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Election Day is around the corner.  How do you feel about your choices? 

We can argue, debate and strategize what to do around elections, like the one this Tuesday (...and we do!).  Vote red, vote blue, hold your nose and vote damage control, vote green or abstain.  We act indignant and outraged as if this election is somehow unique in history for being subject to compromise.  

What might we do to feel, and be, more empowered in the electoral/governance process that drives our states and countries?

What other choices in your life do you, or have you, given up on or put in the hands of others? .

Describe a time you took your power of personal choice back. 

Read more and add to the conversation here ...

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This is so good of you Mark, to share your stories.  That difficult time it seems resulted in a well grounded and articulated passion that will undoubtedly help to change the world (it is changing me).  For some reason it is easier to hear and to learn from stories.  Perhaps this is the way to bridge our gulf! 

This individual - collaborative Action below protests election campaigns that allow big money to select THEIR candidates, keeping tight two party system, and using the 99% to vote only in order to give legitimacy to their self serving acts.    ~only my opinion
Link for signs (8.5"x11" and 8.5"x14") copy off as jpeg format.  Change below re Materials
They should be printed out or copied In COLOR for effect, and stuck on existing candidates signs along roads, at polling places, intersections.  good luck and have a lot of fun.  If you like this action and decide to do it pls let me know... take pictures too and send them!! This can really be dramatic when many in a row are viewed.

updated instructions are below. you'll get the hang of it after doing a few.  Begin asap and have a batch in your car so do ad hoc also.  Have fun! call me with comments or stories.

Some discussion from the DA workgroup... Be frugal put our signs on candidate signs that can be well seen, where many are in a row so as to gather attention.  possibility of news media picking this up as an election spectacle because it can be dramatic.  

Secure your paper completely on existing sign rather than hanging it off the edge.  Practice at home. Take a damp rag. 

You may need to return to replace your signs again close to election night. Pls report what happens.  Thanks!

Action: Post our "99% - Guy Faux Mask" Signs (Very Dramatic Red-Black Design
placed atop thousands of candidate signs around town.  There are ~4 signs to choose from... mix and match.  Try to do at least a hundred each in your own neighborhoods.
Who: Individually or in Groups, on your own schedule. Try to do as many as possible prior to the Weekend before the election Nov 6.  Please spread the word!
Where:  Wherever there are clusters of candidate signs on public property, e.g., at busy intersections, around polling places, along roads.. SEE Legal NOTES below & prev email  Candidate signs within 3 feet of street are not legally protected by law
How: Suggest using clear shipping tape.  My experience glue sticks (not waterproof) or with spray cans-  is not good.  Brushed thick liquid can be OK only if it gets tacky quickly.  Test whatever you want to try at the store.  
Materials:  Print out these jpeg files downloaded from link provided there are 8.5"x11" and 8.5x14 ones you like.. .JPEG files at an office store and get them run off in color (~$.40 ea).  Recommended:  Clear shipping tape
Leverage:  Out target is the Voter.  We expect this will be our highest exposure event in Raleigh and other cities.  This is part of a Solidarity Action with Oakland.  This particular 99% sign action is being announced nationally.  The mission in this is not to tell people what to think, but rather "To Make Them Think" about their utter dissatisfaction w the status quo (baby steps to true peoples government).  We hope you can make this into a spectacle event that belies our true numbers. 
Larger intention is to Change Our Broken Democratic System which locks us into a two party system allowing money to control who the viable candidates are... regardless of obtaining the required signatures to run for any office.  In a country that purports to serve all it's citizens it is we the people who must prescribe who should be running, not corporate interest and money.  Only then does our vote count.


Dyck Dewid,  919-623-3624-cell              

Excellent action! Thank you for posting it, Dyck.

Unfortunately, even though it would have the desired effect of making people think instead of just voting, the people behind it seem to think that being able to have better candidates and a more even playing field would be helpful. I usually call that, "Putting good apples into a rotten barrel." It's the system that has to be changed, not the players. The rules of the US electoral/governance system were designed specifically to ensure that the system could not be changed by playing by those rules.

Details like campaign financing, how the votes are counted, ballot access, etc., only distract from the real problem--that the Constitution ensured that the popular vote would not be the final say.

If corporate campaign financing was banned, we had free and equal ballot access for everyone, the votes were counted publicly and accurately, and everyone who voted cast their ballot for. oh, let's say Dyck Dewid for President, the states could direct their Electoral delegates to vote for somebody else, or Congress could refuse to accept the Electoral votes, or the Supreme Court could step in, stop the vote count, and select the President themselves. The Framers didn't become wealthy by leaving things up to chance, and they certainly didn't leave anything up to chance when they wrote the Constitution.

Is this bought political power too big, too daunting to fight? ... and this is only about counting votes. (don't we already know this?) What else can we do but become unified in the 99% and revolt?  To me, its still a while off when the suffering becomes unbearable. ~

Organic Consumers Assn is very concerned that a cabal of right-wing extremists who now control most of the proprietary electronic voting machines and optical scanners will be counting our votes our Nov. 6, not only in California, but across the entire United States. These extremists are funded by powerful corporations and special interests, including the Romney family. From the Presidential race all the way down through state ballot initiatives and local city council elections, election integrity is at risk. Many analysts, including former presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry, now believe that the 2000 and 2004 elections were stolen and that there was major electronic vote theft in the local, state, and federal 2008 elections as well.

To help us safeguard the integrity of the Nov. 6 vote in California, OCA approached two well-known exit poll companies to carry out exit polls for us to verify the Prop 37 vote count on whether or not genetically engineered foods should be labeled. But are these companies truly independent and reliable? The first one, Edison Communications, carried out exit polls in the fraudulent 2000 and 2004 elections. The second one, Penn, Schoen, Berland, seemed eager to do an exit poll for a fee of $60 - $70,000. But as it turns out PSB is actually part of the infamous Burson-Marsteller public relations firm, one of whose most prominent clients is, would you believe it, Monsanto? Needless to say we declined to hire Monsanto's agents to verify the results of a vote that Monsanto alone has spent more than $8 million to quash.

If we can't trust pre-election polls, if we can't trust prominent exit pollsters, if we can't trust the vote tabulations from privately-owned electronic voting machines and optical scanners, what are we supposed to do? We need a revolution in our electoral practices. We can no longer allow our elections to be bought or stolen. We need to get corporate special interest money out of politics, like the nearly $50 million we're up against from Monsanto, Dupont, and junk food companies on Prop 37 in California. And we need to return to the tried-and-true traditional practice of publicly-counted paper ballots, which is still the norm in most countries.

Thank you, Dyck. Yes, I do see us bridging our gulf, and I am grateful for your bridge-building skills.

Before becoming an election boycott activist, I spent six years in the election integrity movement, observing elections, doing research on election codes, laws, and procedures, filing public records requests, bringing litigation, and working with others both locally and nationally to try to find a way to ensure that our votes would be counted and counted accurately. I only began to focus on boycotting elections once I had learned that our Constitution had designed an electoral process in such a way as to ensure that the popular vote, if the plutocracy didn't like the results, would never be the final say. The 39 wealthy Federalists who signed the Constitution were well aware that if the mob and rabble gained the franchise, they might use it to limit the power of the wealthy, and since they could not prevent future generations from enfranchising women, Blacks, and landless workers, they had to create an electoral system where the powerful could always overrule the votes of the powerless. That's the system we still have today.

Publicly counted paper ballots aren't much use if the Supreme Court can step in and overturn the results of the election. Should Prop. 37 pass, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional for violating the Constitutional rights of Monsanto.

Great graphic, by the way. I bought some red-white-and-blue stickers that say, "Vote here!" that I sometimes put on dumpsters and bathroom walls. ;)

More from Meg Wheatley's So Far from Home, re the question What might we do to feel, and be, more empowered in the electoral/governance process that drives our states and countries?

