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Hey Occupiers...want some cake? | davelovell.net
Dec 132011

Although the his­tor­i­cal evi­dence is that Marie Antoinette never actu­ally said, “Let them eat cake,” the phrase has become inex­tri­ca­bly linked with the cal­lous­ness and cruel inequal­i­ties that led directly and inex­orably to the storm­ing of the Bastille and the French Rev­o­lu­tion.  Now we have Newt Gin­grich, among oth­ers, say­ing, to wild right-wing applause, that the Occu­piers should “go get a job right after you take a bath.” The mock­ery is at or above the “Let them eat cake” level; the ques­tion is: Must rev­o­lu­tion inex­orably follow?

Every soci­ety has its Bastille Line, the point at which the provocation—the inequal­i­ties, naked unfair­ness, exploita­tion, derision—becomes so great and affects so many, and the prospects of redress through nor­mal polit­i­cal processes grow so dim, that the cork blows and rev­o­lu­tion is sprung.  All the lies told, Wal-Marts opened, and Prozac pre­scribed can push the Bastille Line back some­what, but it is still there, dar­ing us to storm away. And in Amer­ica, our own “sans-culottes,” the Occupy move­ment, con­tin­ues to attract more and more to its ranks and to its con­scious­ness, as a first stir­ring in a very long time.  Will the response they receive push them toward the Bastille?

It’s becom­ing pretty clear, with the help of Michael Bloomberg and Newt Gin­grich, what that response will be.  In fact the “Let them eat cake” response is prob­a­bly inevitable because Amer­ica has become that bro­ken, that polar­ized, that unfair, that cruel, that close to the gang rape that was pre-Revolutionary France.  The Occupy move­ment is prepar­ing for a long siege.  They know there are no quick fixes to the mess that is Amer­ica today.  As they wisely expected, the Powers-That-Be are not going to change their ways, let alone yield con­trol, to any­thing short of a Rev­o­lu­tion. The ques­tion is “Why?”

Free­man Dyson, writ­ing in The New York Review, gives us a good answer.  “Demo­c­ra­tic sys­tems of gov­ern­ment,” he writes, “are designed to answer the …ques­tion, ‘How do we make sure that rulers can be peace­fully replaced when they rule badly?’  …Elec­tions are held not to choose the best rulers, but to give us a chance to get rid of the worst with­out blood­shed.”  Elec­tions, in other words, are the pri­mary mech­a­nism for keep­ing a soci­ety well away from its Bastille Line, and they vir­tu­ally never fail to do so.  Unless they are rigged.  Then they lose all such pro­tec­tive power and the only choices left are quiet des­per­a­tion or the march on the Bastille.

This is what has hap­pened in and to Amer­ica.  The Elec­tion Defense Alliance, and oth­ers that watch over our elec­tion integrity and study elec­tion foren­sics, have amassed moun­tains of evi­dence that America’s com­put­er­ized, pri­va­tized, con­cealed, and par­ti­san owned-and-operated vote count­ing sys­tem has been fully cor­rupted and manip­u­lated to serve the inter­ests of the few and to pro­gres­sively dis­em­power the many.  To do, in other words, exactly what elec­tions in a democ­racy are designed to pre­vent.   Much of that evi­dence and analy­sis is archived on their web­site (www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org); it is avail­able for your eval­u­a­tion and will not be reca­pit­u­lated here.

Because this is a Call To Action.  The Occupy move­ment, and the wide­spread dis­con­tent and dis­em­pow­er­ment it embod­ies, have met the First Response:  get out of the park, take a bath, get a job … get lost.  We don’t know what will come next.   Amer­ica remains a rather closely divided, if dan­ger­ously polar­ized, nation and, yes, there is a lot of Prozac, actual and rhetor­i­cal, in cir­cu­la­tion.  Mean­while, Amer­i­can elec­tions are ceas­ing to func­tion as the vehi­cle for “get[ting] rid of the worst with­out blood­shed.”  In the rigged game of Amer­i­can elec­tions, it now often requires a 60% or greater super­ma­jor­ity to actu­ally win an elec­tion against a can­di­date or propo­si­tion favored by the “1%.”  And, because com­put­er­ized rig­ging knows no the­o­ret­i­cal bounds, it can get a lot worse, the thumb on the scale mor­ph­ing as needed into a ham fist and, ulti­mately, an elephant—whatever it takes to stay in power.   And every rigged elec­tion brings us one block closer to the Bastille, to a stark choice between retreat and rev­o­lu­tion, an obscenely uneven play­ing field with no demo­c­ra­tic alter­na­tive, no polit­i­cal means of redress and recovery.

If our democ­racy is to be saved from gen­er­a­tions of oppres­sion on the one hand or bloody rev­o­lu­tion on the other, an end must come to rigged elections.  The only way that is going to hap­pen is by replac­ing our secret and cor­rupted com­put­er­ized vote count­ing with pub­licly observ­able human vote counting—all across America.  “But,” elec­tion offi­cials in thrall to the speed and con­ve­nience of the com­put­ers wail, “we don’t have the peo­ple­power to do this.”  Oh yes we do.  They are out there in the cold in parks and pub­lic spaces in cities and towns all across this coun­try.  They are also in their homes and offices, inspired by the Occu­piers, begin­ning to rec­og­nize that there is some­thing ter­ri­bly wrong with the pic­ture and won­der­ing what they too can do.

I rec­og­nize that the Occu­piers have focused much of their energy on the chal­lenge of cre­at­ing a “real” democ­racy.   And I under­stand the temp­ta­tion to turn away from our larger “democ­racy” that is seen to be so dam­aged and cor­rupted.  But I believe that, if the Occu­piers can seize this moment and chan­nel their grow­ing power and their new insights, it is not too late to restore our democ­racy to health and vitality.  Whatever other agenda or demands the Occu­piers may ulti­mately embrace; they could begin now to focus their power on elec­tions, the pri­mary means our democ­racy has pro­vided for its own defense.  It is time to OCCUPY ELECTIONS, to storm not the Bastille but county and town clerks’ offices all across Amer­ica with signed com­mit­ments to work as vote coun­ters and observers on Elec­tion Day, begin­ning this win­ter with the pri­maries.   And then to actu­ally OCCUPY THE ELECTIONS by assem­bling at polling places to relieve the com­put­ers from duty, to take their place, replac­ing secret cyber-counting by par­ti­san pro­gram­mers with open, observ­able count­ing by cit­i­zens.  It doesn’t get much more demo­c­ra­tic than that!

The Occu­piers could become a national mili­tia for democ­racy, resolved to count the ballots—all the ballots—in the open, in pub­lic.  And also rouse their fel­low cit­i­zens to join them in this fun­da­men­tal duty to democ­racy, fatally for­got­ten in this age of convenience-uber-alles.  Yes there would still be Cit­i­zens United and lots of work to do, but even gobs of cor­po­rate cash would soon run out of steam when it comes to buy­ing votes and thwart­ing the pub­lic will. To add a bit to Lin­coln, “You can’t fool all of the peo­ple all of the time … but elec­tion rig­ging can make it look like you did.”  Years of data-gathering and analy­sis tell us that America—fooled, fooled again, snook­ered, cheated, stolen—would awake from its night­mare and be a very dif­fer­ent and a whole lot fairer nation if hon­est elec­tions were restored.

This could be the moment of truth.  It is def­i­nitely a moment of choice, a moment of focus.  If it passes, all that’s left may be the Bastille and the agony that follows.

 Posted by at 7:31 am

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