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Taking It To the Streets It's Not About the Election, It's About Democracy

It’s Not About the Election, It’s About Democracy

by RON JACOBS



It’s time to be completely frank here. If George Bush and his cabal have their way, it won’t matter who gets elected on November 2nd this year. Just like they did in 2000, these men and women will steal the election if they must to stay in power. In order to understand that this is the case, one must toss any preconceptions they have about the Bush cabal and their belief in the US system much less anything called democracy. George Bush and the organization behind him have no respect for the system of governance installed back in the 18th century by the founding fathers (even though it favors their class, skin color and gender over any other), nor do they give a rat’s ass about democracy. In case the 2000 election fiasco did not convince you of this, their actions since Bush’s inauguration should ram this reality home.

Once one accepts the fact that a greater potential for tyranny exists in the United States today than perhaps any other time in it history, then it’s quite easy to take the next step and ask what can be done. It is my sincere belief that the only answer to such a question lies in taking it to the streets. The results of the court challenge in November 2000 by Al Gore’s campaign prove only too well that the courts are not on the side of the popular will any more than today’s Republican Party. When they were asked to stop the ballot counting in Florida by the GOP, they did. Then, lo and behold, George Bush won the election by one vote in the Supreme Court. Without getting into all of the backhanding and incestuous relationships between the court and the current administration, suffice it to say that the whole deal was rigged from the get-go. Al Gore never had a chance once the popular vote (won by Gore) was ignored.

This call to action is not a call to support the Democrats. It is a call to the people of the US to support democracy in the USA. (Indeed, if John Kerry does assume the presidency in 2005, there’s still going to be plenty to protest about, from the war to the economy). In virtually every other country where there is electoral fraud on the scope perpetrated in the 2000 US elections the people of those countries protest in the streets. After the Bush-related manipulations of Election 2000 became apparent to people in the United States, the only people protesting in the streets were paid GOP workers shipped in to Florida from around the country to demand that the fraudulent election stand. The rest of us were content to watch it on television. Left, liberal, moderate, traditional conservative-it didn’t matter, we just watched as the tattered remnants of our democracy were shredded live on CNN. The revolution may not be televised, but the final takeover of our government by a reactionary tyranny may very well be.

This ain’t a TV reality show. This is reality! Unless we the people pull this country back from the abyss of totalitarianism, no one will. Leftists, liberals, conservatives-every citizen and resident who cares about their shrinking freedoms and the future of our children-must get out on the streets of their town and challenge any attempt by the government to subvert this election. It’s not that John Kerry should win, it’s that democracy can’t afford to lose anymore. For those of us who want to see radical, even revolutionary changes in our political and economic system, a protest against another rich man’s election may seem to be diversionary or a waste of time. Let’s be clear: it isn’t. Even though US presidential elections have become a mockery of representative politics, what with corporate dollars deciding everything from who gets to speak at the conventions to who gets the nomination, the fact of no elections would be worse. If we have no opportunity to vocalize our opinions in an electoral arena, then the only arena is the underground. While that might sound romantic, it sure doesn’t make for much else.

So, what am I suggesting? Just something simple-practicing democracy. People in the United States who do not wish to lose the last vestige of their so-called rights-the right to vote and the right to speak out-should start planning now how they will react to any of the election scenarios being bandied about in our nation’s public and private conversations. You know what they are: terrorist threat as an excuse to cancel or postpone the elections, computer voting machines being tampered with to change the results, disenfranchisement of voters due to computer list "mix-ups," electoral college manipulations that tip the vote, etc. If people think they have been cheated in the November election, they should take to the streets.

If they don’t, they will have done a better job of destroying our dying democracy than even Josef Stalin could have. When democracy at the polls is denied, than the only place for it is in the streets.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. He can be reached at: rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu