"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible ill make violent revolution inevitable." -- John F. Kennedy "So?" -- Dick Cheney * * *
Two months ago, on the fifth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, ABC News asked Dick Cheney to comment on "recent polls that show about two-thirds of Americans say the fight in Iraq is not worth it." With a chuckle and a smirk (video), Cheney famously replied, "so?" As infuriating as this may be, it comes as no surprise. In fact, this quip - "so?" - should feel familiar to millions of Americans ardently working for peace, justice, the rule of law, election integrity, and a host of other supra-issues, each another path to understanding the illegitimacy of the power behind such dismissiveness. This illegitimate power flaunts itself virtually unchecked, reinforced by mass media and enabled by the learned helplessness of the American people. Ever since the indeterminate period following the 2000 "election," I have drawn attention to this odd paradox of helplessness, from which it is past time we learned:
Having cast a vote, each of us is supposed to know that we did our part to elect our next set of leaders. Yet we are in fact helpless to influence the outcome of events in Florida. Will the election be determined by legal wrangling or concession, vote totals or fraud? No matter which seems to be the ultimate basis for declaring a winner, many will scream injustice. Doesn't this uncertainty cast doubt on the legitimacy of any eventual outcome?This impenetrable defense against logic ("so?") appears to be contributing to a widespread public emotional and/or mental condition, on the order of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Because I am not immune from these and related forces, I will share the rest of my Cheney-induced flashback...
[S]hortly after 9/11, I saw a newspaper photo of a limp woman being dragged by police officers at a UC Berkeley Middle East peace rally. Passive resistance appeared to me as a classic activist technique. With images of picket signs, sit-ins, marches and strikes all popping into my head, I stared at the woman in the picture and couldn't help feeling that her attempt at noble sacrifice left the world no different the next day.Six years ago I concluded traditional American activism was futile. Now with much of the country awake, a wealth of great online organizing experience under our collective belt, and personal opportunities that allow my writing to reach far larger audiences...despite all that, we've continued to lose our most basic fundamental and unalienable rights, we've learned many times over (or should have) to protect ourselves from our so-called government, and we've seen any pretext of accountability run into a wall of "so?" (think Bolton, Miers, Addington, and Rove all ignoring Congressional subpoenas; or worse, open admissions of torture and illegal spying). I'm reminded of the Blueprint For Peaceful Revolution, which I wrote over the summer of 2005 and circulated just prior to my participation in the National Summit to Save Our Elections, held in Portland, OR that fall:
Naomi Wolf has since written an even more compelling book, End of America, which defines fascism by common practices of many past regimes, seemingly a template for America's transformation. The North Coast Journal published my book review:· The introduction of paperless electronic voting machines has resulted in "elections" whose unverifiable results are inherently inconclusive. In November 2004, roughly 30% of the votes cast could not be recounted using physical ballots touched by voters. This is blatantly illegal in the many jurisdictions where a close race automatically triggers a recount. It also means we cannot possibly reconcile the results of so-called "glitches" such as machines losing data, counting backwards, or reporting more votes than registered voters. These conditions ensure inconclusive outcomes that will never receive unanimous acceptance (more inherent uncertainty). As the City Council of Arcata, CA attested in adopting the Voter Confidence Resolution, "When elections are conducted under conditions that prevent conclusive outcomes, the Consent of the Governed is not being sought."Failing to seek the Consent of the Governed has created a situation where such Consent is assumed. Allowing this assumption to stand is the great collective sabotage* of We The People. The very legitimacy of the U.S. government must be questioned and challenged for it is based not on democratic principles or even laws, but rather the textbook aspects of fascism. Within the reality-based community, these 14 characteristics of fascism are familiar thanks to Laurence W. Britt's widely circulated essay describing commonalities among seven different fascist regimes throughout history. * Sabotage is the human nature tendency to make trouble for ourselves. Sabotage is yin to the yang of Progress the result that occurs when we stop making trouble for ourselves.
Extensively footnoted, this book draws out astounding parallels between Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Pinochet and more. Laid against the backdrop of 21st century America, Wolf shows those currently in power have followed the playbook closely. Wolf refers to "historical echoes" when describing such recurrent totalitarian manifestations as: secret prisons, mercenary or paramilitary forces, surveillance of ordinary citizens and infiltration of their organizations, restrictions on the press and speech in general, arbitrary detainment and release of citizens, evocation of a constant internal and external threat, allegations of espionage and treason at critics and dissenters and subversion of the rule of law.To paraphrase an old proverb, people plan, god laughs. I'm not religious and I'm not saying Cheney is god. I'm saying every worthwhile progressive cause can only advance "so?" far until justice and the rule of law are re-established and we deliver ourselves from the illegitimate fascist powers that have taken control of the US government. Back at the Portland conference I was not able to sway the three dozen or so assembled election integrity advocates who I had hoped would stop treating election integrity as the end goal and begin seeing it as a tactic toward peaceful revolution, a shift in the relationship of power between the People and government. Then as now, it needs to be understood that general acceptance of bogus elections is the juncture at which we either allow our Consent to be assumed and taken for granted, or we make clear that WE DO NOT CONSENT, and prevent power from being usurped by anyone claiming to be so entitled. Upon returning home from the conference I wrote "Peaceful Revolution Is The Elephant In The Room":
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. (snip) 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.I continued to lead down this path as much as possible, and at times felt great support, including in June 2006. That's when Congress seated and swore in Brian Bilbray as the Representative of California's 50th District, based on a preliminary fax from an assistant Secretary of State of CA, who later acknowledged 65,000 ballots had not yet been counted. In response to the CA-50 power grab I wrote a resolution adopted by the California Election Protection Network, which also received the support of other groups as well as influencing the language of additional separate resolutions:
Therefore, be it resolved that to warrant the Consent of the Governed, and the authorization of the transfer of power to winning candidates, a full hand count of all legally cast ballots shall first be conducted. This hand count shall reflect the only official result and not be regarded as a recount in any way, including relieving voters of the obligation to pay for said count; and Therefore, be it resolved that until such a hand count has been verifiably conducted and a conclusive outcome determined, We, The People, DO NOT CONSENT to transferring power and authority to candidates claiming victory in this illegitimate election. We will do everything within our Constitutional and Human Rights to protect and preserve possession of this power that is inalienably Ours to be given but never taken away.
