Wednesday, April 18, 2007


In passing curiosity, the title of an online poll, Politics & Society, caused me to investigate what kind of questions such a poll could ask, whether I could detect the usually thinly veiled agenda of the pollster. Not only was it obviously out to test the influence of religion, in particular, Christianity, on the political opinions of potential voters, they really opened themselves up at the end with a blank text block under the question, “What do you think of this poll?” With a blinking, winking, beckoning cursor tucked shyly in the upper left corner.

Like I had to be encouraged to outrage against the mechanistic, ever accelerating expedience of experience in Western culture …… so I told ‘em, “If you really want to learn what people think, you need many more choices or fill in the blanks, but like all the expedience of western society, you don't seem to have time to hear alternatives to the variables in your prepared formulas nor the desire for coloring outside your lines to upset the objective in your supposedly subjective polls. Too bad, your loss — and anyone else so weak-minded or afraid of political correctness as rely on polls to have an opinion at all, as if agreement meant righteousness somehow instead of the conformity it is.”

Just now, rereading the last paragraph to get back in the mood of the thing it occurred to me that polls are not out to learn people’s opinions or a true slice of life, they are giving politician’s spin doctors grist for the mill come next election. Polls not only make a simple for/against duality out of extremely complex issues, if they are issues at all, which not only informs candidates of buzzwords for campaign speeches but it sets it in the minds of the poll takers and readers as a simple check off so they don’t have to consider new information. I have fantasized about an “OFFICE OF U.S. CONTROL,” wherein the function is to collect every poll, grind the numbers into two part issue tickets which are then bid on by and split between the two advertising firms hired to do a remake on the personality of the two candidates so they are always on different sides of the allowed questions, like wrestlers being assigned their roles, yet never so heinous that a landslide for the guy in white gives voters the idea the ballot can actually change anything that matters.

As if all that pre-election polling weren’t conditioning enough, polls come to their influential pinnacle election day as their reports of trends sweep up the remaining doubtful, fearful, fence-sitting riffraff whose only political consciousness is to be able to say they picked the winner, like this weeks football game or the American Idol.

I was kinda piddling around on this subject until I caught Noam Chomsky in a speech at MIT on Democracy Now, and his comparison to what voting and public involvement means to the Bolivians next to the majority of US citizens who have never seen a choice that mattered to their lives in their lifetime. I am one of ‘em. Real democracy, as discovered by the indigenous Bolivians frightens the hell out of the US elite who have always disopened it wherever it showed up without their meddling aid.

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