“There comes a time when all life on Earth
is in danger. Great barbarian powers have arisen."

Although these powers spend their wealth in preparations
to annihilate one another, they have much in common:
weapons of unfathomable destructive power, and technologies
that lay waste our world. In this era, when the
future of sentient life hangs by the frailest of threads, the
Shambhala warriors appear.”

The warriors have no home. They move on the terrain of
the barbarian powers. Great courage is required, both
moral and physical, for they must go into the heart of the
barbarian powers to dismantle their weapons, into the
places where the weapons are created, into the corridors
of power where decisions are made. (p.125)

This is telling me that we can't expect transformation to happen from outside the system, at least not in time to "save the world" (Dang!  There it is again!).  So rather than vilifying government and corporations from the outside, we need to engage with them from the inside as well.  Many will say that is futile--the imaginal cells trying to change teh caterpillar.  I wonder though, if we really know enough to say that.  People are waking up all over the world, and many of them are inside of the institutions that are at the heart of what ails us.  Hell, I still think Obama, for all his policy disappointments, is probably awake as well!

Sometimes change cannot come from outside OR inside the system, Ben.

Sometimes change can only come about from within us.

My response to Jitendra above addresses parts of this dilemma.

The Japanese government has been offering $5,000 a day for a few minutes work to those willing to go into the Fukushima reactors and attempt to control the escalating radiation leaks. There used to be many volunteers, particularly from among the elderly who felt that sacrificing their few remaining years to help others was worth doing, and among the very poor who needed the money for food and shelter for their families, but now there are few volunteers because people know the futility of going into a damaged nuclear reactor to try to stop radioactivity that is not and cannot be contained. It is not that the Japanese lack courage, just that the experience has taught them some common sense.

Obama is apparently not awake to the cries of the innocent children he drone bombs daily, to the cries of mothers of still-born or fatally deformed children from the depleted uranium weapons he commands his troops to use, to the global poverty and hunger that his economic policies are exacerbating, or to the fact that he personally has taken the United States back nine Centuries to the Dark Ages before the Magna Carta by demanding the right to legally imprison or assassinate US citizens without due process, but he is certainly awake to the slightest demands of Goldman Sachs and his other big donors. And if you can call crimes against humanity and the most outrageous destruction of democracy in 900 years, "policy disappointments," I have to wonder just how awake you are yourself, Ben.

Oh I don't give a shit about Obama, or any other blame guy!  So articulate, Mark, teaching but also as the Prince-Implier if not predictor of doom and gruel.  Could you consider it is NOT one person, nor several, who have these atrocities on their palate. 

Surely in your essay you speak of us... of me... and you, who separately are powerless, but who have defaulted to our masked corporate/government saviors.  Can't see it for you?  OK, I'll take the blame on myself.  I could have done more.  Don't WE know, in collaboration we have the sway?  Yet I (we) do not know how to collaborate.................yet!

I wonder if there's room within you for this... let's US take the fuckin blame ourselves... these lockstep years as apathetic, cowardly, smug, consuming, fearful, competing, ambitious, proud, shallow, ignorant citizens... devoid of character except for getting the lowest price.  Let's get angry, then regret it, repent it, forgive ourselves, and move the fuck on.  Survive as WE define it!

I think Bill Blum really outdoes me in every way, Dyck:

The Universe Unraveling (November 1, 2012)

I haven't accused us of all that stuff. I know that even after studying metaphysics, I remained asleep. I know that most of us are sleepwalkers. But I don't want to blame, or prescribe a course of absolution, I just want us to wake up, take a good look around, and stop making things worse or delegating our power to a system dedicated to making things worse. That much alone, I think, would make things better.

Okay, technically, not making things worse doesn't necessarily make things better, but it does stop making things worse. That's a start, right?

I realize we can't blame ourselves if we're still sleepwalking.  We don't know what we're doing when we're sleepwalking because we're unconscious, no? 

But, if I indeed have blame and don't take responsibility for it (broke system) that means it will never be remedied... especially if we all do this (and hide in one another).

