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Empty Envelopes for Empty Promises

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Message Steve Bhaerman
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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.

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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 (more...)

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