3. ALAN HABER’S RESPONSE TO “BURN THE BALLOT”: A WINNING PLAN ALTERNATIVE, BUILD THE BALLOT
A Winning Plan Alternative. Build the Ballot, Promote Democracy for Change. (Better than to burn symbolic ballots, build for real ballots.)
Proposal to Movement for a Democratic Society, mds members, organizers, activists, friends, former members, new left cafe lurkers, next left note takers:
1. Please read this draft effort to describe a winning plan alternative. 2. Indicate basic interest in giving the plan further development, or basic opposition, (elaborate if you wish) 3. Those interested in helping write the BUILD THE BALLOT: EYES OPEN VOTER ELECTION GUIDE. please send suggestions.
“Make a winning plan, and make it happen.” (This was the call of George Wiley, friend, faculty advisor to Syracuse University SDS chapter in the early 1960?s, and later founder of the National Welfare Rights Organization
Introduction The winning plan alternative is based initially on several themes from the 1960?s radical experience.
build not burn, non violence solidarity open inclusiveness politics is personal
The winning plan begins recognizing our human strengths in the multi layered webs of personal networks built in the years of struggle, whose veterans are still alive and whose children remember and continue.
For instance, beginning with SDS of the 60?s, from which MDS takes its spirit, our networks of those who were touched, members at heart, by card and dues or not, perhaps a million of us, from that time, and now our connections from continuing life work, circle the planet and in America are everywhere, in every precinct with hardly a degree or two of separation. Add to us the spiritual progressives, the underground armies of nurturers, the women’s networks, the peace movements, and all the freedom movements and all the identities and voices tempered in struggle who know the feeling of solidarity deeper than differences. We are a big us.
There is a latency in spread throughout America, active commitments and un-forgotten memories which still call out, In this latency are strengths a winning plan alternative can potentiate. There is knowledges and capacities for cooperation that are not fully mobilized. A winning plan alternative provides a focal point for organizing and optimism.
A winning plan alternative in the United States also counts as strength that most of the world’s nations and peoples support democracy and popular struggles to end the imperial hegemony of the United States and the ruling order (and ogre) of international finance, “structural adjustment” and imposed austerity. We are not alone. Our allies are everywhere in the world.
A winning plan alternative further notes the weaknesses of the powers that have been: a great silent number of people have not been voting or participating at all, public opinion hold the political class, Congress and the Executive both, in especially low esteem, and “occupy” has significantly challenged the system pretension that it serves the people.
The “winning plan alternative” is an organizing, recruitment and voter registration/education program, accepting members, planning to win.
The “winning plan alternative” is on many levels. In the current Presidential Election context, it is a plan to win the next, 2016, Presidential Election, to change the American system by non-violent constitutional means, announcing now..
The winning plan begins with the obvious, known to all truth: there are more of us than there are of them. In any free and open debate, and free and fair election, our side would win. The empowerment of people is the objective of democracy.
That things are otherwise is the heritage of a long story of “might makes right,” “love of power,” and “guns over butter” and criminal barbarity, as well. We are all born into a system repression and oppression.
The question is, can we be reborn out of this system, turn the table on the “powers that have been,” challenge them with “right makes might,” ” the power of love,” “peace not war,” share fair and other truisms that most people wish were so.
People in the war system, the working multitudes who produce and reproduce this system, generation by generation, four generations now alive and conscious, mostly make each their imposed peace with what seems possible and can be, accept reality, powerlessness, are ashamed. Some can migrate to the upper reaches and many hold illusions of stairways to heaven. People mostly live in dreams and rationalizations and suppress or deflect inner rages against the theft of birthrights and natural rights and dignity most of all.
The fight back has been as long as people’s history and tellers to tell.
The winning plan looks for support, and to support wherever there is struggle in reclaiming and expanding the commons, repatriating to the commons that which has been exploited, usurped and enclosured in the current system’s quest to turn every thing and every relation into money. And the winning plan is to undermine at every opportunity the legitimacy of the powers-that-have-been in their presumptions of the right to rule and also of their competence. And the winning plan provides a vision and strategy of non-violent constitutional means to change the system.
This is a several faceted strategy involving vision, organization and alternative institutions, art and satire, confrontations, mass actions and non cooperation, and to the winning point, developing and gathering competences and credibilities to displace and transform the existing structures of power, beginning with the federal executive, (and the Congress to follow.)
