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Unity08 Supporter: Criticism Closes Off Democracy

Come presidential election season, many citizens get so attached to one particular candidate or cause that they lose sight of the bigger picture. That’s the case with someone who calls himself “Joseph” but covers up his or her IP address so as to avoid being genuinely identified.

“Joseph” is a supporter of Unity08, a corporation that is seeking to use its lobbyist insider connections in Washington D.C. to get someone elected President. Unity08 started out describing itself as a grassroots organization, but the longer that it has been in operation, the more Unity08 has shut out real grassroots political activists from having influence within its organization and political process.

“Joseph”, as a supporter and perhaps a staff member of, Unity08, does not take kindly to people criticizing Unity08’s political operations. “Joseph” writes to Irregular Times, complaining about an article asking criticizing the dishonest PR tactics used by Unity08, “I do figure that in the end, attacking Unity08 will end up closing off another avenue of democracy, so that in the next election millions of people will be frustrated with their choices and simply not vote.”

Think about the implications of this attempted defense of Unity08’s tactics. What kind of cockamamie concept of democracy does “Joseph” have that he thinks that democracy can survive only if nobody ever criticizes anybody or anything?

Progressives have another, more traditional, idea about what makes democracy work. Progressives believe that it’s when citizens use their freedom of speech to ask hard questions about people and organizations that seek political power that democracy thrives.

Don’t buy into the warped idea that challenging the politically powerful is a threat to democracy. Ask tough questions. Speak up and point out the problems with the plans promoted by political insiders. In 2008, use your freedom of speech, even to question the progressive presidential candidates. Those candidates and causes that are worth supporting will survive the open examination, and be stronger for it.

15 comments to Unity08 Supporter: Criticism Closes Off Democracy

  • Joseph

    First of all, my comment in context:
    “As for closing off avenues of democracy, I’m not saying the speech itself closes off the avenues, but that discouraging others from participating in any possible way of exercising their ability to vote to determine candidates and choices for the upcoming election is closing off avenues of democracy (i.e. Unity08, since (if it works) it gives people the option of both voting in their party’s primary and in a primary where you arent stuck choosing between a Dem/Rep).

    Sure, if Unity08 doesn’t work and falls apart, then the point is moot. But assuming it actually happens, telling people NOT to vote is telling them not to participate in part of our democracy.”

    Now, if you’re going to attack my viewpoint, please keep it accurate. I have never advocated “Never criticizing anyone or anything”, as if I did that, i’d be a hypocrite since I’m criticizing your post right now.

    Now, first of all, I’m a progressive, and I don’t subscribe to the abritrary view that:
    “Progressives have another, more traditional, idea about what makes democracy work. Progressives believe that it’s when citizens use their freedom of speech to ask hard questions about people and organizations that seek political power that democracy thrives.”
    I agree that freedom of speech DOES make democracy thrive. However, I also believe, which it seems that most of the people arguing with me do not (specific exclusion to Zerwick and to some extent Jim) that to make democracy work you need to actually advocate ACTION that will actually CAUSE CHANGE to fix PROBLEMS THAT EXIST. Having an “open examination” of every candidate and movement, which consists SOLELY of attacking it, isn’t going to make democracy work. It’s doing the same thing that most campaigns do when they run negative ads (which, studies show, simply depress voter turnout) and media outlets do when they show a few negative soundbites and then move on.

    Unity08 (an organization) is SAYING that they advocate having an ONLINE VOTE of Americans (AN ACTION) that will get a third presidential candidate (CAUSE CHANGE) to have an option in the general election that isn’t created by a minority opinion of the country via the Rep/Dem machines and primaries (FIXING PROBLEMS THAT EXIST).

    Now, maybe my view of being progressive is too visionary, because every post i’ve seen here in regard to Unity08 is in the format of:
    *Unity08 is run by lobbyists and PR people(PROBLEM). They send out e-mails like this (EVIDENCE) telling their members to fradulently write to papers. Unity08 isn’t going to help the country (CONCLUSION supported by inference that who its run by makes it a bad idea). That coporation is just as bad as everyone else.*

    Now, maybe i’m wrong, but what ACTION is anyone here ADVOCATING in order to CAUSE CHANGE that will FIX PROBLEMS that exist. This of course leaves out the idea that maybe there aren’t any “problems that exist”. Now yes, the type of post that’s often made here is “informative” but it doesn’t advocate how to fix ANYTHING. It doesn’t say “don’t support Unity 08, support _________”, it’s simply an attack. An attack that will discourage people from voting online to select a candidate, assuming the online voting thing even works.

