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Monday, 18 September 2006 22:29

Brent Budowsky: Common Sense Against Corrupting the Next Election: If Thomas Paine Were Here, Part 2

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A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION

Let's begin today a national letter writing campaign sending hundreds of thousands of letters to every newspaper in America, calling for front page coverage of the dangers of another Constitutional crisis from another questionable election, and editorial campaigns to prevent this travesty while there is still time.

Amazingly, incredibly, unbelievably, six years after the Florida recount of 2000 America could well be facing a historic and profound election decided weeks after the vote, by courts counting votes, after voters finish voting.

This is unconscionable. The following words came not from some conspiracy theorist, but from Paul DeGregorio, the Chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission: "We could see that control of Congress is going to be decided by races in recount situations that might not be determined for several weeks" (Page 1, Washington Post, September 17).

The Election Assistance Commission was set up in 2002 by the President and Congress to be the lead player in making elections and voting more honest and fair. Mr. DeGregorio also told the Post that he does not expect problems of the magnitude that could lead to a multi-state or delayed recount, or a prolonged court fight.

This lethargic attitude entirely misses the point and drives home exactly why the dangers of another election fiasco are so great. Already this year, there have been significant problems with voting and counting in Maryland, Illinois and Ohio: problems with polling booths that closed for poor reason; Problems with workers not trained for machines that arrived too late; Dangers with machines made with codes we are not permitted to know, by companies that may have foreign interests, and workers who don't know fully how they work.

In a national Congressional vote where control of the Congress could well be decided by a handful of votes, in a handful of contested districts, how on earth can the Chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission be so nonchalant on an issue at the heart of our American democracy? This is shameful. This is dangerous. This is wrong.

As recently as last week, there were significant problems with voting in Maryland, following problems earler this year in Ohio and Illinois. As the John Adams character said in the play 1776: What in hell are they waiting for?

The Common Sense of the matter is beyond debate: because the margin for control of Congress will probably be a small number of votes, it is democratically disastrous, certifiably insane and morally indefensible to not deal with the real danger of another election fiasco NOW.

The Common Sense of the danger is clear: whether our country is governed by one party controlling all branches of government without checks and balances, must be decided by an honest vote, with honest counting, without fraud, without suppression, without mistakes that MUST be prevented by addressing the problems TODAY.

And we ask yet again: Where are the leaders of the Democratic Party? Like the leaders of the Election Assistance Commission, they are again satisfied with marginal policies and grossly inadequate solutions that raise the prospect of another questionable defeat, and another constitutional crisis that would further endanger the core underpinnings of our democracy.

The hard truth is, not only are the Democratic leaders lethargic and complacent when they announce a get out the vote drive that is far inferior and underfunded compared their more aggressive Republican competitors, but the party that founded the Voting Rights Act remains complacent even with the history of abuses, and even with problems that persist in major states, already, this year.

The Common Sense of the matter is clear: the party that believes that every vote counts, the party that believes that every person should participate, the party of equal rights and voting rights must fight like hell to register every voter, must fight like hell to bring every voter to the polls, must fight like hell to count every vote with honesty and accuracy and fairness to all.

Every person who reads these words can make a difference today by joining a national letter writing campaign to every newspaper in America to put this issue on the editorial page of the paper, on the front page of the paper, and in letters to the editor.

We should push through these letters, in a direct and aggressive challenge to the Election Assistance Commission: what will you do today, and tomorrow, to prevent the very clear and present danger of a contested and questionable election and are you ready to accept the guilty verdict of history if your failure leads to another national crisis?

We should push through these letters, in a direct and aggressive challenge to state and local election officials: what will you do today, and tomorrow, to make certain that minority voters and others are not supressed at the polls, that inadequately trained workers do not create election day machine failures, that the integrity of machines is protected against violations that should lead to incarceration of perpetrators, and that records are kept and protected in case a recount is needed?

We are the customers of these papers, and a national letter writing campaign will force them to contront the issue, put election officals on the spot, in the spotlight, and create major new publicity for groups that get out the vote, and police the counting.

Insects prefer the dark; do not underestimate the power of the pens we have, as an opening salvo. We should demand that every public official be accountable today, by name and rank, by responsiblity and duty. We should demand a public announcement that every polling place be open, all night if necessary, to prevent voter suppression and protect the right to vote.

The Common Sense of this is compelling: Democrats at all levels must begin today to wage an all-out challenge to get out the vote and to count the votes honestly.

