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Friday, June 24, 2011

What Will It Take to Bring Obama Home? Consider the Power Of Write-In Voting For 2012 Moving Left – Part 13 By Suzanne Brooks Columnist

Note: This commentary is in place of Ms. Brooks “Women of Color” column.

Having worked in support Barack Obama’s election to the presidency, I have, since his election, followed his written commitments to implement several constructive programs, services and actions to leverage the efforts of women of color. I’ve looked for constructive programs, services and actions to leverage the efforts of women of color to rise from the bottom of US society, where we have been in every year of this country’s existence, but found women of color again thrown under the proverbial bus. Therefore, I have been searching for new strategies which can be implemented, concurrently, to give the maximum voice and power to the grassroots and working class, along with those now in our ranks (or homeless, jobless and hopeless) who used to be the middle class.

As the primary and general elections of 2012 draw closer, the Democrats and Obama administration have resumed the age-old strategy of sort of associating themselves, with smiles on their faces and pats on our heads, with the millions of poor, foreclosed, language and religious minorities, LGBT communities, unemployed and underemployed, uneducated and undereducated, and all the others who are outside the 13,000 richest families and their corporate agents. The wealthy continue to amass unprecedented power and wealth, while millions will receive death sentences by degree with the coming cuts in food, shelter, healthcare (Medicare and Medicaid), medicine, jobs, unemployment compensation, education (pre-school to doctoral levels), libraries, arts of all kinds, childcare, senior care, and all the other needs we have to survive physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.

It is time we faced the truth once and for all. The savagely greedy who are now living carnivorously off the majority of the people of the country, who have more houses than they can live in, more cars than they can drive and more money than they can spend in a lifetime, do not view the majority of us as worthy of anything - including life. So they can live in luxury, spending more than a million dollars on a meal to entertain visiting “heads of state”. In the streets outside the banquet hall, people are foraging in garbage cans and sleeping in the streets, all the while in fear, as much from those who are supposed to be “representing” us and/or “protecting” us, as from any so-called criminals.

Those who steal food to live are jailed as criminals. Those who steal homes from millions are, for the most part, allowed to continue their activities with ever-increasing monetary rewards. What is the definition of the word criminal today?

With these thoughts in mind, the changing US demographics are increasing in importance. By 2013, whites/European Americans will no longer be a national majority, but they may retain the majority of the country’s wealth and political power unless something stops the momentum.

To those who are not in denial, patterns employed to institute apartheid in South Africa after the so-called World War II can be seen underway in the US. Large numbers of schools serving people of color, the poor, grassroots and working class are being closed. The remaining public schools are being turned over to white corporate control. An overseer class of people of color is being established. These “privileged” children will attend “private” schools where they will be indoctrinated to believe they are better than the majority of people of color whom they will help to oppress.

The turning over of public housing to white corporate control will be implemented soon. Food, education, housing, jobs and prisons will become systems of social management. This will enable a small white power elite and their overseers to control the unarmed, uneducated, unhealthy grassroots, working class groups and eliminate a real middle class by subjecting them to extreme social pressures that demean and debilitate them to preclude any thoughts of rebellion by keeping them in a constant basic survival mode from day to day.

In this way, as was the case in South Africa, in a short time, a small white minority can be empowered to control the people of color of the country who will make up the majority of the population. If the people allow this to happen, there will be a very long period of suffering and dying. As can be seen in South Africa today, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to overcome the consequences of such experiences. So what are we to do?

Surely, it will not be enough to have another rousing Sunday sermon nor another march, be it on Washington or any other place in this country. While those actions had impacts in the past, they were not lasting impacts or we would not be faced with unprecedented powerlessness, real or believed, based on current propaganda.

Increasingly, the news as it was once reported has been replaced by endless stories of local and regional weather, lots of sports, stories of outlandish celebrity behavior and occasional tales of gross immorality by politicians who, for the most part, do little more than apologize.

The important news, current or historical, goes largely unreported. There is no mention of truth. Instead, news is reported as always having 2 sides, even if one side is a fabrication. This is an age-old strategy. In the days of legal chattel slavery, slave owners mutually agreed not to publicize slave escapes so those still in captivity would not learn that many were escaping. Many did, but it was kept quiet. So too, the historical intervention of 5 million US citizens who sent telegrams to Washington, DC when President Nixon fired Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox, in a massive, collective, impromptu order that the Watergate investigation continue, forced Nixon to appoint Leon Jaworski to the post from which he had fired Cox. Ultimately, it was in large measure these 5 million voices that made it clear nothing else would be accepted. The ultimate outcome was Nixon’s resignation. One lesson in this is that the masses of people have the power, if they act - whether organized or as individuals, in planned or spontaneous acts to take control.

