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Vote.com: Influence, and the Internet is Giving Power Back to the People Paperback – September 16, 2000

2.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Vote.com will undoubtedly make some readers wonder what the heck Bill Clinton ever saw in Dick Morris, the political consultant who was a driving force in the president's "triangulation" towards a more conservative political agenda. At the heart of the book is a bold pronouncement: people are going to start voting on the Internet, Morris declares, and the powers that be are going to have to listen. But Morris's understanding of the Internet is so muddled, and his representation of "voting" so misleading, that the book is difficult to take seriously.

Let's take, for example, his claim that the Internet is eliminating intermediaries. Yes, the Net has made it possible for consumers to do some purchasing directly. But when Morris asserts that "we are increasingly buying our clothing, food, pharmaceuticals, books, compact discs... without ever setting foot in a store," he's only half right. It's true that you're not physically traveling to a store to make these purchases, but online retailers do not always cut out the middle man--they're just different kinds of stores.

Morris's book ignores economic reality in many other key ways. He believes, for example, that "the Internet will do for journalism what free agency has done for baseball players," by which he apparently means that journalists will become rich and powerful and able to set their own agendas. The reasoning is flawed: even with free agency, ballplayers depend upon team owners to hire them to practice their craft, and the salaries are widely divergent. Journalists who try to become one-man online enterprises will find that the success of Matt Drudge is not necessarily a harbinger of the future. (For that matter, Drudge's only real financial success came when he allied himself with big-media conglomerates--and his moment in the sun seems to have vanished along with the clamor for Bill Clinton's impeachment.) Morris similarly believes that all news outlets will become equal online: "Users will find their way to any site to read a story that strikes their interest. The brand name will count for little." While his belief in the willingness of online users to dig relentlessly for information is admirable, it's just as likely that corporate agreements between traditional media outlets and portals like Netscape, AOL, and Yahoo! will ensure that most people see a version of online news that's primarily a "new and improved" version of the same old product. And let's not forget that huge sectors of the populace aren't even on the Internet yet.

There's plenty about Vote.com that's laughable, like Morris's repeated invocation of "the X Generation," but the biggest joke of all may be the very notion of "Internet voting." Boiled down to its essence, the concept is nothing more than self-selecting opinion polls. Expressing one's opinion isn't necessarily the same thing as voting, and the results so far have been mixed. (Remember when a Howard Stern sidekick became the choice of the masses for People's Sexiest Man Alive?) Yet Morris gazes into the future of "direct democracy" with starry eyes: "What small size and intimate geography permitted ancient Athens to accomplish, the Internet will let America and the world accomplish." (Perhaps somebody should point out to Morris that ancient Greece was only a democratic paradise if you were lucky enough to be a citizen; women, slaves, and the working classes didn't have it as well off.) There's also a bunch of material in Vote.com about how Bill Clinton's "unimpeachment" represents the death knell of old media power, which Morris attempts to piggyback onto his proclaimed rise of new Internet power. His political analysis in those chapters is sharper, but it doesn't do much to rescue the book from its most fundamental flaws. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.


Morris is right on his broadest point: that the Internet will clearly change politics. A perfect case study just occurred: the Internet helped John McCain's insurgent candidacy for the Republican nomination reap a huge windfall in campaign contributions after his New Hampshire primary win.

Morris is also persuasive when he offers his theories on how President Clinton survived what the author calls the "unimpeachment." By the time of the Lewinsky scandal, he contends, the news media had hammered the president in so many "scandals" that they had simply lost credibility with the public. At the same time, the partisan combat in Washington had become so unremitting that "Americans had a hard time seeing the unimpeachment as anything other than the next step in the inexorable increase in the venom and intensity of party warfare in our nation's capital." -- New York Times Book Review, February 27, 2000 --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Renaissance Books; 1st edition (September 16, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580631630
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580631631
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.6 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,973,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Basically what Dick Morris and Matt Drudge have both realized, is that as the cost of communication drops to zero, the political and media institutions that have been based on restricted access to information and power, will be drastically re-formed. Not the sham 'campaign reform' which has been the successful creation of an incumbancy entitlement, but rather the true reformation of participatory democracy. There will be excesses and adjustments. The process is in its infancy, but Morris has seen the trend for what it is. Those who don't like Dick Morris should still recognize him for what he is, the most brilliant mind in politics who is willing to speak his mind. (There may be more brilliant individuals, but they don't tell us what they are really thinking.) If you don't read this book, some of these changes may take you by surprise. If you want to help shape the political future, please read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
In Vote.com Dick Morris would have us believe that our form of government will soon be transformed by direct access to information sources not beholden to big-money interests and their lobbyists, by direct participation of the public in voting on every issue of the day (opinion polls), and that the elected officials will be forced to listen.
This sounds great unless one actually looks at the situation with one's own eyes. Unfortunately, like the internet, Vote.com is a mile wide and an inch deep. It is basically a long winded advertisement for Dick's website of the same name. If one troubles themselves to actually look at what Morris is talking about, his vision and reality scarcely meet. Most of the news information on the internet is controlled by those same corporate entities that control the print and broadcast media. If Morris is right, and Matt Drudge and his ilk are the answer, one is forced to wonder what the question is. An information system based on what any crackpot that can put together a website cares to say? Thanks, but no thanks.
More damaging is to compare the Vote.com website results with polls conducted by Gallop and other established sources, or with the voting in the last election. The polls on the Vote.com website routinely reflect a very substantially more conservative pattern than the general population polls and actual election results do. All the Vote.com website has done is to quantify the demographics of the the people that frequent that site, as distinct from the general population.
The results of the polls reflect the attitudes of a demographic that is more significantly more affluent than the mean, and more heavily caucasian as well. Yet another effort to exclude the have nots from the process?
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By jim melki on January 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is the worst book I have read in a long time. The book is extremely disjointed. Some chapters were simply added just to increase the size of the book. The book is a poor attempt by the author to advertise his web site Vote.com. I found few ideas to be interesting, however, they were just that, ideas that took up no more than few lines. Do not waist your money on this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Vote.com is ostentatiously a book about how the emergence of the Internet will change the political process. It seems that in referring to "Internet voting" Morris has conflated two ideas: informing and campaigning, and actual polling and voting. As to the former, it is undeniable that the Internet potentially has a major role to play in breaking the elite media stranglehold. Finally having uncensored access to right-wing viewpoints is, if you will, a breath of 'fresh air'.

The second point is a little stickier. Touting the power of Web polling sites (such as the one run by Morris himself, mentioned several times), it's not obvious why politicians should pay them particular attention compared to more traditional methods, particularly given that Web polls are notoriously unreliable, self-selecting, and open to abuse. As to actual voting on the Net, glossing over the serious inherent security and privacy issues, it's unclear why the act of voting for a presidential candidate through a Web site would do much to change politics-- except to lower the barrier to electoral participation. But if we don't even trust someone to make the effort to cast his ballot on Election Day, can we trust him to take the trouble to inform himself?

Morris argues that as the Internet has cut out the middleman from stock transactions and travel bookings it will do the same in politics. But it's unclear who this might be, if not our elected representative, and it's completely unfeasible to take him out of the loop. No citizen has the time or interest to engage himself on every possible issue. The whole point of representative democracy is that we place our trust in a proxy.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book at an airport before a long flight. I'd finished it by the time I had reached my destination 4 hours later.
My biggest issue with the book after the first couple chapters was that it was filled with sweeping generalizations after sweeping generalizations with nothing to back them up. If you want to hear "the internet will revolutionize our lives" and "the internet is revolutionary" over and over and yes, over again, then you might find this book interesting.
After I managed to get over the generalizations, I realized that book is really an advertisement for the vote.com website!
I found very little substance in this book and was extremely disappointed that such an exciting topic could be brought down to such a low point.
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