Sunday, November 14, 2004
No Confidence Movement Primer
This primer is meant as a guide to the talking points and strategy of the No Confidence Movement, growing in support of the No Confidence Resolution.
The premise: Currently, there is no BASIS for confidence in the legitimacy of the results reported from U.S. federal elections.
The No Confidence Movement is a peaceful popular revolt in pursuit of comprehensive electoral reform, significant enough to create a BASIS for confidence where none currently exists.
This primer will be an ongoing work in progress. Suggestions welcome, but pardons begged in advance for slow replies.
(Last Update: 3/19/05 3am)
As Soon As Practical:
increase visibility of the resolution, focus on framing of premise above do so via e-mail, message boards, letters to the editor, calls to radio, "equal time" requests on local TV news, lobbying city councils/mayors/county supervisors, and possibly an online petition if properly executed (contact me if you've pulled one off successfully in the past) create at least one meme distribute "Coming Soon" leaflets, customizable and available for free download in the GuvWurld nav bar (OK to save/post elsewhere)
organize neighbors for letter writing/phone calling session speak publicly and on the record at local government meetings get resolution on official agenda and passed unanimously
At some point, representatives from communities that passed resolutions will start coordinating with each other. These discussions will begin to address the changes we'll see after the Tip. The resolution itself currently identifies eight very specific changes necessary, at a minimum, to restore even a BASIS for confidence in the legitimacy of U.S. elections.
the No Confidence message is also about re-establishing, if not first withdrawing, the Consent of the Governed. Ask yourself if this Consent is genuinely being sought at this time. It should no longer seem like a stretch to discuss withdrawing it. as resolutions start passing, the frame becomes "has the Consent of the Governed been withdrawn, yet?" the answer, after the first resolution, is no; after the second it will probably still be no; but after 25 or 50 or 100 No Confidence Resolutions there will come The Tipping Point (ultimately always brought on by a small "last straw")
I can not overstate the importance of understanding that the No Confidence Resolution posted on this site is a TEMPLATE. This needs to fly in town after town and they don't all have to call for exactly the same reforms. The key frames that make the No Confidence Movement work are BASIS and Consent. As I recently learned in Rebecca Solnit's "Hope In The Dark," revolution is not a mere change in leadership but a shift in the balance of power between the people and their government. Of course, if we are not having a say in elections, in influencing changes in leadership, then how could revolution be anything less than restoring the franchise, and how could that not be a shift in the balance of power?
First some general arguments, then more detailed specifics that go point by point with the resolution.
- based on four years of increasing evidence of election fraud, mainstream media said to expect election uncertainty (NYTimes, SFChron).
- now the same media (NYTimes, SFChron) fail to meaningfully investigate while ostracizing bloggers for performing the vital investigations once expected of these newspapers.
- insufficient media coverage manipulates public opinion about the difference between fact and fiction. Examples:
1. the controversial election in 2000 might have played out differently had the citizens of America known then what we know now.
2. many unanswered questions about 9/11 also remain unasked.
3. the US went to war based on a threat known to be fake, but reported to be real.
- while recounts may increase skepticism of the election's outcome, and thus support the No Confidence premise (there is no BASIS for confidence), ultimately they reinforce the bogus frame that this was a bona fide contest to determine the will of the people. Ruthless honesty therefore makes recounts a red herring.
- to accept the results as announced means believing a long list of implausible scenarios (credit TruthIsAll, Democratic Underground).
Resolution Point #1:
Corporations exist first and foremost to deliver profits to their shareholders. This creates an inherent conflict of interest with owning election machines. This is compounded by partisan state election officials. Examples:
- Diebold CEO Wally O'Dell pledged Ohio's electoral votes to George Bush in 2004.
- Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel owns part of ES&S.
- Ken Blackwell, was both Ohio Secretary of State and Bush re-election committee co-chair.
Resolution Point #2:
Despite the climate of distrust and the motive associated with inherent conflicts of interest, most voting machines do not create a verifiable audit trail.
- what is the point of recording a vote if that record won't be a part of the burden of proof of the outcome? We need a permanent record that forever sustains unanimous agreement about the outcome of an election.
- voting machines produce "hard evidence of the machine's output and circumstantial evidence of the voter's input." (credit Lynn Landes)
- The No Confidence Movement is not out to prove who won, only that there is no BASIS for confidence in the legitimacy of the results reported. Another way to say this: we have no REASON to believe what we're told.
With the same data used to arrive at results reported by the media and government, the No Confidence Movement sees anomalies that make it impossible to know what to believe. Examples:
- many New Mexico counties show over 100% turnout.
- machines in Broward County, FL counted backwards.
- Ohio, Florida and other parts of the country reported more votes than voters.
Resolution Point #4:
Though proving a pattern isn't necessary to support the No Confidence Movement, nonetheless there are numbers to consider:
- academic statistical experts review Florida presidential vote data
- explained here in common language as a non-random pattern involving optical scan machines in several states tallying significantly more votes for one candidate than could be expected based on exit polls, voter registrations or even voter turnout
- and here by University of Pennsylvania faculty member Steven F. Freeman, PhD who calculates the enormous probability of fraud indicated by the data
The success of the No Confidence Movement will require a "think global, act local" approach. Your city councilmembers will be more responsive to you than your Senator.
It is also necessary to avoid reinforcing, and indeed to call out, frames that perpetuate the myth of democracy in America. This is part of the philosophy of ruthless honesty (not truthless homily).
The associated caveat calls for dismissing false alternatives. It is easy to see what this means if we look at the comprehensive election reform platform called for in the No Confidence Resolution. Any one of these changes alone own would be nice, but also insufficient. It is when all eight have been implemented that we may finally have a BASIS for confidence, a reason to believe that we are participating in a democracy and governed with our consent by leaders who represent their constituents and the interests of the greater good. If you are an American, this is your birth right. It has been lost in your lifetime and will not be inherited by your children, unless...what will you do to get it back?