Sunday, July 11, 2004

This is what passes for democracy

July 11, 2004, 11:35AM

Reviewers of DeLay's ethics got his money

Associated Press

AUSTIN -- Four of the five Republicans investigating an ethics complaint against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay have received campaign contributions from DeLay's political action committee, records show.

Full Story (in GuvWurld News Archive, links to multiple sources)

This story takes place on the cusp of an ongoing ethics truce in Congress:
Congressional watchdog groups have complained bitterly about the ethics cease-fire, saying worthy cases have not received the scrutiny they deserve because of fears of retaliation.

"What's the use of opposition parties if they won't root out corruption in the other party?"asked Gary Ruskin, director of the Congressional Accountability Project.

Ruskin said that the ethics committee has become "a bipartisan group of good ol' boys"looking out for each other, and that private citizens need to play a role in the process.

Attention Private Citizens - Upon careful consideration, we have determined that this does not, in fact, constitute democracy. This form of government is participatory and involves checks and balances. Our democracy in particular came with operating instructions:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We don't invoke the Declaration of Independence lightly or so readily. However, as the No Confidence Movement has demonstrated, the Consent of the Governed is being denied, ignored, and deemed irrelevant. We have specific ideas for "what would be better?" and a plan to build consensus support.

It starts with a single statement passed by a City Council in Anytown, USA. The statement says there is no BASIS for confidence in the legitimacy of US elections. The line in the sand says we will not allow ourselves to be lied to anymore. Will anyone really say "oh yes you will"?

As a matter of strategy, we have sold ourselves short until now. We must start calling out those who reinforce and perpetuate myths by inhibiting our means of debunking them. Tim in Sacramento put it to me this way: "As the dogsleders say, time to “lead, follow or get out of the way.”"

What comes to mind are the sorts of creative confrontations that Michael Moore selects. Only it works with all people trying to maintain an indefensible position, not just famous people and politicians. Last year I dubbed this the Tilt Strategy:
It is much easier to identify tilt targets than to achieve a tilt. However, this approach does have a proven track record, used most notably by Michael Moore. In "Bowling For Columbine," Moore is accompanied by victims of the Columbine school shootings as they confront K-Mart executives about the continued availability of bullets at K-Mart stores. The scene concludes with a pledge to discontinue the practice. Moore tilted K-Mart. In another memorable example, Moore used his now-defunct TV show "The Awful Truth" to stage a mock funeral in front of the offices of an HMO denying a transplant to one of its patients. Several years later, the man and his second-hand pancreas are alive and well thanks to Moore's creative confrontation. He successfully tilted the HMO, leading them to adopt a specific preferred remedy, a necessary element of any tilt that should answer the question "what would be better?"

We will not allow ourselves to be lied to anymore. Either explain the basis for maintaining confidence in the legitimacy of US elections, or allow us to declare there is NO BASIS for confidence. Lead, follow or get out of the way. Does this line of reasoning need to be explored before or during the next Arcata City Council meeting?



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