clear, at last, that these Republicans will not allow their power to be modified in
any way by the US electorate (a/k/a "We the People").
If the House's party leadership wields such extraordinary power, why should we
bother with congressional elections in the first place? They take up lots of time
and cost an awful lot of money, and they perpetuate the cruel delusion that the
people in this country have the power to vote their representatives in and out
of office. It would be a whole lot cheaper and far more efficient if the Speaker of
the House would just decide (in consultation with the President, of course) who
ought to represent the citizens of every precinct in the nation.
Of course, I meant that as a bitter joke. But I'm afraid that I'm not kidding when
I say that Hastert's action has made clear that there is probably no point in most
of what election reform activists--myself included--have been doing. We've
been demonstrating, testifying, litigating, lobbying and otherwise trying to play
the game according to the rules and in good faith. And when it looks as if we
might succeed, the ruling party finds itself a sympathetic judge to shout, "Game
over!" That's what happened in 2000, and it's what has happened with the case in
San Diego; and I take no pleasure in predicting that it will keep on happening
until the ruling party formerly declares itself the US government.
All of us are shocked, and many of us feel discouraged by what Hastert did.
It is only right that we be shocked, but it's a waste of time and energy to feel
discouraged. Discouragement suggests that you have not allowed yourself
to recognize the nature of the movement that has siezed our government. If
you're discouraged, it's because you have misread that movement--which
grows stronger from your sense of disappointment. Those who are now feeling
low should just snap out of it ASAP, and join the fight again, this time with no
illusions as to what we're up against, and what's at stake.
As for this next election, we should concentrate on getting out the word. Once
our fellow-citizens find out what's going on, and also finally understand the enemy,
they will take up this struggle, which we, the people, will then win. There are
three tasks that we must carry out these next two months.
First, we must point out relentlessly and lucidly what really happened in 2004,
and what has happened since, and what is happening right now (in Mexico as
well as in this country). We must also build the national turn-out on Election Day,
by making clear that the decision to go out and vote will in itself be a strong protest
on behalf of our democracy. (The higher the turn-out, the harder it will be to justify
the movement's coming "upset victory.") And we must keep a lot of eyes on every
race at every level, from the registration process through the casting and the
counting (and discarding) of the ballots, and make a fearsome racket over every
impropriety. And then we have to scrutinize the numbers just as carefully, and
make an issue out of every last anomaly, refusing to allow the ruling party and
the press to spin the oddities away.
And this time, we must make our case with all the necessary forcefulness, and
finally take it to the streets--but not by marching to the White House, or
sitting in at statehouses across the nation. This time, we should take our protests
not, as ever, to the seats of government, and hope that we can get the media to
cover it. This time, we should demonstrate right on the very doorsteps, and
even in the hallways, of the media cartel itself, gathering en masse right at the
offices of all the major papers, and the TV networks, and the parent companies,
and stay right there until they do their civic duty, by covering, at last, the most
important story in this nation's history.