I repeat my call from a week ago: We need to raise an urgent $25 million from leading financiers of the Democratic Party and the Progressive Community that would pour money into the people and infrastructure that will empower and motivate people to vote, and empower our people on the ground to fight for, and win, an honest election.

I do not support imitator proposals that raise money that far too often goes to the wrong things, into the wrong hands, paying for the Porsches and portfolios of the consultariat class who do not have financial interest in fighting for the right to vote, or fighting side by side with real heart and soul of the real Democratic Party.

It is high time and long overdue for the leaders of the Party to gather their financial supporters and call them to action, to raise real money, in real time, for the real cause and the common sense of this is as clear as Katherine Harris' ambition.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton: you have the power the raise this money in a New York minute and be the leading champion of voting rights in America and receive standing ovations from the believers in democracy throughout our grateful nation. Be bold. Join us.

Senator John Kerry: It is great to hear your battle cry about the war you will wage against the Swift Boat veterans in 2008. Why don't you wage it now, and beat them now? You have the power, through yourself, your family and your financiers to raise this money in a Massachusetts minute and mobilize forever the grassroots base of the party who will give you a standing ovation that could carry you to the Oval Office you should be sitting in right now.

Vice President Gore: the best single thing you could do to combat global warming is to elect a Democratic Congress that will stand with you, and the earth. If there is one man on the face of the planet who would emerge as the great victorious champion of the right to vote in America, you have the power to mobilize your vast support to achieve $25 million so the Florida recount in 2000, and the suppression of minority voters in Ohio in 2004 will never, ever, happen again in our country.

George Soros, you who did so much to support grassroots democracy for the freedom fighters of Eastern Europe who you stood with so wisely, have the power with the stroke of the pen to take a stand for American Democracy that will put you in the history books, for the ages, with us.

The battle for a voter mobilization, a voter turnout and an honest vote count could provide the golden moment for a live, 24/7 war room that combines the potential power of Air America broadcasts with the potential power of the blogosphere and grassroots democracy.

Imagine in the critical period from now until the votes are done being counted, Air America hosts are issuing the call to action and giving voice on a daily basis to the grassroots activists who are fighting on the ground, and the real Democrats are supporting Air America 24/7 as instant inter-active megaphone for the cause, and instant-reaction war room when abuses are revealed.

More on this theme soon, but imagine that on the first abusive poll closing in the poorest precinct in Cleveland on election day morning, the activists on the ground contact the party officials, who alert Air America, who report the bulletin and issue the call to action, then commucate it to the blogsphere, who mobilize thousands of people on site to get those polls re-opened and provide a morale boost to voters who will stay long enough to be counted, no matter how long it takes.

This would be low cost, high impact, easy to organize and in a close election that is now most likely, could provide the boost that will change the world.

The common sense is clear: the danger is real and the fight is now.

The common sense is incontrovertible: we should launch a maximum impact letter writing campaign that is easy for us to do, to create the pressure to put this danger on the front page of the paper, editorial, Op-Ed and letter to the editor pages.

The common sense says now: every person can do something, and together we can make the difference that can turn the election.

The common sense is beyond debate for Democrats who must stand up from the mat and move forward to fight, and fight, and fight, harder than we have ever fought, truer than have ever been truer to ourselves, to each other, and to the things that make America the stuff that dreams are made of.

The danger is so severe, it is beyond a simple description, but the common sense of the solution is within our power to control, if we use every means at our disposal to wage the fight, with a determination to win that exceeds anything we have seen in 2000, 2002, and 2004.

Thomas Paine championed the notion that the cause of America was the cause of the world. Nothing is more important to America, to our cause, to our country, to our world, than the right of a free people to vote in free and fair elections. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

Without that right, all others are endangered.

This is not 2000, 2002, 2004, and America this November must not be like the election in Maryland, this September. It must be the America that our founding fathers envisioned with elections that belong to us all, one person, one vote, one democracy.

Paine said we have the power to remake the world. And we do. And we can. So let's roll.

Brent Budowsky

A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION

Brent Budowsky served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, responsible for commerce and intelligence matters, including one of the core drafters of the CIA Identities Law. Served as Legislative Director to Congressman Bill Alexander, then Chief Deputy Whip, House of Representatives. Currently a member of the International Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit. Left goverment in 1990 for marketing and public affairs business including major corporate entertainment and talent management. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .