A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Brent Budowsky
Democracy can die a slow death from a thousand cuts, inflicted by a few small men, wielding deadly little knives, drawing blood one drop at a time, on a slumbering people, who take their freedom for granted, and let it slip slowly away.
Even today, after 2000, after 2002, after 2004, there are stories in the news about abuses against the right to vote, committed by the same people, for the same reason, done the same ways, and yet the people who should care, don't, and the people who should be fighting against this, aren't.
In my day when the Battle of Britain was raging, when bombs were bursting above our heads, when all of Europe had fallen and the imperial army had stormed across the Pacific, we knew what you forget, that freedom is precious, that freedom is hard, that freedom comes at a high price, that not one inch of freedom must ever be lost, because once we surrender one inch, we risk it all.
In my day had a foreign power invaded America and installed a proconsul, who ruled that your Bill of Rights and National Laws were no longer in effect, unless he permitted it, a righteous people would have rallied in the streets with a thundering voice calling out: never, never, never.
The world needs America. The world needs America to be America. The world needs America to be the light and the flame and the torch. Yet today because you have lost sight about what America means at home, you have inflicted great harm and shed great blood on yourselves, and the world.
I do not need to make dire predictions about the future, the ugly truth is told by the shame of the present.
When your Leader said he could take away your Bill of Rights on his own personal whim, you did nothing.
When your Leader said he could violate law based on some claimed power he has, you stayed silent.
When your Leader claimed he could inflict horrid acts of torture that break international laws honored by every democracy on earth, you surrendered.
When your Leader claimed the power to jail people without hearings and imprison people without justice, you gave in.
When your Leader claimed the power to detain people without charges, and inflict punishment and pain on unknown people without lawyers or law, you submitted.
When your Leader seized the power to invade your home without a warrant and take your body without a writ, you did nothing.
When your Leader claimed the power to take your privacy without a court and take your rights without a hearing, you gave in.
When your Leader said the Congress has no right to be involved in the policy of making war, you gave up.
When your Leader said your Courts have no responsiblity for upholding your Constitution without his permission, you stood down.
Every one of these abridgments of basic freedom was done before your eyes and in plain view, with the support of many, with the submissiveness of some, and with the ignorant acquiesence of others who had better things to do than value the freedom that braver men and women than you, died to leave to you, in trust.
Here is how it looks to the friends of freedom in heaven who are shouting to you with the great documents, books and ideas for democracy that have been written through the ages.
It all begins with the unbridled arrogance of those who won the 2000 election and came to believe, so far correctly, that they could get away with anything.
Every American, every Democrat, every friend of freedom should go to sleep every night, and wake up every morning, with giant pictures of Katherine Harris, Karl Rove, John Bolton and Jim Baker as they were counting the votes in Florida.
Every American, every Democrat, every friend of freedom everywhere should go to sleep every night, and wake up every morning, and read the decision of the United States Supreme Court acting like partisan hacks making a party line vote, deciding the American Presidency.
Every American, every Democrat, every friend of democracy should go to sleep every night, and wake up every morning, and read the stories from 2002 and 2004 about voters being threatened and intimidated, about voting lists being purged, about voting rolls being stripped, about letters of threat to voters being sent in the mail, about leaflets aimed to intimidate voters being handed out even in churches, about polls being close early, about voters being fraudulently turned away, about honorable people being forced to wait seven hours for their most important right to be honored.
Every American, every Democrat, every friend of freedom in this land should go to sleep every night, and wake up every morning, and read the stories about an election only days away, about problems with voting in state after state already this year, about predictions of chaos and warnings of crisis, from those desperately trying awaken a slumbering nation.
Every American, every Democrat, every friend of democracy should spend every one of these last few days asking how six years after 2000, our election system is more dangerously flawed than ever before, with machines that even the election officials do not always understand, with technology that remains secret from our nation, with standards that do not exist, election workers who are too often untrained, and a media that is obsessed with spin doctors, dirt mongers and dance contests more than the sanctity of democracy.
To average Americans, security moms, soccer moms, military communities, workers, families, men and women of faith, please understand that the problems that plague us today, come naturally and inevitably, from the attitudes of those who believe they can get away with anything. Those who deliberately destroy the checks and balances of democracy. Those who aggressively demean the opinions of others. Those who deliberately destroy the very fabric of democratic debate and who deliberately destoy the very unity of nations, seeking ever more ugly politics, aimed at winning ever nastier elections, resulting in ever more catastrophic disasters.
This is what happens when our democratic institutions and democratic spirit of goodwill are destroyed in the name of aggressive and hostile partisanship, in the single-minded pursuit of total power. This disrespectul and contemptuous one-partyism is the cause of our crisis from mismanagement of the war in Iraq to the abuses of pages in Washington, from the corruption that has turned our capital into the house of the bought and sold, to our inabiity to agree even on urgent missions such as protecting our ports, defending our borders and supplying our troops.
To good Republicans, many of you agree with much of what I write here, and you need to have a heart to heart with yourselves, about whether the time has belatedly come for you to dissent from your party, on behalf of your country, before this madness goes further.
