On the outset of the invasion of Iraq, I sat strapped in a cargo plane that swooped through the night sky dodging anti-aircraft guns. As we sat in darkness, not knowing if we would ever reach the ground, we suddenly dropped quickly from the air and slammed hard against a makeshift runway. Our plane was the first to land in the north. Our mission was to get in quickly, take the required territory and be relieved by heavy armor.
As we took our first steps on Iraqi soil, we expected to get back on a plane and leave within two months. Month by month, our deployment was extended. We read of the overwhelming military defeat across the country, and wrote home to our families that we would see them soon. We began to pack our bags as we watched the president declare the “mission accomplished,” expecting our return orders to come any day. We watched the blazing summer come and go, just trying to get through one more month.
We grew bitter as we ate a Thanksgiving dinner of macaroni and stale bread as the president smiled for photos in Baghdad holding a giant fake turkey. We spent the day dodging bullets when Saddam Hussein was captured, thinking maybe-just maybe-it was finally over. Even as we strapped back into a cargo plane a year after we landed, we expected to circle right back and continue to watch the months pass through a rifle sight. This was a reality for some; many in my unit were sent back within two months of returning home. Anyone who could not find a way to get out of the army was stop-lossed and sent back for at least one more tour.
Essentially, my year of watching the months pass represents the Iraq war as a whole-thinking it was going to end, but seeing only an increase in the size and brutality of the occupation. With the “end of major combat operations” declared in the early months of the war, we saw all-out sieges on Fallujah, Basra and other cities where the Iraqi people had stood up to the occupiers.
The American and Iraqi people demanded that the troops be withdrawn, yet they got the opposite-a massive troop surge. The surge, sold to the public as a temporary measure to bring an end to the war, has served as a justification to keep the number of soldiers in Iraq well above pre-surge levels. Furthermore, the number of U.S. soldiers occupying Iraq has been supplemented by private mercenaries, paid generously by the Pentagon to terrorize Iraqis with no legal consequences.
To ring in the New Year-the fifth of the occupation-2008 began with the war’s largest bombing campaign on one of Baghdad’s most populous suburbs. Month by month, the body count rises and the imperialist occupation of Iraq deepens.
Why not just vote for change?
In 2006, the masses of American people opposed to the war put their hopes in the Democratic Party, handing it control of Congress in what was widely understood as a vote against the war. Since then, funding for the war has continued to flow unimpeded and General Petraeus and the Bush administration have continued on their destructive warpath. In June alone, Congress approved $165 billion to fund the war without restrictions.
Now, many who still fail to recognize the true loyalties of the Democratic Party have thrown their support behind another Democrat posing as an anti-war candidate. Barack Obama, who began his campaign promising a total withdrawal from Iraq within 16 months-simultaneously pledging imperialist intervention elsewhere in the Middle East-has also begun to shift his position to prolong the occupation.
Obama now promises, using ambiguous language, to remove “U.S. combat troops” from Iraq. “Combat troops” do not include residual forces such as “counterterrorism” units, military training personnel and force protection units. Nor does it include private contractors and mercenaries, which number over 180,000.
Obama’s Iraq policy co-coordinator, Colin Kahl, advocates a residual force of up to 80,000 U.S. troops. Obama advocates a “careful” withdrawal, essentially subject to the advice of military commanders. General Petraeus, widely known for promoting a massive, brutal and indefinite occupation of Iraq, has Obama’s full support as the new commander of the U.S. Central Command. This position gives General Petraeus full control over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all U.S. military operations in the Middle East, East Africa, and Central Asia.
Those who believe that they can “vote for change” will be voting for a slightly modified imperialist policy.
Charting an independent path
The reality is that the war against Iraq will continue unabated. This is glaringly evident in the new security agreement now being forced upon the Iraqi people. Keeping with the trend of further entrenching and increasing the occupation while the Iraqi masses are demanding an end to it, the security deal will guarantee the U.S. military 58 permanent military bases in Iraq-nearly double the current number-while once the public was assured that there would be no permanent military bases.
The security plan will strip Iraq of whatever sovereignty it has left, cementing its de facto status as a U.S. colony. It will give Washington control over Iraqi airspace and the ability to use Iraq as a staging ground for military attacks elsewhere in the region. It will grant U.S. troops and private contractors full immunity from Iraqi law, giving them the right to raid any house and to arrest and interrogate Iraqi citizens without permission from the Iraqi government
Not only does the security plan demonstrate the U.S. government’s determination to forever control Iraq, it sets the stage for further conquest in the Middle East.
