Since the start of this month there has been more high profile, corporate media coverage of our “election” charades than perhaps any other period during the Bush regime. Could this be a sign we are approaching a bona fide tipping point, after which things will be totally different? Well, I want to believe it, but I think we first need the progressive media to get on the same page about some talking points.
1. Secret vote counting guarantees inconclusive outcomes. Whether it is paperless DREs or optical scanners with interpreted or proprietary code, votes are being “counted” in secret, without even a chance for voters, elections officials or the media to examine the process or verify the results.
2. Unverified voting means there is NO BASIS for confidence in the results reported. Blind trust is required to accept current election results.
3. The media should not report what it cannot prove or independently verify. We now have faith-based reporting about faith-based elections.
4. The Consent of the Governed is being assumed, not sought, under current election conditions. According to the Declaration of Independence, the “just Power” of government derives from the Consent of the Governed.
5. Here is a partial list (in no particular order) of additional items to which we must say: We Do Not Consent.
a) The lost presumption of innocence;
b) Spying on Americans and an overall loss of privacy;
c) Government lawlessness;
d) Destruction of our environment;
e) The promise of endless war;
f) Free speech zones;
g) Depleted Uranium (Mr. Bush’s slow-motion holocaust);
h) Government run media;
i) Secret prisons, torture and war crimes;
j) and We Do Not Consent to secret vote counting machines.
The larger question that should emerge from these talking points is: Has the Consent of the Governed been withdrawn, YET? Presented this way the question takes a tone of inevitability – not if, but when! This is how we pave a path to a tipping point.
This set of points varies in at least one very dramatic way from the high profile corporate coverage recently given to election integrity. For examples, start with Rolling Stone  publishing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s hefty recitation of the of the travesty of the 2004 “election” in Ohio, plus the ensuing TV appearances (CNN , Fox , MSNBC  – all .wmv videos), and the online rebuttals and rejoinders (Farhad Manjoo at Salon.com , Paul Lehto , Bob Fitrakis , and even Bobby Kennedy  himself). In all cases, progressive people are arguing over past events that can’t be changed with people who are not even open to having their minds changed.
What would be better is educating progressive media about these powerful forward-looking arguments. Icons such as Thom Hartmann , Peter B. Collins  (.mp3 of my interview last week), and Randi Rhodes  can help us teach the public at large in a way that enables understanding of our current condition while fostering an appropriately strong and unified response. The talking points above allow us to discuss that which can be agreed upon, namely, what are the conditions for the elections we’re about to have. The lesson, however, is that such conditions ensure inconclusive outcomes which should never be expected to produce unanimous acceptance. By narrowly defining a common view of the problem we become poised to take united action.
The Voter Confidence Resolution  (VCR) is a document reflecting all the talking points above. The City Council of Arcata, CA  was the first to adopt the VCR, and Palo Alto, CA will soon be considering its own version. Each community is encouraged to use Arcata’s language as a template, keeping the main talking points and customizing other areas, including an election reform platform. This inspires local debate about sensible standards that should aim at delivering conclusive election outcomes and creating a basis for confidence in the results reported.
In Hartmann’s recent AlterNet  article about the RFK piece, he very bluntly says: “George W. Bush is not the legitimate president of the United States.” But Hartmann doesn’t go much beyond encouraging us to “speak out” in response. There is no doubt that Hartmann personally knows many people who have already been among the most outspoken. Our efforts have not been in vain, but they could be more successful with a common message and call to action. And it was with this in mind that I saw the need for this talking points memo. It is worth noting that when I recently discussed these same ideas  with Brother Thom on his radio show, this is what he said:
“Its a great start getting out there and saying, ‘Nope, sorry, we’re not going to play this game.’ I think we need to do more of that.