  • Ralph

    No Joseph,

    Here’s your comment in context:

    “I do figure that in the end, attacking Unity08 will end up closing off another avenue of democracy, so that in the next election millions of people will be frustrated with their choices and simply not vote. The worst that can happen if every single person in America signs up for Unity08 and votes for a candidate to be on the ballot is that then there are 3 (serious) candidates on the ballot and then people vote for the one they like the best out of three instead of two.”

    That’s the entire paragraph in which the comment jclifford quoted appeared. If you’re going to call someone on taking you out of context, try getting it right next time.

    As to your question: “What ACTION is anyone here ADVOCATING in order to CAUSE CHANGE that will FIX PROBLEMS that exist.”

    Critical research into political organizations is an ACTION. Jim has documented many PROBLEMS with Unity 08. When the Unity 08 leadership wouldn’t FIX them, he decided to CAUSE CHANGE by informing the public about aspects of Unity 08 that had not been public before.

    But you know what? It’s starting to look to me like those words you use in ALL CAPS have been MARKET TESTED, and you’re just trying to MAKE SLOGANS out of as many of them at once as you possibly can, because you’re a MARKETING PROFESSIONAL trying to PROMOTE UNITY 08.

  • …now trying to defend Unity08. The idea, “Joseph”, that you can have a democracy without full critical examination, which must include negative as well as positive assessments, is absurd.

    You don’t seem to have thought through the consequences of your ideas. If you really are a progressive, you’re a pretty shallow one.

  • Ralph

    Oh no! Progressives disagreeing with each other! Conservatives don’t do that, how can we ever compete?
    Don’t you see we need “Unity?”

    Actually, though, I think we’ve got a PROGRESSIVE (market-tested PR term) disagreeing with a progressive.

    Sad thing about Unity 08 is that we’ve got a bunch of old dinosaur political operatives and PR hacks trying to drum themselves up some business with an ill advised plan to use the internet in the twenty-first century exactly the same way they used television in the 1960’s and 1970’s: Top-down, control the message, PR tested slogans, all that same old bull that’s made people hate politics.

    There’s a difference this time, and Unity 08 leadership better get a clue. If I were saying this on a television network run by one the Unity 08 leadership’s media frieds, I wouldn’t have been able to say what I just said. But I did, see?

    You can’t cut our mike. You can’t cut to commercial. You don’t have to answer Jim’s questions, but you can’t shut him up the way you did back in the television age, and throwing empty slogans around doesn’t cut it anymore.

  • Joseph

    In Response to Ralph’s 1st Comment:
    Okay, if you look at the ORIGINAL post, you’ll realize that I made a comment explaining what I meant by “Free Speech” well before THIS post was made. By taking one of my early comments without reading the one made immediately afterwards, you’re taking my point out of context and lying to readers by not presenting an accurate perspective of what I said. The progressive O’Reilly?

    Additionally, the reason why I take what Unity08 says with a grain of salt is because of the research Jim’s done. I wonder why those questions haven’t been answered. I want them answered. However, Jim has not actually presented any evidence that Unity08 is corrupt. It’s all speculation based on unanswered questions. As far as I’ve seen, the only thing Unity08’s done that has been biasing is having a pre-determined set of issues to vote on, and there’s no specific person/candidate that seems to benefit. The only action that’s been advocated is asking Unity08 questions. The pointless posts making fun of people for writing letters in support of Unity08 and calling them sheep *ASSUMES* that Unity08 is an illegitimate PR campaign with no substance, which Jim’s “research” has never proven.

    The research itself is not an ACTION that Jim has said he’s advocating that will cause change. It’s simply criticism and leading questions. Getting people to write to Unity08 to find out answers to the questions, flooding news outlets with those questions to ask Unity08 would be advocating action, telling people to ignore Unity08 and voting for Hillary would be advocating actions that could (arguably) be said to cause change/fix problems. The recent posts don’t advocate doing ANYTHING, they just point out how the world sucks and we should all just sit here and bash people until they do something better, without actually saying what “better” is? I think that having us nominate people online to be a 3rd option on the ballot, not picked by extremes in the Dem or Rep party is a good thing. What do you think?

    In response to J. Clifford:
    “The idea, “Joseph”, that you can have a democracy without full critical examination, which must include negative as well as positive assessments, is absurd.”
    I agree with you 100%. I have not seen any positive assessments here, not even a “I think Unity08’s a good idea, if they would answer my questions”. I’m not against criticism, i’m against the completely one sided negative and positive assessments espoused here and in the main stream media. Posts bashing people for supporting Unity08 are just the other side of the same coin from the rosy perceptions in the media.

    Response to Ralph’s 2nd Comment:
    Maybe you’re right and Unity08 is “a bunch of old dinosaur political operatives and PR hacks trying to drum themselves up some business with an ill advised plan to use the internet in the twenty-first century exactly the same way they used television in the 1960’s and 1970’s: Top-down, control the message, PR tested slogans, all that same old bull that’s made people hate politics.”