There is no doubt that, if politicians in Washington get their way, the war will continue for years to come. Months will pass as they debate the complexities of the war and develop new strategies aimed at giving the appearance that the end is just around the corner. Months will pass and the lives of Iraqis will continue to be destroyed and soldiers will continue to strap into cargo planes only to be snuck home at night in flag-draped coffins.
The plan to permanently occupy and terrorize Iraq is staring us in the face. We cannot vote for change; change will come the way it always does in society-through the efforts of a dedicated, militant mass movement against the heinous crimes of those who claim to represent us. Without such a movement, the imperialist plans for the Middle East will stay on course, and war will be a permanent reality.
The author is an Iraq war veteran and the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s congressional candidate in Florida’s 22nd District. Click here to read more about his campaign. Click here to read more about other PSL candidates running in local and national elections.
I am voting Republican because I do not want to decide what is best for my community or myself. I am a busy person. I have no time to think.
I am voting Republican because I want to be shown what big businesses supply. I believe I am well served when I demand whatever it is the corporations want to deliver.
I am voting Republican because war is necessary for a healthy economy. I want us to stay in Iraq and obliterate Iran.
I am voting Republican because, as a woman, I know my wages must be lower. I am not worthy of equal rights.
I am voting Republican because my body belongs to the government. I do not deserve health insurance or drugs that have been thoroughly tested. There is no need to find a cure for AIDS or cancer. Republicans tell me this too shall pass, as will the recession. The Grand Old Party assures me jobs will no longer be shipped overseas, the shores are safe. Terrorists will not enter the country if I take off my shoes in the airport, and vote Republican.
I am voting Republican because I welcome the government into my bedroom.
I am voting Republican because I think it is best to rape the land and destroy our resources. Genetically engineered crops taste good to me. Water filled with antibiotics is wonderful.
I am voting Republican because I want my neighbors to spy on me. I am voting Republican because I am reassured when my telephone is tapped.
I am voting Republican because I prefer my teachers to teach to a test. Creativity is overrated. Critical thought will not be required in my career. My only purpose will be to serve. “Would you like water with your meal?”
I am voting Republican because I want the Supreme Court to uphold segregation laws. In a nation “united” discrimination must never die.
I am voting Republican because I want no religious freedoms. Citizens in every congregation must pray to a Christian G-d.
I am voting Republican because I like a changing climate. A warm planet feels good to me. A toasty globe is as good as Mom, apple pie, and the American way.
If you are not voting Republican, stay home. Republicans have taken care of your vote and all else.
It is another dark day in the Sunshine State. Votes, voters, and opportunities are lost. Some who wish for a Barack Obama win work to see the light in what was a questionably “fair” election. Those who would prefer Hillary Clinton receive her coronation, want her to claim the Oval Office and her Florida delegates. No once can be certain, which would be better, a second primary or a first election that counted. However, we can all agree, in Florida, elections are rarely effective. Butterfly ballots cause confusion. Chads that hang hamper an accurate assessment. The people’s preference in The Everglade State seems to be eternally unknown.
While many Floridians may argue, the system in The Alligator State works; it is the snafu’s that fail us, as one who voted in others states, I must submit, I have never witnessed such a flawed process, or the degree of derision among the electorate that I experience here in The Gulf State. If a ballot is not lost in the Ethernet, it is misplaced in a myriad of mishaps.
The inadequacy of the approach may not be apparent to those who have voted in Florida and nowhere else, or to those who perhaps, lived in other territories where the logistics are equally limited. I know not. I only experience, that for me, the availability of accurate information on the election, candidate statements, sample ballots, well designed survey sheets, and pamphlets that describe every aspect of the election in depth and detail, are scant.
While some may muse the fact that long after I forfeited my vote in California, I continued to receive volumes of election literature is evidence of a failure to update a database, I consider the desire to enlighten the electorate, even those who departed from the territory, admirable.
Little is lost when information is abundant. Less is vanquished when citizens are conversant.
I recall the date that I signed a form, and verified for the Registrar of Voters that indeed, I left the Golden State for good. On that day, I felt a loss for what I could not explain and now do. The title of the treatise penned on that inauspicious occasion seems more apt today. A Religious California Voter Loses Her Right to cast a ballot in California or count, as a constituent, in Florida.