To Democrats you should be embarrassed and ashamed that after 2000, 2002, and 2004 the party of the people will be disastrously outspent, yet again, on election day, in getting out the vote. Have you learned nothing?
It is pathetic, wrong and inexcusable that after 2000, 2002 and 2004 your party remains ten years behind the Republicans on matters of bringing out voters on election day and fighting to ensure that the voting is honest.
It is incredible, unbelievable and pathetic that after 2000, 2002 and 2004 you have leading party financiers who have given ten times more to promote democracy in Russia than to defend democracy in America, that you have a former candidate hoarding tons of money from 2004, because he wants to be a candidate in 2008, rather than using that money and being the hero who leads the fight for the right to vote in 2006.
Every American, every Democrat, every friend of freedom everywhere should be pounding the table with outrage at the Election Assistance Commission, that was created after 2000 to ensure integrity of democracy and is nothing more than a fraud, a farce and a sham that at best has done zero, and at worst, is the great enabler for the potential corruption and chaos of elections in America.
Every American, every Democat, every friend of freedom should be demanding that every Secretary of State entrusted to protect the franchise, and every election official that allows this to happen, who have not done their jobs six years after 2000, be impeached, fired, recalled or removed if there are crises in their jurisdictions that they are doing nothing to prevent today.
This is a warning in the most Churchillian terms to Democrats in the Sunday New York Times sounding like schoolchildren giddy with glee, that you finally might win an election, or acting like Halloween trick or treaters, spooked at what the Republican ghouls will do to you, again.
This is not the time for giddy glee and this is not the time for paranoid fears. This is the time to fight for freedom and democracy in your own backyard, knowing that this election could be decided by a handful of votes in a handful of places. Knowing that the arrogance and contempt from those who think they can get away with anything, will be without limits if you let them get away with this. Knowing that they have you outgunned, outmanned, outorganized, outspent and outmanuevered yet again, this time, now even more than ever before, in the machinery of getting out and counting the votes.
This is a warning in the most Churchillian tones to a party that has known little but losing for the last six years. You have to do what we did, when our back was against the wall in the Battle of Britain and we fought them on the beaches, and we fought them on the seas, and we fought them on the land, and we fought them in the air because the stakes were beyond description and our will to win was single-minded, and strong beyond anything we have known before.
Democrats should be holding hearings right now in Washington, even with Democrats only, bringing this matter to the front pages with the truth about dangers already proven this year.
Democrats should be threatening hearings after the election with investigators and subpoenas aimed at anyone who tries to steal even one vote, in one precinct, in one race in these coming days.
Democrats should be mobilizing hundreds and thousands of lawyers from the firms large and small, from the law schools and halls of academia, far more powerful than anything being done now, far more similar to the Freedom Summers in the 1960's than the losing tactics of recent years, airlifting them on Election Day into key states and precints where trouble is most likely.
Democrats should be prepared to call for grand juries and prosecutions in trouble spots in a moment's notice getting ready now, today, this minute, in jurisdictions with a history of trouble.
Democrats should be voting in droves using absentee ballots to protect their franchise.
Democratic leaders should conduct a national emergency conference call with everyone throughout the blogosphere and conduct the most massive and unprecedented fundraising drive in the history of democracy to raise emergency money for the NAACP and other programs to get out the vote and ensure the integrity of this election.
Democratic financiers should have a sense of urgency and passion and conviction and write large last minute checks to respected groups that police the honesty of elections.
National Democratic Leaders with giant PACs to promote future candidacies must go the extra mile and make major contributions in these closing days and those sitting on money given to them in trust for 2004 must use it now, now, now, now when the stakes are so high and the consequences of failure so enormous.
And to answer Senator Kerry's staff in The New York Times, I don't know who is behind the anonymous website, it is certainly not me. I am not anonymous, I am not a coward, and I say openly and clearly that it is a total disgrace for John Kerry to be hoarding money that he did not use in an election he did not fight hard enough to win. It is disgrace for candidates not running or candidates in safe seats to be hoarding huge piles of money, when we are in the fight of our lives, for the values we hold dearest, in a country facing crisis.
The hosts of Air America and progressive radio everywhere should act like war rooms with broadcasts that appeal for money and support, work with candidates and blogs, use the media to create a 24/7 megaphone for democracy that sets aside the grievances and becomes a national machine for empowerment, action and organization for these last few days before these huge, historic elections.
In a few short days, when the people vote, there will be a cannon of democracy that will be heard around the world. This will either be the finest hour or the darkest day. This is not the moment to be giddy or gleeful for an election that could well be lost. It is not the moment for paranoia or fear about an election that could still be stolen or given away through malfeasance or mistake, in a handful of precincts, that determine a small number of races, that will decide control of the Congress.
This is a time for organization, battle, focus, commitment, energy and mission, and it is a time to fight them on the beaches, on the land, in the sky, on the seas and everywhere.
The stakes are high.
The mission is clear.
The cause is just.
The battle is now.
It is up to you.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION