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LET'S TAKE THE HOUSE IN NOVEMBER 2008

By       Message carol wolman, MD       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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We the People, under the US Constitution, are self-governing. We delegate our sovereignty to our elected officials, the president, vice president, senators and representatives. These individuals are supposed to be public servants, carrying out our will.

The system has broken down. We the People elected a Democratic majority to Congress last November for the purpose of getting us out of Iraq and curbing the power of the Executive Branch. Instead, Congress OK'd and funded the "surge", ok'd increased warrantless surveillance, ok'd an attack on Iran way before the fact.

What's gone wrong? and how do we fix it?

The basic problem is that the political process is controlled by two political parties, both of which depend on corporate funding, and so favor corporate interests over We the People. This means funding war, since the oil, military, aerospace, and information corporations all depend on war contracts.

The two mainstream parties have a stranglehold on the election process, so it's very difficult for a candidate to win without the backing of the Republicans or the Democrats. In addition, campaigns depend heavily on advertising, especially TV advertising, which is very expensive, again forcing candidates to turn to corporate funding in order to get their message out.

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How do we get around all this?

Firstly, we have to pick our target. We should rule out the presidency- that's obviously been pretty well decided- it's either Obama or Hillary, either of whom will do the will of the warmongers who call the shots. The hoopla around debates is just a circus, a media distraction from what's really going on. We should give the presidential "race" as little attention and energy as possible.

I believe we should also rule out the Senate. Only 1/3 of the seats are up for re-election, and the state wide races are also expensive and likely to be sewn up by the mainstream parties.

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We the People should concentrate on winning the House of Representatives in 2008. This is quite do-able, if we have a coordinated national strategy, which I'll describe below. Every single member of the House has to stand for re-election in 2008, so we have a shot at all of them. Their records are public, so we know who to target, on what issues. The public is rating Congress even lower than Bush- in the teens last I heard- so voters are in a mood to dump incumbents for newcomers. In 1994, lots of "safe seat" Democrats lost their seats from voter disaffection with the party as a whole. 2008 will be similar.

There are 435 Congressional districts, and most are on a manageable scale, both geographically and financially. The Representatives are intended to be the closest to We the People, with a smaller number of constituents than senators or national office holders. They have to answer to the voters every two years. If We the People can gain control of the House, we will have a lot of leverage, as the House initiates impeachment, and also has to approve all spending bills, so can stop war spending.

I suggest we start a "new broom" campaign, for a clean sweep of the House. The litmus test for whether or not to challenge a particular incumbent should be impeachment. If the House member has not signed on to H. Res 333, to impeach Cheney (20 have cosponsored as of 0/15/07), we should mount a vigorous challenge to that Representative.

I suggest that we mount a double challenge to each incumbent- once in the primary, then in November. In other words, if the incumbent is a Democrat, find a progressive, pro-impeachment, antiwar Democrat with enough credibility and charisma to mount a serious primary challenge. If our candidate loses the primary (in '06, the DLC knocked out 22/23 PDA candidates with heavy funding for the DNC candidate and some smear campaigns) then we have another candidate of a different party, perhaps a Green, to challenge the incumbent in the November general election.

These two candidates can work together to gather and disseminate information about the incumbent's record and weaknesses, and to give each other support via press conferences and personnel, up to the primary. After that, if our candidate loses the primary, he/she can throw support to the backup candidate.

This approach can serve a number of purposes.

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1) It breaks through the two - party system, a way of "thinking outside the box", as candidates will be cooperating across party lines. It forces party regulars to really consider their positions instead of blindly hewing to the party line.

2) It makes a House member's record on impeachment the central focus of the campaign, and pressures incumbents to come out for impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

3) It gives voters a real choice, instead of having to vote for Tweedledee or Tweedledum.

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Carol S. Wolman, MD is a psychiatrist in Northern California. A lifelong peace activist, she is helping to distribute a Peace Plan for the Holy Land- email her for a copy. She also a film producer with Paradise Cove Productions.

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