you may know I don’t give up that easily, so I press harder: ‘whatever the reason, do you now see your vote as completely misplaced and wasted?! If so, just say it.’ To make a long story short, I usually succeed. I get them to admit, loud and clear, with each syllable emphasized: Yes! I wasted my vote.

Let me explain my intentions before you take me as someone who gets some sort of a perverse pleasure in being proved right, or, rubbing people’s noses in their mistakes. Because I don’t take any pleasure whatsoever from this particular ritual, neither do I consider myself some sort of winner in a competition. I engage in this ritual because I truly believe in ‘admitting to our fallacies’ as the first step in getting over them and or not repeating our past mistakes. It is one thing to be objective enough to criticize one’s chosen candidate, but it is a totally different ball game when we take responsibility and own up to our own role in creating or putting in place the wrong candidate. And I believe three major mistakes we as a nation repeatedly commit are the following:

1-     Buying into our Media’s Marketing Scam in Creating a ‘Viability’ Illusion

2-     Believing in & Repeating the Myth of Wasting One’s Vote

3-     The Lesser of Two Evils Mentality

Two years ago I wrote the following on the self-defeating lesser of two evils mentality, and I still stand by it:

On the issue of casting votes, one of the points I keep hearing, over and over, is that ‘I knew it even back then, but I had to choose and vote for the lesser of two evils.’

Don’t you consider this, at least to a degree, to be acceptance of ‘no hope for real change’ when it matters the most, during elections? First, to readily accept that we are limited to only choices that have been declared as ‘viable’ by the same MSM and establishment we seek to change.
Second, to helplessly adopt a mindset that says ‘evilness’ is an inevitable prerequisite for ‘viable’ candidates.

When it comes to ‘evilness,’ there is no reliable standard of measurement. Let’s say, for example, that the pre-selected options are: Senator Obama, Senator Clinton, and Senator McCain. How do you measure their degree of ‘evilness?’ For arguments sake, let’s say there is a standard of “evilness” measurement, and when applied to these candidates you get the following data: on a scale of ‘0 to 100’ on the evilness measurement index (‘100’ being absolute evil, ‘0’ being no evil qualities), McCain ranks 98, Clinton 96, and Obama 94. Based on this do people feel justified in voting for the lesser of the ‘given’ three, even though that candidate still ranks extremely high in ‘evilness’?

And in that same article I summed up the myth of wasting one’s vote:

The second issue I want to bring up has to do with the notion shared by many: I didn’t want to ‘Waste’
“I know there are other candidates who are ‘much less evil’ and have much better track records. However, as you see, they don’t have a chance. The MSM and the establishment have either marginalized them or never acknowledged them in the first place. They have no chance, thus, I won’t ‘waste my vote and will choose between the ‘viable’ candidates declared ‘electable.’”

We don’t give those ‘better’ candidates a chance even when we believe in them and their competence. What if every one of us who’ve been active and pushing for ‘real changes’ disregarded the ‘established’ etiquette of candidate viability, went out and actually voted for the candidate we trusted ? What if by doing this that ‘nonviable’ candidate ended up with, lets’ say 15% of total votes? Granted he or she has not become the ultimate winner, elected, but what do you think that 15% would mean in the next election? Would it encourage more people to do the same, cast their vote based on what they really believe? Would it motivate better people to rise up and take on leadership? Would it help the current landscape of the MSM – promoting coverage of a ‘people’s candidate’? And finally, what if two election seasons later we get to see a ‘people’s candidate’ with 50% or more of votes cast?

Now, let’s talk about our ‘dependent’ media’s viability criteria when it comes to political candidates, since this may very well be the major factor shaping the other two fallacies. After all, they, the media, package, market and sell the two candidates deemed and stamped as viable by their bosses. I am saying ‘let’s talk about,’ since I want this to be a discussion with you as participants. I want us to look at previous ‘viable candidates’ we put in high office guided by the media’s systematic vote-shaping marketing scams, and I would like us to take note of how they currently are setting the stage for their bosses’ choice of ultimate finalists this time around. We are going to list ingredients that go into the establishment’s chosen viable candidate, and dissect the anatomy of a viable candidate. I’ll start the discussion and let you continue and expand upon it.