Build the Ballot
The “Build the Ballot” element of the winning plan relates to this transformative phase: organizing a voting majority to win a free and fair election, to give democratic ratification to a “Peoples’ Program” to change the system, turning vision into policy, and giving legitimacy to a “winning team” to steer the change. . The winning plan alternative considers this 2012 election as an opportunity to “build the ballot,” and elevate the vision of democracy and the rights of the people and what would be a free and fair election.
The “winning plan alternative” would take as its first action to write and promulgate “A Peoples’ Ballot and Eyes Open Voter Election Guide,”to put the idea of actually winning forward in people’s minds.
This “Peoples’ Ballot and Eyes Open Voter Election Guide,” to be written in the next month and promulgated before the election and at polling places, would serve: . 1. to give scathing critique of the undemocracy in the current election, from organized money interests, to voter suppression to hackable voting machines, to exclusion of other than duopoly party candidates from debates, leaving voters to choose between the war policies enacted by one and those proposed by the other. 2. to rage, rage against the theft of citizen sovereignty. 3. to affirm that the people of this country are sovereign and can vote for change and win 4. to promote the vision of a truly free and fair election in the United States, where a system change is an option. 5. and to recruit local level workers to make a “free and fair election.”
Design a free and fair election.
The “Build the Ballot” mission of the winning plan alternative, is to design such a free and fair election, and to work to make it happen, in particular:
1. to encourage and facilitate cooperation and “fusion” of independent popular energies, 2. to elicit and help articulate a bottom-up Peoples’ Program where system change is the objective, and, 3. to get the “peoples’ program” and it’s campions on the ballot next time around.
The “winning plan alternative,” in the course of the next 4 years, would assemble a “winning team” of hundred or so at the top, and a hundred thousand or so at the base, willing and competent to facilitate the system transition envisioned in a “peoples’ program,” with a “Jill and Jack” to go up the hill in front, with a collective team commitment to the program as a whole, and a transparent internal democracy for all to see.
The winning plan alternative would begin on a 4 and 8 year time line. 2012, 2014, 2016, 2020 . 2012, now. to announce an intention, and begin organizing 2014 a “rehearsal” at the congressional and precinct level, testing organization, 2016, a people’s winning team challenge to the duopoly in the White House, on the ballot, ready to win, 2018, take on the congress 2020 consolidate victories, (or to try again, )
In 2016, whether recovering from 4 more years of Obama’s Wall Street White House, or from a first 4 of Romney’s latter day saints trying to purify America and the world, the independent vote will be in a strong position.
The “winning plan alternative” begins organizing now for that election.
The “Peoples Ballot and Eyes Open Voter Election Guide” would have a return, “Free and Fair Election Voter Sign Up” form.
Election “reform” would be an important, on-going part of the winning plan alternative program, with an objective of increasing to as universal as possible, people’s sovereignty: easy registration, returning back to paper hand counted verifiable ballots, campaign financial visibility, public financing, big money out, fairness doctrine in media for all candidates, challenging exclusions, etc.
The “winning plan alternative” organization objective is to have a “free and fair election committee” in every precinct in the United States, to watch the polls on election day, and before that to promote a Peoples’ Ballot, make sure all the votes are counted, to take an outside poll to verify the inside count., and to invite international election inspectors.
The “winning plan alternative” assumes that a people’s victory, in our many layered contest with the powers-that-have-been, will be sealed, recognized, advanced in some kind of election victory. Their side or sides, and our side: let the people decide. That is the way with democracy so we should be planning for such a victory. The winning plan proposes 2016, and to begin now to count votes.
Politics is personal
The “winning plan alternative” does not assume that the electoral front is the main front. The main front is the myriad unique individual local struggles where cooperative relations are built. freedom increased, respect extended, the commons reclaimed, solidarities experienced and the human union come to life.
The “winning plan alternative” invites everyone to join in creating a “peoples’ program,” what we really want, the everything, from the heart. Creating a Peoples’ Program is inherently democratizing.
To recruit in every precinct to make your own local precinct a place for democracy, with an ideal of “free and fair elections”. and real alternatives on the ballot.