There is a second lesson, however. It is that one spontaneous action is not enough but must be followed by planned actions and organization. We are seeing this today in Egypt where the young people succeeded in ousting President Mubarak but lack needed, long term, organizational experience to keep control. These are the lessons before our eyes right now.

What does this have to do with the upcoming primary and general elections? Several issues are already clear. If all that is done is a repetition of actions and strategies in 2008 that made it possible for Barack Obama to become president, then the masses will get the usual hugs and meaningless promises from the primary to general election season and be forgotten after the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

President Obama was elected in November 2008. Two and a half years later, he met with the Congressional Black Caucus for the first time. After neglecting Puerto Ricans and Puerto Rico for the same period, his recent visit there flopped. He is attempting to cull the favor of Africans by sending his wife and children there, without him. During his administration, massive numbers of Mexicans and other Latinos have been deported, though it has been kept out of “mainstream” news.

The Obama administration, in clear support of past kidnappings of President Aristide of Haiti, tried to prevent Aristide from returning to Haiti before the most recent Haitian elections. Similarly, he maintains hostility to Venezuelan President Chavez and is not supporting Bolivia’s President, the only indigenous person ever to achieve a presidency in the Americas. The rest of the Americas are working toward international cooperation as the European Union members once did.

Just as the Romans could not see the impending fall of their empire, neither can the power elite of the US. The world has changed. Rather than holding on to the English-only-US-in-control-of-the-world mentality, the US would do better to lead in promoting justice, multiculturalism, multilingualism, and other diversity related concepts, but to do this would require ending racism and racism plus sexism for women of color inside this country. Nothing can be reformed here without these changes occurring. This cannot be left to the whims of those in power, prepared to self-destruct before embracing equity and justice.

It is up to the rest of us who intend to survive and to be a part of a new world order that includes us all. This means getting involved in many ways. We need not conform to a single course of action but can embark on many which can work collaboratively and concurrently.

This essay advocates the study of the process of write-in voting as a mechanism to draft candidates, rather than through a party process. The suggestion here is to draft Barbara Lee, Member of Congress from Oakland, California for President and Dennis Kucinich, Member of Congress from Ohio, for Vice President in the 2012 Democratic primaries.

In some states, if 100 to 200 people write-in the same candidate in the primary, then that person’s name will be printed on the ballot of the general election. It is critically important that everyone who will cast a write-in ballot contact the local, state and federal offices governing their write-in ballots in any way to insure that their ballot is counted and not thrown out in the precincts or during the vote counting. This cannot be left to others to insure. Thereafter, the Obama administration and the Democratic Party should be notified of the intention of writing in votes during the primary, with the additional information that unless promises made by Obama, his team, and the Democratic Party are kept and made irreversible in laws before the General Election, that Lee and Kucinich will also receive the same write-in votes at the General Election.

No doubt, Obama will win nomination again by the Democratic Party Primary, but if a significant number of grassroots, working class, disabled, religious minorities, people of color, poor, homeless, LGBT and others write in Lee and Kucinich, shock waves will be sent through the Democratic Party. If, as happened less than a month ago, Obama can announce giving billions of dollars to the Egyptian people to forgive debts and to provide social services and help for small businesses there, then people in this country, whose tax dollars are being given by Obama to the Egyptians, should also be entitled to the same helping, caring treatment.

When are the millions of homeless people going to be taken care of? When are those who lost their homes to foreclosures going to be helped into other homes? When are the death sentences on those who have no medical care or inadequate medical care going to be lifted? When are the insurance companies, which are making millions, going to be ended and a national health plan, which is the same for all, installed? When are racism and sexism and other forms of discrimination going to be treated as the crimes they are? When are the corporations and the wealthy going to pay really fair tax shares? Almost half the corporations pay nothing. We do not need to allow any more time for these promises to be kept.