This would tell me I'm still sleepwalking.... but of course, I can't hear it.   And if perhaps one or two others is partially awake I won't hear them either.  of course that's where we are, no?

I don't think we should blame ourselves for not recognizing the consequences of our actions, Dyck, I think we should just try to recognize the consequences of our actions and try to stop doing those things that have bad consequences.

In an earlier comment in this thread Jitendra gave an example of civil disobedience making things worse, but then went on to say:

Civil disobedience needs to take on the intelligence of high level chess with long range strategies and understanding of time-released effects.  I think then we'll have the experience of covering more ground more effectively.  In the mean time, do what we're called to do.  Don't stop doing something.

What I'm saying is if that a strategy makes things worse, we need to stop using it, stop doing it, and think of strategies that, even if they don't make things better, at least won't make things worse. To keep using strategies that make things worse, just because they're something to do and we feel called to do something, won't make things better. You don't have to be a chessmaster to figure that out.

Serious chess players study various strategies, rejecting those that don't work and utilizing those that do. They study the history of chess games in detail and learn from both the failures and successes of those that have gone before them. A chessmaster won't make the mistakes that a novice might, because they've studied the game and know to avoid the most common mistakes.

If you start playing chess without having studied the game, you're apt to make mistakes that will cost you the game. You can repeat those mistakes forever in game after game, but it won't make you a better chess player. But if you get some books on chess and learn why those mistakes cost you the game and avoid them in the future, your playing will improve.

Basic stuff--everyone here already knows this, I'm sure. But many people really do play without first studying the game, because they're just casual players and winning isn't important to them. It's just a game. They look for other casual players because they can't qualify for tournaments or aspire to ever becoming grandmasters.

But chess is based on real life. There are real kings, queens, bishops, and knights in this world, waging real wars, and we're the pawns, not the players.

When I was a homeless teenager in New York, I was sitting by the chess tables in Washington Square Park one day, hoping a table might open up so I could play, and got to talking with the guy sitting next to me, who turned out to be Doc Humes, a former editor of the Paris Review. He not only taught me to play mental chess, where you don't need a physical chess board because you number the columns and rows so that each square has a unique number and letter, he also said something that has stuck in my mind all these years. He said that if the pawns on a chessboard became conscious, they wouldn't see two chess masters vying for victory, they'd see two tyrants in collusion to wipe them, the pawns, off the board. In other words, whether it is the white or the black, the Democrats or the Republicans, we're just tools they are using to further their own ambitions.

I think we need to study the game, stop being pawns, and start being conscious players.

Mark, it is confusing to me when we're speaking of blame for a broken system (who created this fucked up situation?).... and then shoving that aside, to discuss actions or disobedience, or strategy, how to fix, etc. 

It isn't logical to me how we can do anything but let off steam...when one doesn't even acknowledge fully their part in creating the mess.  Its like a screaming infant who wants attention, just for the attention... wanting adults to figure it out and then fix it.

And if we were asleep before, how is it we're not asleep now?  It sure sounds childish to think its always someone's fault and THEY need to fix it.

So, I do feel deeply (and know this in my heart) that in my small way I live, to a less or more degree, a hypocritical, cowardly, self-serving, life.  And when the millions like me are all put together in one place we make a hell of a mess... and we elect those who we deserve (cause their just like us).  I do join in actions that have potential to get others AND MYSELF to wake up and live responsibly.

Absolutely, I'm on a personal mission to redeem myself in my current life... it has and does include acknowledging (as specifically as possible) what I have done and have not done that harms others.  I have been when possible, asking their forgiveness because I have true regret.  For others I can't connect with, I repent alone. To do this I MUST FULLY take responsibility for my past and present including my inexcusable (even if human) propensity to be asleep. 

I know I'm also in a state of sleep right now (full of unthinking scripts that play over and over in me) as I speak.  But I'm on my way to forgiving myself.... Maybe then my anger will go away.  My heart tells me I must do this before I can apply love as a solution.


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