DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE WITH DEMOCRACY AND THREE URGENT PLEAS
Sheila Parks, Ed.D.
Democracy. Who used to have it in the USA, and who has it now? People with white skin privilege? People who were born male? People with piles of money, much of it stolen from other people's labor?
I often hear European Americans from all walks of life talking about democracy in the USA - how they want to reclaim it, like in the good old days - and I wonder about how differently from one another we experience this country. This is not our land; not my land nor your land. When European Americans arrived over 500 years ago, we murdered with bullets and small pox blankets - that we intentionally gave to them - the Indigenous people who had lived in balance here for thousands of years. Then we enslaved people of African descent to build the country's wealth, and kept women - who did not even get the vote until 1920 - second class citizens and the property of men for even longer.
The United States government is not a shining light. We never have been, and we are not now. While it was never really good for too many people, what has changed here in the USA is that it has gotten worse, not better. Our own elections system is now a corporate-controlled charade, with big money pulling all the strings and using electronic voting machines to rig the elections. And as we pretend to spread "democracy" all over the world, what we are really spreading is a devastating complex of illegal, immoral wars, both here and abroad.
When our children and grandchildren ask me what I am doing in this crucial time to stop our government from murdering people at home and abroad, I want to be able to tell them that I am doing everything I possibly can to get democracy in this country for all the people, for the first time ever, and to end these brutal behaviors everywhere. Don't you?
Clicking and sending emails and online petitions against the myriad, devastating problems facing us now is fine as far as it goes. But half-measures avail us nothing. Pleading with the people who make and then carry out the murderous policies of the USA government is time wasting at best and ridiculous at worst. Yes, we did get to keep some funding for Planned Parenthood, through an Amazonian effort.
We here in the USA need to follow and emulate the examples of the people in Tunisia, Egypt and Wisconsin. The people of Tunisia and Egypt non-violently resisted immoral and murderous governments, and they won. Tunisia has ruled that there must be equal numbers of women and men who are candidates in their upcoming July election. Egypt is still in process and we look especially to what they do about women's rights. Juan Cole and Shahin Cole have written a wonderful article: "An Arab Spring for Women".
During the Mubarak reign of terror, Egypt used to count its ballots by hand, a close Egyptian friend has told me. Everyone knew those elections were rigged, she added. That means that when we suggest to the Egyptian people that they continue to hand-count their votes now, but with very different protocols, to safeguard the counting and election, we have a different job ahead of us from demanding that here in the USA we hand-count all the ballots.
The Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, wrote recently about helping Tunisia with "free and fair elections." Part of OSCE's mandate is fair elections. The OSCE site has this unbelievable final report summary on the 2004 USA presidential election that they were invited to observe; OSCE thought the election was fine. The assistance of OSCE for Tunisia might not be so helpful.
Wisconsin must continue the magnificent uprising it has begun against the corrupt politicians who are attacking unions, the middle class, and women's rights.
However, Wisconsonites, please take heed: Doing recalls on hackable electronic voting machines, the same machines that put in office those you are trying now to recall, is not such a good strategy (see more below). I have been involved in the current wave of Voting Rights since the 2000 presidential election in Florida. I have observed two hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB) recounts in real time. I have also observed several HCPB elections in real time, and have written about these elections and other voting rights issues. These papers can be found on the web site of the non-profit organization I founded Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots. The site has much information on it about the hacking of the machines by researchers and computer experts, documents in favor of hand-counted paper ballots elections, and other related topics.
FIRST URGENT PLEA : We here in the USA must non-violently resist our immoral and murderous government: with direct action, civil disobedience, civil resistance.
Immoral wars abroad against Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and supporting Israel in its wars against Gaza.
Immoral war at home against women and our bodies. Some still think that other issues need all our attention now and these are "only" women's rights that we can attend to after all the other important rights are fixed. The savage attempted and successful attacks on women's bodies by governors and both national and local legislatures feel like rabid dogs relentlessly biting us. Do you read Feministing, Angry Black Woman, Feministe, Ms.?
Immoral war at home against people of color. More African Americans are in prison now in the USA than there were in South Africa during all of Apartheid. See Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. (1) Ask any of these inmates languishing in our vast prison complex - mostly on non-violent drug charges - how democracy works for them. Have you read Charles Ogletree, The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. And Race, Class and Crime in America? Ogletree includes stories of 100 African American men and shows how "race trumps class". (2) Do you know that our prisons are now increasingly privatized, and that Dick Cheney is one of those making so much money on them?