RPLast February I came across a selectively picked and rather contained quasi debate posted at the Politico site on the viability of Republican candidates post CPAC. What caught my attention was not so much the quasi experts and agenda-driven analysts who are in on this marketing scam, but the terminology and adjectives long-used by our media to systematically shape the direction of election votes. I am talking about words and adjectives that become glued to candidates to create the myth or illusion of viability or non-viability which then, after being repeated thousands, no millions of times, become accepted reality by the unknowing majority. For this case, I am going to use Ron Paul as the perfect example. Here are a few phrases of ‘non-viable’ rhetoric with catch-words emphasized:

Paul’s occasional embrace of seemingly bizarre issues has created the impression among most voters that he is a fringe candidateDr. Paul would be hard pressed to be viewed as a viable candidate for president.

These voters see Dr. Paul as an outsider holding fringe views. Although the voters probably have more in common with Dr. Paul than not, they already have a soured view of him – a condition that isn’t likely to change.

He clearly has a niche among the electorate… I wouldn’t expect him to be the GOP nominee

Of course Ron Paul can never be elected president. He’s a quirky, schoolmarm-ish eccentric whose quixotic tangents – like a return to the gold standard – are too far removed from the average person’s day-to-day concerns. And he looks more like the clerk at a hardware store than a president.

No one can argue that Ron Paul had a real following in pockets of the country, but he has no chance in another presidential run…

He has a track record of wacky statements going back 30 years, and bizarre and racist associations… It’s tragic that the national hopes of libertarian conservatism are lodged in such an imperfect vessel as Ron Paul…

Ron Paul has some strong and populist views on issues that are unlikely to sweep him into office.

Ron Paul would make a great Republican presidential candidate…if he was running in 1924. Come to think of it, he does have that dry Calvin Coolidge routine down pat.

 

In the next year or so we’ll witness the following adjectives being attached to Ron Paul over and over, every day, and a hundred or more times a day: Not Viable, Fringe, Marginal, Eccentric, Nutty, Quack, Old, Ugly, Racist, Extremist, Radical, Sexist…

There are certain qualities that go completely against the opinion-shapers’ viability propaganda rules. Let’s list a few;

Consistency

Consistency is a major no-no when it comes to candidate viability as determined by the establishment and its media. A flip-flopping and contradictory statement-action record is viewed as a Must; it is considered a necessary characteristic of a good politician. Obama’s inconsistency is viewed and presented as a sign of him being a savvy politician. As a senator he supports NSA illegal wiretapping and protects the participating businesses, then he says he will stand against it and stop it as a president, and then, as president he continues and expands it. There you have it: a masterful politician. Now, Ron Paul has been exhibiting the opposite, and that is a problem; that makes him not politician-like and a fringe. How could he be so courageous (Radical) as to stand against the PATRIOT ACT and other similar police state practices when doing so was so politically unpopular! And, remain that way?! That is just craziness! Now apply that to the same consistent positions on NSA illegal wiretapping, FBI National Security Letters …How so boring, thus not viable!

War & The Military Industrial Complex

Let’s admit it: if you are not indebted to the Military Industrial Complex, thus, not committed to war, interventionism and imperialistic expansion, you are simply crazy, unrealistic, and simply not presidential material. Those drones, the bombs, the F-16s, tanks and armor cannot sit on shelves as un-liquidated inventory surplus, or even worse, unmade. That’s the position of the Military Industrial Complex and its tentacles and advocates in the US media. Now, you get a man who has consistently opposed wars, throughout his political career, who has been known as Anti War throughout his life, a man who calls war a racket, and you have a man considered not viable. To not make it sound what it is, anti-war, since that has some positive connotations, they’ll simply make him out to be a nutcase.

Powerful Foreign Lobby Influence-Israel

An absolute commitment to US interests and respect for all human life regardless of ethnicity or race is not tolerated if it gets in the way of certain powerful nation’s interests and lobby, and this applies mainly to Israel. No viable candidate in his or her right mind would criticize or speak against the interests of Israel that are in conflict with American’s interests. This is considered one of the most important 10 commandments of political viability, and those who dare to challenge it are stamped as Anti-Semitic Radicals. Ron Paul has dared, and dared this viability commandment consistently; in words and in actions, and that my friend is another sacred no-no no establishment candidate may cross.  

Constitutionality, Small Government & True Americanism

Today, our founding fathers, our first few presidents, would be considered absolutely Not Viable. Think about it, how could the men who said and did everything in their power to restrain government’s powers, advocated and fought for small government, and warned against the danger of big government and government becoming the domestic enemy of our Constitution, be considered viable by the military industrial complex, financial institution-federal reserve, powerful foreign lobbies, and of course, the government itself?! The same people, these same opinion shapers, who call Ron Paul a radical anarchist, would have used those same exact adjectives against the architects of our Constitution, and declared them all non-viable.

I am not going to try to make too many points, and I am not sitting here advocating and campaigning. You can switch the name to Kucinich or Nader, and see similar adjectives and labeling come pouring. Too short, too ugly, too strict, too naïve, way too radical, not politician enough, crazy, nutcase, eccentric, anal, ugly, old, uncharismatic…Instead, let’s flip this trend, and list what goes into a ‘viable’ candidate’s anatomy as far as the establishment, the same establishment that has gotten us into perpetual wars, illegal domestic spying practices, trillions in deficit and a tanking economy… is concerned.

I’ll start the list and have you add your items in the comments section:

Inconsistent & Convenient Flip Flopper

A Good Actor & a Great Pathological Liar (Think ‘Change, Change, Change’;-)

Indebted to the Military Industrial Complex

Committed to Perpetual Wars & Imperialistic Foreign Policy Practices

A Major Advocate of Big Government

Approved & Supported by the Israel Lobby

Polished & Groomed by the Political Marketing Industry

Disregard for the Constitution and or Savvy in Bypassing the Constitution

Trusted & Counted On by Financial Conglomerates & the Secret Federal Reserve 

There. You now have my initial list of US Political Market’s Viability Criteria. Please treat it as a starter, and add yours.

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Comments

  1. avatar jschoneboom says:

    It’s a good list. I think you’d have to say “A Major Advocate of Big Government While Pretending To Be A Major Advocate of Small Government” to be extra accurate. In the UK they’re considering a new method of voting called the Alternative Vote where you don’t just pick one candidate, you rank them. Then if nobody gets 50% of the vote, the “second choices” start to count and get added on until somebody gets at least 50%. I think it makes good sense, mainly because you can vote for your “fringe” candidate as choice #1 without worrying so much about “throwing your vote away.” In the US, if anybody ran who was a true alternative to the system as exemplified by your list of requirements, well, first of all, they’d never get any coverage except that which marginalized and “freakified” him or her, and secondly, if they got a following, they’d probably be shot.

    Which is not to argue against the value of trying.

  2. “A Major Advocate of Big Government While Pretending To Be A Major Advocate of Small Government” : Agreed; goes in the list:-)

  3. Hi Sibel, thanks for this article! I’ve always wanted Ralph Nader for President, Dennis Kucinich for Vice President and Ron Paul for Secretary of State. All three of them are against the Patriot act, foriegn wars and the
    Military Industrial complex, the Federal Reserve and bowing their heads in servitude to the Israel Lobby.

  4. Indebted to the Medical-Pharmaceutical-Food Industry Complex

  5. @Dennis: Right; how about ‘Mega Corporations’ category to cover the top tier? Oil-MIC-Pharm, etc.

    @ Fitz: I’d reshuffle and make Paul: President, Nader Vice president and another high position for Kucinich; like them all, but I’ve been following Dr. Paul, his every move,every word, so I’m comfortable and confident with him as my number one choice.

  6. Sibel,

    I used to accept the “lesser of two evils” argument. I supported and voted for Obama, I admit it. You are right. I hereby officially state that my vote was worse than wasted, it supported and helped to perpetuate a corrupt system. No more of this left-right Republican-Democratic illusory duality for me. I will not vote for either a Republican or a Democrat again. That means that I will not vote for Ron Paul if he runs as a Republican, but I would vote for him if he ran as an independent, together with Ralph Nader or Jesse Ventura or some other honest candidate.

  7. avatar ZicaTanka says:

    If any of those three choices has a campaign in 2012, why not have Jamiol come up with a “Boiling Frogs Approved” graphic and offer it to them to use in their campaigns?

    I’d add “blackmailed or compromised” to your list of “viable” candidates.

  8. avatar Bill Bergman says:

    By far and away, the most important thing that matters, and it isn’t on your list, so you asked, is –

    Big, Beautiful, Teeth

  9. i wake in nightmare. the choices stark lit. limited in freedom[control]. elections?another royal wedding.the earth a deja vu centrifuge, a cosmic collider, spinning our imagination to the wall of real politik now to be pounded in Bradley Manning torture technique 24/7 incandescence, a loop tape of same[SAMO]over-produced faces, microphone always on hard sell[fun][hope] facts steadily degrading.
    the bases already built[neocon]
    The prisons underground.
    the money gone[trickle up]

    to have got nowhere so suddenly…….

