Saturday, October 08, 2005

Peaceful Revolution Is The Elephant In The Room

The National Summit To Save Our Elections was held in Portland, OR last weekend, bookended by two meetings devoted to developing a cohesive national strategy for election reform. While I attended both strategy sessions, I am not at liberty to discuss many details. I will say the elephant in the room was called out and a big effort was made to address it. Unfortunately, as objects in rearview mirrors can be, it now seems to me the elephant was falsely identified. The election reform movement is inherently revolutionary and yet that is the biggest of pictures that we most completely ignore.

There are advocates of hand counted paper ballots who are at odds with other election reformers calling for any of a number of verifiable electronic solutions. As important as this is, we can't afford to get hung up on the minutia of these issues. We must focus on the larger picture. In my community, the City Council of Arcata, CA put this rift to rest with the Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR). This document contains an eight point election reform platform, all of which must be enacted to achieve the true end goals of ensuring conclusive election outcomes, creating a basis for confidence in the results reported, and establishing an accountable government that represents We The People with our Consent. Consider just these three platform items:
1) voting processes owned and operated entirely in the public domain, and

3) a voter verified paper ballot for every vote cast and additional uniform standards determined by a non-partisan nationally recognized commission, and

5) counting all votes publicly and locally in the presence of citizen witnesses and credentialed members of the media
Those words were chosen so as not to explicitly demand or deny any of the various narrow grounds on which election reform advocates have been divided. Having been through the process of crafting the VCR, I know that these three reforms alone won't lead to Democracy, but they also won't preclude advocates of paper ballots or otherwise from supporting the advancement of the movement. People on both sides of the debate need to consider the best case scenario rather than their narrowly defined success. Both sides should conclude that an enormous array of other issues will still prevent the true goals of conclusive outcomes, a basis for confidence, and accountable representatives seeking our Consent. In Portland, we did all agree on these three goals and I expect that we can grow the movement by asking for buy-in at this level. That buy-in will allow us to think bigger.

Also in Portland, I took comfort in observing that most if not all in attendance understand empirically, logically and emotionally that there is no rational basis for confidence in the results reported from U.S. federal elections. There was a lot of discussion about what has happened in recent "elections." But even more important were the projections, made with certainty, that future elections held under these conditions will guarantee inconclusive outcomes and fail to produce unanimous acceptance of the results. A good portion of Americans are still willing to argue about what is a fact. It is therefore a wiser strategy to avoid that confrontation and instead build on those points on which we agree.

As I wrote in the Blueprint For Peaceful Revolution, Americans are engaged in a Cold Civil War as a result of the government's intentional divisiveness. Government power has been consolidated by pitting We The People against each other, thus preventing us from uniting against our common fascist foe. Inherent uncertainty is one of the government's most frequently used techniques. If we can't recount the votes, we can't know who really won an election.

Looking at the real elephant in the room includes these questions: where is the movement going? What will it look like when it succeeds? How can we develop and facilitate the implementation of a cohesive national strategy? And how can we make the phrase "peaceful revolution" socially acceptable? This is why I went to Portland. There was some progress made but we did not get to the core of this matter.

As our post-Summit dialog continues, this is where I'll be directing my energy. Reformers from Portland as well as Berkeley, CA have told me of their intention to organize in support of the VCR. I will work to connect leaders with other volunteers, and also to engage other communities in this same pursuit. Listen up San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Ithaca and New Paltz, you are just a few of the places where every City Councilmember has received the VCR and knows what we're doing. Let your City Council know you support this, and help them make connections with other like-minded communities.

These are the growing pains of the movement. Our movement is growing, and it hurts so good.



Thanks for your report and thoughts about what is now needed. There certainly is an Elephant in the Room.

As a participant in the recent Summit, I want to first congratulate and commend all who had a part in making this event a success. While I was deeply concerned about the problems facing us with regard to our elections prior to attending, your presentations and workshops have given me a much better sense of the complexity and the political obstacles we face in ensuring that everyone can vote, and that every vote is accurately counted.

Unfortunately, while there were many reasonable and appropriate recommendations offered at the conference, the great problem I believe we face is the criminal control that exists to ensure that our corporatized vote counting is maintained to the benefit of those in power and those they serve. It will be up to us to go beyond all the good ideas, and demand that we get our democracy back, likely by getting on the streets in our millions. Those who are willing to steal our elections (and commit the many other crimes they are guilty of while in power) will not go quietly into the night, especially when they believe they are acting in response to the will of God.