While the media, police, etc are owned and operated by the so called 1%, their power is impersonal. They believe in the mass; they seek to impose reality. Real power is personal, right relations, face to face, eye to eye, heart to heart, over the back fence and under the media. While they would enslave the mass a web of lies, people are free and consciousness can discern between good and bad, the fair trader and the thief.
A winning plan alternative counts on the dissonance between what people are told and what in the inner self they know is so. personal politics makes a place for that conversation
The “winning plan alternative” aims to engage all of us, the big us, as organizers, each in the center of our own circles of power, able to reach out along affinity and love lines of family, friends, neighbors, teachers and students, coworkers and compatriots to engage the conversation and invite participation in the making of the people’s program, and preparing for the election of choice.
In the “sacred space” of the secret voting booth, people are free to vote for the alternative, to vote outside the box of what the powers that have been would lie to us are the only possibilities. The task of the winning plan, and personal communication and local struggle, is to nourish in people the knowledge that there is an alternative, and the strength or real audacity to go for it.
The cooperation and “fusion” of independent, insurgent political energies which the winning plan would hope to accomplish by election time 2016, besides a likely more vibrant Movement for a Democratic Society, would work to include, for examples, the United States Social Forum and People’s Movement Assemblies continuations, the “Occupy” continuations, the International Organization for Participatory Society as it develops, the Green Party, the Network of Spiritual Progressives, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Democracy Alliance, Labor Against the War, Historians against the war, humanist sociologists, bioneers, Abolition 2000, Global Network Against Weapons in Space, Hague Appeal for Peace, Jobs with Justice, Veterans for Peace, Close the School of Americas, Students for a Democratic Society, Organization for a Free Society, Young People’s Project, and the list would include multiple women’s organizations, reform and insurgent caucuses in unions all over the country, Native American organizations, African American and Hispanic American organizations, liberated sexual identities, et al. The National Welfare Right Organization, from which the winning plan takes its inspiration would hopefully have a winning place. Ending poverty in America is a bottom line in a system change politics in America.
The winning plan does not envision a new or another party. People can cross old party lines to support a winning plan. A winning plan would promote “indenpedent politics,” cooperative workings together. with periodic democratic consultations and, in 2016, some kind of national convention to settle “free and fair election” details and agreements. Previous Democrats and Republican would be as welcome as previous cynics, nay-sayers and apathetic non-voters. A fusion of efforts toward common action would hopefully help the emergence of some kind of human union.
Regarding the idea of promoting “a winning team:”
The general system shift we need includes “from patriarchy to partnership.” Part of overcoming patriarchy is overcoming the top down, single father leader figure, with vice and minions ordered below.
The “duopoly” puts forth their contending leader figures, man or woman, and their vices, with hierarchies of positions eventually to be filled down the ladder of command.
The “winning team alternative” needs to be, from the beginning, a partnership , a cooperative, collaborative effort to coordinate system shifts in each relevant area of policy….energy, health, labor, defense, education, agriculture, environment, commerce, money management science, infra-structure, general services, communications, justice, peace, etc. etc.
In the struggles, movements, reforms and scholarships of the last 50 years have emerged and matured leading lights that could be melded into the vision of a new government, capable of steering a transition to a “democratic society,” that for which we have long struggled and named as our objective.
The winning team would/could take shape over the next 4 years as voluntary collectives of willing workers in each of the needed areas of competence, becoming something of a shadow government by 2014, and then a parallel government and, by 2016, ready to function as an alternative government, should, and when, the people so decide.
Psychology to win by:
The winning plan begins with a simple view of human psychology: that people have better selves and weaker, lesser selves. Given the seriousness of conditions, which everyone can see, it is time, and urgent put the better selves in command. There are traditions of justice and revolution and union that run deep in the United States, with which many people identify and can be strengthened, as all churches and faith communities have a social gospel, beside more retrograde teachings. Our better selves draw definition from these traditions and gospels, even as the actual history is also the darker story of enslavement, genocide, colonization and the predatory capitalism of the current ruling orders.
The winning team psychology does not begin with an enemies list.
The winning plan begins with an open invitation to voters, voters-to-be, and political workers to work for a winning plan alternative to how things are and have been.
