NPR posted a story called “Feel like you don’t fit in either political party? Here’s why
.” Of course I knew why. Neither party supports anything remotely close to my views on government budgets, climate,
environment, taxation, militarism, healthcare, retirement, housing, education, transportation, or any other significant
But NPR’s story was about a Pew poll
that asked 16 questions (some of them with follow ups depending on the answer) that hardly touched on most serious
topics, and many of which I could not answer with any of the available choices. Largely, the poll seemed to measure
sadism and cultural backwardness. Who hates immigrants? Who hates transgendered people? Who wants a theocracy?
Think I’m joking? This poll is not like the recent one
along the same lines in the New York Times that predictably asked about some substantive things but pretended foreign policy didn’t exist. This one touches even
on militarism, just in too dumb a way to gauge anything useful. Here are all of the questions asked:
No. I would rather have a government of about the current size but move all the money out of militarism and prisons and
highways and fossil fuel subsidies and put that money into radically increasing useful spending on human and
environmental needs. But that’s not a choice, so I have to lie and compromise and fit in starting from question 1 if I
even want to see what question 2 is. The universal pretense that human needs cost money and wars are free, the refusal
of any corporate media outlet to ask what KIND of government rather than what SIZE is, as used here, an example of
push-polling. This poll is intended to make you believe things as much as to discover what you believe.
I’m not a nation. I’m a human being. Nations don’t have essences, whatever those are. And, if the United States did,
then its “essence” would clearly be a combination of welcoming, accepting, resenting, hating, and despising immigrants
and refugees. I don’t want any identity as a nation. I want an identity as a person, a community, a species. I have to
pick the first choice because I want the U.S. government to open U.S. borders and stop facilitating coups and arming
tyrants and imposing brutal sanctions on people elsewhere. But how do I say any of that to the survey geniuses finely
slicing and dicing me into an “outsider leftist” or a “progressive leftist”?
Who are they paid by? Are these Saudi-funded hacks at corporate stink tanks or independent tenured professors at some
last remaining uncorrupted institution somewhere? Doesn’t it matter? How can one generalize?
I think it’s actual people who’ve been harmed, not a “nation,” but question 4 is one I can answer with the second
Hard not to pick the first choice, but what is it that Pew is proposing be done? Well, there’s a follow-up:
I strongly disagree with both of those. Completely rebuild most institutions and rewrite most laws? Don’t rebuild or
rewrite anything? Well, at least they said “Which comes closer . . . ?”
Which corporations? The monopolies or the tiny little family businesses?
Now, here’s one I can answer: not at all. But WTF? No, seriously, WTF? What public policy does a candidate advocate, and
I vote for, that permits or prohibits the speaking of languages? What is being floated here in the way of fascistic
OK, well that was easy, but utterly meaningless. Different people despise these parties for completely different
Am I a fascist pig? Why, no, but thank you for asking, and framing it all within a total acceptance of nationalism and
dumb, vague overgeneralization.
I’d have to say minor and minor, although the polls asking about this shit seem to approach something more major. What
the hell does this have to do with whether the United States should join the rest of the wealthy world in providing
education and healthcare and retirement, whether it should try to preserve a habitable ecosystem, whether it should
support the rule of law in global affairs?
Easy but meaningless.
I don’t object to the are-you-a-racist questions, if there were, in this poll, also some other questions on government
policies. Because there aren’t, this just turns politics into divisive cultural disputes.
How could the acceptance of anyone not be very good for a society, unless we’re a bunch of Nazis?
Where’s the choice to abolish the prisons?
I wonder whether the U.S. Bill of Rights is included in those “values and beliefs.”
Oh for fuck’s sake. It is not acceptable for anybody to build weapons and bases and threaten wars. We have climate and
nuclear catastrophes starting at us. Why are we dicking around with who hates China any more than who hates black
people? We don’t have time for this crap!
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of WorldBeyondWar.org
and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org
. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie
. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org
. He hosts Talk Nation Radio
. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson
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