Friday, October 17, 2008

John Nichols: 2000, 2004 Elections "Inconclusive"; Humboldt Dems to Show "Uncounted" This Sat

Sorry for the split headline, but it is time to do some dot connecting.

First, a note for Humboldt readers. The local Democratic Central Committee will be hosting a free screening of "Uncounted" beginning at 7pm this Saturday (10/18) at 129 5th Street, Eureka. The film is a "documentary that shows how the election fraud that changed the outcome of the 2004 election led to even greater fraud in 2006 - and now looms as an unbridled threat to the outcome of the 2008 election."

I'll be there and anticipate a lively group discussion (read: confronting Dems' cognitive dissonance) following the film. If you've ever met me or read anything else I've written, you may already have a sense of what I'll be saying, especially now that others are saying the same thing. Say what?

I was both pleased and bemused last week when John Nichols posted to The Nation website a piece called "No More Stolen Elections." Two key excerpts (emphasis added):

"...[Bush campaign co-chair and Ohio] Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, made it possible for the Republican ticket to secure an election night "result" that was of dubious legitimacy, and circumstances taht [sic] made the ensuing recount an inconclusive exercise in frustration."

(snip)

The bottom line from both 2000 and 2004 is this: Smart, engaged activists from across the country were caught unprepared for monumental struggles over not just clean elections and electoral votes but, in a very real sense, the future of the republic.

Good people tried to intervene. But it was too little, too late. Mistakes made in the hours and days after the presidential elections in each of those two years would haunt the process to its conclusion -- or, to be more precise, to an inconclusive moment when power would be allocated without legitimacy.
Certainly I am pleased to see a major American journalist take the position I've held for years, that the Bush regime claim to power is illegitimate, and was made possible by election conditions that ensured inconclusive results (see: Voter Confidence Resolution, adopted by Arcata, CA City Council, 7/20/05).

But Nichols has two major disconnects that I'd like to put back together here. First, he attributes the inconclusive results to the election conditions - which are largely the same in 2008. To look back and say the previous results were inconclusive requires a degree of honesty which could only be called ruthless honesty if it acknowledged that the same conditions will always and again produce inconclusive, unknowable, unprovable results. "Too little, too late" last time means take a different approach this time.

The second disconnect is Nichols' call to action:
What should smart activists be doing?

Preparing to say, without caution or compromise, that they will not sit idly by and allow another presidential election to be gamed.

That's what the Rev. Jesse Jackson, populist leader Jim Hightower, author Barbara Ehrenreich, singer Holly Near, activist Tom Hayden, Rabbi Michael Lerner and other activists, academics and writers -- including this author -- were thinking when we signed on to the call to action for the "No More Stolen Elections!" campaign that launches this week.

The campaign asks Americans to take a simple pledge:

"I remember Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, and I am willing to take action in 2008 if the election is stolen again.

I support efforts to protect the right to vote leading up to and on Election Day, November 4th.

I pledge to join nationwide pro-democracy protests starting on November 5th, either in my community, in key states where fraud occurred, or in Washington, D.C..

I pledge: No More Stolen Elections!"
If we already recognize that election conditions guarantee inconclusive results, waiting until after the "election" to protest is not what smart activists would do because it would again be "too little, too late." In fact, the same well-meaning progressive leaders behind "No More Stolen Elections" put forth a similar pledge that I wrote about just prior to the 2004 "election."
"I remember the stolen presidential election of 2000 and I am willing to take action in 2004 if the election is stolen again. I support efforts to protect the right to vote leading up to and on Election Day, November 2nd. If that right is systematically violated, I pledge to join nationwide protests starting on November 3rd, either in my community, in the states where the fraud occurred, or in Washington DC."
It has become cliché to cite the definition of insane as doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Does it make me a bad writer to use a cliché or a smarter activist to say let's do something different?

The original link to the first "No Stolen Elections" pledge no longer works, but I found it archived here. That's a page on the site of the Liberty Tree Foundation, one of the sponsors of the new pledge. There is a lot of other great work happening there, but I can't consider either of these pledges as good examples. It is counterproductive to reinforce the frame: "if the election is stolen again." We all know already the "election" is a charade. We also all know more than enough to conclude with certainty that the "election" results will be inherently uncertain, inconclusive, and unprovable.

Even though I've been making this point for more than four years, it has morphed and sharpened somewhat in the past several weeks. For reference, read here and here, and listen here (.mp3) as I spoke at a Constitution Day rally in Eureka last month, and here (.mp3) for a few minutes with Peter B. Collins and Brad Friedman.

While my blog posts have not been frequent, I have been doing other writing that I'll soon make available. It will be another, bigger example of others saying what I'm saying we should say. If you get it, you need to pass it on to the media. Don't be shy about expressing disbelief or even disdain that media would expect us to accept their reporting of election results as fact when the results have not and can not be independently verified by media, can not even be proven, and come from only one source -- the government whose power is at stake. If we buy that, we really are insane by any definition.

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