Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Non-Voters see themselves as outsiders

By BJ Bjornson

About a month ago, I got into a rant against some fool suggesting that people were just too stupid to be trusted to vote for their leaders, and in particular his contention that those who didn�t vote were even more incompetent and out of touch with reality than those who did. I didn�t have much in the way of data to refute that, but then neither did he in making the assertion. Now however, some proof that those who don�t vote have rational reasons for doing so.

The study by Samara, a research organization that encourages engagement with Canadian democracy, found non-voters are not apathetic, uninterested or ignorant of the political system. Rather, they view themselves as outsiders with no voice or ownership stake in a system that serves the interests of others.

. . .

The responses of the disengaged were "intriguing and remarkably consistent," the study says, transcending social or economic differences. For them, politics is a source of frustration and disappointment, attitudes gained through their interactions with political institutions.

"Almost without fail, the disengaged we spoke to described themselves as political outsiders," the study says. "On the basis of their experiences, they described government, bureaucrats, politicians and the media as working for someone else and, therefore, irrelevant to their needs."

Hard to argue with that, and I�m not particularly sure of any solutions, but it does show that there is a large and untapped group of voters available for anyone who finds a way to reach them.


  1. A recent study at Fairleigh Dickinson University indicates that Fox News even has a detrimental impact on what viewers actually know (or don't).
    ...Sunday morning news shows do the most to help people learn about current events, while some outlets, especially Fox News, lead people to be even less informed than those who say they don�t watch any news at all.
    Among other topics, New Jerseyans were asked about the outcome of the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East this past year. While 53% of New Jerseyans know that Egyptians were successful in overthrowing the government of Hosni Mubarak, 21% say that the uprisings were unsuccessful, and 26% admit they don�t know. Also, 48% know that the Syrian uprising has thus far been unsuccessful, while 36% say they don�t know, and 16% say the Syrians have already toppled their government.
    But the real finding is that the results depend on what media sources people turn to for their news. For example, people who watch Fox News, the most popular of the 24-hour cable news networks, are 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government than those who watch no news at all (after controlling for other news sources, partisanship, education and other demographic factors). Fox News watchers
    are also 6-points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government than those who watch no news.
    "Because of the controls for partisanship, we know these results are not just driven by Republicans or other groups being more likely to watch Fox News," said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and an analyst for the Public Mind Poll. "Rather, the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don�t watch any news at

    This fits perfectly with the notion that electoral politics is nothing more than just another entertainment category on the cable menu. Team sports, poker, golf, Animal Cops, Celebrity Gossip, electoral politics...and C-SPAN...how dull can it get? It's like talk radio with video.
    Hey! The Donald may be on to something. Even the president famously said he was waiting to see who would be the last one voted off the island.

  2. I've voted since I was 17, I was in the RCN [the real one before everything was amalgamated into the Forces] & all our military could/can vote no matter what age [I voted against Dief]. I still vote in federal, provincial/territorial & municipal elections no matter what the weather. But I understand why people, given our first-past-the-post systems, think they are outsiders and thus what's the use. For me I think it is just ingrained that I do it. Likely something from my background & growing up in a politically divided family - some staunch Liberal supporters others CCF/NDP & active unionists. My children don't have the same attitude I have. They feel like outsiders though their fields of post-graduate study are in international affairs, institutional structures & effects etc.. A bit confusing to me but some are helpful to bring me down from a Skype rant to them in a foreign country or over Christmas if they make it home.
    Really glad you highlighted Samara BJ. I think this NGO does super work. Their interviews of our ex-MPs and analysis of what they heard in those are very interesting. Their home site is here: http://www.samaracanada.com/ .
    The Agenda, the TVO program that discusses real issue in our politics [with a focus on Ontario of course] has Samara people on regularly to discuss the real nitty-gritty about political life which given we seem to like democracy, aka communal decision making, must be I think an important factor in our society. Lots of others have been writing and thinking about why some of us citizens don't vote [Gerry Stoker in the UK say ] - idiots that make silly comments on non-voters should be ignored. Voting to me is simply me choosing who I want to have my portion of my groups communal decision making authority. But I also agree with Edmund Burke that once I've given it, in our first-past-the-post-system I've given up my voice to another's considerations.

  3. @John - that study never ceases to amaze me. It shows the power of misinformation, though, enough so that you're better informed when you don't listen to it. Little wonder that the right increasingly lives in its own alternate reality.
    @geoff - No need to thank me for highlighting Samara, the article mentioned them and I happened to copy that part, but thank you for the link. What they're doing looks most interesting.
    I do tend to vote as much as possible myself as well, though it's often with one hand holding my nose. Figure I don't have much cause to complain if I can't even take the fifteen minutes it takes every couple of years or so to mark an X on a slip of paper, and I do so love to complain.