For in The Orange State ballots are dubious, and bureaucrats are duplicitous. The visible disdain for an exact tally, or the evidence of deceit, may be more cryptic. Consider Republican Governor, Charlie Crist. Governor Crist may be emblematic of what is all too common in America, regardless of political Party. The desire to be first, most prominent, more powerful, to make the rules and then break the rules is part of the reason Florida is in this “fix.”
Charlie Crist, the man who intentionally changed the date of the primary election, with full knowledge of the consequence, publicly advocates for the Democratic delegates on Cable News Network. The incongruity or insincerity escapes no one. Crist, who understood the Democratic National Committee would not seat representatives for the Progressive Party if he acted as he did, smiles and states . . .
I think it’s very important . . . that those delegates are seated. And I’m hopeful that the national Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, comes to the conclusion it’s the right thing to do. Every vote must count.
Lest we forget, Governor Crist has a seventy percent approval rating among all Florida residents, and that this man, arguably, may have single handedly altered the race in the Grand Old Party. Just prior to the vote, newly placed as Governor, Crist endorsed Arizona Senator John McCain for President. At the time, John McCain was considered challenged. Some Republicans thought the former prisoner of war too much a maverick. Others feared the man who the “right” believed was too closely associated with legislators on the “Left.” No matter what people thought, everyone believed the endorsement could benefit the current Governor Charlie Crist, or perhaps, better said, the predicted Vice Presidential candidate Crist.
Now, Crist’s circumstance does not explain why the survey sheets are poorly designed or why sample ballots are short on information. Nor does Crist’s rise or cries tell us why, the Election Board neglected to tell constituents how much postage is required on an absentee ballot. Charlie Crist’s story does not tell us why so many votes are lost.
We cannot blame Charlie Crist for the misinformation voters received at the polls, or what the media might broadcast as to whether the ballots in Florida count. Governor Crist alone did not misplace the tallies of too many.
We might examine what an individual does when they covet power, be it a voter, a candidate, or a State consumed with a competitive spirit. Perhaps, the parable we need to contemplate is the hare and the tortoise. It is easy to lose a race when a person, a place, or a Party is consumed with the win.
Perchance, this dynamic explains the subtle stance, or scorn, we read in the statement made by Congresswoman Karen L. Thurman, Chair, Florida Democratic Party. For too long, Floridians have wanted to be the principal force in the democratic process. In a desire to be profound, officials in The Gator State hurriedly put together a ballot. Poll workers may not have been trained as carefully or slowly as they need to be. Possibly, in state where people travel in and out those who live here place little importance on the stability of the plans. With haste, there is waste.
We cannot be certain whether Representative Thurman’ supports Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or the voters. That may be less important than the frustration she and Floridians feel. After being disregarded by the Republican Governor, rejected by the Democratic Party, and avoided by the candidates we longed to meet and greet we can only ponder what might have been. Floridians are frustrated. Perchance, Karen Thurman, in her terse statement reflects what many of us feel. Her vote and ours were lost and so was our shared chance to make our preferences known.
Who can blame the Congresswoman for her blunt expressions? I too, and I imagine you, wanted my vote to count. Although, I personally did not have faith that my ballot would matter even if Floridians voted again. I offer the full text of Congresswoman Thurman’s assertion, and ask you to review the reflection. Evaluate for yourself. Then decide. What might a Democrat in Florida do?
For a year now, the Florida Democratic Party has tried to comply with the Delegate Selection Rules of the Democratic National Committee.
We researched every potential alternative process – from caucuses to county conventions to mail-in elections – but no plan could come anywhere close to being viable in Florida.
We made a detailed case to the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee, but we were denied.
Our Democratic legislators in Tallahassee tried to set the Florida primary on Feb. 5, instead of Jan. 29, but of course, their proposed amendment to House Bill 537 was greeted with laughter and derision from the Republicans who control the state government.
Does ‘537’ ring a bell? It should. It’s the number of votes that separated Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore in Florida in 2000.
It’s the number that sent this country and this world in a terrible direction.
We can’t let 537 – or the Republicans – determine our future again.
President Bush plans to stop in Florida tomorrow to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Republican National Committee’s efforts to elect his successor in November.
The last thing America needs is a third Bush term. Despite the widespread anxiety that working families feel, not to mention the broad agreement among economists that we are in a recession, President Bush and John McCain blindly believe that the economy is strong.
And let me remind you that John McCain endorsed President Bush’s decision to deny health care to thousands of Florida children by vetoing an expansion of the successful SCHIP program. McCain also promises to jeopardize the financial security of Florida seniors by privatizing Social Security. He continually threatens to push Florida’s military families to the brink by keeping American troops in Iraq for “100 years” or more.
This is why we are Democrats, and this is why we must stick together, no matter where this ongoing delegate debate takes us.
Last week, the Florida Democratic Party laid out the only existing way that we can comply with DNC Rules – a statewide revote run by the Party – and asked for input.
Thousands of people responded. We spent the weekend reviewing your messages, and while your reasons vary widely, the consensus is clear: Florida doesn’t want to vote again.
So we won’t.
A party-run primary or caucus has been ruled out, and it’s simply not possible for the state to hold another election, even if the Party were to pay for it. Republican Speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio refuses to even consider that option. Florida is finally moving to paper ballots, which is a good thing, but it means that at least 15 counties do not have the capacity to handle a major election before the June 10th DNC primary deadline.
This doesn’t mean that Democrats are giving up on Florida voters. It means that a solution will have to come from the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee, which is scheduled to meet again in April.
When this committee stripped us of 100% of our delegates last year, some members summed up their reasoning by saying, “The rules are the rules.” Unfortunately, the rules did not apply to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina when they, too, violated the DNC calendar by moving from their assigned dates.
As the late great Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “We must adjust our ideas to the facts of today. . . Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.”
The Florida Democratic Party has stuck to its principles throughout this debate. We’ve remained open-minded while never wavering from our commitment to an open and fair election that would allow all Florida Democrats to participate, whether serving in Iraq, retiring in Boca, studying abroad or entertaining at a theme park.
Another late great President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
If Democrats heed this wisdom, we will win in November.
America needs a great president again, but a President McCain will settle for the status quo and carry on the disastrous Bush tradition.
President Clinton or President Obama will make history and lead this nation in a new direction.
Let’s remember this as the delegate debate continues. We must stick together as Democrats. The stakes are too high and the opportunities too great.
I will keep you posted on any major developments. Thank you for your concern and your commitment.
Congresswoman Karen L. Thurman?
Chair, Florida Democratic Party
As one who is deeply distressed and definitely dedicated to the democratic principles, I know not what is best for the Party, for the country, or for Floridians. I only wish to understand, where does my marked tally go.
As a resident of The Flower State I long to say, I am American. I saw my ballot bloom into a significant statement. I yearn to be part of the political process. However, unlike those in other regions, I cannot make this claim. I can only cry out, and sing. They lost my vote.
As a forlorn Floridian I must declare, if there is a new direction to be had, I would hope it would begin in Florida, the state that has drifted for too long. No one can forget the number of Florida voters disenfranchised on January 29, 2008.
At least one Orange County voter was turned away from the polls after a pollworker said the Democratic primary was in March and there are reports of long lines at Century Village, a large retirement community in Broward, despite an unusually short ballot.
We may recall machines malfunctioned. Voters became technicians. When the citizens could not fix an electronic log it became clear votes not cast would not count.
“They don’t know how to get this machine to work. Do you know how to do it?” – Toni, poll worker, Broward County voting precinct.
Never a good sign when seven poll workers look to an observer to fix an electronic polling book. Yet by 7:10 a.m. – just minutes after the polling place had opened, the machine installed to help with the registration process by verifying signatures and identifying appropriate ballots had stymied election workers and voters in at least two Broward County precincts.
Did the mechanisms ever function and was the electorate able to cast a vote? There is no way to verify what occurred, how or when. Such is the scenario in The Sunshine State during election season. The Gators and those who gather at Florida polling places make their mark, only to learn the vote was lost, again, and again.
The number of ballots botched in this primary or that general election is a total beyond our grasp. Floridians cannot retrieve what was lost before it was realized. Apparently, in 2008, the Democratic Presidential aspirants will not salvage any perceived or hoped for success either.
