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March 14, 2006

Empty Envelopes for Empty Promises

By Steve Bhaerman

Can the Democrats be awakened? Find out by sending them "Empty Envelopes for Empty Promises." If this doesn't wake them up, let's assume they've already been put to sleep, and move on.


With each new revelation of criminality, hubris and incompetence on the part of the Bush Administration, there is one thing I find truly amazing: While the Bush approval numbers now hover a couple of degrees above freezing, the Democrats seem to have made no gains whatsoever. Amazing. But not surprising.

At a time when courage and leadership are being called for, the Democratic Party leadership (now there’s an oxymoron rich in irony content) isn’t taking the call. Think of how John Kerry wimped out in the face of very obvious and alarming voter fraud in Ohio. Consider how few Democratic Senators stood against the abuses of the so-called Patriot Act, or who stood with courageous Sen. Russ Feingold in his call to censure Bush. Or how mealy-mouthed the Dems have been in extracting us from an immoral, illegal and ill-conceived war. If the Democrats are the firewall between a proto-fascist regime leading us backward into neo-feudalism, then God help us.

Well, as the saying goes, God helps those who help themselves, and I may have a self-help formula for the millions of us suffering from “outrage fatigue” and ready to play “lead the leader.” I call it the Empty Envelope campaign, and here’s how it works. Over the next month, as the Democrats are gearing up for a campaign year where they are hoping to regain control of Congress, let’s send the Democratic Central Committee empty envelopes instead of donations: Empty envelopes for empty promises.

You use can use a version of the letter I’ve written below, modify it as you like, or write your own original letter in place of or in addition to my letter. The important thing is that it’s not an email, but a genuine mailed letter. If it’s returned to them in one of their own envelopes, all the better. You can even mark the envelope “contribution enclosed” so that they’re sure to open it. And the contribution you are making is far more valuable than money. It is a call for courage, vision and integrity from leadership that has lost its way.

Now you may be a little reluctant to do this, particularly since there are indeed some Democrats you want to support, and a change in the composition of Congress will certainly be an important strategic step toward turning around the entire ship of state. No problem. Just earmark your contribution for the Progressive Democrats of America, an organization that has at the very least shown willingness to confront the illegal war, election fraud and the impeachment issue. Be sure and tell the Democratic Party leadership that your contribution has gone elsewhere. And if you’re not a Democrat by affiliation -- if you’re a Green, a Libertarian, Republican or independent -- you can still send an empty envelope and a note. You have nothing to lose but the price of a stamp and cost of your non-contribution.

You can look at those in charge of the Democratic Party as complicit “Republican Lites” or intimidated and abused “enablers.” Either way, they need to know that we are out there either to support them if they choose to be courageous, or support ourselves if they choose not. If indeed they are getting pressure from the “top” to play nice with our corporate rulers, they need to have even more pressure from the grassroots up saying essentially that we’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Imagine the impact of getting 250,000 empty envelopes. Or half a million. Or a million. Or ten million. Will that get someone’s attention? Well, if they’re still sleeping after all that, we can just consider they’ve been “put to sleep.” But the good news is, we’re still awake, and more of us are awakening every day. Buckminster Fuller once said that applause isn’t for the person on stage, it’s for the audience. In other words, by applauding and seeing who else is applauding, the audience is recognizing itself. May we the people -- those willing to come front and center and be adults in the matter of the “low-jacking” of America -- recognize ourselves and grow in power.

If you like this idea, please circulate to every mailing list you have. Circulate it, and send your heartfelt contribution in the form of a non-contribution. Remember, no emails. Snail mail only! Do it today. Oh, and feel free to not contribute again and again until they get the message.

Steve Bhaerman

Here is my letter:

Howard Dean, Chairman
Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003

Dear Dr. Dean:

This is the time of year when millions of Americans make contributions to their political party, so here is my contribution: An empty envelope, to represent empty promises. Yes, I know it isn’t easy being a party out of power, but here’s the funny thing. The Democrats represent the values of a majority of Americans, and yet they are the “minority party.” Why is that?

Perhaps it’s because the Democrats -- particularly the Democratic Party leadership -- have been unwilling to provide those things the American people need and desire most: Courage, vision, integrity and authenticity. Perhaps this is because this leadership doesn’t trust the awareness and maturity of the American people. If that’s the case, maybe getting enough of these letters will convince you otherwise. Perhaps it is because the leadership simply lacks these qualities, in which case it might be time to step aside and let the bolder ones take over. We thought that bolder one might have been you, Dr. Dean, but we must have been mistaken.

I’ll be blunt, Dr. Dean. America faces not only an enemy overseas, but an enemy at home in the form of rule of, by and for corporations. This is no mere abstraction or idle rhetoric. The drug and oil companies, the petro-food companies, the Halliburtons, all have more to say about what our government does or doesn’t do than any million of us. In the past, the Democrats have been at the very least, a check on the unchecked power of capitalism. But now, the party seems to have devolved into little more than a final resting place for progressive votes, and has failed to defend the American people and our Constitution against the forces of what can only be called fascism.

A small but growing group of Democrats have shown the courage to stand up to election fraud, an illegal war, and the frightening attempts on the part of this Administration to create a police state. I will continue to support these Democrats by making a contribution to the Progressive Democrats of America, and I have urged everyone else I know to do the same.

What will it take for me to make a financial contribution to the Democratic Party itself? Glad you asked. Here are just a few courageous and visionary steps you and the Party leadership can take:

1. Stand for the impeachment of the Bush-Cheney Administration, and call our conduct in pursuing an illegal, immoral and ill-conceived war of choice what it is: war crimes. There are enough lies, enough illegal activities to bring charges. There is no point in waiting. Force the Republicans to choose between their President and their principles. If they have none of the latter, let it be obvious for all to see. Make impeachment a campaign issue by standing for it now.

2. Stand for a true Voters Rights Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees open access to voting machines, paper trails, and publicly-financed campaigns. This is the only way to take corporate lobbyists out of elections, and put the people back in. The fact that companies like Diebold are telling us, “sorry you can’t look into our machines because of proprietary software” is more than absurd, it’s obscene. If the Democrats can’t stand for total election transparency, then you have my blessing to go the way of the Whigs and the Know-Nothings.

3. Acknowledge and investigate charges of voter fraud in Ohio and Florida in 2004, just like John Kerry didn’t. Remember, unanswered perpetrations tend to embolden the perpetrator.

4. Acknowledge the war in Iraq was a legal, moral and tactical mistake and stand for ending it NOW. Stand for a foreign policy that shows we know the difference between being hated around the world and being respected. Loudly and boldly declare a congruent plan for weaning ourselves from oil.

5. Call for a re-investigation of 9/11. Yeah, that’s right. The official story has more holes in it than Dick Cheney’s hunting buddy. How could a handful of scruffy foreign nationals have caught the entire U.S. Air Command napping without someone on the inside tipping them off? How come no one, no individual, was held accountable for the most deadly attack ever on American soil? You have only to read the works of theologian David Ray Griffin (“The New Pearl Harbor” “The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions”) to see that there are far too many unanswered questions and unquestioned answers.

6. Help America move into the new millennium by being a stand for transparency and problem-solving instead of instead of hedging and ideological positioning. It’s time for “politics as unusual” -- working together across ideological lines to confront the ethical, environmental and economic issues that 80% to 90% of Americans agree need to be handled. Being the true party of the “center” in this sense is not about wimpy compromise, but about imaginative leadership.

7. Finally, the Democrats need to have a clear and compelling plan for what they would do instead. The current gang in power have pretty much guaranteed us a future of never-ending warfare, loss of civil liberties and virtual police state powers, growing gap between rich and poor, environmental destruction, and privatization of everything -- including the “truth.” If you can’t come up with something more appealing than that, then why would any swing voter swing your way?

Dr. Dean, government of, by and for the people has not yet perished from this earth. But it is on life-support. Millions of Americans have now awakened to the nightmare that the precious dream of our Founding Fathers is in grave danger. We have votes that don’t count. We have a media suppressing truth and enabling lies. We have a regime that uses intimidation to make illegal actions “legal.” We have a political system so run by money, that our “representatives” can no longer represent our interests, or the interests of the commonwealth.

We now face the greatest crisis -- and opportunity -- our country has ever been faced with. Do we devolve into neo-feudalism kept in place by a Big Brother police state? Or do we confront the “monster” we have created with our own fear and apathy, boldly tell the truth, and call on all Americans to come together, work together and stand for the moral principles (not the religious dogma) our country was founded on? If we can do this, we won’t have to worry about imposing “democracy” on recalcitrant Middle Eastern regimes. People worldwide will come running and shouting: “I’ll have what THEY’RE having!”

The time for muddling in the middle is over. I have faith that the people of America will be both relieved to hear the truth spoken, and inspired to act with conscience and imagination. Do you have that faith, Dr. Dean? Are you willing to lead, and encourage the real leaders within the party? We’re running out of time, and we’ve just about run out of grace. It’s time for America to wake up, wise up and grow up. Are you ready for this era’s rendevous with destiny?

We are.


Steve Bhaerman
Awake American Citizen
(one of many millions)

Submitters Website: http://www.wakeuplaughing.com/

Submitters Bio:

Steve Bhaerman is a writer, humorist and uncommontator who's been posing as cosmic comic Swami Beyondananda for the past 20 years. He is the author of seven books including Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and a Way to Get There From Here, co-written with Bruce Lipton. He has been an OpEd News contributor since 2006.