Taking America Back
Natasha H., age 10
To restore Democracy to the United States, we need to plan for the next two elections now. With Bush in office, it will be easier for the Republicans to continue to defeat the rights of the voters unless everyone is vigilant and willing to work to preserve the country our founders envisioned.
In furtherance of this effort, I have put together the following list of 8 areas that the future work needs to focus on.
I. Monitor Congress
Many times in the past, Democratic members of Congress have caved into pressure from the right wing. The end result of their going along with confirmations of extremist justices who were more interested in partisanship than in justice was that Americans lost their right to choose their own President, the people of Florida lost the right to chose their own electors and the Supreme Court appointed the man who got the fewest votes to be the President of the United States.
The appointed President has an agenda that will harm the environment, women, the elderly, minorities, children, college students, consumers, the working class, the poor, those in need of health care and more. We do not want our representatives to compromise. His nominees are, for the most part, extremists who want to turn back the clock on women's rights, minority rights, and civil rights in general and to turn the environment over to special interests to be gutted.
We want the Democrats in Congress to filibuster, where necessary, and vote against all the Bush agenda. We will welcome the support of any Republican Congressmen who put the interests of the people first by opposing the Bush agenda.
We need to be vigilant and know which representatives and senators go along with Bush and then set up opposition candidates to defeat them at the primary level in their next election. After the primary, it is too late. We need to defeat these weak Democrats there. To make this work, we will have to be willing to do whatever legwork and donate whatever time is needed to replace any side-switching Democrats with those who support the agenda America voted for in 2000.
II Increase the Number of Voters
We must continue to register voters. If voters will be unavailable to go to the polling places on Election Day, we (not the Republicans) need to ensure that they are able to use the absentee process.
III New Laws
We need new laws regarding removal of voters from voting lists. Voters in Florida were wrongfully removed from voting lists (without notice) following a false report regarding felony convictions provided by DBT (part of Choicepoint).
The new laws should require ninety days notice to the voter of the intent to remove and reason thereof and allow the voter thirty days to respond. People who register within ninety days of the election should be verified or questioned (if at all) within three days of their registering. The burden of proof needs to be placed upon the Secretary of State, and voters who are in danger of being removed or of not being added should be provided with counsel if they cannot afford one.
Additional laws should go further to bar police officers from interfering with the right of minorities to vote and include major penalties for any interference with voting rights. There needs to be a presumption written into the laws that anyone stopped by a law enforcement officer within 1000 feet of a polling place on their way to vote was stopped for an illegal purpose. These laws need to also create a way to monitor these activities and immediately squelch these activities as they occur. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the 14th Amendment didn't help much in Florida.
An additional law should require that if a person is arrested for committing a crime on election day, they must still be allowed to stop at a polling place to vote in private on the way to jail. Voting booths should be present at all jails. Remember people who commit misdemeanors or who are awaiting trial still have the right to vote.
Additional laws should provide for a uniform national ballot and uniform ballot readers (with ways to confirm their correctness) and mandate hand counts (when requested - especially where there is an under-vote for one of the major offices) to ensure the correctness of the machine counts.
It is important that efforts be made to educate the public about major issues, such as current and past Supreme Court interpretations of the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th and 14th Amendments. The reasons a candidate cannot get elected on a platform of protecting people from police abuses is that people (even in 2001) are undereducated. Most people are unaware that they have fewer rights in a court of law today than they did thirty years ago. I know about this because I was drilled on it in third grade history. Surprisingly, I have discovered that most adults know less than I do about the Constitution.
We also need to educate the public about the records of various candidates.
Anyone who knew the truth about Bush's record on health care, the environment, religion, hate crime legislation, the economy and guns and of the fact that he bankrupted three corporations either voted against him or was a right-wing extremist who didn't care. Had there been a better effort at education, Bush's support would have been limited to the extremists and Gore would have won by a landslide.
We need to organize societies designed to educate children (who will one day be voters) and adults about all this stuff. If possible, we should start this education in all grammar schools. We kids are smart enough to comprehend all this political stuff, and we generally discuss what we are learning with our parents. My parents learn a lot from me. We also need to be at county fairs, shopping centers and other public places handing out booklets informing the public about matters they have no idea affect their lives.
V. Monitor the Election
We need to be monitoring the whole voting process. We need to make sure no one has been illegally removed from a voter list. We need to be at the polling places on Election Day. We need to make sure the volunteers know what they are doing. We need to make sure the voters have assistance if they do not understand the ballot, and that they can obtain a duplicate ballot if they make a mistake.
We also need to monitor the activity around the polling places. We need to get injunctions preventing police interference. Based on past police practices, there is a substantial likelihood that this will happen every election. Therefore, we need to prepare in advance. We need to also have video cameras (particularly at all polling places in minority areas) to deter anyone from interfering with the rights of voters and cell phones to call for help if someone does.
VI. Boycotts and other Consumer Action
It is important to boycott all organizations that support the Republican Party. The money the Republicans received from these organizations made it easier for them to steal the 2000 election. If we all work together, we can discourage any future contributions to the Republican Party.
We also need to maintain the boycott of Florida businesses and tourism. The Republicans in that state want to unseat the Florida justices who supported the voters, and Jeb and the Republicans in the Florida legislature took extra steps to ensure that the voice of the voters would not be heard. In boycotting Florida, we will be supporting the voters there whose voice was suppressed.
We also need to stop watching TV stations that carry biased news programs, such as Fox. We need to establish an alternative news media so that Americans can learn the real news. The reason the polls were so lopsided was that they were conducted in a biased fashion and those polled were unrepresentative of the average American voter. We need to counter this with the dissemination of more accurate information.
We also need to support businesses that support the Democratic Party and Democracy. Certain businesses (such as Costco/Price Club) gave 100% of their donations to the Democratic Party and others are closing on J20 to protest the inauguration.
VII. Unifying Our Side (In other words Winning)
We need to form coalitions to back viable candidates we all agree on and to be willing to compromise in the best interests of the country. But these candidates must be capable of obtaining a majority rather than just acting as protest candidates. In the end, protest candidates from the left serve the right wing better than the cause they claim to represent. In the last election, the center was unwilling to reach out to the liberals, and some of the liberals were willing to turn the country over to Bush rather than back a viable alternative. The Bush forces reached to the right-wing extremists and unified their party in that direction. This put them within reach of the White House, and with the addition of a more than a few illegalities plus a biased Supreme Court appointment of the President, they were successful. If the Democrats/Peace and Freedoms/Greens/Socialists, etc are unified around a single candidate, no one and no Supreme Court will defeat us. We need to consolidate our side. We are all good people with all good causes.
Additionally we need to help those leaders who are under attack from the right-wingers in this country. When leaders are courageous enough to take a stand for us, we need to stand up and fight for them. This will encourage other leaders to muster up the same courage and join our fight.
We need to give this our all and not stop halfway. It will take a lot of hard work and commitment. Our country is worth it. Democracy is worth it.
All the issues we support are worth it. We can take back our country and make it everything it was meant to be. It won't happen on its own and our elected officials won't do it for us. We have to do it.
If you want to join with others to work on these or additional suggestions to restore democracy to the American people, send email to Intelligentones@yahoo.com.