Please my fellow Floridians, before November 2008, let us join together with one goal in mind. May we please work to participate fully. Might we consider what it would mean to be part of the Union. Let us not bicker amongst ourselves. This situation is not deplorable for Hillary Clinton. Nor is it a victory for Barack Obama. With the roles reversed, the results would be the same. Florida voters suffer. Our votes are too frequently lost.
Please may we, in The Peninsula State prepare for the next election now.
May Election Boards deliver all the necessary data so that voters can make an informed decision. Might the machines be manned or the papers be processed. May Floridians stand united. Divided as residents of this State are, it is no wonder Florida’s reputation, fragile as it was, has fallen. Citizens in this Southern State cannot, have not, contributed to what counts most in America, the democratic process. Let us and our votes no longer be lost. Can we croon a new tune; my Florida vote counts.
In this a Presidential election year, citizens of this country are intensely aware, every vote counts. The world witnessed, in State after State people scrambled to the polls. Voters of every age have turned out in large numbers. The sprint to the White House is on. Most every electorate wants to join in. the people wish to return to power. Much is at stake. The people want to participate in the process.
In America, in a democracy, government is defined as organization that operates of, by, and for the people. The people choose who will represent them in the Executive and Legislatives Branches. Executives appoint persons to occupy Judicial seats. Supreme Court Jurists may serve the public for a lifetime. Legislators also have infinite influence. Members of Congress make laws and approve nominees. Thus, those who speak and stand in for the common folk have much power.
Hence, it is essential, before the average Joe or Joanne casts a ballot they must be very well informed. When the American people vote they place their lives in the hands of a few. Access to the candidates is vital if people are to make an informed decision. During a Presidential election year, it is imperative that the people, one and all, be given an opportunity to meet and greet the hopefuls. A President of the United States is the single most important being on the globe. He or she is superior to all other officials who reside in this region. Since the United States is considered the world’s only true Super Power, the President of this nation is virtually omnipotent, or at least some often act as though they are.
It is for this reason the electorate must choose wisely. Each adult needs to ponder, who is the person who will best represent my interest? Which Presidential hopeful will serve persons in every community equally? Who will work for the common good of the people and not for personal fame and fortune? There is much to research. Reflection needs to be deep and thoughtful. The public must ensure that a Presidential aspirant knows of and wishes to honor the desires of his or her constituents. However, this determination is difficult to make.
Moreover, the internet has now become a leading source of campaign news for young people and the role of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook is a notable part of the story. Fully 42% of those ages 18 to 29 say they regularly learn about the campaign from the internet, the highest percentage for any news source. In January 2004, just 20% of young people said they routinely got campaign news from the internet.
[T]he proportion of Americans who rely on traditional news sources for information about the campaign has remained static or declined slightly since the last presidential campaign. . . .
By contrast, the proportion of Americans who say they regularly learn about the campaign from the internet has more than doubled since 2000 – from 9% to 24%.
While it may seem that mainstream media has less of an influence of the electorate; indeed, the reverse may be true. When we assess the sources of information accessed on the Internet we realize, corporate control still speaks volumes.
People who rely on the internet for campaign news turn to a wide array of websites. The most frequently mentioned online news outlets are MSNBC (at 26%), CNN (23%) and Yahoo News (22%).
Few constituents know more than the media allows. What the press makes available is extremely limited. Independent-minded persons believe they know more. Yet, these persons are also influenced. Chant as the indies might, the media is hostile to anti-establishment candidates, John Edwards, Ron Paul, and Mike Huckabee, the three barely-acceptable do appear on stage. Corporate controlled columnists recognize it is important to appear unbiased.
Americans must wonder of those whose exposure is eliminated. Perchance, constituents might consider the plight of Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich. Presidential aspirant Kucinich was excluded from the American Association for Retired Persons [AARP] debate in the Hawkeye State. In Granite country, ABC News declared Dennis Kucinich would be barred from the dialogue. Silver State voters were not able to see the profound Presidential hopeful on stage. He was relegated to the streets allowed to speak only to the neon lights. The Palmetto State decreed, “Dennis, this is not your kingdom.” Indeed, you are locked out in this land of liberty. Texas told its tall tale. Dennis Kucinich would not be the hero in the Lone Star State. Ultimately, the only Presidential hopeful who is a member of a Union, endorsed an authentic Universal Health Care program, a Single Payer, Not For Profit plan was forced to withdraw his name from the ballot. Perhaps the lack of press coverage played a role.
