Monday, October 09, 2006

Are Your Papers In Order?

Ballot Box © Dan Collins 2006

The above title may, for a second, have caused you to worry about your citizenship papers. Actually this installment is about voting, but isn't that really the same thing? Doesn't being a good citizen mean participating?

Are you ready to vote on November 7th? Are you sure?

I ask because there is a risk, for all of us American citizens, (even those of us living in "blue" liberal pockets of the U.S.), that our votes will not be properly counted.

As you know, each election since 2000 we've lost more of our country to the radical right wing. Each election since 2000 we've lost more of our credibility in the world, more resources, and more safety. Worst of all, we've lost hope, or have we? We cannot allow a single progressive vote to be lost, manipulated, or stolen.

Suffragettes © Detroit c. 1920

Three years ago I gave up on the Democratic Party and had joined the Greens in protest over Senator Dianne Feinstein's vote to go to war with Iraq. While the Green Party stands for many admirable progressive values, it lacks infrastructure and rarely has anyone winning political office even at the most local levels. So I wasn't happy with them either.

Then I heard a speech, a fiery, clear, energizing speech from a country doctor out of Vermont. Now he's the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, which considering how most of the National Democratic leadership feels about Howard Dean M.D. is a truly remarkable thing. How did he get there? "People power". It may sound simplistic or antiquated but it actually works.

One of the lesser known things that the Dean campaign did was produce a document back in 2003 called Common Sense for a New American Century. It was a modern updating of the principles enclosed in Thomas Paine's revolutionary pamphlet, "Common Sense". Paine's version helped spark the overthrow of England's King George. Now we seem to have another "King" George who needs overthrowing. Last time they did it with people power, and we can do it too.
The American people have a capacity for great things. We must once again set ourselves on a course to achieve them—based on those values that have sustained America throughout the centuries:

In a just America, money should not determine the limits of any American’s future, or deny any American the medical advancements that can save and sustain life. Health insurance, prescription drugs and higher education can be accessible and affordable for everyone.

Photo from Civil Rights Museum

Our tax burden today falls most heavily on hard work, while wealth is taxed less. We subsidize corporations that are polluting our environment or sending jobs overseas. But we can restore fairness to our tax code—rewarding hard work, ensuring that wealth pays its fair share, and penalizing waste.

Fairness also demands that we address the disparity between the incomes of women and the incomes of men. Closing the wage gap will benefit all Americans.

Today, technologies exist that can form the foundation of our economy for the next century. We should invest aggressively in them, just as when our nation invested in railroads, rural electrification, and in public highways.

We can create a new energy economy, relying on sources that will never run out, including solar power, wind power, ethanol and biomass. Doing so will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create new jobs for decades to come.

Moral Leadership in the World
Harry S. Truman said, “The only expansion we are interested in is the expansion of human freedom and the wider enjoyment of the good things of the earth in all countries. The only prize we covet is the respect and good will of our fellow members of the family of nations. The only realm in which we aspire to eminence exists in the minds of men, where authority is exercised through the qualities of sincerity, compassion and right conduct.” That is the American role in the world that we can restore.

Photo: Associated Press Iraq's Golden Temple

We can reform our republic—restoring a democracy in which every person has a voice and our government works for the benefit of all the people.

We have an obligation to one another as Americans and as human beings. America will be stronger when we recognize that we are dependent on each other, responsible for each other, and connected to each other. - Governor Howard Dean M.D. 2003

Return here tomorrow to discover specific, concrete steps you can take to help win back our country!

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