Our common human need it to get out of the bad situation. It is a bad situation for most people, one hardship, stress or insecurity or another. The system has not been working for the vast majority of people for a long time. Almost everyone has been, (to borrow a metaphor from the old Renaissance and Dante’s “circles of hell,”) up to our chins in shit. No one can be blamed for trying to not-make waves. All around us are others, also deep in shit up to their chins, shouting and pleading: “Don’t make waves!!” Even wave makers mostly only do ripples. Nearly everyone is complicit, living as we do, however exploited, on top of the global pyramid of privilege. Political prisoners pay the hero’s price for the moderations of the rest of us. (On the other hand, on the day before the Bastille was stormed, no one imagined they would do it, the people aroused.)
The task of the “winning plan alternative” is to show people a way out of this bad situation. The way, of course is new ways of life, built locally, in the community, work and family spheres. It is also making the actual vote which one has, and the votes one can mobilize, effective in empowering a new and different government.
A will to cooperate?
This is, of course, an effort on a scale and intent never before contemplated, or not recently, a conscious political and social evolution, constitutionally enacted by voters in the United States.
A winning plan presumes a will to cooperate with ourselves, a will with which the left and activists have not been extraordinarily blessed. This time might just be the time, with planetary and life system questions so at stake, and holocausts haunting the horizons in all directions, from still the bomb and endless wars, to growing poverty, inequality, austerity and anguish and lack of good work and right livelihood, this might just be the time, to summon the will to cooperate.
It is of course too much to ask activists to give up their egos, change the world is part of the mission, and each of us agents of change. But we have learned something about discipline, how to live, freedom and how to get together. No one need lose their identity, In the politics of “fusion” we create a magnetic resonance around a winning intention, making a human energy amplifier. in which everyone benefits and no one need give up their lists and donors.
The MDS constitutional structure, at the outset, seems adequate to accommodate and facilitate initiating a “winning plan alternative:” a “free and fair election local” in every precinct, an assembly of representatives, regions, associated organizations, working committee, etc. Something more expansive would surely be invented as a winning plan alternative takes shape, assuming that winning will to cooperate with ourselves can become ascendent.
When is NOW and who?
The MDS “Manifesto for Now” endeavor contributes to a winning plan alternative in sketch the lines of a “Peoples’s Program,” as the Port Huron Statement attempted 50 years ago, to say at the beginning who we are, what we want and how to do it. This can be one seed in the garden of people’s creativity.
The “now” in a “Manifesto for Now” refers, of course, to “now” as this time, a politics for this season.
But also, since inquiry has been made in the language of acronyms, this should be a “Manifesta” and “many fist-o” that that the National Organization of Women (NOW) should be at ease to join in shaping.
This should be because all freedom seeking people, including all women of all sorts are invited to help shape it and give it words, but because a most important structural and cultural change needed in the changed system is establishing freedom, independence and safety for women and girls and making gender justice an institutional standard throughout society. overcoming patriarchy, elevating partnership, minimizing domination, maximizing cooperation, etc. The unbalanced reality of inherited male domination, distorts the economy favoring production over reproduction and maintenance, things and money over people and relationships, leading to the increasingly out of balance and distorted character of society as a whole.
Patriarchy and domination are ultimately maintained by violence, down to the bedroom. Violence against women must become a moral and legal intolerable act. The “might makes right” morality of the dominator society needs to be challenged on the domestic interpersonal front as well as the global political fronts of war and conflict. The right that has might is an ethics of respectful human relations. Non-violence is essential in the winning plan: “Don’t hit, come to the table to talk.”
The general presumption of male privilege in getting a hand up in the old boys network has to be counter balanced, both by more fairness in general, and by a clearer model, brighter than Barbie, of women from girl hood being free and independent beings to chose their own future, not necessarily wives-in-waiting living the drama of the path to love, marriage and couplehood, security and safety, or the drama of afterwards. The the mentor stories are mostly untold of the independent women, single women, older women who developed other expressions of themselves than couplehood and motherhood of children. When women are given their due place in the partnership of society, for sure, things would be better cared for. A winning plan would hardly be a voice in the wilderness saying men have made a mess of running the world, and a better plan is needed.