While Congressman and Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich was ahead in many Progressive surveys, among the general public the candidate remained an unknown. In August 2007, the aspirant was heard to say “Polls are a function of name recognition, not a function of whether people support your ideas. As people become aware of my candidacy, the evidence of that support is going to rise.” Yet, sheltered from view few voters ever knew who Dennis Kucinich was or is. Fewer still know when or where they could cast a ballot.
The problem? Florida had its presidential primary Last week.
February 5, 2008
Millions of Americans in 24 states are turning out vote to in Super Tuesday presidential primaries from Georgia to Alaska today. Meanwhile, some dedicated if confused Florida voters are trying to, as well.??
Elections offices across the state are reporting hundreds of calls from voters wanting to know where they can vote today. The answer is that Florida already had its presidential primary — last week.??
“We’ve had over 100 calls at least over the last two days,” said Kathy Adams, a spokesperson for the Palm Beach County Election Supervisor.??
Closer to home, Orange County elections officials say they are dealing with a combination of confused voters from Florida and California.??
“One of my staffers has figured it out,” said Orange County Election Supervisor Bill Cowles. “They are California voters going online and looking for the Orange County [California] election office and calling us instead.”
Of course that doesn’t explain the man who showed up at a polling site this morning in Orlando wanting to vote, Cowles conceded.?
Nor does this story enlighten the electorate as to why, in this the Information Age, so little is known, or shared with expectant voters. If people do not know to ask, instructions are not given. Votes, as important as they are, in 2008, are not counted. In this the Twenty-First Century, not only is Florida a foible, California has come to encapsulate election fraud, folly, or failures.
Last Friday members of the nonpartisan election group, CourageCampaign.org, were surfing the Web when they discovered a blog posting noting that Los Angeles County voters faced what organization spokesman Rick Jacobs calls “bubble trouble.” In order for any of the county’s 776,000 voters who have registered Nonpartisan to vote in the open primaries for the Democratic or American Independent parties, they would have to mark an extra bubble on the ballot naming the party for which they wished to cast a cross-over ballot. After a weekend of research, Jacobs says, CC.org contacted the office of L.A.’s Registrar of Voters on Sunday and were told it was true — an extra bubble had to be inked, and, yes, it could prove to be a big headache on election day. The bottom line: If the “declaration” bubble is not inked on a Nonpartisan ballot, the voter’s presidential preference would be voided, though not the part pertaining to propositions.
By noon election day, CC.org’s worst fears were realized as voters began complaining that poll workers hadn’t pointed out the extra bubble. The registrar’s office has tried to get word out to its workers about the issue but at this point, it’s impossible to know how many votes have been lost. One thing is certain, however: It will be impossible to conduct a recount of the cross-over ballots because voters were handed both Nonpartisan and Democratic ballots and there are cases where the bubble numbers for candidates from different parties overlap.
Common characteristics, the overlap, be it in bubbles, ballots, or the barrage of disinformation is unavoidable. The public peruses multiple sources, seeks infinite references; nonetheless, little of what the people know is untainted or from an independent and genuinely reliable source. In this global village, we are all connected, interconnected, on the Internet, near the television, or scanning the periodicals. Each is owned by one of the six, General Electric, Time Warner, Walt Disney, News Corp, CBS, or Viacom, all of whom are friendly with the others. Internet users say this matters not to them. However, in truth it does.
Well, you might comfort yourself by thinking about cyberspace. Think again. The dominant Internet service provider, America Online, is combining with already-number-one Time Warner- and the new firm AOL Time Warner would have more to lose than any other corporation if a movement grew to demand antitrust action against media conglomerates.
Amid rampant overall commercialization of the most heavily trafficked websites, AOL steers its 22 million subscribers in many directions-and, in the future, Time Warner’s offerings will be most frequently highlighted. While seeming to be gateways to a vast cybergalaxy, AOL’s favorite links will remain overwhelmingly corporate friendly within a virtual cul-de-sac.
Hype about the new media seems boundless, while insatiable old hungers for maximum profits fill countless screens. Centralization is the order of the media day. As Bagdikian points out: “The power and influence of the dominant companies are understated by counting them as ‘six.’ They are intertwined: they own stock in each other, they cooperate in joint media ventures, and among themselves they divide profits from some of the most widely viewed programs on television, cable and movies.”