  10. @Tonywicher: …and I respect that.

    @Zica: ” blackmailed & Compromised” Very good point. Clean and spotless record: a major ‘no-no’ for the establishment. Ron Paul’s record drives them crazy. It was so pathetic when they went after him with that donation from a Nevada brothel owner(s). Good or bad, I consider that business a straight forward one. Now compare that to Obama’s GoldmanSach, and those given to ‘viable’ candidates by criminal entities such as Blackwater…I mean, truly pathetic, in desparation, when faced with a ‘Clean’ candidate. Did you know: Ron Paul has even refused junket trips= no foreign influence when it comes to this congressman. How many representatives do we know with that level of integrity? Think about all the wining-dining and gifts given to US rep.s by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey… Check out Dennis Hastert. It is one thing to maintain that level of integrity as a freshman congressman, let’s say for one or two terms…It is another when you maintain it for decades!! I call that: consistency in integrity:-)

  11. @Bill: you mean the GQ man of the year?!;-) Maybe they’ll persuade Mel Gibson to run…

    @remo: don’t stop, keep going:-)

  12. ‘)

  13. avatar ZicaTanka says:

    I would say that Nader is the smartest cookie in the jar and has done the most for the average American and has a similar spotless record and has even burned those that tried to compromise him and would offer the swiftest justice and…

    But it’s kind of beside the point of this conversation – for which you used some great examples. But, next time, at least put his face in the photo montage ;)

  14. avatar pimpfresh says:

    I used to run the libertarian group at UGA and spent a lot of time trying to understand this issue. I found that the biggest unifying factor with voters was not support for a particular “viable” candidate, but hatred for the other “viable” candidate. Even independents who understand and lament the “lesser of two evils” argument tend to feel right at home when in the presence of their reluctantly chosen team. Sure, they don’t agree with everything their team says or does, but they do completely agree that they hate the other side, and that’s comforting (it’s this type of rhetoric partisans use to rally up support in absence of consistent principles to stand on).

    Eric Hoffer wrote about this phenomenon extensively in his book “The True Believer.”

    I think it’s in our best interests to understand this behavior in order to counter it with compassion and truth rather than disengaging completely. And we should also realize there is no one right way to battle this problem. In 2008, mainstreamers criticized Ron Paul for being too extreme while purists criticized him for running as a Republican. But guess what…..he started a movement and got the message of liberty out to millions that never would have heard it otherwise. He was considered a crackpot by the mainstream then….now he’s an authority on important issues like the federal reserve and the military industrial complex.

    Supporting the false “left-right,” “lesser-of-two-evils” paradigm does nothing. THAT is wasting your vote. It’s essentially giving up. But getting out there and SUPPORTING candidates and issues instead of voting against people IS a successful strategy, contrary to the institutionalized pessimism we’ve learned. Liberty is not a hot button election cycle political issue. It should be promoted and defended at all times, from all possible angles, and with all means available.

  15. @pimpfresh: Well put, and I’m in full agreement. I’ll second this: “Supporting the false “left-right,” “lesser-of-two-evils” paradigm does nothing. THAT is wasting your vote.”

  16. avatar PithHelmut says:

    It always amazes how easily many of our ills can be cured. Imagine a situation that is desirable and achievable: public campaign funding (no more paid lobbyists bribing our representatives), equal airtime for all candidates, candidate appearances on debates, questioning by the public and experts. Not a 100% cure as nothing is, but the incentives would be aligned in a way that motivates leaders to work for the people. The corporations have almost wrenched all the power but there’s one way left for people to vote: with their wallets. Both parties are beholden to corporations and only the very few will not toe the donor line. Our financial and political system needs restructuring or we risk its collapse. We must take back control and that will require the majority to take action. Not war-like action but simply not supporting businesses that donate to political parties and demanding their candidates or representative bring public campaign financing into being. All candidates should submit a plan on their policies, how they will implement their intentions and who it will benefit or who adversely affected. Projections must be stated and the assumptions they are based on. And for the piece de resistance: candidates/representatives must state the penalty they would pay for not adhering to their statements. Being voted out is not penalty enough.

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