    I however, tend to think you’re wrong, for the simple reason that only a total *IDIOT* would believe that they could control the internet and the people who use the internet. TV had a limited number of channels, the internet is almost infinite. The reason why I like Unity08 is because the use of the internet almost forces it to be legitimate. You can have as many PR tested slogans as you want, but if Unity08 does turn out to be a load of crap, then a quick google search will reveal it, internet users won’t buy it, nor will the vast array of bloggers that will see the problem and talk about it so much that the world will know about it and the popular media will have to report it.

    …look, as a progressive, I want to see progress in fixing up our country and our world. I’m sick of the media controlling the discussion of political candidates and issues in our country. I’m sick of being surrounded by people wanting to have conversations about what they are told to think about by the media (Michael Vick’s dogfighting case, Paris Hilton, etc), when there are a multitude of other problems that are vastly more important (the way politicians buy office in our political system, health care, poverty both here and abroad, etc). I thought Unity08 was the solution for that control, and at the very least was the solution for either buying of political office or for the control of the message that people talk about, since it was on the internet. I read Jim’s posts, and I realize maybe it’s part of the same old system. But then again, maybe it’s not. And although I enjoy being informed, I would much rather someone suggest to me what we SHOULD do in order to fix the problems that i’m sick of, instead of being told over and over again how sucky the world is. Progressives, including myself, want PROGRESS. What progress is being advocated by these posts?

  • Jim

    Joseph, you’re the one who used the word “corrupt.” I don’t call Unity08 “corrupt.” I never referred to Unity08 as an “illegitimate PR campaign with no substance.” YOU did. Why don’t YOU be more careful with YOUR words?

    And I’ve already answered your question about “Golly, What Should We DO?” in another thread, so you can’t keep on saying nobody answers your question. You perhaps didn’t get the answer you like, but that’s life, sugah.

  • Junga

    I’ll call Unity08 corrupt, though.

    Unity08 is corrupt!

  • Ralph

    “Only a total *IDIOT* would believe that they could control the internet and the people who use the internet.”

    Yep, only a total idiot. Your words, not mine.

    And by the way, the posts weren’t making fun of people for “writing” letters in support of Unity 08.

    They were making fun of people for lying by claiming someone else’s words as their own.

    Oh yeah, Unity 08 wants to give you a voice in politics all right–just as long as your voice is exactly the same as their voice.

    Guess that’s how you empower the stupid little proles, by making them plagiarizers, sock puppets, and sheep!

    Some things deserve to be made fun of, even to the point that it’s a civic virtue to ridicule them, and that nasty elitist attitude of yours toward the “people like us” is one of them!

    Keep making fun of them, Jim. You’re making America a better place by doing it.

  • Joseph

    Okay, if I state that (Note: None of the following is accurate, as far as I know):

    “1. This site is run by a bunch of people who have supported democratic candidates in the past.
    2. The frequent writers on this site have donated money to democratic candidates.
    3. The writers on this site have received personal favors and benefits within their jobs and personal lives from democratic candidates”

    At no point above did I say that this site is a illegitimate cover for the DNC, nor have I stated that this is a biased source of information that is really just supporting the old system of bought and paid for candidates that claim to want to help the nation, but once elected do nothing.

    Yet, it was implied. I have no need to be more careful with my words. My post above was pointing out the implication that has been made through many posts that Unity08 is corrupt and that the people who support it are being insulted/being made fun of.

    If I remember correctly, and if i’m wrong, please refer me to the correct thread, but didn’t you say what we should do is “be informed/critical” or something along those lines. If i’m wrong, which I may be (cause I can’t find the thread/comment), let me know where it is. But if that’s your argument as to what we should do, please tell me how “being informed” is going to have the nation make progress on ANY notable issues when the people who are elected aren’t going to care, since they got elected not due to informed people, but due to corporations which bought them their office.

    And about the whole “making people sheep”…what if an extremely informed, lazy person would rather just copy and paste a letter that expresses exactly what they want instead of writing it themselves? Doesn’t make em sheep or sock puppets. At worst it makes em plagiarizers (if you believe it qualifies if you are given permission/asked to use a form letter), which isn’t “fraud” or “illegal” in any case.

  • Ralph

    First of all, if extremely informed lazy people sign their name to someone else’s letter, yes it DOES make them sheep and sock puppets, and liars to boot. Sounds like you don’t even know what lying is anymore–time to take a serious break from that PR job and get your head screwed on straight.

    Second of all, being a PR professional, you know very well that having an informed public would make a world of difference on all kinds of issues in a very real and practical way. That’s why corporations, lobbyists, and politicians spend billions of dollars every year for hacks like you to crank out intentionally deceptive, confusing, nonsensical garbage–just to make sure that never happens.