So, Americans please take no comfort. Do not think you made an informed, independent choice. All that you read, all that you heard, what you viewed was influenced. The decision was made before you knew you could have had a choice. This, the United States, is not a democratic system.
Cast A Vote, Give Voice To Your Needs. Pray for a Democracy . . .
When you cast your ballot for President, how informed will you be? In this nation, we speak of electability. That term equates to ‘this candidate, or that looks and sounds Presidential.’ His or her posture is excellent. Photogenic personas are preferred. Being properly proportioned is an important consideration. Pssst, how much money did he raise? Are her funds from large donors or the common folk?
Joey, Johnny, Edward, and Bill practice the correct religion. Hillary is married and stood by her man for years. Bob is bold; however, not brave enough. Did he follow his bliss and do battle during wartime? Wes is fine. However, he crossed the line.
Rudolph is right for the job, but wrong on abortion. Besides, I do not like his wife. Mitt has a million dollar smile. Perchance, he is strong. He said he will veto any law Congress attempts to pass. He revels in the practice. That is my kind of man.
I want no government in my life. However, I will ensure that you live as I think is best.
Might Barack be too fat? Dennis is definitely thin. Did you know he is a vegan? He is eccentric, and proposes too much change. I want no one in my kitchen. I like my meat. Besides, that man has no charisma. I will not vote for him.
Where does he stand on health care, social security, the schools, and the economy? I cannot be bother with such trivial issues. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are my concern. When will we get out? Not until Bush is gone. What is that you say? One or two of these candidates wants to exit sooner. That can’t be true. I would have heard that on the news.
Information on the issues is mounting. Might we pour over the profound? Ooops, I forgot. There is no room for such pondering. This is ‘the political process’ in America.
For three decades, she has voted religiously in every California election. No ballot was too large or too small. All were scrutinized carefully. When she felt as though she did not have enough information to make a well-informed judgment, she turned to those who did. She had been an activist from the start and knew many that were deeply connected. She traveled in circles where people read books and wrote articles on affairs of state; they made political moves their lives. She always had.
This voter was willing to work as a volunteer. She offered to assist in telephone banks; she went from neighborhood to neighborhood collecting signatures for petitions. The woman stuffed envelopes, posted signs, walked precincts, and ultimately was asked to work as a Campaign Coordinator. She was not looking for the position, though others were. Her diligence and dedication to the cause promoted a candidate to ask if she would work for him.
Whenever this constituent moved, she immediately changed her voter registration, often before she ordered her utilities. Voting in every election was and is her highest priority.
This elector first voted at the age of seventeen. In the state of Wisconsin, if a person was going to be eighteen at the time of the general election and was seventeen during the primaries, they were granted the right to vote.
She hitchhiked in a pouring rain to get to that first poll and in a blizzard to cast her ballot in the Presidential election of 1972. It just so happened that she was among the first eighteen year olds to vote; she could not miss that. In Wisconsin, she skipped one school board election. There was only one candidate and she did not know the person well. However, guilt ate her up. She never failed to participate again.
This citizen moved to California in 1977 and voted as a Californian ever since. Now the time has come and her heart is heavy.
She willingly and wanted to move to Florida in November 2005. She began planning in June of that year. While this resident actively questioned the wisdom of her decision, she knew that unless she did it, she would never know if the choice was correct. As a long time inhabitant of California she was torn. Life was good, stable, and comfortable. She was at home. Still she needed to go.
The Irvine city dweller sold the home she loved and had created. She physically separated herself from friends and family and flew to Florida. Days after landing in Palm Beach County she went to get her drivers license and change her voter registration. That done she knew she could no longer support Barbara Boxer with the vigor of a voting constituent. Arnold would not be burdened by her votes in opposition. It was real; she would not vote in California anytime soon, if ever again.
Yet, she also understood that, until she cast a ballot in Boca, it would feel as if nothing had changed. Today, that reality was altered. A card arrived in the mail. The return address looked so familiar, because it was. It was from the Registrar of Voters office in Santa Ana, California. It was addressed to me at my correct [Florida] address. The Registrar wanted me to make it official, to give up my right to religiously vote in California elections. They want me to confirm that this move is not temporary and that I am now a Florida resident.
My heart is sinking, must I sign away my post. I want to turn Florida Blue, even Blue-Green; yet, voting in California is my religion or was. Now I must convert.