There is money available for all the wars, secret and public, and for handouts to other rich people around the world. We know that sending money to Egypt, like the money promised to Haiti, or New Orleans, it will never reach the masses there. How long will we go along to get along because we are afraid to take a stand? Our people are already dying and more will die unless we insist that promises made to get our votes must be kept this time and every time. It will not matter what party is in office if people continue to close their eyes to the enslavement already in progress in the “privatized” prisons, which include youth facilities, continues uninterrupted.

To those who think the write-in voting process cannot succeed, look to the past. Do your own homework. The information below is to get this process started. There will still be the need to think of other strategies that can complement or supplement the suggestions here. Serious, innovative, old strategies used in new ways and completely new ideas are all needed. We can all do something.

The information below is from Wikipedia {with bracketed comments from this article’s author} because it is written in a manner understandable by people at many reading levels. Only information about presidential primaries is included. Every voter needs to check their own location and not depend on others to do the work for them. Really free people act in their own interests. Those who are curious should research information on write-in campaigns for other political offices.

Wikipedia: A write-in candidate is a candidate in an election whose name does not appear on the ballot, but for whom voters may vote nonetheless by writing in the person's name. Some states and local jurisdictions allow a voter to affix a sticker with a write-in candidate's name on it to the ballot in lieu of actually writing in the candidate's name. Write-in candidacies are sometimes a result of a candidate being legally or procedurally ineligible to run under his or her own name or party. In some cases, write-in campaigns have been organized to support a candidate who is not personally involved in running; this may be a form of draft campaign.

Write-in candidates rarely win, and votes are often cast for ineligible people or fictional characters. {Note: This does not mean they can never win.} Some jurisdictions require write-in candidates be registered as official candidates before the election.F This is standard in elections with a large pool of potential candidates, as there may be multiple candidates with the same name that could be written in.

Many states and municipalities allow for write-in votes in a partisan primary where no candidate is listed on the ballot to have the same functional effect as nominating petitions: for example, if there are no Reform Party members on the ballot for state general assembly and a candidate receives more than 200 write-in votes when the primary election is held (or the other number of signatures that were required for ballot access), the candidate will be placed on the ballot on that ballot line for the general election. In most places, this provision is in place for non-partisan elections as well.

In the United States, write-in candidates have a very small chance of winning, but there have been some notable write-in candidates in the past.

Presidential primaries

In 1928, Herbert Hoover won the Republican Massachusetts presidential primary on write-ins, polling 100,279.

In 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt won the Democratic New Jersey presidential primary with 34,278 write-ins.

In 1944, Thomas Dewey won the Republican Pennsylvania presidential primary with 146,706 write-ins. He also won the Oregon Republican presidential primary with 50,001 write-ins.

In 1948, Harold Stassen won the Republican Pennsylvania presidential primary with 81,242 write-ins.

In 1952, Robert Taft won the Republican Nebraska presidential primary with 79,357 write-ins.

Also in 1952, Estes Kefauver won the Democratic Pennsylvania presidential primary with 93,160 write-ins.

Also in 1952, Dwight Eisenhower won the Republican Massachusetts presidential primary with 254,898 write-ins.

In 1956, Dwight Eisenhower won the Republican Massachusetts presidential primary with 51,951 write-ins.

In 1960, Richard Nixon won the Republican Massachusetts presidential primary with 53,164 write-ins.

Also in 1960, John F. Kennedy won the Democratic Pennsylvania presidential primary with 183,073 write-ins, and he won the Democratic Massachusetts presidential primary with 91,607 write-ins.

In 1964, a write-in campaign organized by supporters of former U.S. Senator and vice presidential nominee Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. won Republican primaries for President in New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, defeating declared candidates Barry Goldwater, Nelson Rockefeller, and Margaret Chase Smith.

In 1968 in the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire, incumbent President Lyndon Johnson did not file, but received write-ins totaling 50% of all Democratic votes cast. Senator Eugene McCarthy, who campaigned actively against Johnson’s Vietnam war policies, was on the ballot. He received an impressive 41% of the vote and gained more delegates than the President. Johnson was so stunned that he did not run for reelection.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader ran a write-in campaign in 1992 during the New Hampshire primary for the presidential nomination of both the Democratic and Republican parties. Declaring himself the "none of the above candidate" and using the Concord Principles as his platform, Nader received 3,054 votes from Democrats and 3,258 votes from Republicans.

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