A winning team for real
A winning team is what is needed to make the winning plan happen, at the top and at the bottom. Consider the winning team, in hypothetical numbers, for the moment, a hundred at the top, and a hundred thousand at the foundation. The base would be distributed in every voting precinct in the United States, and the top could be represented by a group photograph of a hundred people, or so, competent and pledged to do the Peoples Program of the winning plan alternative, and behind each some kind of collective team.
The “free and fair election committee” in each precinct would seek 5 to 10 people to begin with, and aim for a thousand by campaign time. That would be a potential 100 million votes nationwide, definitely in the range of winning numbers, even given that many of any thousand might be disenfranchised in various ways. Everyone can work for a free and fair election and voter education. Local mobilization free and fair election committee is the base to turn out and watch the vote, and to hold the top accountable.
For the first time in history there is actually the technical capacity to do participatory democracy and democratic consultations among the people in America, (and the world.) The photograph picture of the 100, or however many at the top, will be a hot topic of discussion of who could serve and would, nominations and ultimately, by Labor Day 2016, a convention somewhere, somehow, to take the photograph. and begin the winning campaign.
Who is in front.
Who is in the front of the picture of a hundred, or however many, and whose names will be on the actual, in the polling place ballot, is a big question. Who is a 2 person partnership. These are people to be accountable to the 100 and the 100,0000, and the 100 million. These are roles almost mythic in their responsibility.
A mythic tale might best describe who, until a convention gives them name. The winning plan could use the well known nursery rhyme to describe those in front “Jill and Jack went up the hill to fetch a pail of water” ( though with a new and different ending in mind). The people are parched for lack of democracy, People thirst for dignity. We need pails of water. Whoever might turn out to be “Jill and Jack,” it is the team commitment that is the foundation of the new government. They are not going up the hill alone.
There is, of course, a good Jill already campaigning. For 2016, playing on the gambling psychology wide spread in the American People and its risk taking, a black Jack might a good team partner on the ballot with whomever might be Jill.
Who might actually be the people in front is a question way up the road. Now is the time, in this election, which is not free and fair, to show the road worth going up.
The means to so show the road, is a proposed, (to be written,) “Peoples’ Ballot and Eyes Open Voter Election Guide” for distribution at polling places November 6, 2012, and other pre-election circulation.
A People’s program, bottom and top, outside and inside.
A Peoples’ Program, beside expression of long term aspiration and vision, should/would/must project a 4 year “transition program,” a series of system changes at the governmental level that people can understand are possible and beneficial, including a package of constitutional amendments as might be needed to redraw the lines of power,
Realistically, as well, a Peoples’ Program needs contingency strategies to deal with opposition efforts to thwart the election of the winning team and prevent a free and fair election.
What could be facilitated at the governmental level by the winning team, would correspond to shifts, changes and new practices at the grass roots level, precinct by precinct, institution by institution.
In every place where people claim increasing democracy, industrial democracy, economic democracy, work democracy, gender democracy, social democracy, and struggle to reclaim the commons and their common rights from usurpers, exploiters, monopolists and privatizers,
people are looking for a more fair deal, an alternative to the basic structure of power in which we now work and live, an alternative that could win.
The winning plan would ally itself with the historic struggles for the commons, of the people challenging minority power, back at least to the Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest, with commoners contending with barons and king.
The winning plan would ground itself also in the American Revolution, (uncompleted), Tom Paine’s Common Sense (unused), George Washington’s warning against the monopolists, (unheeded) and Andrew Jackson’s against organized money. (bought out).
The winning plan alternative can turn over and overturn the “Great Seal of the United States:” put the eagle and its talons behind, and bring forward the eye of providence and and knowledge that our undertakings are favored, which is what “Annuit Coeptus” means on the seal, and affirm the intent to begin now a new age: “Novus Ordo Seclorum.” not 1776, but now, 2012-2016, beginning the next time, after the wars.
The winning plan alternative is the true patriot act, to turn America away from war and minority power, and toward a wider justice and freer life for all, People are empowered by being located in history. There is pride in being part of an historic struggle. Pride is the solvent of shame. People are shamed in allowing themselves to be so treated. Class shame is one of the great dis-enablers in American politics, that it is “in our stars that we are underlings.” It would be a prideful act, good for self and country to go for the winning plan, and winning is possible (always to remember.) With good grass roots door to door person to person personal politics and organizing, winning is assured. Letting people free themselves is a winning plan.