Sunday, June 04, 2006

Democracy slipping away

There's a lot of excellent reading to do this week - so rather than keep you here, let me send you on the rounds.

First. You MUST read RFK Jr.'s debate-changing piece, "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" from Rolling Stone Magazine. This is the same magazine that gave us Carl Bernstein's seminal piece on "The CIA and the Media" in October of 1977. This June 2006 piece is an important summary of reasons to suspect that our election was hijacked.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s article is the clearest, most cohesive summary yet. God bless that man, who continues to show himself truly worthy of bearing his father's name. I feel that he is one of the few moral leaders of our time who is fighting for us, every day in every way, be it through his work with Riverkeepers, the National Resources Defense Council, his environmental awareness raising, and now, on the incredibly important problems with our election system. Read, forward, and discuss!

The article is not flawless. If you read Farhad Manjoo's piece in Salon, you might think RFK's piece was fraught with errors. However, Manjoo's piece is fraught with distortions, as this excellent diary on Daily Kos shows.

Another excellent post on Daily Kos compares the early days of Hitler's rise to our current situation. Like us, the Germans were willing to give up their freedoms for security. As in America, the changes were so gradual that people didn't stop to think how bad things were getting. Like the story of the frog in slowly heated water, the Germans thought if things were really bad, their countrymen would be taking action. By the time they realized how bad it all was, it was far too late to do anything about it.

And lest we forget, today is the 38th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. His death presaged all of this. Had he lived, I know our country would have gone down a different path. We might be in Iraq, but it might have been to build hospitals, rather than to increase body count in existing ones. Nixon took the country a sharp turn to the right, a turn from which we have never recovered. We are accelerating down the wrong path, every day further from the values of justice and democracy which our soldiers signed up to die to protect. Shame on us.

I am reminded of words from the character V in V for Vendetta:
...the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance, and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, think, and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillence coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense.
We can't let fear control our actions. We must find the integrity within us all that has the power to override our fear, to swallow hard, and to do the right thing.

Our system of voting is in near shambles, thanks in large part to the cynically named "Help America Vote Act". That act required every state to upgrade its voting systems on a very short timeframe. The few vendors who make voting machines can't handle the load. And in many cases - we've thrown out what works and invited hacker-vulnerable systems in instead. It's very important that everyone realize how bad the system is, and work to fix it. No one is going to fix it for you. YOU have to get involved. If you care. If you don't want to be one of "Hitler's Willing Executioners" as an author called the people who passively accepted Hitler rather than fighting back. It's very bad. No, we're not burning Jews in ovens. They're burning votes. They're preparing us for a dictatorship.

So the best way to thwart this is to vote the thugs out. But if our vote is not our own, we won't be able to do that. What to do??

Vote as if it counts. Work as if it doesn't. Yesterday, I posted on Kos a list of actions you can take to help reclaim our vote. It's not yet too late. But the sand in the hourglass is rushing down.

Will you stand up? Will you take action? America is calling. Will you answer?


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