I would like to call your attention to an effort being launched across the country on Nov 2nd that is intended to mobilize millions to express our refusal to accept this illegitimate administration. While they may control our voting machines, our constitution was created and exists to empower We, The People. Recent massive walkouts in the Ukraine and India (40 million last week) have gotten the attention of their leaders, and the governments there have responded to the will of the people. We, The People, will have to reassert our constitutional right and obligation to engage in the revolutionary act of demanding that our government once again represent and serve us.

Following is a letter I am sending to friends to alert them to this effort, to which I am offering my own time and money. I wonder if our network is aware that this will be happening in over 40 cities, and that the goals tie in with our deep concerns that we regain our representation in government. Perhaps it would be possible to send something like this to our network, as participation in this event should complement our own efforts.

Again, my thanks for your dedicated efforts to ensure that this issue is not forgotten, and that we all reconfirm our commitment to protecting our democracy.

Jim Oberg
Wilsonville, OR

PS: The initial event locally will be held at Pioneer Square in Portland on Nov 2 at 12:00 noon, followed by a march. You can get information from the local coordinator, at .

Dear ______________;

It was a great experience for me to attend the National Summit to Save Our Elections this weekend. I think there are many people today who are willing to unite to drive out this regime if only we can find a way to do it. It is now clear that our future is in our own hands, and that our government is not only illegitimate, but absolutely committed to retaining power in spite of our will.

It seems like the climate has shifted a bit in recent months, with Bush now at 37% approval rating, and a growing sense in our country that things are not going well on many fronts. This scares me a bit, since they seem to turn up the terror dial whenever their failures get too exposed. On the other hand, there may be an opening here to upset their plans a bit, or at least significantly weaken them.

Earlier this week I went to a local organizers meeting in Portland as part of the launch on Nov. 2nd of a (hopefully) massive series of nationwide protest marches and strikes to begin a process to drive out the Bush regime. Currently about 40 cities are organizing events. Their goal sounds impossible, and yet it seems to me that this is about the only likely way to perhaps upset their destructive momentum (unless Fitzgerald indicts the whole lot of them). I was overwhelmed by the passion of those who are behind this, and their resolve to make this happen.

At this point, this is an embryonic movement, but there is a mood in America after the Katrina fiasco and in the midst of unfolding criminal indictments where a palpable anger and disgust at what has happened here might be tapped into. My sense is that this regime is vulnerable at this point to the emergence of a popular uprising, if done quickly and systematically. I worry that we may only have about a 6 month window to capitalize on the current anger and disgust felt by so many, before another large 'terrorist' event is organized to reinstill fear into the country and cement their absolute fascist control over us, perhaps even extended martial law. So I think this is worth a shot here, and I'm going to put my money and energy into helping see where it can go. When those in power control our votes, we can only hold them accountable if we take to the streets and say NO, as they did in the Ukraine.

To learn more about this, go to the World Can't Wait website, and listen to the speech by Sunsara Taylor at the National Organizing Conference ( ) to get a sense of the thrust of this effort. I also attach some background information below that got me interested when I first encountered this effort. My own hopes for the future depend on the removal of the present destructive gang who have proven they will do anything to retain power. You might even consider if this is worth some of your own investment or participation to see that something can come of this.

Of course, the real question is, what comes next if it were possible to get rid of this criminal regime. What is our vision for the better future we all want. That is what I hope to push into the mix, and see if some useful facilitation of broader thinking couldn't be focused on that question. They seem well aware that this is an important dimension, and will get to it as things progress. Certainly election reforms will need to be high on the list of priorities. Maybe even the formation of a new party.

I was struck by the success of the recent one-day walkout of 40 million in India, which seems to have caught the attention of their government. We are an apathetic lot here in America, and conditioned to be rather docile, but maybe we'll be surprised. Around 250,000 turned up in Washington recently to protest the Iraq war. And the energy I saw at the Election Summit last week certainly is a hopeful sign of the willingness of many to get passionately engaged in this struggle.

Any thoughts?


Published on Sunday, September 25, 2005 by The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)

Anti-War Idealism


Almost 35 years ago, in the fall of 1970 when the United States was stuck in another "quagmire" war, The Capital Times published the following editorial under the headline, "Debra Sweet's act of courage":

"President Nixon heard the real voice of young America Thursday. It came from Debra Sweet,a 19-year-old Madison girl who was in the White House to accept a medal from the president for public service.

"As the president handed her the Young American medal, one of four handed out Thursday by Mr. Nixon, she said softly and unsmilingly, 'I find it hard to believe in your sincerity in giving out the awards until you get us out of Vietnam.'

"She spoke so softly that reporters could barely hear her remarks. The president, according to reports, was taken aback. To those Madisonians who know Miss Sweet, her courage in using her brief moment of glory with the chief executive is in keeping with her character.

"Miss Sweet spoke for all of America: the sore at heart; those overwhelmed with the frustrations of Vietnam, by the endless killing, by the power of the Pentagon, by the violence and futility of the Indochina conflict.

"But that soft, Midwestern accent spoke especially from the heart of young America. More than the adults, the young appear to have a clearer vision of the inexplicable harm the war is wreaking on this nation.

"What a courageous act. What dignity. She has earned the respect of millions of her peers and her elders. Miss Sweet has earned the right to another medal for bravery.

"A devoted member of the Midvale Community Lutheran Church, Miss Sweet is now working on special assignment with the youth action group of the church's Missouri Synod.

" 'She has the idealism of youth,' says her pastor, the Rev. Stanley Klyve. We salute her for this selfless idealism and her dedication to humanity."

Debra Sweet is older now. But she has not lost the idealism of youth.

Several years ago, as the Bush administration was banging the drums of war in Iraq, Sweet helped organize the national "Not in Our Name" movement. With advertisements and rallies - including one in Madison that drew 2,000 people - that movement proclaimed: "President Bush has declared: 'You're either with us or against us.' Here is our answer: We refuse to allow you to speak for all the American people. We will not give up our right to question. We will not hand over our consciences in return for a hollow promise of safety. We say NOT IN OUR NAME. We refuse to be party to these wars and we repudiate any inference that they are being waged in our name or for our welfare."

The Not in Our Name movement helped signal to the world that the Bush administration did not speak for all Americans when the president ordered the invasion of Iraq, just as today's mass demonstrations in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and other cities will signal that tens of millions of Americans oppose the continued occupation of Iraq. There is no question that it is time to begin the process of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq - both to save American lives and to allow Iraqis to begin the process of setting their own course in a manner that is free of foreign interference.

Unfortunately, one day of demonstrations will not be enough to end this war. So Debra Sweet is working to put more pressure on the president. She's the national coordinator of a new movement to challenge the Bush administration's policies not just on the war but on a broad range of international and domestic issues. The premise of the movement, which is described more fully at its Web site, , is that Americans need to organize to challenge not just the administration's policies but its legitimacy. It's a bold mission, to be sure. But, of course, Debra Sweet has always been bold when it comes to challenging the wrongdoing of presidents.
(Copied from the above website, )

The World Can't Wait!

Drive Out the Bush Regime!

Mobilize for November 2, 2005

Your government , on the basis of outrageous lies, is waging a murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq, with other countries in their sights.

Your government is openly torturing people, and justifying it.

Your government puts people in jail on the merest suspicion, refusing them lawyers, and either holding them indefinitely or deporting them in the dead of night.

Your government is moving each day closer to a theocracy, where a narrow and hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism will rule.

Your government suppresses the science that doesn’t fit its religious, political and economic agenda, forcing present and future generations to pay a terrible price.

Your government is moving to deny women here, and all over the world, the right to birth control and abortion.

Your government enforces a culture of greed, bigotry, intolerance and ignorance.

People look at all this and think of Hitler - and they are right to do so. The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come. We must act now; the future is in the balance.

Millions and millions are deeply disturbed and outraged by this. They recognize the need for a vehicle to express this outrage, yet they cannot find it; politics as usual cannot meet the enormity of the challenge, and people sense this.

There is not going to be some magical “pendulum swing.” People who steal elections and believe they’re on a “mission from God” will not go without a fight.

There is not going to be some savior from the Democratic Party. This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into “leaders” who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people.

But silence and paralysis are NOT acceptable. That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn - or be forced - to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take the responsibility to do it.

And there is a way. We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush’s outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime’s program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.

To that end, on November 2, the first anniversary of Bush’s “re-election”, we will take the first major step in this by organizing a truly massive day of resistance all over this country. People everywhere will walk out of school, they will take off work, they will come to the downtowns and town squares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to JOIN US. They will repudiate this criminal regime, making a powerful statement: “NO! THIS REGIME DOES NOT REPRESENT US! AND WE WILL DRIVE IT OUT!”

November 2 must be a massive and public proclamation that WE REFUSE TO BE RULED IN THIS WAY. November 2 must call out to the tens of millions more who are now agonizing and disgusted. November 2 will be the beginning - a giant first step in forcing Bush to step down, and a powerful announcement that we will not stop until he does so - and it will join with and give support and heart to people all over the globe who so urgently need and want this regime to be stopped.

This will not be easy. If we speak the truth, they will try to silence us. If we act, they will try to stop us. But we speak for the majority, here and around the world, and as we get this going we are going to reach out to the people who have been so badly fooled by Bush and we are NOT going to stop.

The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten. WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US.

The world can’t wait! Drive out the Bush Regime! Mobilize for November 2!

By Anonymous Jim Oberg, at 12:07 AM  

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