The collective outcry in this case was channeled into a lawsuit brought by voters. Attorney Paul Lehto correctly called this election nullification, a term that is apt for all so-called "elections" held under unverifiable conditions. His point was that if the outcome of an election could be determined this way then it defeats the purpose of voting and having an election in the first place. So? The judge dismissed the case on the premise that the Constitution gives Congress the final say in seating members, and not even a large number of uncounted ballots could give the court jurisdiction to order counting, whether by hand or otherwise.
Right about this time I also challenged the media to follow its own most fundamental ethics and not to report as fact what simply can't be proven and confirmed (unverified and unverifiable "election" results). This is a perfect example of a tilt target, an untenable position that can be maintained (by the media, in this case) only for the lack of being pointed out and challenged. This was among a series of talking points I published and circulated for progressive media. It also spawned two published op-eds and two radio forums on media accountability. So? Without louder sustained pressure upon this Achilles' heel of media credibility, the situation remains unchanged today.
Even progressive stalwarts such as Thom Hartmann and Peter B. Collins continue to devote substantial radio air time to discussing the candidates and campaigns even though we see widespread consensus that this will have no bearing on how "election" results will be determined. The message of this essay must reach beyond my friends and respected colleagues in the election integrity movement and sink in to the minds of the millions volunteering for and donating to candidate campaigns (for any office, really, not just president). I'd like to think the former can manifest the latter.
So how should Americans react in November after the climax of this never ending campaign results in the predictable spoiled mess with an inherently inconclusive, unknowable outcome that won't be unanimously accepted? I posed this exact question to former Georgia Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney on May 9, when she appeared at Humboldt State University on her campaign for the Green Party nomination for President.
She spent nearly five minutes in response (listen here - .mp3), acknowledging many aspects inherent in this situation, but without saying how we can reject the phony results or how her campaign would address this in advance. So? McKinney is articulate, knowledgeable, and brave enough to discuss many things the media and other candidates won't touch. However, she resembled the many polished authors that stop by on book tours, and not someone advertising leadership we were urged to follow. To McKinney's credit, without my having uttered the word "confidence," as in "no basis for confidence in election results," or the Voter Confidence Committee, in the audio linked above you will hear her say "we can't have confidence in the election results...we are participating in blind faith voting." So? She knows her campaign is part of an "election" masquerading as a legit election and yet she acts without direct challenge to the charade. This also encourages others to look past it, feeding that society-wide PTSD contagion. McKinney credited the widely used phrase "blind faith voting" to Black Box Voting founder Bev Harris. Recently Harris submitted written testimony to the federal Election Assistance Commission. Here are some important excerpts:
We do not consent to any form of secret vote counting, administered and controlled by government insiders and their vendors...Citizens are never allowed to view the original input in order to compare it to the output, and are relegated to trusting circumstantial evidence controlled by insiders. Such a system is, in fact, a transfer of power...The people were never asked to approve such a transfer of power, have never consented to it, and indeed cannot consent, because the right of sovereignty over the instruments of government which we have created is an inalienable right, one which cannot be given away, nor can this right be removed through legislation...Not only does my organization, Black Box Voting, refuse to participate in the design of such systems, but we will do our utmost to inform the populace that such systems must be revoked, by whatever means necessary.
Harris concluded with the following salutation: "We do not consent." I couldn't have said it better myself. Here's a question I used to ask a lot: Has the Consent of the Governed been withdrawn, YET? This question grew out of my work writing the Voter Confidence Resolution, successfully lobbying for its adoption by the Arcata City Council, and promoting it as an advocacy journalist blogging at GuvWurld and subsequently We Do Not Consent. The point of the YET? question is to create a frame of inevitability. Make it viral and watch it build a growing and cumulative impact. This approach constructs a path to the tipping point. So please, promote the WE DO NOT CONSENT meme all you can, and remember to empower those you meet with the confidence that our Consent most surely can and will be withheld. Let's start talking about what that looks like. Brother Thom? Peter B.? Peaceful revolution won't happen by accident. Your attention and intention is requested. This surely has day to day ramifications, but then November's "election" is also something specific around which to organize. America needs to click its heels three times and rediscover that we've had the power all along. Peaceful revolution is necessary, NOW! "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." -- John F. Kennedy * * *
I am putting my own symptoms on display here, reviewing and reliving my struggle to convey the same point for years on end, hoping with each new example to transcend to a higher order of resistance. No doubt I have slipped back many times myself. For example, investing so much energy in the local effort for hand-counting paper ballots. All along I knew that even our success would have no bearing on the certain uncertainty to follow November's "election." This factored in my recent decision to take a sabbatical from the Voter Confidence Committee. * * *
I think the answer to "so?" may be an equally disdainful "you're not the boss of me." Think about it.
# # # Originally blogged at: http://wedonotconsent.blogspot.com/2008/05/so-ing-seeds-of-change.html