    It’s your bread and butter.

  • Jim

    Oh, you’re not saying it’s true, you’re just saying it? Riiiiiiiiiight. Classic.

    1. Number 1 is true, as far as it goes. But we have also supported non-Democrats and third parties.

    2. Number 2 is true, as far as it goes. But we have also donated money to non-Democratic candidates, and to candidates who are running against Democrats. Most recently, I’ve donated money to the congressional campaign of Alan Augustson, who is running with the Green Party against Rahm Emanuel. Why on earth, if I am a DNC shill, would I donate money to someone running against the one man in the House of Representatives who is most strongly tasked with getting Democrats elected?

    3. Number 3 is not true. The only personal favor I’ve ever received from any politician has been from Republican congresswoman Deborah Pryce, whose district I am in and whose staff helped me get a passport on time earlier this year. You can search for Deborah Pryce’s name here on Irregular Times, and you’ll see we’ve pulled no punches on her. I am aware of absolutely no personal favors done by Democratic candidates for any member of the Irregular Times writing group.

    Who are you? No, really. Who are you?

    As you can see, “Joseph,” I don’t have a thing to hide. What do you have to hide?

  • R.B.

    OK, referring to Joseph as “Joseph” is just stupid – so what if his IP is masked? It’s like you’re demanding to see his papers. People have all kinds of reasons to not want their IP recorded – like not wanting their employer associated with their political opinions. Beyond that there’s not that much you can tell about a person’s IP beyond the ISP they use – it’s not like knowing the person was using Verizon is that huge a deal. And if Joseph was using AOL or another dial-up, you cant tell much about them at all. Criticizing Joseph’s opinions is one thing, but calling him out as an employee of Unity08 because he happens to support them is lame.

  • Anonymous

    Wouldn’t it be really, really interesting if Joseph’s IP was the same as someone known to work for Unity08?

    I think it’s not so much the idea of Joseph’s IP being masked. It’s a combination of the masked IP with what he is saying.

    It seems like Joseph doesn’t want to take issue with any of the facts that were written or even express curiosity about the details. He just wants Irregular Times to stop writing about the facts.

    Now who would have a vested interest in trying to suppress the facts about Unity08?

  • Joseph

    It doesn’t make them sheep, sock-puppets, or liars if they believe what they are copy and pasting. Just because you agree with someone/something, it doesn’t mean you’re mindless. And you lie if you state something untrue. Copy and pasting a letter you believe to be true and that you agree with is not lying to yourself or anyone else. And I’m not a PR Professional, although I’m flattered you think so. I might look into a career change.

    I honestly had no idea that the list was true or not. I prefaced it with the idea that none of it was accurate as far as I knew. It was simply an attempt to show an example of how I can state a lot of things that imply something without actually “saying” what was implied. Which is exactly what was going on above.

    I don’t work for Unity08, nor have I failed to be skeptical of them. I don’t want writing to stop about “the facts” (as i’ve stated a multitude of times), I just want there to be a sincere effort to actually advocate something, be it getting the questions answered or presenting an alternative that MAY present a good option for election in 2008.

    As for the question: “Now who would have a vested interest in trying to suppress the facts about Unity08?” the answer is (assuming that one-sided negative assessments/critcism=”the facts”) anyone who would like to see their stated goals succeed. Assuming that “the facts” are reality, then everyone wants to know them. But I see no progress being made in having questions answered through posts making fun of Unity08 supporters. It just seems childish. An actual constant campaign to get the questions answered. Now THAT would be progress to getting “the facts”.

  • Iroquois

    I used to talk about plagiarism as part of a class I once taught. There is no problem with using someone else’s ideas, or even their exact words, as long as there is attribution of sources. The simple way to avoid plagiarism is with a footnote, an endnote, an in-line citation, or a simple statement of “so-an-so says this” (then put so-and-so in your bibliography). All the Unity08 letter writers would have to do to avoid lying is say “the Unity 08 website states, blah, blah, blah”. Of course if they did that, instead of pretending it was their own original idea, the papers wouldn’t print it. Unity08 knows that very well, hence the instructions for deception.

    By the way, I don’t have a problem with using talking points as part of a letter writing campaign, or with letter writing campaigns in general. The talking points serve to educate, and the writer generally has to pick out the one or two they find most compelling for them (or think of one they like better) and write their own viewpoint. The politician’s office that receives these letters or phone calls all at once probably recognizes they are part of an organized campaign, even if the wording on all of them is different. The intern or aide probably just makes a count of how many are for or against.

    You don’t state, Joseph, what you think has been implied about Unity08, which specific assessments you think are negative/criticisms, or what you think might not be accurate.

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